Driving along Capstan Way, it would be easy to miss Oaks Plaza (9020-9060 Capstan Way) since it’s on the smaller side and is fairly non-descript. However, don’t be fooled by its modest appearance since there are numerous Richmond dining gems to be found within this outdoor complex. The selection is truly a varied eating tour, ranging from decadent chocolate fondue to deeply satisfying Singaporean curries.
Prata-Man Singapore Cuisine
This restaurant embodies a cheap-and-cheerful aesthetic and food philosophy. Interiors are basic, with utilitarian tables and chairs, stark white walls, and fluorescent lighting. But who needs fancy décor and fussy service when Prata-Man serves excellent Singaporean cuisine that won’t put a dent in your wallet? Diners come especially for their incredibly smooth Hainanese chicken, which comes with “oily rice” (cooked with chicken stock and fat), broth, and two dipping sauces (hot chili and green onion and garlic). Also popular are their perfectly charred pork, beef, and chicken satays. The accompanying chunky peanut sauce adds great nutty flavour and texture to them.
Also highly recommended is the rich beef brisket curry, which calls for an order of prata bread for generous dipping in the sauce.
If you’re feeling like carbs, they also serve mee goreng (fried noodles) for happy twirling and slurping.
Capstone Tea & Fondue
If you’re like me and have a particular weakness for chocolate, Capstone is a good option for your next date or for a catch-up with a friend or two. The room has a bright, modern vibe that’s part café, part dessert lounge. Their specialty is chocolate fondue, which makes for an interactive and fun experience. Diners can choose from their preferred type of chocolate (dark or milk) and items for dipping, such as seasonal fruit and cookies. Other add-ons include ice cream truffles for dipping and different toppings, like rainbow sprinkles for a brightly coloured treat.
There’s also a cheese fondue if you lean towards the savoury. In the afternoons (1pm to 4pm), you can indulge in afternoon tea, with the classic combo of scones, savoury items (e.g. blue cheese mushroom quiche), desserts (e.g. macarons), and your choice of tea. The drink list is extensive, including everything from a matcha frappe to sparkling fruit iced teas.
When I was growing up, my mother used to make congee for me all the time. I think it’s for that reason that I associate it with childhood and home cooking. Kongee Dynasty claims to be the city’s first custom “kongee” specialty restaurant. The restaurant is elegant, with fancy pendant lights and Chinese carved screens as design features. For those who are fans of check off menus, visit at breakfast or lunch when you’ll get presented with a sheet for customizing your congee.
You can choose the base; toppings, like salted egg; as well as garnishes, such as pickled radish. Other snacks, like a savoury pancake, are also available for ticking off the sheet.
The dinner menu moves beyond “kongee” into more substantial and upscale items, like supreme braised sea cucumber, chef special stuffed duck, and Dungeness crab with ginger and green onion.
Manzo Itamae Japanese Restaurant
Over at 8391 Alexandra Road, you can find Manzo Itamae’s casual sister restaurant that specializes in izakaya and robata fare. This dining establishment in Oaks Plaza has more of a sleek refinement to it, both in terms of its dimly lit interiors and menu options. The term “itamae” refers to a highly skilled chef who works in a large, high-end restaurant in Japan. Here at Manzo Itamae, emphasis is placed on showcasing the sushi bar’s fresh seafood, in sashimi, such as salmon toro, as well as nigiri, maki, and battera (pressed sushi) creations.
Those looking for robata won’t be disappointed, with items like grilled miso chicken skewers and barbecued pork ribs.
Other hot dishes include steak teppanyaki, mentaiko yaki udon, spicy agadashi tofu, and pan seared duck breast. A selection of sake, shochu, and umeshu can be paired with your various bites.
Good pho is like an immediate infusion of comforting warmth. Pho Han features spartan furnishings in a small room, with six or so tables within it and a kitchen that knows how to crank out a mean beef noodle soup. Devotees rave about the version with the works: rare sliced strip loin, flank, brisket, tendon, meatballs, and tripe. In short, it’s a beef feast.
The chicken noodle soup with free range chicken meat, chicken meatballs, and quail’s egg is a restorative option. Also on the menu are banh mi (e.g. with grilled pork); salad rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, vermicelli, and greens; and rice and vermicelli specials with toppings like grilled lemon grass short ribs, shredded pork, and veggies. This is not a place to linger at, but definitely one to frequent often.
Overall, Oaks Plaza makes for a memorable and delicious stop off on Capstan Way. It will be well worth it!