Shashlik "Russian" food
This place cracks me up. It's billed as a Russian restaurant in Singapore, but nothing could be further from the truth. The place is run by a bunch of grumpy old Hokkien men (see the guys in the classic red vest and bow tie?) and is more like Hokkien food with a Russian influence than anything. Still, this place is practically an institution in Singapore, always packed with crowds on weekends.
You know why? The food is actually pretty darned good. Yes, indeed, really really good. And it's so ironic since the place is far from authentic, uses the worst substitute for ingredients, and should never be associated with the word "class," but it's just darned good. The namesake meat shashlik comes on a sizzling Chinese platter and is incredibly tender and tasty. I think they must load the food with tons of MSG and meat tenderizer or something. It comes with a very dubious "Russian Salad," which is basically a plate with a raw scallion stem, sliced onions, pickled cabbage, sliced pickles, barely a slice of an egg, tomatoes, cucumbers, and - get this - papaya. But as cheesy as it sounds, it's actually really good. (I like to put the scallion and onion slices on the hot platter for extra taste.)
The starters crack me up too. I've had meat solianka and borsch in Estonia before (so they are supposedly the real deal, even though technically that wasn't Russia), and this place in Singapore serves the most hilarious renditions of it. The meat solianka is actually made with sliced hot dogs. Ha ha ha ha ha!!! But it's still really good in its own right with those Chinese pickled vegetables in it. The borsch does have the authenticity of a dallop of sour cream, but interestingly, it is made with a tomato base rather than beet (in order to give it the signature bright red flavor). And it is still good (especially since I hate beets anyway).
Well, if you go there, go for the laughs, not for true Russian food. But it is darned good. It's so good that once I ordered two main dishes and even went off later for more food (yes, the portions are pretty small too, and it still adds up to a sizeable chunk of change). Don't expect authenticity, friendly service, nor classiness (ha ha - the mass produced hot bread and the wooden push carts crack me up too), but do expect a surprisingly good meal.
I love this place. This is truly a Singaporean institution by every right, and I'm sure there is nowhere else in the world like it.