This French-Japanese restaurant is pulling the crowds, but does the hype measure up to the taste? Carrie checks it out.

“What on Earth is Miam Miam?” I thought to myself a couple of months ago as the internet exploded with chatter and reviews on the new kid on the (dining) block, Miam Miam. I swear, it exploded. The last there was this much buzz about a restaurant was when Tim Ho Wan and Jamie’s Italian opened. I loaded Instagram and I was accosted with images of pretty little French-Japanese dishes, went through my regular list of blogs and I spotted someone dining there and raving about how good the food is.

Darn. Was it that awesome? I’ve always loved the western inspired Japanese restaurants and Miam Miam looked really really promising.

When I was invited to visit the second outlet at Westgate (the very first Singapore outlet is in Bugis), I did a happy dance. I was sitting on plans to make a trip down and now I get an invite? Sweet!

I visited the restaurant at mid-afternoon on a weekend and there was a queue to dine there. It was around 3:00pm or so and yet there was a queue. Seriously, the hype is killing me!

The chain is growing really fast with outlets popping up in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and the Philippines.  Judging by its popularity, I can completely understand the growth.

What really caught my attention was how everything on the menu is made from scratch. Their claim? Enjoy a perfectly engineered meal at Miam Miam. They’ve got an exact process as to how each dish is made. We’re talking precision, for instance, right down to how much pasta (an exact 110g) boiled for no more and no less than 7.5 minutes. This entire process is developed based on the best industry standards.

There are no lack of choices at Miam Miam with home made spaghettis, French bisques and sandwiches, pancakes, soufflés, parfaits, rice and a selection of matcha drinks and coffee. It’s distinctively Japanese but with French cooking techniques. Good news, the portions are in no way measly French fine-dining amounts. The casual restaurant is very generous when it comes to portion size.

Do come prepared to be patient as everything is prepared ala minute on top of an already bustling restaurant! Waiting time for each dish is approximately 15 minutes or so with some dessert items taking up to 20 – 30 minutes to prepare. Once again, a reminder that all dishes are made from scratch.

When it comes to ambience and atmosphere at the Westgate outlet, just two words: Plain Amazing

The place is designed to look good and is extremely attractive. Interesting furnishing make group tables fun to dine at and plush sofa corner seats are comfy and inviting.

I brought my homegirl, Michelle, with me for this tasting because I know she loves all things Japanese and hey, Miam Miam came close enough!

Handmade Spaghetti

Miam Miam Spaghetti ($15.80)

A signature dish, the Miam Miam Spaghetti is peppered with frankfurters, slices of juicy tomatoes, large squares of flavourful bacon, egg plant, baby spinach and a runny soft boiled egg. This apparently comes drizzled and mixed well with a special sauce of french butter, secret broth and shoyu.

I thought it was tasty enough but without any distinct, unique flavour that would set it apart from competition, be it a direct competitor like Hoshino Coffee (which serves a similar repertoire and style of cafe fare) or a pasta parlour like Pasta De Waraku.

Also, with all that emphasis on the precise cooking methods and techniques, I was expecting perfect al dente spaghetti strands. However, the spaghetti was really a bit too al dente for my liking, bordering on plain hard. Perhaps, it is a personal preference. I need to clarify that I definitely prefer a springier, harder texture for my pasta and even so I considered this a little too hard.

Rice

Riz Au Curry ($14.80)

Fans of Japanese style curry rice, put your hands up! The Riz Au Curry is made of fragrant homemade Japanese curry, slices of pork frankfurters, broccoli, cheese and egg all baked till bubbly and brown on top.

If you love Japanese curry, this will definitely satisfy your cravings for it. It’s rich and sinfully thick and creamy. I found it enjoyable to eat and the portion big enough for two (or even three) to share.

Squid Ink Black Rice and Omu Egg ($16.50)

I love eggs and one of the absolute best way to have eggs is in the form of a fluffy scrambled “omu” style egg! I was delighted when the Squid Ink Black Rice was served in a skillet with the omu egg. It also comes with prawns and squid.

I’m afraid that it looked better than it tasted; The saving grace, the perfectly done egg, was airy, buttery and delicious. The Squid Ink Black Rice was quite bland other than being saltish with little lumps of salt mixed into the rice. I guess this one is really subjective. I’ve heard so much about this dish with so much praise for it, so perhaps it was just me or this particular serving didn’t turn out so well.

Desserts

Famous French Toast ($9.80)

Thick cuts of french toast are stacked into the mini pot best eaten drizzled with maple syrup and with the airy whipped cream.

Matcha with Red Bean Cream ($13.80)

I thought this was a really cute dish which photographs beautifully. (Alright, actually all of Miam Miam’s dishes do photograph very well – photogenic dishes indeed!)

The Azuki Red Bean Cream is homemade and is the BOMB. It sits atop a two thick matcha pancakes, whichc is topped with coffee and matcha jelly squares. I’d rather have more Azuki Red Bean Cream and less of the pancake. The pancake had a dense bread-like texture instead of a light and fluffy texture typical of pancakes. Anyhow, one of the desserts I preferred from the whole lot.

Caramelised Banana ($13.80)

This was divine! Caramelised Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream is something that’s real hard to beat.

The pancake for this was airier and much lighter than the matcha pancake we tasted. This is a desserts that’s full on sweet but in an enjoyable way!

Valrhona Chocolate Souffle ($13.80)

The chocolate soufflé is not bad. Miam Miam’s Chocolate Soufflé comes with a pool of decadent, heavenly chocolate which will ooze into the body of moist soufflé once you dig in. This is very flavourful, rich and indulgent.  Possibly a sure win for the chocolate lovers among us.

I’ll be really honest, I thought Miam Miam wins hands down for creative and beautiful presentation. Everything is pretty. Everything looks good. Everything makes you want to just forget about taking Instagram photos and just dig in. BUT because it looks so good I find myself being a little disappointed when the taste doesn’t match up to expectations.

I’m not saying Miam Miam is not “Yum Yum”. I do feel the food, overall, is tasty, but it does lack a certain X-factor in terms of food. It”s good; It has a great concept and is a fantastic place to chill, dine with friends and just take in the sights and sounds of the cafe. The ambience alone makes it worth a visit, especially to have some of the desserts.