ChopSuey Café at Dempsey – Surreally Beautiful and Surprisingly Bad
Chopsuey Café at Dempsey is PS Café’s first foray into Asian cuisine, inspired by memories of Westernized Chinese food of the owners. While ‘chop suey’, a mixed meat-vegetable dish itself isn’t the most glamorous of food, it is something familiar with Chinese staying overseas.
I only came here because my foodie friend heard so many less than favourable things about ChopSuey, and wanted to fulfil our curiosity (and hopefully prove the others wrong). Woke Ah Yoke commented that “the cooking ranged from bad to mediocre for the starters…” though he did praise the mains; while Six and Seven reviewed that one of the dishes “tasted no better than what I get at the economical rice store”.
But it can’t be that bad right?
First things first, Chopsuey Café is stunningly beautiful, set in a black and white house on Dempsey hill, with its colonial style décor surreally gorgeous. You may pay attention to the details placed from its maroon-leather menu, cutlery, rattan chairs, fresh flowers, and giant pots of pandan leaves. It was moderately packed during a weekday lunch, mainly filled with Westerners and tai-tais who look like they do not need to work. (It was my off day yah?)
The dishes look outlandish expensive for the portions – Crispy seafood noodle for $36, crab mee goreng $26, jade fried rice for $16, and spring rolls for $22. I was mentally prepared for the price, fortunately pre-warned that the steamed rice would already cost $3. The menu left me only more confused, and I just got the very friendly and prompt waitress to recommend their signature dishes.
So much for signature dishes. The Four Seasons Har Gao ($9) came with three miserly looking prawn dumplings (quickly worked my Maths. 1 Har Kao = $3++), though I must emphasize the whole plating looks fabulously classy. There was some disappointment where the four seasons meant the sweet corn, mushroom, broccoli and carrot toppings, which by the way did not enhance the taste at all. The skin was thick, and fillings penny-pinching. Thick skin and small fillings – it is like having the worst of both worlds.
The other recommended “best seller” Pumpkin and Cod Dumpling ($9) was really all about not judging a book by its cover. I hate to waste food, especially when it is so expensive. But I could not even get past the second bite. My friend stopped at her first, saying the skin tasted like “thick soon kueh skin gone bad”. (A foodie friend who went on another day texted me that the dumpling skin was like homemade glue, and cod like mashed sardines from a can.)
The Crispy Duck Pow Pockets ($17) again is attractively presented, looking like my favourite ‘kong bak pau’. But one wonders why they are so stingy with its fillings again, with a thinner-than-thin slice of duck, and stick-like strips of duck confit. The worst has got to be its white buns, slightly colder than warm. We would never imagine ourselves saying this, but we had better textured ones from Khong Guan.
We concluded that the appetizers and dim sum are really not their forte. By the way, I asked the waitress for the name of the dim sum chef. She left into the kitchen looking embarrassed/frantic and never came back to serve us.
Thankfully the Cooky’s Hainanese Pork Chop with Steak Chips (they meant French fries) and edamame ($24) was a saving grace. At least the pork was tender and the dish arrived warm. This concurs with what some of the other reviewers had said – that the mains are actually delicious.
Perhaps the appetizer chef was having a bad day or supply, and we hope Choysuey Café’s food will see better days ahead. Still, the 3 dim sum and 1 main course set us back by 70 bucks. By the way, I heard through the grapevine that a famous plastic surgeon who spent over $500 dining there thought that “SueySuey” could have been a better name. Ouch!
01-23, Block 10 Dempsey Road, Tel: +65 9224 6611
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 4:00pm (Weekday lunch), 9.30am to 4pm (Weekend brunch), 6.30 to 10.30pm daily (Dinner)