May 22, 2016

Singapore trip 2016 day 2: Industrial seafood

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I pinged my friend L and told her that I was coming in town again, and wanted to see if we could meet up for dinner.  Seeing that I was already scheduled to hit a couple of fine dining places in town, and this being Sunday night and all - when many of the city's finer establishments don't open - she proposed taking me to New Ubin Seafood.  I've been hearing quite a few Singaporean friends mention this place, so I figured I owed this place a try.

FYI, New Ubin Seafood actually isn't on Pulau Ubin... or anywhere near it.  The owners have relocated the restaurant to Sin Ming Industrial Estates, which is kinda smack in the middle of Singapore.  So I made sure I got my Google Maps working on my phone as I went north in a taxi.

We were led to the wine cellar in the middle of the restaurant, where our table of four would be seated.  It feels claustrophobic, but L had insisted that we book this room... because only VIPs who receive permission from the owner get seated in this air-conditioned room.  Well, A/C is always nice to have in Singapore, especially when most of the restaurant doesn't get it.  But wine cellars are normally kept at a temperature that falls below my comfort zone so I did feel a little chilly.

I left the ordering to the locals, with the exception of one dish that I was craving for.

Carabineros sashimi - I don't know why, but this didn't taste anywhere nearly as good as I imagined it would.  It tasted a little... medicinal.  Everything I love about carabineros - like the incredible umami - was basically missing here.  I don't think I'll ever have them raw again.

But they deep-fried the heads for us.  Yum!

BBQ king tiger prawns - these were nice, with tons of chopped garlic on top.

You tiao with squid paste - this is one of my favorite dishes at seafood restaurants in Singapore, ever since I first tasted it 30 years ago.  Surprisingly, while the deep-fried Chinese crullers were crispy they weren't too hard and crunchy.  Similarly, the squid paste encased in the middle was much softer and fluffier than any I've ever had... almost like marshmallow.  I loved eating this, but nobody else was really helping me with the dish.  I started feeling a little full after a few pieces of this.

Chye poh kway teow boss style - L was confident that I would be impressed with this dish, and I was.  Stir-fried at high heat for that wonderful wok hei (鑊氣), this was really delicious... and just glistening with oil.  Soooo satisfying.

Fish roe fried with petai and sambal served with chinchalok - naturally the flavors were pretty strong and a little heavy-handed with the chinchalok, but thankfully the fish roe was a little bland to provide that balance.  Pretty big petai beans here... and the taste is kinda growing on me.

Garlic baked Sri Lankan crab - they ran out of the big crabs so we only got something under 1kg.  I didn't get this preparation.  At all.  The crab was baked with garlic cloves, but the garlic cloves were not peeled and the flavors did not get into the crab meat itself.  So while there was plenty of natural sweetness in the crab meat, I failed to see why the restaurant bothered cooking with garlic at all...

Even though we were seated in the "ultra-VIP" wine cellar, there seemed to be a lot of regular customers tonight... because all the good stuff seem to have been taken by the time we got around to ordering them.  Even the durian dessert!  Oh well...  No durian for me tonight!

A pretty good dinner, but not much wow factor except for the kway teow.  I guess I was really expecting to order the famous steak and the accompanying fried rice cooked in fat drippings, and came away disappointed when we didn't have enough mouths for it.  That, and the bland crab dish...

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