Friday, 12 September 2008

Prima Taste Restaurant for authentic Singaporean cuisine

A couple of weeks ago, AP and I happened to walk past a restaurant that made me pause in my step. I saw the name 'Prima Taste' and thought of the famous spice packs. I have overseas Singaporean friends who swear by their Chicken Rice and Chilli Crab spice packs. The name is the same, the logo is the same, but this is a restaurant. Thoroughly intrigued, and since we were looking to get lunch, we went right in and boy were we in for a treat.


The food was so good that I signed up on the loyalty programme (more on that later) on that first visit and we went back a week later for my birthday meal. AP was delighted to see roti prata on the menu and ordered that immediately. I had prawn noodle soup (fabulous pork rib and prawn broth) and he had nasi goreng (Indonesian style fried rice). On our second visit for my birthday, I made sure to bring my camera to capture the delicious meal that we had.

The decor is simple and modern, with large pictures of Singapore landmarks like the Esplanade Theater on the Bay, Merlion, Parliament House and Singapore River.

The roti prata (an Indian style pancake) was crisp and fluffy, almost crossaint-like in texture. Made fresh and served hot with a small curry dip. It's amongst the best that I've eaten even in Singapore. Our only complain would be that the serving was too small (although it was a starter dish) - two small pieces (about the total size of one regular prata in Singapore) for $6.

Fabulously crispy and fluffy

Based on a friend's recommendation, AP ordered the beef char kway teow (stir fried flat rice noodles). The aroma was almost overpowering as soon as the dish was laid in front of us. Strong flavours with the dark soy sauce and 'wok hei' (achieved through cooking over very high heat on a wok), succulent and generous beef slices, slivers of fishcake and the heat of chilli. No clams, which might disappoint some die-hard fans. But seriously, forget about your waistline and order this dish.

I ordered the Hokkien prawn noodles, which consists of thick yellow noodles stirfried with pork and prawn broth until dry, and then moistened with an egg gravy. The prawns were generous, with pieces of sotong (squid) as well. I've had better in Singapore, but it still tastes good and authentic and that counts for a lot in an overseas restaurant. My only complaint would be the lack of sambal chilli to go with the dish. I asked our waiter for it and was told apolegetically that they have run out that day! That was a bit of a bummer, since I probably would have gone for another dish if I had known there was no sambal. Yes, sambal chilli is that important!

On the rewards programme that I signed up on, I get a free dessert during my birthday month, so I had cheng tng, a sweet dessert soup made with dried longan fruit, barley, agar agar strips, gingko nuts, cloud ear fungus, lotus seeds and tapioca pearls. It is served either hot or cold and I chose cold for a hot day. I was surprised at how large the portion was.

It tasted better than many cheng tng that I had back in Singapore, deeper flavours, probably due to the amount of ingredients that were in there. Those ingredients are not cheap and the typical hawker stall would not use as much. Unfortunately I was so stuffed from the previous dishes that I could not finish eating it all.

Prima Taste has a great downtown location at the corner of Seymour and Robson, next to the Korean H Mart supermarket. The ambience is modern but still cosy and the wait staff is polite and attentive, even when it gets busy as it often does. Prices are pretty good for Vancouver, around $9-12 for most main meals. It helps not to compare them to what one would pay for in Singapore because there is no comparison! I mentally balked at seeing $12 on the menu for nasi lemak (something that I could get for $5 at the famous Adam Road hawker centre nasi lemak stalls), but that's pretty much what one would expect to pay for a main course at a cheap to mid-range restaurant here so I might as well suck it up and not mentally currency-convert. It's the same with appetisers and desserts.

The restaurant has a loyalty programme. Membership costs $20 a year. You get a membership card with 20 Prima Dollars loaded. You earn 1 Prima Dollar with every $10 spent at the restaurant. You can then redeem your Prima Dollars to pay for up to 50 per cent of the total cost of your meal (before tax and gratuity). You also get a free dessert on your birthday month, and news on special promotions and discounts. I forsee that I will be making use of my membership card quite a bit!

Prima Taste is the first and only Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant that I've been to in Vancouver so far, but you don't need to try a lot to know if the food is authentic. This one has my vote. I have also heard rave reviews from friends who have been around the culinary block here for longer. There are others to try (e.g. Banana Leaf, Kam's Place, Cafe D'light) which reputedly are superior in different dishes and I'll be sure to blog about them in due course.

Prima Taste Restaurant
570 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC
Tel: 604-685-7881


Nate-n-Annie said...

We have a Prima Taste restaurant here in San Jose too, and find that their food is pretty decent. Almost all their sauces are made using the spice packets from Singapore, so that's why it tastes authentic.

We never order roti pratha at any of the Singaporean or Malaysian restaurants around here because they always give too little and charge too much.

Next time, try their curry laksa.

VeggieGirl said...

LOVE the decor of that restaurant!

Lizzie said...

I wish we had more Singaporean restaurants in London. Ah, what I'd give for a decent Hainan Chicken Rice!

Mrs Ergül said...

Wow, finding such a restaurant that serves authentic Singapore dishes is a gem! Lucky you!

Nilmandra said...

Annie: Yeah the appetisers/snacks tend to be expensive. But we miss them so much, what to do, heh. I've heard the laksa is good. Will definitely try it.

Veggiegirl: It's nice and modern. My favourites are those pictures on the wall.

Lizzie: There's a Singapore/Malaysian restaurant called 'Nonya' near the Portobello Market. Excellent laksa and char kway teow, and there's chicken rice on the menu too. Worth trying.

Mrs Ergul: Indeed, we'll be regular customers!

Beachlover said...

I been looking high and low for Prima Taste spice in Eastcoast store but unavailable.The online one is too expensive..Glad to know Prima Taste ahve store in Van..I'm looking forward for this store in NY.Looking at your pix make me drooling:))

noobcook said...

Yes it looks really authentic ... makes me crave for some hawker food now. Am surprised too that it's the same logo as the spices. Glad you managed to find an authentic Singapore eatery in Vancouver! :D

tigerfish said...

I don't remember Prima Taste Restaurant in California having this loyalty pgm.
And the Prima Rest. in California was just so-so. The fish head curry we tried in CA's Prima was not up to standard (well, no Singapore curry fish head will come served as salmon fish head). It sounds that the BC one might be more authentic. Good for you!

Zoe said...

good roti prata is hard to come by when you're in that part of the world. i would pay $6 gladly. :)

i'll be posting more on blogger nowadays so check in okay? :)

glad to u know things are going alright. should be a much more asian-looking place than the UK. :) so i see good foodie days ahead.

even when i was there, i notice many asian 'marts' selling well, 'raw materials' for cooking. dun ask me...i totally cannot remember cuz we were just driving past (trying to navigate to selected places.

eh ok...will check in again. am VERY late for work - but well, either early or late to miss the peak crowd. :) (excuses...actually i'm just lazing around, uploading vids and photos)

elsye said...

love the interior of that restaurant and your picture too ..:D

btw I loved laksa, the day before yesterday I made it :D

Brent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thesimmeringcook said...

You can purchase roti paratha from T&T supermarkets and Superstore. They come frozen in packets imported from Singapore and are quite authentic and delicious. Just heat and serve!

Bentoist said...

Yeah, driving 3 hours from Sacramento to San Jose for $6 prata sounds a little too much for me. Until I go back to Singapore, frozen puff parathas from the SF Supermarket from Sacramento will do.

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