I’m going to do a food/restaurant review now. But be forewarned that it will start out good and end up disastrous, so don’t read halfway then run off to try it out before you’re properly warned!
So, in the spotlight today is Bali Culture, a restaurant/pub that is part of the Culture Group of Restaurants, which also manages Swiss Culture and Beach Culture.
My friends and I are actually fans of Beach Culture at Pasir Ris. I found the place last year because the guys wanted a nice place that serves Tiger Ice Freeze (frozen Tiger Beer). I organised the Goonfather’s birthday celebration there.
We went back there several times after that because the ambience is nice, food is pretty good and, well, there’s Tiger Ice Freeze. The live entertainment is a bit dodgy though. They have a singer-and-guitarist duo that would probably add to our enjoyment more if they would just shut up and drink a beer or something.
Anyway, apart from the live entertainment, I had high hopes for Bali Culture (at Seletar East Camp). It’s a nice setup. Swimming pool, al fresco dining and an indoor section with pool table and live entertainment.
We sat outdoors and ordered some starters while waiting for the others to arrive.
For starters, we had, of all things, pineapple rice. Kerr was very hungry.
(The following food pictures all have a bluish tint because it was coming dusk and the light was getting low.)
The pineapple rice was alright. Decent enough. I didn’t eat much of it because, well, Kerr was the one who ordered it and he was very hungry. LOL.
Although the name of the restaurant is Bali Culture, the place doesn’t only serve Balinese cuisine. You’ll also find popular dishes from Swiss Culture and Beach Culture, like cheese fondue and Western main courses, and Thai food, for some reason.
I love the chicken wings at Beach Culture, but the ones at Bali Culture aren’t as nice, although they’re similar types. It’s tasty enough if you aren’t too fussy, though.
The tahu telur is a chef-recommended item. It didn’t quite live up to expectation.
I was at first okay with it even though the tahu came in one huge piece. (Isn’t it supposed to be cut up?) I thought the sauce was quite nice and I’m quite easy to bluff, really. If you give me nice sauces, I’ll eat anything. Edible things, that is. And not disgusting things like worms, please.
(Thanks to the rising number of smart alecs in the world, I have to add disclaimers to everything I write.)
Then the Goonfather said that it was the worst tahu telur he’d ever eaten. I guess he should know better since the dish is one of his favourites, while I’ve only eaten them a few times in my life.
It’s a good thing he only tried it much later, after there was only a bit left, because he was busy doing a project on his Macbook while we were enjoying our starters. So, I kinda managed to enjoy it until he spoilt it by pointing out that it sucked, and reminding me that I have, in fact, eaten better tahu telur in the past.
But it was okay lah. I mean, if I were starving, I would really appreciate it.
Rosti. We like the rosti at Beach Culture. It’s really very good, better than most, although it only comes together with various main courses. At Bali Culture, rosti can be ordered as a side dish but it’s not as nice as the one at Beach Culture.
Still, it was good enough, maybe a bit better than Marche’s rosti. So, our meal started out pretty well.
Disaster struck when Unker Kell finally arrived, like an hour late, and we ordered our mains. Almost everything after that was inedible.
Everyone agreed that the BBQ squid was the worst thing, ever.
Even I, who actually like overcooked squid because I find soft and tender squid very disgusting, found it unacceptable. It was so tough and rubbery it made my jaw ache.
The Goonfather was so upset with this that he almost wanted to call the chef out to have a chat with him.
He also ordered the nasi goreng istimewa, which tasted okay, but it’s like you’re paying $20 for a $5 fried rice. What was laughable was the papadum that came with it.
Papadum is supposed to be a crispy cracker, right. You’re not supposed to be able to bend it in half without causing major destruction.
Seems like the Bali Culture papadum is a different breed altogether. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! It’s the mighty indestructible papadum!
Next up: garlic naan.
Actually, this is maybe worse than the BBQ squid. There is no garlic at all in this garlic naan. In fact, there isn’t even a naan in this naan.
What it tasted like was stale waffles. I’m serious. The sauce that came with it (chutney) was very sweet and coconuty. When I ate the naan together with the sauce, it tasted like love letters (kueh kapit) except it’s not crispy.
It was quite disgusting. And disappointing because that was my main course, together with tom yam soup. (I know, a strange mix. But I like having a variety.)
The tom yam soup was another failure. Now, I’m very experienced at drinking tom yam soup, having drunk a lot of it. This tom yam soup is possibly the worst I’ve ever had.
It tasted more like diluted salted vegetable soup. And it wasn’t just me. Everyone agreed that it didn’t taste like tom yam at all.
The basil minced chicken was okay. Maybe a little dry and tough but the taste was acceptable, just that it was food court standard, like the nasi goreng istimewa.
The only good main course was the Swiss cheese and mushroom pasta. I rather enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind having it again. It’s cheesy enough, creamy enough, the mushrooms are quite sweet and fragrant, and the burnt parts of the cream are awesome.
But two members of the group, namely the Goonfather and Wang Wang, failed it, saying that they’ve had better. But the Goonfather tends to become less forgiving when he’s upset, and he was already upset with his BBQ rubber bands.
Wang Wang didn’t like it because she said the one at Beach Culture is much better.
After the disappointing dinner, we were ready to write off Bali Culture forever. But I thought I might still patronise Beach Culture, and I even considered celebrating my birthday at Swiss Culture because I’ve always wanted to try cheese fondue.
But then something else happened to destroy our last bit of faith in the Culture Group of restaurants.
You see, I was supposed to be a VIP member of the Culture Group. After a particularly extravagant outing at Beach Culture once, they put a sticker on my credit card and told me I could use that to get discounts at all Culture Group restaurants.
But I recently lost my credit card (and with it, the sticker). I tried to explain to the wait staff at Bali Culture that I’m a member so can they please check whether I can still get the member discount even though I’ve lost the sticker? They must have my name somewhere in their database because I had filled out a form.
The problem is that the Culture Group hires all-foreign staff who can’t communicate in English very well. So there must have been a bit of a miscomm. One of the staff came back with another membership form for me to fill out, saying that since I lost my sticker, they’ll help me apply for me a new card and I’ll still get my discount for this bill.
I filled that out and got a bunch of papers to sign, including the bill.
Alas, it was only after I signed everything that I realised they had charged me $30 for the new membership card.
To cut the long story short, it was explained to me that they don’t use the sticker membership anymore. Now, they issue actual cards and don’t recognise the sticker anymore.
So, firstly, they never informed me of such a change even though they e-mail me newsletters every month. When I first got my membership, there wasn’t supposed to be an expiry date. Secondly, I felt like I had been cheated into signing up and paying for a new membership because of the failure of the staff to communicate effectively.
After a long time (we were dealyed by this for about half an hour), the manager finally agreed to refund us the $30 and still honour the membership discount (15%) for this bill.
But, apparently, I am no longer a VIP member of the Culture Group unless I’m willing to pay $30 for the new card.
Oh, well. Doesn’t matter, I suppose, because I don’t think any of my friends want to visit any Culture restaurants anymore. But I’m a little sad cos I like Beach Culture, despite the dodgy live entertainment.
I hope Unker Kell enjoyed himself, though. We actually celebrated his birthday twice this year, the lucky dude! (We went to Kbox just the night before!)
Anyway, to summarise everything, if you ever find yourself having to eat at Bali Culture for any reason, DO NOT under any circumstances, order any Asian dishes. The Western dishes are okay, so stick with those and you should be pretty safe.
And double check everything before you sign anything.