Central is a maze of escalators, odd corners and hidden shops. The best way to navigate it from the MRT station, I've realised, is not to use the basement entrance (with the many signs pointing The Way to Central) but, to just ride your way upstairs to fresh air. It's a slightly confusing mall with seemingly different sections. The mix of shops seem to be just that, a mix put together by someone who picked them out of a hat. But it does have Tom Ton and its black pig.
Instead of having to wait in line like the bigger groups, we opted to sit at the counter, just in front of the grill. But good ventilation meant barely any smell, plus counter seating means quicker service, and, as I found out later, an always-refilled cup of green tea.
We went for the 'Top Grade' tonkatsu (about $4+ more), although strangely, for the set, the 'Top Grade' one is an additional $5 added onto the 'Normal' price. The exterior was crisp and not oily at all. The breadcrumb texture was perfectly light. And the meat was oh, tender and juicy. It is a simple dish really, but when it is done well, it is heavenly!
The other dish we shared was the sukiyaki. It came with several slices of pork, leeks, mushrooms, tofu, cabbage and carrots, in a simmering broth on a gas flame. The broth was a bit too sweet and I doubt I could've finished this by myself because of that. But the pork was indeed very tender and the udon had bite, always a good sign.
After a wander around the mall, although by that time, most of the stores had already closed, we grabbed ringside seats at Paisley & Cream to do some people-watching. It was already after 10 and the young ones were heading out to erm, wherever young ones head out to these days. And some of them were so in need of an Ambush Makeover.
But back to the eating, or rather, drinking. I had a boring decaff americano (illy, if you must know), and eps had the ice lemon mint tea, which didn't have enough mint. The display counter was laid out with cupcakes of different colours and sizes, but cupcakes have never really done it for me. I've never been enticed by all that frosting. Worse, the frosting on these were quite lacking in imagination. The cafe is pretty though, down to the design on the tabletops. But the rather stiff-backed chairs could use a rethink, I reckon. I might pop by to see how they fare when it comes to food (by then the kitchen had closed).
And this marked my first real outing back in Singapore. I suppose there were better ways to have kicked it off, but in a way, Central is rather Singaporean. It's hyped up and not much thought went into it. It looks big and glossy on the outside, but on the inside, you think twice (especially when you step into their toilets).
Tom Ton Central
06 Eu Tong Sen Street
Paisley & Cream Cafe
#01-09/10, Central@Clarke Quay