Over the years, Wheat Baumkuchen has proven itself to be a cross between a jack-in-the-box and a culinary chameleon. That is, it keeps appearing, inventing, disappearing, disinventing, reappearing and reinventing itself. Keeping up with it could arguably be considered a full-time job, but it’s always a pleasant surprise when you do manage to pin it down long enough to enjoy its wares. Exaggeration aside, this place really does seem to be a master of metamorphosis, so much so that I just read that i’m already behind on the name – apparently it’s now just “WHEAT”? I give up…
The brainchild of secretary-turned-serial-entrepreneur Lilian Lee (who was impressively (wo)manning the till when I visited), Wheat Baumkuchen first made a name for itself by baking and flogging that German-cum-Japanese specialty – can you guess? – baumkuchen. Since then it has shifted its focus slightly: from circles to squiggles, sweet to savoury, cake to soba. That’s right, WHEAT (which, apparently, is an (inadvertently punny) acronym for “WHolesome EATs”) is now a bona-fide, health-conscious soba specialist with outlets in the bowels of One Raffles Place and the Asia Square food court. And for the vegetarians amongst us, there is one – just one – reason to grace this place with our presence: the REINDEER.
“Reindeer” (SGD 7.80) is actually Baumcoden for the vegetarian soba option, which in the bowl translates into soba, shimeiji mushrooms, wakame, a seemingly never-ending supply of edamame, and some shredded carrot, rocket and lettuce. All of this tossed with a light and creamy sesame dressing, garnished with some sesame seeds up top.
And that, my dear reader(s), is where the excitement ends. For beyond describing the ingredients, I struggle to find anything else – good or bad – to say about this dish. It tasted exactly as I expected: it was safe and predictable and entirely by-the-book. It was a little expensive and not very filling. I liked the subtle smoothness of the sesame dressing and the generous portion of edamame the best. But apart from that, I would say that the most outstanding thing about this dish was the fact that nothing stands out. It’s Mr (or Mrs) Nice in soba form; marriage material in a meal, but a far cry from the TV-hurling rockstar that most of us rely on at lunchtime to break up the drudgery of the day.
My suggestion? Elevate yourself a few floors and treat your tastebuds at Healthy Soba IKI; a more authentic (and rock ‘n roll) experience by far.