Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sin Hoi Sai Eating House @ Tiong Bahru

My sister is a sucker for food spots frequented by both local and foreign celebrities, so it was little wonder why she recommended that our family visit Sin Hoi Sai Eating House at Tiong Bahru to celebrate her birthday. Apparently the restaurant's a magnet for the rich and famous because of its extensive range of live seafood and a private dining area on the upper restaurant floor.

We were at a loss of what to order, so the waitress recommended their scallops, which were on offer at SGD28 for six. What's visiting a seafood restaurant when you skip the seafood?

Scallops (SGD 28 for half a dozen)

 I tried hard not to judge when the scallops were served; the supposedly-white dollops of scallop flesh appeared to be stir-fried with a generous amount of garlic, shallots and hey bi hiam (spicy minced dried shrimp). Dad took a first bite, frowned, chewed a little, and frowned again - not only were the scallops not fresh, they had a really fishy smell which invaded the nasal cavity with such ferocity. I gave up after one.

Moral of the story: when something in a seafood restaurant is on offer, chances are the freshness is compromised.

Prawn paste chicken 

I don't eat chicken, but reviews from family members appeared mixed. Dad and sis felt the chicken was alright, though the chicken probably wasn't marinated long enough. Mum, on the other hand, was lamenting the saltiness of the chicken, and commented that she'd eaten better at some other random zhi char store.

Spinach in stock and egg
 My tastebuds rang delightfully when this was served, and I would definitely go back there for this.

San Lou (large serving)

Surprisingly good, because the fried rice (which sis deemed was good) was so-so. Any true-blue zhi char enthusiast would rave about the importance of wok hei (the slightly burnt taste of the hor fun) when it comes to hor fun. The fish was sweet and fresh, and the generous amount of crunchy bean sprouts sealed the deal.

Hotplate egg tofu
The meat sauce was poured onto the sizzling hotplate before us, much to my pleasant surprise. The tofu was cut into large-enough chunks and remained soft despite being deep-fried beforehand. Another must-try dish.

Sliced fish in chili oil
It would be impossible to fully appreciate this dish if you have a weak stomach or you've never had spicy hotpot. I had tasted a dish similar to this in Shanghai last year and fell deeply in love with it despite the thick layer of chili oil on the surface. The chili oil eliminated all fishiness of the fish slices, and made them taste really smooth and chewy. Best of all? This version wasn't was spicy as the Shanghainese version. Thumbs up.

The 5 of us spent SGD 133 on our dinner, inclusive of GST, SGD 3 each for the peanuts and achar appetizers and 40 cents each for 4 cups of water.

Also reviewed by:

Ambience: 3.9/5
Food: 3.5/5
Price: $$ - $$$
Service: Mediocre/Satisfactory/Good/Excellent

Eat where:
55 Tiong Bahru Road, #01-59
Opening hours: 5pm to 5am (daily)
+65 6223 0810

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