I remember growing up order steamed bread from the coffee shop below my block at Holland Close. It was the alternative to having toasted bread. You can find it in almost any coffee shop. Through the years, it slowly disappeared. Blame it on Ya Kun or Killiney for successfully franchising their brand of toasted bread. Blame it on Kopitiam or Koufu for expanding their empires by taking over traditional coffee shops. Whatever the reason, it is so difficult to find streamed bread any more. Ask for steamed bread at a typical coffee shop and the foreign talent from China will stare at me blankly.
Now this week, I had steamed bread three times. Twice at a restaurant and once, at home, where I decided to make it my own. Now steaming the bread at home using Gardenia bread is not quite the same. I must get the type that most use for toasted bread.
This week, after topping up petrol, Joyce and I decided to make a U-turn to 38 Commonwealth Avenue. Now we have been there a number of times before. There is the ever famous Long Jiang Seafood Restaurant Restaurant, that was formerly at the old Crown Prince Hotel. And next to it is the also famous Sin Kee Chicken Rice, formerly at Margaret Drive. Then there is a third restaurant that was totally deserted, TSG Kitchen.
We decided to give it a try. I thought the decor was nice and casual. The menu has a mish mash of both western and local, and it serves STEAMED BREAD. My eyes lit up and I had to talk to the counter staff, who is also a trained cook, to make sure it was what I thought it was. When it came, it was served in a dim sum bamboo streaming tray with butter and kaya by the side. It was so delicious, I had to go back again. We also tasted their Tiramisu and seafood spaghetti. Both tasted great.
On my second visit, we brought the family, including my parents. My mom had the pork chop, my dad had the fish an chips and Joyce went from the seafood spaghetti again! I decided to be adventurous. Restaurants either do their westerns or their locals well, rarely both. I ordered the fried fish bee hoon in milky soup. Guess what? Everything passes. delicious. Well almost everything…
What was not good for me were their calamari and onion rings… they tasted nice, but they felt so heavy that I could not take in a third piece. And they came before the mains came. But we did finish everything else.
And I ended the meal with another order of steamed bread. At $2.50 for 2 slices of bread, I do think it is a tad expensive.
Now, while talking to the staff, I discovered what TSG stood for – The Stomping Ground. I guess it is sort of a brand extension from their wine bar and restaurant at One Fullerton. From a marketing point, the brand extension does not work for me. “TSG” means nothing to me or to the neighbourhood.
In Singapore, restaurant chains have been experimenting with different concepts and using brand extension to leverage on a familiar name. One of the best examples is Crystal Jade. The other is the Paradise Inn, who went as far as Kung fu Paradise.
If The Stomping Ground intends to extend its brand, it should play around the word “Stomp” – even The Stomping Kitchen, that would have greater attitude. Nevermind the name. I intend to come back, it also has another item on it’s menu that I like and is difficult to find in Singapore – Eggs Benedict which they serve as part of their breakfast menu (till 3 pm).