Samsara Gourmet – Homely Cantonese Cuisine at Mount Elizabeth Hospital
Writing this blog has taken me all over Singapore, but not to a hospital – until recently. You must be wondering, “why does Miss Tam Chiak travel all the way to a hospital to have dinner?” Well, a reader Kimberly dropped me a mail to recommend me trying Samsara Gourmet, a Chinese restaurant in a hospital. I was surprised to know that there is even a restaurant in the hospital, so we decided to check it out.
Owned by Miss Violet Lee, she won the title of Miss Singapore in the 1980s, but chose to work in the most rural part of China and eventually became the Group Managing director of Guocoland (China) Limited, a Singaporean real estate company. She came back to Singapore a few years back and decided to open a restaurant.
Samsara is helmed by an ex-chef from Tung Lok with more than 20 years of experience under his belt. Truth be told, I do not expect much, but the meal turns out to be not bad. Serving homely Cantonese cuisine, the decor and layout doesn’t look very impressive but the cooking is not bad. We started with a vegetarian platter and the vegetarian satay is as delicious as regular satay.
Only the dish above is vegetarian, while the rest of the dishes we had were classic Cantonese dishes. Chef’s Fish Maw Soup ($8/pax) had lots of oomph. It comes brimming with curls of spongy fish maw and sweet crabmeat. It is good without black vinegar, but a dash of it punches the soup up very nicely.
Another house special, Fragrant Pumpkin Prawn Balls ($20 small, $30 medium, $40 large), turns out to be a variation of salted egg yolk prawn. The prawns are sauced with pumpkin sauce and the almonds add a lovely texture to the prawns. For wasabi lovers, go for their Sauteed Prawn Ball in Almond Wasabi ($20 small, $30 medium, $40 large).
Claypot Rice is a great dish with well marinated chicken meat and Wing Wah lup cheong, specially bought from Hong Kong. What enchants me is also the fragrant soya sauce, an aroma which makes me hungry at once. For something healthier, Jade Gourd stuffed with Assorted Vegetables and Beancurd ($14 small, $21 medium, $28 large) is a good choice.
The Samsara Signature Chicken ($18/half, $36/whole) looks like plain poached chicken, but the kampong chicken boasts good flavour. It was steamed without much seasoning after which, dipped in ginger sauce before consumption. The minced ginger dip is a fragrant and tasty compliment to the chicken, while the chilli sauce added just the right kick. This is clearly my favourite dish for the night.
People usually say beautiful women have blank minds, but Violet is an exception. Being a devout follower of Buddha, she found a space to open a restaurant in Mount Elizabeth with Buddha’s calling. Even though she started with no F&B experience, I believed it’s her personality of embracing challenges that drove her to success.
Address: 38 Irrawaddy Road, 01-05, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Singapore 329563
Tel: 6734 3138
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9am – 9pm; Sat 9am – 6pm. Closed on Sun
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