Saturday, February 18, 2012

Singapore Food Blog - IKEA Restaurant @ Alexandra

Location: Alexandra, Singapore

I never was familiar with IKEA, nor was I familiar with Swedish meal, until I was introduced to both in an IKEA restaurant. Yes, that's right - if you are as unfamiliar with IKEA as I was, they have a restaurant within the boundary of the furniture giant and it is operated under their name.

The one that I visited in Alexandra was packed full of people in the weekend, greeting you with a long queue  and throngs of crowd. From what I understand, it is as such on weekdays as well, showing how popular it is with the locals. Then again, where else can one sample Swedish food while shopping in a furniture concept store?

Welcome to IKEA! The restaurant itself jutted out from the large container-like furniture giant. Seated by the windows will offer diners an unobstructed view of the hustle and bustle of traffic and pedestrian beyond the transparent glass.

The concept of a Swedish restaurant operating within a furniture store is not without its business logic. IKEA meticulously lays out its store with concept rooms available for its customers' reference so that the consumer is happy with buying the suitable product instead of just fishing for furniture that he thought is suitable for his abode. So why not extend the idea and let them use the furniture in an environment that they most likely will encounter?

Even though limited in choices, the meal they served is unlimited in taste.

From the decorations to the furniture, items within the restaurant are furnished mainly from IKEA's own product. Diners seated within the restaurant gain experience and insight from using those furniture and may be urged to seek the item out from the store due to the pleasant experience. If one is not sure of whether the ergonomics or feel of certain dining furniture, then dining in this place will aid one in making up his mind. 

Even some of the offered food are on sale in its supermarket selling Swedish food, so that one may try to purchase some and prepare a Swedish meal at home.

Be always on the lookout for seats within this throng of people.

Although they claim themselves a restaurant, the fact remains that the dining place is more of a cafeteria than its namesake. Throng of people queuing up for food is a common sight, and while the seated tables are almost always full, that does not stop visitors from waiting patiently for one to avail itself. Food is ordered through the counters and paid at the cashier when it is served. Since the plates are heavy, what more with  food packed full on it, it is a foresight on IKEA restaurant's part to provide a three-tiered trolley meant for diners to take as much as 3 food trays at one time, since most of them are buying for families and friends.

From the lamp to the chairs, most items are familiar to the  frequent visitor of IKEA. Setting up the restaurant is a marketing strategy by itself - diners are seated within an environment created through use of IKEA items, and the experience may urge some diners to seek those furniture due to a pleasant experience from using it.

The meals offered in IKEA restaurant are generally a balance of meat and greens, but usually the meaty portion is the highlight for the carnivorous. Meatballs are packed and well done, just the way I like them. Chewing into them reveals hidden sensations within, and dipped within whatever sauce is provided for each dish, provides an experience that is out of this world. Do not take my word for it, try it and you will be glad that you have your meal there.

The offered dishes in IKEA restaurant are quite a sight to see and a taste to behold.

Salmon, not only featured exquisitely in Japanese cuisine, is also one of the highlights of dining in IKEA restaurant ($10). A balanced diet of greens accompanied the dish, with the salmon piece dipped into a viscous gravy, proving itself a value for money meal. One of the must-haves!

The pasta meatball combo ($9.90) comes with a chicken wing, and is enough to sate any starving sensation. Cheese powder sprinkled over penne (I think those are penne) soaked in tomato based sauce, and accompanied by packed meatballs, this is a recommended meal for one who is in love with pasta.

15 pieces of Swedish meatballs (yes, that really is the dish's name) ($8.00) prepared in a mixture of pork and beef, a definite choice for the carnivorous. Soft baked potatoes are served along to provide a balance diet. The dish is dipped into a thick gravy which accentuates the meatball's taste with its slight sweetness. It is enough to give KFC's mashed potato gravy a run for its money. One could also dip the meatballs into the berry jam for a mixture of sweet and sour.

The cake comes as part of the meatball meal and could be consumed as dessert.

The cake is quite packed - slicing through it requires strength. Mingled with a chocolate taste is something else which I could not quite place, but the cake is more of a brownie than a cake. The nice thing about it is that it is not very sweet, a plus for the health conscience and sweet aversion.

The size of the cake is quite deceiving, far from the one seen in advertised picture. Instead of a long piece, the one on the receiving end of the diner is only about the size of a table spoon. One could compare its size against that of a usual tablespoon as portrayed in this picture.

The surprising black horse of all its meal, the chicken wings are really a taste to behold. Never would I thought that their chicken wings are so special, and even without dipping into any sauce or ketchup, they themselves would leave anyone asking for more. 

Unlike the usual ones which had barely any meat clinging to the bones, these are surprisingly packed with flesh. The exterior is not crunchy but it is the mixture of sweet and salty which leaves a lingering memory in your mouth. Long before you knew it, everyone will be grabbing for the last wing off the plate.

Never would have expected this, but topping off all the meals we have ordered, IKEA restaurant's chicken wings are really the black horse ($7.50/6 pieces; $2.80/2 pieces). Unexpectedly more delicious than most chicken wings that I had consumed, anyone walking into the restaurant must get this even if one is not hungry.

Classic Juice comes with some of the meals. This one here is a mixture of apple and peach, and the exquisite taste it offers may not suit everyone.  Savor the liquid swirling in your mouth along with the fibrous solids before getting it down your throat. The glass bottle could be a match for any bottle collection you may have in your home, or as part of the decoration with other items bought in IKEA.

The choice of shopping before or after a meal in IKEA restaurant is entirely up to the customer, but if you have a chance to visit the store, then the restaurant is definitely not a place to be missed. Be prepared though for the long queue, scarcely available seats and a noisy environment. If you decided to dine there, then you must remember to order at least one of the must-haves: Swedish meatballs and chicken wings.

View Ikea Proprietary Limited in a larger map

Suitable for:            lunch out or dine out with family and friends
Cost:                             Occasional; the food is not expensive but neither are they everyday cheap. Prepare about SGD7 at the least to fill your stomach. This page taken from their website allows a glimpse off their menu: IKEA Alexandra restaurant page

Website:                    IKEA Store website

Contact:                     +65 - 6786 6868
Address:                     317 Alexandra Road, Singapore 159965.
                                         This page taken from their website provided a very good aid for getting to this particular outlet: direction to IKEA Alexandra

Operating hours:   Daily, including public holiday (9.30a.m. - 10.00p.m., last order at 9.30p.m.)

Note: This piece is written base on experience of dining in IKEA restaurant in Alexandra, Singapore. There are restaurants operating in other areas as well as other countries, and experience may differ between those and the one in this article.


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