Four and a half Gourmands on Hong Kong Street is a strange little space that feels too enclosed to succeed as a restaurant/bar hotspot, in spite of its central Clarke Quay location. Its roadside al fresco dining area may provide a more promising proposition, perhaps on days where one is not strangled by the unholy trifecta of heat, humidity and haze, but truthfully speaking, were it not for the “3 Martinis/Margaritas for $9.90” I had purchased, 4 ½ would never have been on my wining and dining list.
The choices that were advertised were strawberry, lime and lychee for either cocktail, with the additional option of espresso and chocolate for the martini range. I’m all about drinking dessert, so I was palpably disappointed when the wait staff informed me that only the fruity options were available. I had a strawberry martini that was solidly all right (especially for the price) but my two companions’ lychee margaritas were quite insipid. It could just be that martinis are far harder to mess up than margaritas, but I have tasted far, far worse (and far, far more expensive) drinks on this island.
We had the option of ordering an order of truffle fries for $5 (between $1 or $2 off the normal price) which we took up, and we ordered some other dishes to supplement this – Vietnamese chicken wings, garlic prawns, shepherd’s pie, quail’s egg wontons and Wagyu beef cubes (between $5 – $7.50 a dish). These appetizers ranged from pretty delicious to thoroughly lukewarm and finally, a pointless waste of money.
The truffle fries were good for fries, but truffle fries are like fry royalty, and come with imminently high standards. They were tasty, but the seasoning lacked either enough truffle oil or additional seasoning, and weren’t anywhere close to as pungent or addictive as truffle fries are supposed to be.
The meat appetizers were the highlights of our meal. South East Asia sure does a mean deep fried chicken wing, and the Vietnamese wings put on an excellent showing – when I was a child I had a Thai domestic helper and she made my favourite chicken wings in the world, and while these didn’t come close they reminded me of my childhood in all its glory, succulent, and perfectly fried. The Wagyu beef cubes were moist and good, if conservatively portioned (and they did look rather sad sitting quietly on the limp lettuce leaves).
The quail’s egg wontons were just intriguing; what a bizarre idea, encasing quail’s eggs in wonton skin and deep-frying them, but then again, perhaps anything wrapped, presented as a dumpling and deep fried can’t go too far wrong. I liked them, although I still can’t wrap my head around them.
The shepherd’s pie was pretty abysmal, with the thinnest layer of meat I have ever seen, and topped with processed, powdered cheese that shouldn’t be allowed near a pie. And the garlic prawns, well, they should speak for themselves visually, small, sad little things beached on a lonely plate that only seems to get larger the longer you look at it.
I did, however, enjoy how quiet the place was, and my friends and I had a really nice, laid back evening. Furnishings-wise 4 ½ tries to be a classy place, with a monochrome colour-scheme, lush sofas and designer seats, but has too much going on, coming off as classy for a KTV lounge at best. (It doesn’t help that its neighbour, Fragrance Hotel, is in clear view of its patrons.) I would recommend sitting near the window and facing the street to alleviate the claustrophobic feeling of the interiors somewhat.
The bar for bar food in Singapore really isn’t set very high, but if you avoid my mistakes (the shepherd’s pie, prawns) and go for 4 ½ ‘s simpler, greasier offerings, you might have a reasonably enjoyable night that is, at the very least, affordable. It’s a pity that its Hong Kong Street location will never amount to a legitimate drinking hole, on the strength of its bar alone and the pokey-ness of the interior space, otherwise its decent bar food menu might be quite a boon. That said, they do advertise an alcohol buffet deal that I may return for, if I want to get plastered really, really desperately.
Check out some other deals by Plus Big Deal SG
This daily deal review was posted by Janice
Interested to write for us? We’ll pay for the cost of your deal! Contact the Team @ Deals Lion City to make it happen.