I don't know what it is about Mmmm. She and her husband have a greater ability to get staff at cafes and restaurants to talk about themselves and the food they serve than anyone else I've ever met. I'd classify it as uncanny, but I think it's more having an open face, seeming to be interested and being willing to ask.
Consequently I know more about this place than I would have just from reading the short hostage available on the mural on the back wall. Part of a long established franchise in Singapore, it's the first outlet in Australia. It is trying hard to create authentic Singapore style flavours, and there has been some interest in opening other Australian stores. And while I have never been to Singapore, it does have a similar feel to some of the more upmarket shopping mall type coffee shops I have visited in Malaysia.
Being in a group of five gave us the numbers to cut a bit of a swathe through the menu. First of all the hits - the kaya toast, the nasi lemak and the mee siam.
I'd never had mee siam (Thai noodles) before but it's one of Mmmm's favourites. It's not really a Thai dish, just like Singapore noodles is not a dish you'd find in Singapore, but I expect named because of the slightly sweet/sour/spicy soup. I thought the serving was generous and the flavours nice, and it was pronounced by Mmmm as a good version of the dish.
I also liked the nasi lemak with curried chicken. The flavours of the chicken curry were good as was the fragrant rice, but what I liked most was the crunchiness of the peanuts and ikan bilis, and the sweetness of the fairly mild sambal.
Third hit and my favourite was the kaya toast. You don't see this that often around Melbourne but I love it, a sweet coconut jam that goes beautifully with toasted white bread. Perfect breakfast food or just to munch on with your tea or coffee.
More of a miss was the mee rebus, roti prata and the Singapore Laksa. It's interesting what you learn sometimes when dining out with authentic Singaporeans. Mee Rebus is a sweet potato based soup and often served differently between Singapore and Malaysia (my understanding from the others is that the Malaysian version comes with a stronger flavoured sauce). With the preference at the table for the Malaysian style it wasn't a great hit (and it's generally not one of my favourite dishes, as I find it a bit sweet and lacking in punchy flavours).
I found the roti prata a bit oily and off putting, although the dipping sauce was nice. Biggest disappointment though was the Singapore laksa, which I found a bit lacking in ingredients and flavours.
Love the concept, liked the people. While they are trying very hard for authentic Singapore style flavours it did feel like it was a work in progress though. Still, I think we all enjoyed our visit and in what is a true test all the Singaporeans were keen to return to try more of the menu. My only regret, none of the dishes had any of the real chill kick I was hoping for.
Food - 7
Service - 7.5
Ambience - 7.5
Price - 7.5
114 Lygon Street
Carlton VIC 3053
Tel :(03) 9650 9880