Jiwa Singapura in Tysons - Report

Jiwa Singapura is upscale, elegant, and pricey. It’s also a bit pretentious. Despite a completely deserted dining room, they didn’t want to seat us until everyone arrived. Apparently they have an introductory spiel they want everyone to receive at the same time.

We went with three small plates, two large plates, and some roti canai.

Despite the rave reviews, even from Tyler Cowen (a frequent visitor to Singapore) , the meal was pretty much underwhelming. We appreciated the oft-praised fish cake (a highlight for me) and the shrimp with salted egg yolk sauce, but not enough to be thrilled. The daikon cake (called carrot cake on the menu), was good, though not as good as the radish cake I had in Flushing last year.

The two big plates were Char Kway Teow (noodles) and Nasi Lemak (rice) . The rice dish was a bit boring despite the well fried large pieces of fish, and the noodles were way too oily and sweet. The rice noodles were thinner than I expected, and they got easily overwhelmed by the sauce.

The roti were nice and hot, the curry dipping sauce was fairly plain. I could think of a lot of places that are just as good or better.


I’m interested in the Singapore chili crabs there, but am put off by the modifications they’ve had to make because some of the ingredients from Singapore that are needed (e.g., the type of crab) aren’t available here.

Tyler Cowen has a fascinating mind and is admirably adventurous with respect to food. But he’s an unreliable narrator about the quality of restaurants. Still, he’s charming in his way, except for his tendency to go to some part of the world once, eat in a handful of restaurants there, and then proclaim himself an authority on the local food scene.

Oddly enough, I was quoted by name in the first mainstream news article ever written about Tyler Cowen’s food reviews – back many years ago when I could be described as a 48-year-old Connecticut Avenue lawyer.


Tyler Cowen becomes enthusiastic easily, too ready to proclaim ‘the best’. He can wax eloquent about a buffet. He also passes judgement just by looking at a place. A good source of information, but can’t be trusted.

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100% agree.