It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Hello Kitty. I have a HK pillow, a HK bracelet, a HK onesie pajamas, and I even tried to get HK to sponsor me for a fitness competition. My plan was simple. I made an Instagram video where I dead lifted 200 kg wearing my HK pajamas, and then sent in to HK. They didn’t respond.
Landing in Singapore, one of the first things that caught my eyes at Changi airport was a luxurious looking Hello Kitty Orchid Garden! I just had to try it. Recently I made that wish come true. Here is my review of the establishment, from the perspective of a well traveled foodie with a long experience as an international bar manager.
They’ve definitely pulled out the stops here. The place is lavishly designed. Marble tables. Lots of flowers. White picket fence and even crown moldings! Right up my alley. Approaching the restaurant, it’s clear from the beginning that they are gunning for the upper middle class customers by using high quality interior.
One of the most important aspects of a restaurant for me. I stand firmly by conviction that all restaurants should have a 12 years age minimum requirement, but that’s obviously not going to happen to a place like this that is as attractive to little girls as honey is to bees. The sound levels were quite good, even for an airport! Only a few short annoying screams from a table.
Quality, quality. Easy to understand menu, good variety of food and desserts, good description of the dishes. Ironically, there are a lot of similarities between the HK menu and the Hooters menu, despite the places probably being each others polar opposites. They both know what they are and play it up very well as a strength. The language used in the menu is warm, playful and slightly humorous. Good copy writing.
Let’s face it. The HK orchid garden is expensive. They set the bar high with the nice interior, and apparently they set the prices higher. 9 dollars for an ice tea – not counting the service charge and tax! Main dishes about 20 dollars. I can imagine that many parents find it distasteful, considering that their kid perhaps really really wants to eat there and the parents will have to turn them down due to financial reasons. This is not a food court fast food joint. It’s more like a rolls Royce cafe. I think it’s even more expensive than the New York Palace Cafe in Budapest Hungary (highly worth a visit, BTW). I was very curious to find out if HK could deliver after setting this impression high.
I was helped buy a friendly waiter who I had a lot of difficulty understanding. I had to walk myself over to cake counter to see what kind of selection they had because it was just impossible to make out what he said, even after asking him twice to repeat himself. I went back to my table to have him take my order but he forgot about me for about 10 minutes while carrying out other work. I sat there trying to make eye contact with the other staff but none of them came to my table.
He finally saw me and quickly came, and apologized for letting me wait. I ordered a carrot cake and frozen yogurt. The waiter informed me that it would take about 10 minutes since it was a busy night. The restaurant was less than half full and it didn’t look busy at all. Having worked in the bar and restaurant industry myself for over 16 years, I wondered for myself why it would take 10 minutes to get a piece of cake and fro-yo? I hadn’t ordered any warm food, and could see the cake counter with my own eyes. I approximated that it would take me about 10 seconds to go and get it if I was asked to get it myself.
After about 10 min, my cake was delivered by a food runner. She also gave me a glass of warm water. I don’t know why really, none of the other restaurants in Singapore had done that. She also told me that the fro-yo was unavailable, and wondered if I wanted some vanilla ice cream instead? I asked to see the menu again before making up my mind. It would have been much better to inform me about the fro-yo before serving the cake since that could have made me change my order. In this case though, I decided to just skip having anything else. And even if I wanted to have had ice cream instead, I didn’t get the chance to order it. She never came back to to my table to check, and neither did my first waiter. Needless to say, I didn’t tip them.
So, did HK deliver food wise? I’d say yes! I know my carrot cake, and this one ranks high up there among the best ones I’ve had. It was dense, moist, and creamy. Jackpot! The back of the piece was packed with nuts and it was garnished with strawberries (not completely ripe though). It could possible have done better with just a tad more frosting, and for 11.50$ it was on the verge of scandalously small. But definitely delicious.
It would have been interesting to try the food as well, but honestly – I couldn’t afford it.
Well worth a visit, if you have a thick wallet and can stomach the mediocre service. I base that conclusion on the assumption that the other food in the menu is as good as my cake was.