Chatterbox, Meritus Mandarin Singapore
I used to like Chatterbox (333 Orchard Road, 6831-6291). Even though they charged literally up to ten times what hawkers charged, the food was good enough that I was willing to pay the S$20 (US$12) or so for good food and even 24 hour availability in air conditioned comfort. I hadn't been back in ages, but when a friend of mine from back home came into town tonight complaining about the humidity while wanting local food, I knew exactly where to take him.
And what a change confronted us when we arrived. Physically speaking, the decor had been overhauled into some red veneer-plastered monstronsity. That didn't really matter as long as the food was the same. It was not. Instead of the humble chicken rice that I was expecting, this thing came out in some fancy porcelainware with chicken sitting on a bed of lettuce and cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes with chicken rice?? Something was amiss.
Well, the good thing was that the chicken was still tender and moist, and the rice was still tasty. They also gave portions much larger than I was expecting such that we didn't even need to order their boringly-grilled satay. But the chicken slices were of the frustratingly skinny kind, and they hardly provided much chili sauce nor ginger to go with this. In the end, it was still edible, but I was a bit bummed to find this rather boring, not standing out much more than any other chicken rice place out there. That being the case, I'd much rather hit up a hawker and pour the remaining money into my beer fund instead.
I heard that they changed chefs recently along with the whole renovation. Is that true? Either way, it's a shame. This place has fallen from its prime. I guess it is still a good standby for taking visitors to, but I'll probably think twice next time and consider the StraitsKitchen for visitors instead.