Bumbu Restaurant

China Square Central would be familiar to the office crowd in the Central Business District with its collection of boutique eateries such as Bumbu, within the China Court section. This quaint little restaurant combines the modernity of the district with the rich history of the surroundings and serves up cuisine which sits well with local palates.

The Vibe
Capitalizing on its location within a refurbished shophouse, Bumbu emanates Peranakan culture in its décor. As the ceilings are incredibly low to accommodate new additions to the old architecture, a cosy ambience is set up, while cleverly-positioned wooden dividers provide guests some dining privacy. The overall vibe indoors is reminiscent of a typical kopitiam , with its marbled tables and wooden chairs, harmonizing well with the food served. The al fresco dining area can accommodate eight people, but one would do better within air-conditioned comfort when tackling their spicy fare.

The Food
While Bumbu proclaims to be a Thai-Indonesian restaurant, the halal cuisine served would be better described as encompassing a multitude of cultures within the region while catering to local tastes. Thai favourites stand out prominently in the menu, but most of the dishes do seem more commonplace than exotic, which is not necessarily a bad thing.Indulge in the Krathong Thong ($7.80) and the Tahu Telor ($7.80) as a start to your meal. The former is very similar to the kueh pie tee of the Straits Chinese, but Bumbu’s version consists of stewed water chestnuts and minced chicken, drizzled generously with fried shallots, in a bite-sized pastry cup. The shallots send a wafting aroma through the air, tempting one to pick up another cup of savoury goodness. Their Tahu Telor is undoubtedly remarkable with its semi-fluffy exterior and melt-in-your-mouth core. The subtle flavour of the egg beancurd used is accentuated by the strong hints of prawn paste in the special dressing.

The Pineapple Rice ($8.00) is a substantial portion and goes surprisingly well with the other dishes. Garnished with vegetarian floss and sweet prawns, the rice is fragrant and the diced pineapple affords a tangy surprise in every bite. From here, however, it was a downward spiral with the rest of the dishes. While the Tom Yum Seafood Soup ($8.80) was spicy with bite-sized seafood, its texture was oddly powdery, especially towards the end of the meal. The Fried Fish with House Chilli ($21.80) was a letdown even though the sauce was suitably sweet with a definite piquancy. As far as one can tell, the fish used could have been fresher, which would deliver moister, sweeter flesh. Although the fragrance of butter and oats is well-received with prawns, the Butter Oat Soft Shell Crab ($16.80) could be further improved indeed.

Bumbu provides a selection of desserts with most of them stemming from Thai influence. Even though the Ice Chendol ($3.50) was refreshing, we were disappointed that the gula melaka was insufficient, thus resulting in a rather dimensionless dessert.

The Service
As the restaurant was relatively quiet on a weekday evening, a common occurrence for eateries in this area, the service was commendably quick, efficient and thoughtful, refilling glasses and providing extra napkins.

SD Food Advisor’s take on Bumbu
Dining at Bumbu is more of a no-frills experience, with comfort and familiarity as the main impetus. More exploratory diners can also look forward to a mini-culinary adventure with interesting dishes like the Krathong Thong , providing a new edge to the usual fare. If your office happens to be just around the corner, within the Raffles Place vicinity, Bumbu is definitely an inexpensive choice during the lunchtime mad-rush.

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