food

Orange & Teal, Rochester Mall: “It tries to cover so much with so little”

Last Updated: August 28, 2021

Written by Vera Leng

Excitement was thick in the air when politician Dr Chee Soon Juan and wife first announced the opening of Orange & Teal at Rochester Drive. Nobody knew what the menu was or how much the fare would cost. But I knew a politics geek (or five) who wanted to be amongst the firsts to step foot into the cafe.

Collage of Dr Chee Soon Juan and his staff at Orange & Teal

Between the craze, the dining-in ban during Phase 2 (HA) again, and all the chaos of shifting our editorial schedule, I finally squeezed in the time to visit Dr Chee’s establishment (on my off day, no less), and caught a glimpse of the man of the hour.

On a typical day, Dr Chee can be spotted greeting guests, ushering them in, and stopping for the occasional selfie with a fan who’s managed to read all but one of his books on Singapore’s economical landscape. It’s a fascinating scene—one that I take my time to drink in, especially having covered GE2020 last year with a ton of research and sporadic scathing takes. 

What I tried

If the menu at Orange & Teal were a person, it’d be a small child, wandering the toiletries aisle of Cold Storage, unsure if his mom ran off to grab cherries or whether she’d driven home without her own son in tow. It tries to cover so much with so little, and ends up being a bit lost. 

Creamy Butter Tuscan Salmon

Under the same ‘mains’ tab, you’ll find both the Creamy Butter Tuscan Salmon (S$20.80) and the Creole Jambalaya (S$13.90) which draw inspiration from very different cuisines, and yet there’s also Green Sencha Tea (S$4) to throw into the mix as if all that wasn’t sending enough mixed signals. 

I can’t quite put a finger on what the salmon dish is supposed to be—there’s poached salmon sitting in a bed of watered-down cream sauce, but there’re also twirls of linguine that are unclear if served as a main or a side. When I picture creamy butter Tuscan salmon, I don’t particularly imagine thin, watery cream sauce and soggy salmon skin loosely arranged on a plate, but then again in a perfect world I wouldn’t be riding 17 train stops just to jostle with disgruntled aunties for a seat in Dr Chee’s establishment. 

Creole Jambalaya

If we’re talking flavour, then the Creole Jambalaya makes up for what the Tuscan salmon lacks, but only slightly. It’s a hodgepodge of rice, sliced sausages, celery, bell peppers, and a grand total of three prawns, amongst other ingredients. In some sort of twisted sense of irony, the Creole Jambalaya is probably the one dish that encapsulates the spirit of the fare here at Orange & Teal—equal parts confused and out of place.  

Close up of Forest Mushroom Soup

Possibly the only saving grace of the afternoon, a piping hot—albeit not cleaned before serving much to Chef Gordon Ramsay’s dismay—bowl of Forest Mushroom Soup (S$4.50) sees thick chunks of mushrooms amidst its other blended counterparts. 

Double Chocolate Fudge Cake

Dessert comes by way of a Double Chocolate Fudge Cake (S$6.80) and that cake alone because, after everything before, I’m frankly afraid to extend my gastronomic trek here. It delivers a fudgy outer as promised, but its spongy layers could definitely use a lot more moisture.   

A quick look around’s all I need to realise that just by being here, my partner and I easily, immediately lower the average age of diners by a mile. If it’s not aunties exchanging gossip about Jenny from finance, it’s middle-aged couples who look like they’ve missed one too many sessions of marriage counselling. We Singaporeans aren’t textbook when it comes to love and family, and well, most things for that matter. But if it’s one thing that we know, it’s using food as a vessel to put differences aside, even if it’s just temporarily. 

Final thoughts

While the fare’s obviously a lot less stellar than I’d hoped, maybe it shouldn’t be expected to be great. After all, with Dr Chee creating a space for Singaporeans to gather, engage in discourse, and “where the conversation’s even better”—as the slogan goes, I believe—perhaps it’s alright to close an eye or two when it all comes down to it. 

Most make the trip down to Orange & Teal for reasons other than the food, anyway. But for this Eastie, it’s going to take a lot more than air-fried spam fries and automatic coffee machine lattes for me to trudge down to Rochester Drive again.

Expected damage: S$13.90 – S$20.80 per pax

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 3 / 5

Orange & Teal

35 Rochester Drive, Rochester Mall, #02-12, Singapore 138639

Price
Our Rating 3/5

Orange & Teal

35 Rochester Drive, Rochester Mall, #02-12, Singapore 138639

Telephone: +65 6993 1006
Operating Hours: 11am - 9pm (Tue to Wed, Sun), 11am - 10pm (Fri & Sat), Closed on Mon
Telephone: +65 6993 1006

Operating Hours: 11am - 9pm (Tue to Wed, Sun), 11am - 10pm (Fri & Sat), Closed on Mon
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