Review: Limaa - 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways'
Limaa is that rarefied place that serves exclusively healthy, your-body-is-your-temple kind of food that I believe anyone would actually enjoy eating, even on a cloudy, Adele-esque day like today - damp, wet, and generally gray all around. But that is if you can find it first. Lined up along a hodgepodge of shops that seems to sell everything lifestyle and Hygge-ish, Limaa is easy to miss if, like me, you tend to walk through life looking forward and never once looking back like the lyrics of a clichéd love song. But truly the excitement in hunting a treasure such as this lies in its frantic search and eventual satisfying discovery. You know that feeling you get when you finally find what you've always been looking for? Was it life? Love? Longing? No, honey. It's just Limaa.
Eating at Limaa can sometimes feel like eating at home, which for Singaporeans is an uncommon luxury. Soft warm lights illuminate the space so it feels like an art gallery where people eat, but instead of art, you have plates of wholesome and healthy food that is good for the mind, body, and soul. This sense of home is further heightened if, like me, you are pleasantly surprised by the occasional tugging of a baby leisurely crawling on the floor. Don't worry. Here, the owners let their kids roam freely (as all children should) in the shop, making you briefly forget that you're at a cafe in Haji Lane lulled into a coma of comfort and familiarity. Namaste indeed.
Limaa is the brainchild of Aidah and Zakiah (first names only and superstars like Madonna, Cher, Beyoncé, Bono), both mothers and cousins. Aidah's journey to clean eating came about when she had her second child and vowed to not have a repeat of the ordeal she faced of a 16 hours delivery with her first child. Cutting off processed sugar and all the nasty preservatives from her diet proved fruitful with a smooth 1 hour delivery of her newborn. Zakiah, on the other hand, used to be a nurse and a simulation executive which naturally lends itself to her passion for healthy and clean eating. Truly there's no better example of an establishment created to fulfill the passion of a few while successfully influencing the needs of the many.
Juices here are pressed to order; Pomegranate, orange, apple, mango or the most refreshing and surprisingly brilliant combination of sugarcane and Thai green tea. Açaí bowls are created in situ using seasonally fresh ingredients. The yoghurt in the smoothies is natural and unprocessed. The nachos are lightly salted and gluten-free while their desserts are void of white sugar, instead, coaxing naturally occurring sugars found in ingredients from nature into the limelight. If what you want is a nice meal out, alone in a calm sanctuary that serves incredibly hearty and healthy food, then you'll be very, very happy here.
Our Chic Platter ($19.90) comes served on a wooden board and segregated clearly into a play in three parts: the proteins, the vegetables, and the side. As a food reviewer, I am inclined to judge a roast chicken rather viciously. I've had one dried roast chicken too many to make me wonder how anyone can get this simple dish oh so wrong.
But not here. Here, the roast chicken made by chef Saifuddin makes me sing. Perfectly juicy (the juices kept running during this shot), tender, so chock-full of flavours, obviously brined for at least a decade and perfectly roasted for a solidly crispy skin that in some ways enhance the moist silkiness of the meat inside. "Why," I wondered out loud, "can't every roast chicken taste like this? When will people stop disrespecting chicken and start to brine them?"
The roast chicken extraordinaire comes with a side of toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce made by blending garlic with lemon juice and drizzling in oil bit by bit to get what looks like mayo, but is essentially a far superior cousin. The toum is light, ever so slightly sour, and dances easily on the tongue, making it such a worthy condiment to the chicken and the medley of roasted potatoes (both sweet and normal) that has been generously dusted with zattar (a type of Middle Eastern herb) and paprika. Like a good supporting actor, the fresh salad is dressed with pomegranate vinaigrette proving once again that all you need for a good dish is a balance of texture, creaminess, and acidity.
For sharing, we had the newest item on the menu, Pulled Beef Nachos ($11.90), using the exact same gluten free, lightly salted nachos mentioned earlier. That, is buried under strips of pulled beef, slow-cooked to tender and loving perfection before being garnished with a homemade salsa of tomatoes, onions, jalapeño, cilantro, and drizzled with a dressing of aioli. There's this intense moistness that I cannot quite place which means I had to keep eating it to be sure. I'm guessing it stems from the juicy pulled beef, or maybe it's the salsa dressing, or is it the tomatoes? I don't know. And like the Bermuda Triangle, why this pulled beef nachos is so full of juicy goodness will always remain a mystery.
The 'Our Rendang Chicken' sandwich ($11.90) comes nestled between two sturdy baguettes that have been slathered with lusciously yellow butter. The chicken rendang lays dutifully on a bed of earthy shitake mushrooms and covered in swoon-worthy cheddar that has been lightly dusted with paprika. I've been told that the rendang chicken here omits the oft-used coconut milk and instead replicated that flavour of richness with candlenut. So you get all the brilliance of a chicken rendang that could have easily been cooked by the hands of a Malay matriarch in Geylang Serai, without the guilt wrenching existence of one too much coconut milk.
So, how do I love thee, Limaa? Let me count the ways. I left feeling comfortably satiated and thoroughly impressed by their dedication to healthy food, healthy living, and the stoic belief that the only things that should go through your body, are those that enriches the mind and soul. This commitment and dedication extends to their passion for creating food that is exciting, sublime and thoroughly unforgettable. Long may this passion continue.