culinary institute of america, singapore

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Cory told me about the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Singapore (located in my old school (Temasek Polytechnic) where the students at the school served out lunches at a reasonable price of S$11.

Firstly, I didn’t know CIA set up a place in Singapore, and I was curious about the food. And of course, the chance to go back to school.

I brought along my good friend, Lynda and we were off to school for lunch*. We got ourselves to the building, and purchased food coupons. I am sorry – any food coupons just reminded me of food ration/ social service.

Explaining to us the specials of the day

Once we got the food coupons, we proceed to another wing of the building where we got to choose the mains. The theme for the lunch was Central Europe – featuring cuisines around that area. Before we gave the student a chance to explain the lunch specials to us, Lynda and I have decisively known what we want.

The kitchen

Next we went to the kitchen to pick up our food, which was a bit awkward for us. We didn’t expect that we will be getting our food straight from the kitchen – yes the students cooked the food in front of you. While I was waiting for my main, the poor chef got scolded by the instructor for being slow as my order was missed out and I have been there for awhile.

We got our food and we were shown to the dining room, where we could help ourselves to water or iced lemon tea.

All these food for S$11 per person

Polish mushroom soup and trio salad

The Polish mushroom soup was not bad (though the sour cream coagulated and turned lumpy) – however I am unsure if Poland has Chinese black fungus in their soup. For the Trio Salad, the team went overzealous with the citrus, it was pretty sour.


Among the appetizers, my favourite was the Pierogies with creamy dill sauce – these Polish dumplings were well filled with creamy smooth potatoes and the dill did not overpower the cream sauce.

Weiner Schnitzel with Spatzle

For my main, I got the Weiner Schnitzel with Spatzle – a traditional Austrian dish where (in this case) the veal was coated with bread crumbs and fried. Sadly, my schnitzel was overcooked and the meat turned tough. And they placed a slice of lemon on top, causing the middle of the schnitzel’s coating to be soggy. For the spatzle, I left them almost untouched – they were bland and tasteless – I was very sure that no seasoning was added.

Rheinischer Sauerbraten

Lynda ordered the Rheinischer Sauerbraten which was a German pot roast – the meat of the day was venison. It was served with a potato pancake and sauerkraut (sour cabbage). I didn’t try the venison (sorry but I don’t eat Bambi) – Lynda did tell me the meat was dry and tough; the potato pancake was alright and the sauerkraut was really sour (I starting to suspect the chefs really love sour food).

Polish cocoa ball cookie

We ended our meal with Polish cocoa ball cookies. I was looking forward to dessert as I wanted to see how different it was from Betti’s coco balls. My god, they were worlds apart. The Polish cocoa ball cookies were stodgy and the cherry preserves tasted medicinal. We wrapped our half eaten desserts in the napkin and left.

For S$11 and the amount of food we got, it was pretty alright. I won’t purposely go and try the food again (though I do love my school).

*I don’t think the CIA luncheon is opened to the public. I booked the lunch via my friend Cory. There are limited places and booking is required.

While we were having our lunch, Lynda noticed something written on the feedback form – “Please note that CIA is a school, not a restaurant”. This struck me as odd. Isn’t CIA supposed to simulate a restaurant? I am not even talking about service – I am referring to the food. At a restaurant, you will not be served the appetizers and the mains together unless requested. By the time, I went for my main, it turned pretty cold (and the meat might not be overcooked). Even if the sole purpose of this exercise was for the chef to practise their cooking skills, shouldn’t the  food be served at its optimal?

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