Lately, I found myself paying a bit more attention to the old estates of Tiong Barhu. It’s quite a happening place with so many cafes and restaurant all tightly pack in one small area and it still gives me the same feeling as if I step back into time whenever I pass by those old school shophouses and coffeeshops. I think that is what makes Tiong Bahru so popular with the crowd. It’s might not be the place where east meets west but it’s definitely the place where hip and trendy meets the nostalgia.
So when I was told to plan somewhere nice for my grandmother’s big day, it was a perfect excuse to visit somewhere amidst the enclaves. I did a bit of research and manage to find Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant. A somewhat popular seafood restaurant with photos of the famed and famous on their website.
Reading a few more reviews and I came to this understanding that Sin Hoi Sai has been around for quite some time (almost as old as me) with a high reputation as a Chinese restaurant. I can’t remember if I’ve ever pay them a visit before but the older ones in my family can attest to my previous statement.
Over the years, the owners have expanded their business and of course increase the size of their premises to feed more. Needless to say, that would also mean the increase in prices but I think that’s fine so as long the food justify the price. The place is located just off the main road of Tiong Bahru so it’s pretty hard to miss the shop and it’s usually opens around 5pm so don’t bother making a phone call before the opening hours as no one will answer.
Seafood are in no shortfalls over here and most of them are served fresh like your commercial fish and humongous crabs. To start off the feast, we wanted something like finger snacks. A dish where you can get your hands down and dirty while you update life with everyone.
How about a plate of Black Pepper Whelks ($18.00)? Despite being extremely spicy, we sort of enjoy it. Well, that’s the thing about my family when it comes to eating. We may complain about the food but still we enjoy the dish. If only the whelks are slightly bigger in size. It was pretty hard to suck/pull/dig whichever technique you prefer to eat whelks.
There’s always people who aren’t a huge fan of seafood and that’s why a cze char stall/restaurant is a good consideration since there is a variety of dishes to choose from. Besides, we should always leave room for something else right? While their Prawn Paste Chicken ($20.00) might not be well presented, it was one of the better ones I had with the crispy yet tender drumlets and wings to sink my teeth in.
After trying out so many cze char stalls over the years, I also realised that many chefs love to incorporate the aromatic and rich flavours of coffee into their dishes. Sin Hoi Sai’s rendition of the Coffee Pork Ribs ($24.00) was nothing out of the box. I don’t know if it’s a good thing that it taste like any other place but I just feel it is lacking in that WOW! factor.
On the extreme end was their Braised Pork Ribs with Deep Fried Buns ($24.00). One would expect a meaty dish to be savoury but instead it turns out to be something sweet! It was very unique and special dish, I don’t think I have tried something quite similar before. If I didn’t my facts wrong, this might just be one of their signature dish!
It’s exactly the dishes that you don’t find in most places that’s worth talking and sharing about. I mean what’s worth sharing a dish where everyone is doing the same way unless it’s cooked to perfection right? Unique dishes also speak much of the skills of the chef behind the kitchens preparing the food. It was a mixed reaction in my family. Some enjoyed it while some stayed away and opt others. It’s really just a personal preference and I enjoy the sweet meat.
Usually when we order noodles, they were either meant as longevity noodles. Which also means that we don’t usually finish everything but surprisingly, the seafood restaurant’s rendition ($12.00) was more than just the word good. Everyone took second and third helpings and before I could get another serving, everything’s gone!
And of course…
The star of the night’s dinner. Chilli Crabs! These were huge but they don’t come cheap. We had two and it cost us $144.00. They were generous with the dried shrimps maybe a little too generous and the spicy gravy became more like salty gravy…
Looks like someone is enjoying their desserts…
Prices might be slightly more than what it previously was but I believe the food is still fairly good enought to make out meal out of. If you’re looking somewhere cheaper amidst Tiong Bahru, then head down to Por Kee. Dinners with my family is almost always a grand affair. Even more so when it comes to the celebration of my grandmother…
Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant
55 Tiong Bahru Road #01-59
Tel: +65 6223 0810/ 6224 3905
Opening Hours: 5pm to 5am