Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sinful Sin Huat

Singapore has made its mark on the global food map - featuring strongly in the recent Asian equivalent of the Michelin guide with its range of high profile, high calibre, high end restaurants. But ask me about the single most memorable meal I've had in Singapore and its actually found in the most unlikely of places - Geylang, the red light district of this conservative island.

Sin Huat is one of those places you are more than likely to miss while in the area - an old style coffeeshop with cracked tiles, plastic chairs and bathed in a sea of green tinged fluoroscent lighting - it makes almost no effort in its decor or ambience. The service can be at most described as aloof and the prices - astronomically high given the settings you are dining in (be prepared to pay around $70 a head for your dinner). One could be forgiven for thinking that the owner of this restaurant really couldn't care less about your dining experience.

But it's clearly and purely the food that draws the crowds in night and night again to this humble eatery - probably the best seafood you'll ever taste cooked to absoute perfection in the simplest of ways. The chef Danny Lee is a bit of an enigma - a pig farmer turned self trained cook, he insists on taking orders for every table and cooks for each table one at a time - resulting in waiting times of about 40 minutes for your food to arrive. But you never hear complaints while dining here - I think it's because everyone who makes the pilgrimage here knows what they're buying into... and the brilliant food is well worth the wait.

We started with fresh (and everything is fresh here - Danny never stores his seafood in refrigerators and everything is sourced from the fish tanks on order) scallops steamed in their shells and smothered in an incrediby addictive black bean sauce. We then had the steamed squid topped with garlic and scallions which were cut into calamari rings at the table... this was cooked perfectly - the calamari lusciously tender and delicious paired with the simple seasonings. We were then blown away by the steamed prawns in garlic, scallions and chinese wine... so fresh, so succulent... so good. Danny's handling of seafood is astounding with the natural sweetness of his ingredients shining through and highlighted by his closely guarded sauces.

But what was the climax to this already incredible meal was hands down what this place is famous for - the crab bee hoon. Sri Lankan crabs simmered in an addictive broth with thin rice noodles, scallions and crab roe... this is flavour to the max with incredible "wok hei" permeating every slurp. Tucking into this dish - decor, service and pricing became almost petty issues that not once crossed our minds... really brilliant stuff.

Sin Huat makes a trip to sin city well worth it and dares to challenge the notion of a fine dining institution. It probably will never feature in the Michelin guide and will most certainly offend many who expect more for what they pay... but with food this good - I really couldn't care less.

Sin Huat Seafood Restaurant
659-661 Geylang Lorong 35 (at the corner of Geylang Rd)
Tel: 6744-9778


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