Wanting to relive our two-week Greek holiday when we ate 42 meals of Greek food, Ms Atas and I visited Alati at Amoy Street, helmed by Chef Leong Khai Git, who was nominated as Rising Chef of Year 2015. They call themselves “Alati – Divine Greek Cuisine” but divine, it is not.
4 pieces of halloumi and a few leaves cost $20. It is overly grilled, hence overly charred. Haloumi is supposed to be chewy, but this one is tough as rubber. It is supposed to be salty, but they pair it with another salty dressing, an orange vinaigrette. It’s like a collaboration of two salts: 100% x 100% salty.
Like the halloumi, the xtapodi octopus ($36) is overly salty and overly grilled, almost chao-tah. Greeks have very good seafood, because the country is by the sea, and their seafood is so fresh. Once you have fresh ingredients, half the culinary battle is won. But this octopus is a far cry from what we had in Greece; it is neither fresh nor cooked well.
The salt-baked Lavraki (seabass, $9.80/100g, +10 for salt-baked, our fish costs $59) is the best thing we had at Alati. It is succulent and fresh, but when the waiter scraped the flesh for us, it turned out so little. I don’t want to seem churlish but salt-baked fish is not a difficult dish to do and the fish is guaranteed to be moist because it is protected by the salt. Turning out to be good is expected, not exactly a plus point.
Should have cut our losses and bolted as fast as Taylor Swift’s boyfriends away from her, but I always want desserts and besides how can they screw up loukoumades, right? 5 baby balls of donuts and a quenelle of ice cream cost $20. WTH. It’s drizzled with honey but the texture of donuts is revolting, like a thin pad of styrofoam.
Service is ok, but there were not enough servers. Only 3? They couldn’t handle the crowded restaurant; they were overworked, and became (understandably) unsmiling and inattentive.
Why was the restaurant packed on a Wednesday night? Besides the Santorini-like decor, we could see no other reason. Greek food is simple, peasant food, focusing on the freshness of bright ingredients with little flourish. But Alati is the opposite of the spirit of Greek food. Alati’s food is flowery, overdressed, overdone, over salted, and not fresh.
In Greece, we could pay 20Euros each for a very hearty and delicious meal. Why did we have to pay $150 for two persons? (Well, ok, if the food and service are good, we don’t mind paying.) Like Keats’ famous poem, our Grecian dreams remain as ashes in the urn, best live in our memories.
73 Amoy Street, Singapore 069892
T: +65 6221 6124
M-F 12pm-2.30pm, M-Sat 6pm to 12am
Overall rating: 2.563/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.