Monday, November 21, 2011

Chili Crab and More at the Seafood International Market & Restaurant.

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Chinese-style set dinners are awesome. One dinner, 8-10 different dishes to tease the palate and stuff the stomach, it's a shame that I don't have nine other regular dining partners with whom I can go eat more of these set dinners with. Or a blessing in disguise, depending on whether I'm thinking of satisfying my stomach or taking care of my wallet :) Anyways, the darling and I needed to plan a family dinner so we decided on the Peking Duck & Abalone Seafood Set at The Seafood International Market & Restaurant.

The nine-dish set comes with a "complimentary" bottle of Elderton Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - "complimentary" being another word for "included into the price we pay," of course!

First dish - the Special Deluxe Four Hot Dishes. Presentation-wise it's perhaps a bit lacking in color, but taste-wise it's decent. The four dishes are scallops with veges, deep fried crispy baby squid, soft shell crab, and some sort of clam that we couldn't identify :)

Moving on to the Braised Special Shark’s Fin with Enoki Mushroom & Crabmeat in Supreme Pumpkin Stock, a candidate for the longest name for a dish record, perhaps? I found the soup nice-tasting but a tad bit too starchy. Oh, and apologies if you're of the "save the sharks" persuasion ...

One reason we chose this particular set (other than budget) was because my mum likes Traditional Sliced Peking Duck. As is standard with Peking Duck servings, the skin is carved out & wrapped in pancakes, and the meat is then taken back to the kitchen to be cooked with some other dish to come later.

What isn't so standard is that the waitress wrapped the crispy duck skin with the spring onions, cucumber and pancake for us. Which is both good and bad, in my opinion - good because it's convenient, bad because you can't customize the amount of sauce, or duck skin, etc. Not everyone likes spring onion, for instance.

Tonight was also the first time I've sampled Singapore's "iconic" dish - Chili Crab! Named Lion City Chilli Crab in this restaurant, it was actually pretty good! The crab was quite fresh, and the sauce was just the right blend of tangy and spicy to make it a very "refreshing" dish to eat. My favorite crab style is still fried with salted egg though.

After that's done we move on to a fish dish that frankly needed lots more work on presentation - the Baked Garoupa with Whole Garlic in Opeh Leaf. The fish was pretty fresh, but tasted a bit ... hmm, ordinary.

Oh and before I forget, somewhere around here we had the Baked King Prawn with Trio Pepper Sauce which was also decently good. I forgot to take a photograph of it, though, possibly because my fingers were all dirty from manhandling the chili crab :)

I did manage to snap the Braised Sliced Abalone with Sea Cucumber (Sand Fish) & Greens! I think by this time most of us were close to throwing in the towel, so perhaps we couldn't really appreciate the dish. That, and I don't really dig the (lack of) taste of abalone or sea cucumber.

The last dish is almost always a stomach-filler fried rice or noodles, and tonight's dinner was no exception - the meat from the peking duck being used in the Tossed Eggs Noodles with Shredded Duck. I thought that the noodles were nicely done - they were not at all "heavy" tasting which is a good thing when you've already had seven courses of food in the tummy.

Finally, some Mango Pomelo with Twin Thai Kueh to round up the night. Thought that it was a nice touch that the desserts were served in individual bowls. The dessert was sweet and had some nice strong mango-ey taste, but the pomelo was a bit bitter and so ruined the experience a bit for me.

Overall, we found the food very solid and, at slightly over $60 per person after service charge and GST, pretty good value for money as well. Ambience wasn't too bad - we had a private room which has a $500 minimum charge - although this being a Chinese restaurant, you can't expect peace and quiet.

Service was a bit of a mixed bag, though. The sweet-young-thing Vietnamese waitress assigned to our table was very 'proactive' in wrapping our peking duck pancakes, cutting & splitting up the fish & serving to all ten people individually, etc. But we also had to keep on asking for chinese tea refills. In the end she redeemed her shortcomings by taking this awesome group photo! Was pleasantly surprising because most waiters/waitresses botch up these things :)

The Seafood International Market & Restaurant is in the Big Splash compound in the East Coast Park. There isn't much in the way of bus or MRT transport here, though, so if you don't have a car you'd probably need to take a taxi.

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