Monday, November 27, 2006

Pret A Manger Singapore

From left: Big BLT, Avocado Parmesan, and Orange & Raspberry Freshly Crushed Juice

I had noticed these guys everytime I passed through Hong Kong, but never actually ate there. So when the Straits Times mentioned yesterday how they finally opened up a shop in Singapore (35 Robinson Road #01-02, 6323-4165), I came by today to see what was really behind this British sandwich shop with the unforgettable French name boasting of convenience.

And convenience it was. There was no sandwich station here; just racks of refrigerators featuring a variety of neatly stacked "boxes" of sandwiches. Just grab what you want, and go pay. There were a few that looked interesting, such as the Christmas Lunch sandwich featuring turkey and cranberries, as well as even some soup. But I eventually settled on the "Big BLT," even if the box inherently forced it to be less than two inches thick (not so "big" after all, eh?).

Actually, the boxes presented another issue: while it looked all stylish at first, being in a triangular box with a clear window (including narrative printed all over it explaining how these boxes are not sealed, thus proving that they are freshly made that day rather than days before), it only hit me when I reached the checkout line that these boxes were triangular because they were only *half* sandwiches! Then again, it does say Pret Petit if you look closely enough on the box. I quickly scrambled back to the refrigerator to grab another box, this time of the avocado parmesan variety. And like a little boy, I matched the two triangles together (while still in the boxes), as if to reassure myself that I finally got at least one full-sized sandwich on the more familar square piece of bread. I added a (similarly surprisingly small) bottle of "Orange & Raspberry Freshly Crushed Juice," and then finally paid up.

So how did the sandwiches taste? The Big BLT had an interesting twist in it: the "L" in BLT was not lettuce, but actually rucola, which I didn't mind since I like it a lot, but those that don't like the pronounced taste of the leaves might get turned off. The cheese shavings in the avocado parmesan sandwich was also a great touch, even if the pine nuts in there were a bit of a surprise. But there was one huge drawback of having such pre-made sandwiches: there were no configuration options. And while I generally liked the pre-selected ingredients in these two sandwiches, they enveloped these in wheat bread, which I'm not a fan of (and it had nuts in the bread too - even worse!). Too bad sourdough bread is not common out here. Well, as long as I ignored the taste and texture of the bread, the sandwiches weren't actually that bad, aside from being a bit too small. I believe that the Pret a Manger stores in in England provide both halves of the sandwich in a box twice the size...but still triangular in shape, right?

In the end, there was no doubting that the pre-made sandwiches did make this place super speedy (although the checkout counter guys were still undergoing some growing pains today). If I only had 10 minutes to spare for lunch and were forced to eat pre-made sandwiches, then I'd definitely prefer this place's taste over The Sandwich Shop down the street (interestingly, these guys also had an All Day Breakfast sandwich). But I probably won't go out of my way just for this. It's too bad that Green Cedar shut down too; these guys are sitting on the old site of the former Lebanese takeout place.


回春 said...

Interesting -- I'm meaning to go down to Pret since it's right behind the building I work in. I used to eat at the Pret on Wall St a lot when it first opened, before I got tired of eating sandwiches every day. But it should be a nice change once in a while. I'm kinda surprised they are only half sandwiches, but not that surprised -- Singaporean portions are considerably smaller than in the States.

Kathy said...

How much did the half cost you? Certainly hope it wasn't a rip-off.

I used to eat Pret as a student in london, the sandwiches were one of the thickest lunch sandwiches we could get, compared to those off the supermarket shelf.

The half sandwich concept -- perhaps they wanted to give customers more leeway to try different flavours.

And i do remember the BLT having lettuce. At least they kept the metal tray.

If you every do go London, do grab the cheese ploughman (v brit) and chicken avocado. The latter's got a hint of homemade pesto randomly dotting the bread, which just creates bursts of flavours through the bland chicken and avocado.

j said...

They probably thought they needed to scale down the portion to half a sandwich, but I think a full sandwich is still a norm for any Singaporean packing their own sandwich lunch? A half sandwich certainly wouldn't be filling enough for me.

bma said...

Actually, I had the BLT again, and they used a different kind of leaf today. It wasn't rucola this time, but it wasn't iceberg lettuce either (sorry, I'm not exactly a pro on vegetable taxonomies).

I checked the label on the refrigerator afterwards, and all it said was "Salad Mix" or something. Maybe they rotate out every day depending on whatever is in season at the time or something.

And yeah, they had the chicken avocado (with pesto listed on the label) today. I didn't grab it for fear of dragon breath, but maybe one of these days when I don't have any meetings scheduled, I'll check it out. Thanks!

ady said...

Mmm... I usually grab something from Pret for lunch when I'm in the UK. Love the selection of sandwiches there. I'm sure not many people know this but McDonald's actually has a stake in the company.

Kng Suan said...

I dropped by the place the other day... and noticed that other than the wraps and the baguettes, all their sandwiches are only one triangle, ie. half a sandwich, or what is known as "slim pret" in the UK. I personally like the half-sandwich concept, because it allows me to mix and match. But yeah, it can be decieving.

It's not cheap though, one half is ard S$3.50, which is almost the same price as one in the UK.

I love Pret and am absolutely glad that they opened in Sg. Now if only they have the entire variety like they do in the UK

Anonymous said...

Did you notice whether they sold chocolate mousse in the SG Pret? Their UK outlets sell it and it's absolutely scrumptious! HG Pret did not have it...