After reading many reviews and listening to people rave about the recently opened Cafe at the NCPA(National Centre for Performing Arts), I’ve been eagerly waiting to go and I’m thrilled that tonight’s the night! Since some of the group was going to be delayed and Cafe NCPA does not take any reservations, 3 of us decide to get their early and grab a table.
We’re asked to wait as it’s already full and a table for 7 would take a while. We don’t mind and seat ourselves at a corner table to patiently wait and soak in (what I realise towards the end of the night is the highly over hyped) Cafe NCPA.
It’s charmingly cute with tables out in the open under big umbrellas and an open kitchen. It’s dimly lit with just a candle at your table and very discreet lights around more for decor than any practical purpose.
Since we’re waiting for the rest of our party and our table we decide to order a nibble.We ordered a cappuccino which was wonderfully frothy and a portion of chicken and shrimp dim sum. As lovely as the melt in your mouth dim sum was, I was a surprised to see they served only 4 in a portion, almost all other eateries serve at least 6 pieces. I find this a little odd, but it was delicious and I decide not to pay attention to that – not realising it was a sign of things to come.
The Chicken and Shrimp Dim Sum
The rest of our party arrives and we move to a bigger table all set to order. The menu is limited, with sandwiches hotdogs burgers an Indian list and a few mini meals and desserts. But I suppose it works because it’s a cafe.
We got to sample most of the menu, as we ordered an assortment of sandwiches and mini meals.
First up was a pullback pork belly with charsui glaze crispy sprouts and blue berry balsamico sandwich. It was a good sandwich maybe a little too mustardy, but had lovely crispy edges and the pork very well done.
The Pull Back Pork Belly with Char Sui Glaze Crispy Sprouts and Blueberry Balsamico
An open roast beef sandwich with a hint of blue cheese flavouring the beef accompanied by straw potato caramelized onion was an excellent sandwich. However I know a lot of people who don’t particularly enjoy blue cheese so its really a personal choice.
Open Roast Beef Sanwich with Caramalized Onion Straw Potato and Blue Cheese
The Blackforrest ham with gruyere mustard mayo and green could not be faulted. It was superb.
Black forrest Ham with Gruyere Mustard Mayo and Greens
The mini meals comprised of a gravy dish or your choice accompanied by either rice or noodles. We ordered the sesame crusted fish and opted for rice. Fish was soft and delicious with a lovely light sesame flavour. The rice surprisingly was very flavourful and had lots of chopped vegetables which gave it a nice crunch. Not your typical fried rice but very Asian inspired rice.
Mini Meal – Sesame Fish
Another mini meal ordered was a Thai barbeque chicken, along with the same rice. It was spicier than expected but very enjoyable.
Mini Meal – Thai Bbq Chicken
Since Cafe Ncpa is run by the same folks behind Joss, I decided to order a prawn khao suey (it’s legendary at Joss, at least for me) and lapped it up. It was as good as I expected it to be and I was delighted. However my initial reaction was far from delight when the dish was placed in front of me and I saw the portions.
Prawn Khau Suey
I was keen to order the crepe suzette but sadly it wasn’t available that night, so dessert was a Normandy apple tart, warm and cinnamon flavoured, it was served alone but I felt would have been perfect with a scoop of ice cream.
Normandy Apple Tart
A double chocolate mousse cake with almonds, a gooey dark chocolate fantasy with crispy almonds.
Double Chocolate Mousse Cake with Almonds
The common consensus around the table was that despite the food being lovely, we were all still hungry. Their portions are not enough to fill you up unless you order 2 or maybe even 3 dishes. And at roughly 495 (excluding taxes) for an open sandwich I feel it definitely isn’t worth the price for the portion I’m getting. I understand the concept is a cafe and not fine dining and it was good food, I still feel there are many other places which are also cafes or deli’s which serve similar fare at similar prices but I’m happy to pay those as I feel satisfied with my meal and portion size. I just cannot help feeling a little cheated after tonight. Even the sandwich, as tasty as they are, I felt was only an open sandwich on a small baguette with some French fries and sliver of salad.
They take the description of mini meal very seriously at Café NCPA – My prawn khau suey had a generous gravy portion but the noodles were literally a spoonful. A part of me feels they believe in the “a sucker is born everyday” theory and I left the restaurant feeling like one.
My over all experience is such a mixed bag. The more I think about my night I can only draw one conclusion. The ambience is nice and I enjoyed my meal but somehow I still feel it doesn’t justify their portion sizes or their pricing (for the size). Now I’m the tiny taster but I’m not THAT tiny.