This is a lot worse than I thought it’d be.
This morning, I woke up to the stirring sounds of the house’s Samsung washing machine, which could only mean one thing – it was a Saturday. Except, it wasn’t, and to my shock horror, found that the whole family, sans my youngest brother, was home. Fortunately, it seemed like everybody had their own plans, and my Friday (I like mine solo) was looking peaceful again…until my mother obliged me to accompany her to visit my cousin from Shanghai in hospital. I say “cousin from Shanghai” but she’s really just Singaporean, for now. On the eve of their return to Shanghai after a long “holiday” in Singapore, the 12 year-old developed a serious fever and was hospitalized. An investigation alluded to something more serious, but subsequent observations reveal that there’s no longer a fear of it being life threatening. A couple more weeks, and she’ll be discharged, and ready to assume their positions as long-term residents of the People’s Republic of China awaiting conference of Swiss citizenship.
After the brief-but-not-quick visit, my mother and I headed downtown for a rather late lunch. Kerdang Kerbau Hospital (or more commonly known as KK Hospital) operates two shuttle services connecting the institution to Novena and Bugis MRT stations. So, we hopped onto the bus bound for Bugis. Having not eaten since last night, I casually suggested having something nearby, and seeing as Bugis+ was nearby, Poulét immediately sprung to mind.
In recent years, the Thai Express Group has become a stalwart of near authentic mediocrity by being the very definition of “good, but never great”, and for many, and there are many, it’s good enough. Poulét, pronounced pu-lay and is French for chicken, is the restaurant group’s French cuisine arm (note that this is taken rather loosely, as are the menus of all the group’s restaurants). The carte du jour is, for the most part, a selection of tourists’ “when in France” must-tries, including escargots and the ubiquitous French onion soup. And I, still enamored by all things French, was anxious to see what Poulét’s take on these classics.
We started off with the French Onion Soup, which was beautifully presented in a lovely rustic pot (although the presence of crotons there was a serious faux pas). The texture overall seemed rich with bountiful slices of white onions – the sight was reassuring. I walked into Poulét well aware that I was hardly going to have real French fare, but there appeared to be effort, even if it was clearly valuing style over substance. Expectedly, taste wise, the soup failed to take off. While the flavors were rich enough, and the consistency was passably thick, the soup had a certain manufactured affectation that was neither satisfying nor inspiring. The choice of selecting a restaurant, ordering and eating is a diner’s own choose-your-own adventure story, which is why it’s called a dining experience. Regardless of what goes behind the scenes in the kitchen, you need to keep me in a suspension of disbelief that what I’m eating is actually made-to-order, specially for me. Unfortunately, Poulét violently jolts me out of my slumber, slaps me in and out, and drenches me in a cold shower. I start to nitpick, and it goes all downhill from here.
Maybe I’ve been spoiled by decent roast chicken offered at local supermarkets like Giant, Cold Storage and Fairprice Xtra (and I’m not even being sarcastic or anything), but I kinda expected something more from Poulét’s namesake signature, the Poulét Rôti (roast chicken). According to Daniel Food Diary, the chicken is allowed to soak for a full day in a traditional recipe and roasted till golden brown. In reality, the roast reeked of uneven and poor roasting – the meat ranged from medium-rare to overdone, with the fat still well and alive. What’s more except for the clearly honeyed (but rubbery skin), the flesh was overall tasteless and not something I’d recommend. With the chicken inadequately seasoned, the homemade creamy mushroom Chardonnay sauce was consequently violently overpowering and inappropriate.
Oddly enough, the tiramisu was a lot better than many places.