Turf City Experience

After more than a decade, we visited the Turf City in the Bukit Timah area of Singapore recently, to explore the place and have something to eat of course, in the true tradition of Singaporeans.

We (my wife and I) were amazed to find that the exterior of the place has not changed at all, given that most places in Singapore have undergone substantial change over the past decade or so. Singapore is an ever-changing city, with constant innovation driving its urban landscape. But Turf City is a rather remote location off Bukit Timah with a huge car mart and open parking space (there is no charge for parking here!), connected to the grandstand building.

We parked and walked into the grandstand – there were not many people to be seen though there were hundreds of cars parked. The restaurants were not packed. Few people were walking along the corridors. We walked up and down a couple of times but missed out the PasarBella (Singapore’s first Farmers’ Market) in the first couple of rounds. I did not want to have Indian food, and so we went for Thai food at the Grandstand.

The Thai food place was a wrong selection (now I know the importance of research!). Apart from the crispy bean curd which was fine, the rest of what we ordered was not at all compatible with our usual expectations of Thai restaurant offerings in Singapore. The Thai Fried rice and Green Curry were lousy. There was nothing spicy about the green curry, it was sweet and lacked the essence of Thai cooking. The fried rice was dull with no kick of chillies – there was no point in ordering such stuff, and I guess the rest of their menu items would equally be of poor quality. The service was bad – I had to keep my hand raised for quite some time and multiple times before one of the waiters would notice – they looked totally oblivious to their patrons’ needs. The way the restaurant was organized in its interior, they could not see us also.

In a nutshell, this Thai restaurant was an avoidable experience.

We were obviously upset, and decided go for desserts in another place. We walked around, and found the PasarBella. It was a delightful place, very unique and unlike any we have seen in Singapore. It looked very Western, with multiple small booths offering a variety of food – Mexican, Thai, local fare, etc., There were several wine shops, cheese places, and bakeries. We thought we should have come to this place to start with!

We ended up at Laman’s Delight, a Russian Bakery with some exotic cakes. The owner, Laman, told us she is from Azerbeijan. That is somewhere near Russia, for the geographically challenged folks. I am yet to locate it on the world map, I only know (now) that it is in Europe.

We ordered two of her chocolate-infused cakes, one of them was with Bailey’s Irish Cream. These are not very sweet cakes, but they absolutely have a solid strong charater to them in respect of their flavours, looks, and size. Yes, the Russian size – rather big sized cake slices. The liqueur-infused cake was marathon – I told my wife it will take us not less than 3 days to finish it!

Laman’s cakes are not cheap – these are big cakes, with some fresh ingredients and original knowhow from Mother Russia and Azerbeijan. Cannot be inexpensive, but I was a bit taken aback with the bill, I should say. However, it was worth it – never had Russian cakes in Singapore, so it is indeed a novelty.

There were many other places to see around in PasarBella, so we decided to come again one of the weekends to further explore. Our view is that there are indeed some excellent choices for an evening out there, and the setting attracted us – it is indeed very unique in this urban city of ours.

Try it!


Vijay Srinivasan

14th August 2016

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