As we usher the dawn of SG50 (Singapore turns 50 this year, we celebrate one of Singaporean’s favourite pastime – eating out!
My brother recommended visiting a new eating establishment at Bencooleen Street – Pu3. Pronounced as ‘Putri’ (Poo-Three), which means ‘Princess’ in Malay, it offers a selection of Indo-Malay cuisine and dishes, and is famous for its Nasi Ambeng. This is essentially white rice placed in the middle of a huge round tray, surrounded by various dishes. Some landmark items are chicken, salted fish, fried coconut flesh and lemak gravy. At Pu3 restaurant, there were sambal prawns, beef rendang, sambal goreng, urap, begedil, paru and sambal belachan. It is meant to be shared among four or five people per tray, and it’s best enjoyed eating with your hands. Not to worry, use of cutlery is also allowed.
The beauty of sharing various dishes in a large tray is it promotes camaraderie between one another. Food portions are not always equal and easily divisible, therefore inculcating a feeling of ‘give and take’, especially among the young ones. This is valuable in enhancing the spirit of community building and understanding among one another.
I have a family member on wheelchair and it’s good to know that while the place is overlooking major roadworks, the place is still accessible. If you’re driving, there’s a multi storey car park linked to Somerset Hotel. Those taking cab can alight at Prinsep Link.
However, the layout of Pu3 Restaurant is small and with all the tables and chairs arranged to accommodate as many patrons, it does not facilitate for wheelchairs. On New Year’s Day, we were lucky to have a table at a corner near the steps, where there was less human traffic. But the way to the restroom is narrow for the wheelchair, being flanked by two tables. When there are patrons at the two tables, it becomes squeeze even for a walking person to head to the wash basin, situated next to the unisex restroom. You only probably need the wash basin at the end of the meal, because each table has its own water pot and tray to clean the hands before eating.
Another downside to the restroom: you need to take tiny steps down, much like those in a kampong. Clever design, but not practical for an old family member of mine.
While enjoying the hearty Nasi Ambeng with your hands, expect your fingers and mouth to get messy. It’s part of the experience. But the restaurant do not provide serviettes or tissue. I used to work nearby at Sunshine Plaza, so I know of a friendly Indian convenience store. It’s about 2 minutes away from restaurant. A box of tissue costs $3 while a small pack of wet wipes cost $1.20. Getting them is wise.
Next to the restaurant is Somerset Hotel, and I asked the concierge about accessing the washroom for a wheelchair-bound family member. The counter staff politely directed me to the public toilet outside, just beside the lift leading to the car park. She said it belongs to the Bencoolen mosque.
I was pleased to find out that the toilet is spacious and accessible to wheelchairs. It’s not five star quality but it’s much more convenient for my mum.
So, if you’re heading there, look forward to a great meal and be aware of the amenities nearby to complement your experience:
1) Bring along a box of tissues
2) Know of an alternative public washroom beside the car park lift
3) Be prepared to wait to be served
Happy New Year!