Cheng Li Yuan, Tanjong Pagar
I was getting my hopes up for another great restaurant owned by a couple of mainland Chinese (72 Tanjong Pagar Road, 6227-2551, across from Xin Tao Yuan), but was pretty bummed when I left. Basically each dish got worse and worse as the meal progressed. Similar mainlander-owned places like Hometown do an absolutely perfect plate of string beans, bursting with oil and flavor. Here, they were limp and soggy. The mabo tofo was a bore, and they used so much of that salty bean chili sauce in their dishes that they appeared again in the dan dan mian, at which point we took one bite and gave up.
The pinnacle of all this must have arrived when we got the waitress-recommended shrimp, which she pointed out to us in a picture. It looked interesting with all these deep fried strands emanating from it. But when she finally brought us the dish itself, we craned our necks closer to the dish and asked ourselves, "Are those rainbow sprinkles??" They were. Oh no! To be fair, the shrimp, mayo, and shoestring potato combo wasn't too bad on its own (and the sweetness of the mayo to some degree made the sprinkles more palatable), but still, flashbacks of fifth-grade birthday party cupcakes could not be avoided with that taste. That just wasn't right (it was almost like putting flower-power and peace stickers on the back of a Humvee).
Perhaps we ordered the wrong things. These guys are apparenly from northeastern China, so I guess those aren't the right things to order. A neighboring table had some dumplings and flatbread things that looked decently good. Perhaps I'll give it a second chance with those items on a lunch break one of these days. But yeah, this meal was so unsatisfying (and nearly laughable) that it wasn't too encouraging.