Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Clifford Pier - through Rose-tinted Glasses

The lion was quite curious about the hype surrounding the opening of The Clifford Pier restaurant. Yes, the place has been transformed into something quite regally colonial yet still managing to welcome with an easy-going vibe. Gone are the oppressive dark woods of the former Shanghai fine-dining establishment there. He wasn't so sure about the atasfied hawker fare (with atasfied prices to boot) served there though. However, he was in luck, as a luncheon with Ms Sweet Cakes and Mr Backpacker beckoned. Ms Sweet Cakes has been a frequent diner (wow a fan already) at Clifford Pier after the opening so she would be a most suitable candidate for the tricky subject of dish recommendation.

Back to the days of yore. History is practically your dining companion here.
Read more about it in black and white at
Image taken from

Clifford Pier, opened circa 1933, was the entry and landing point to Singapore for immigrants of the early 20th century. The Chinese called the pier Ang Teng Choon T'au in Hokkien or Hoong Tang Mah Thow in Cantonese, meaning the Red Lattern Pier. Floating hawkers on small boats were a sight to behold then as they sold nourishing grub such as porridge to those intrepid travellers who had braved the voyage by treacherous sea.

In the swinging 1950s and 1960s, itinerant hawkers warmed the souls and stomachs of hungry citizens at a carpark that was adjacent to the pier.

The current Clifford Pier restaurant in the conservation building, now run by the Fullerton Bay Hotel, pays homage to the destination's historical past and culinary landscape with reinterpretations of local classics and Asian specialties, complemented by a medley of mainstay Western fare.

Clifford Pier now stands refurbished with romantic lampshades in a row,
plush sofas in elegant neutral colour palettes, rustic stone counters,
blue and white porcelain, and old ship models.
The lion has not graced these hallowed hallways for a long long time... ...

Open concept with just a marble slab indicating the entrance
to The Clifford Pier.
The ambience of The Clifford Pier is mama mia winning.
Relaxing, bright and airy, and with a touch of class.
 Soothing jazz music plays in the background while you
take in the view of the waters between the pier and MBS.
Starters were an assortment of crispy keropok.
Ms Sweet Cakes' recommendation for first timers: the Laksa ($19)
with an option to upgrade to Scallop ($25), King Crab ($25) or Lobster ($36).
The laksa broth was well balanced but full-bodied. It was not too overwhelmingly
lemak and a wealth of baby shrimps (premium sweet Japanese ones?) was used in
the preparation. Medium heat - not too spicy. A really good rendition of a local favourite.
Honto Cod ($32). The broiled Miso-sake Cod came with a
side of daikon chip and crispy noodles.
The Honto Cod was supposed to be accompanied by white
rice but Ms Sweet Cakes had it changed to springy glass noodles
instead. The perks of being a regular guest. Miss Sweet Cakes
did not comment much on her dish so the lion can only
surmise that it was adequately executed.
Better than hotel average Cappuccino... ... if you need
that kick in the afternoon. The main allure of this place
is the setting and ambience, not so much the grub,
quite honestly. Service, though attentive, was rather slow
too. But, hold on, the lion really enjoyed the
playful, childhood inspired desserts here. For him,
the enjoyment of the sweets surpassed the food here.
Teh Tarik Ice Cream with chewy Honey Crumbs.
Love Letters stuffed with cream, served with a chocolate dip
and a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
You've got to crunch on the love letters quickly before they get soggy!
A uniquely fun way of having a local snack.
Pandan Ice Cream. The delectable block of ice cream came
sandwiched between coloured bread. A smiley faced agar agar
was also at hand to cheer up the day. 
Will be back for these!

The Bruneian Prince's obsessively beautiful chandelier shot at night (this friend of the lions came for the pared down supper menu - featuring dishes like Teochew porridge, oyster omelette and chilled chendol - very late at night):

The Clifford Pier
Fullerton Bay Hotel
80 Collyer Quay
Singapore 049326

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