Kopi Tiam is Swissotel's coffee house catering to its tourist arrivals by serving up a taste of local cuisine.The food here is far from authentic, and prices exorbitant, but we were famished and it seemed that just about every other restaurant in the Swissotel and Fairmont hotels had a waiting list of at least half an hour. And the massive horde of holiday shoppers in the mall put us off a bit.
Oddly enough, the diners here at Kopi Tiam were a good mix of locals and tourists. Maybe the other locals were also starvation-central and needed sustenance pronto? That said, the view here is pretty, and every table boasts a city view of the traffic whizzing by. I suppose that's what you're really paying for.
The Fish Head Curry ($55) is the most expensive one I've ever had, and if not for the Far Card which offers a 50% discount for 2 diners, would have been a total ripoff. Even at the discounted $25, I still didn't think it was particularly worthwhile. The humongous fish was thankfully, fresh, but the heat of the curry has, evidently, been catered for the western tastebuds. Coming from a moderate chilli-eater, I thought this needed 3-5 whole chilli padis, seeds and all, to be appropriately, and authentically, spicy.
The Stir-fried Sambal Kangkong ($15) was slightly less insipid, but I still had to ask for an additional saucer of sambal belachan to dunk into this.
One of their promotional dishes touted by many an invited tasting blogger (of whom obviously didn't do an incognito revisit), the Claypot Pork Belly & Salted Fish ($18) was mediocre at best. It reminded me of the many after-school lunches cooked up by our ambivalent-about-cooking maids, especially that vapid, watery oyster-soy sauce.
The complimentary Keropok was nice, albeit generically so, but what stood out was the sambal belachan, the very same one used to kick up the spice in the kangkong and fish curry. Well rounded and robust, this was very damn good indeed.
Swissotel The Stamford Level 2
2 Stamford Road
Tel: 6431 6156
Open breakfast on weekdays from 7.30am to 10.30am; weekends from 7.30am to 11am;
lunch on weekdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm; weekends from 12noon to 2.30pm
dinners daily from 6.30pm to 10.30pm