Heading to Geylang on a Friday evening after a tough week is not really my kinda thing. Don’t get me wrong – I love what Geylang has to offer in terms of food (think: Tze Char, Frog-Sexy-Leg Porridge…and the much debatable Beef Horfun); it is just not the part of town I would like to spend my Friday winding down.
But, I also firmly believe in the fact that a good meal is almost always made complete by good company – hence, I accepted K’s invitation to join her at SEN where she was to meet Jean, a co-founder of the restaurant.
Here’s what we filled our tummies with that evening —
P: All 3 starters were delightful to the taste bud, in particular the Deep Fried Spring Rolls – I thoroughly enjoyed the golden bundle filled with juicy pork, prawn, yam and black mushroom. The only slight dissatisfaction I had was with the Grilled Shrimp Surimi – the sugar cane to shrimp ratio seems rather disproportionate compared to those I had before. Nevertheless, it was a good dish that came complete with ‘chewable’ sugarcane
K: We had the starters with a really nice glass of white wine (Wine of the week- Chateau Claron 2011 Graves). I would have happily ordered a bottle if P drinks excessively like me. The wine was a steal at SGD 60 a bottle - Sen is able to keep the price of the wine reasonable because the restaurant imports them directly from France. My favourite starter was the fresh summer rolls and I loved the accompanying peanut sauce (Made from scratch vs. using peanut butter -my favourite cheat!).
P: The first thought that came to mind was how ‘Oriental’ this dish was – it resembles the type of soup we will be served in chinese banquet. This one, however, was filled with chunks of crab-goodness and it really does not take a gourmet to figure out that some good quality chicken broth must have gone into this dish.
K: I love chicken soup (Like the one from DTF). The key to make a good bowl of chicken soup is definitely time. Sen did not take any shortcut here (full 8 hours of simmering) and the outcome is a very comforting bowl of goodness.
P: I know fried wings are not exactly the typical Vietnamese food; however, I ordered it as I was having a craving for it (this craving surfaces very often). The wings were decent but nothing like the ones at The Pump Room that I truly love – I know I may be comparing grapefruit to orange here.
K: The fried wings were caramelized with fish sauce and onions – Makes a good snack but nothing too exciting.
P: A rather refreshing dish – I enjoyed picking up the huge morsels of pomelo and biting into it; it was so good that I almost couldn’t contain the juiciness of the pomelo, literally This was a great refresher/palette cleanser before the mains although I must admit that I would prefer the salad with slightly more dressing. However, I understood from the chef that it was intended to be very light in dressing so as to preserve the natural flavours of it’s main components.
K: I had a difficult time choosing between the pomelo salad or the lotus salad. I picked the former which turned out to be a good decision - the ingredients used were very fresh and tasty.
P: I was told to expect something similar to beef bourguignon (one of my favourite French dishes) but boy, this one proves to be even better! Better if you are looking for a lighter version of beef bourguignon as the gravy is less viscous and more ‘herbal’ than rich. Really loved this dish!
K: P was raving over this dish but unfortunately, I’m not a “stew” person. I was happier with the accompanying glass of Merlot.
P: It was probably hard for this dish to impress my taste buds after the very awesome beef stew right before; noodle and broth was good but I do prefer my beef slices to be of carpaccio thinness versus the thick version served here.
K: The highly recommended dish in Sen. Yay to the texture of the noods and the clear, flavourful broth and nay to the cut of meat.
P: This dish and I have a long history – I used to derive a lot of comfort from her during those occasional cold and lonely days in OZ. Sen’s version of this dish was delightful – pork was great but I must admit the vermicelli, though good, did not ‘nail it’ for me.
K: The best main from my POV. The grilled pork was very well marinated and juicy.
P: The only dessert I wanted to try (ie. Three colours sweetened paste – Mixture of chendol, green-red bean paste & coconut milk) was unavailable. And, no coffee for me as I am hypersensitive to caffeine (Le Sigh!).
K: The best way to end a meal – good coffee!
What we have failed to mention so far is the ambience of the restaurant.
It is hard for one to imagine such a chic restaurant nested in the heart of Geylang; I for one was greatly impressed by the interior of the restaurant and it is definitely very different from what I expected of a Vietnamese restaurant!
The modern contemporary style of the restaurant makes it very suitable for anything ranging from a business meal to a romantic date. Couple this with a dining concept that encourages pairing your food with wine. SEN offers a very agreeable selection of (strictly French) wines that came with very reasonable price tags. The restaurant also made the wine menu more friendly to the non-sommeliers amongst us by categorising the wines as: Dry, Sweet etc….(Yes, how often do we actually know how to pronounce the type of grapes nor that fancy name where the grape was born?). K, being the alcoholic between us, thoroughly enjoyed her pairings of wine – I suspect SEN already won her over the moment she was offered a wine list together with the food menu
Could SEN be the start of a more upmarket Vietnamese dining trend in Singapore? I can’t prophecise but I deeply embrace the idea of savouring Vietnamese food amidst great ambience (finally!), with wine in hand. It also helps that the entire experience does not burn a hole in the pocket.
Not to my surprise, I forgot clean we were in Geylang until we stepped out of the restaurant.
What a perfect way to end my tough week.
PHOTO OF THE POST -
Jean refused our offer to foot the bill. Thanks for the evening Jean, we’ll be back.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11AM to 11PM (Closed on Mondays)
Address: 704 Geylang Road Singapore 389620
Tel: +65 6841 5653
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