Food is not just one of the top reasons why people visit Singapore, but the local Chinese-style of seafood. It is a universal favourite in Singapore and a smorgasbord of restaurants exist to feed the cravings all over the Island. The Seafood International Market and Restaurant on the stretch of East Coast Park beachfront has been serving up tasty seafood dishes since 1983.
It offers the first live seafood shopping and dining concept in Singapore and the promise of "If it swims, we have it". The reasonable prices and Chinese-Thai style cooking also make this restaurant a winner with local customers and visitors.
The addition of Chef Austen Ong, culinary veteran of 33 years and 2005 and 2007 World Culinary Champion to the team in 2012 has taken the food quality to new heights with delicate flavours and attractive platings. Whenever I'm in Singapore and dining with a group of hungry family members or friends, here are the 7 favourite dishes from Chef Austen's kitchen that make it to my table.
Everyone's eyes are immediately drawn to the orchids encased in ice that forms a rounded seat for the dish. Apart from its wow-factor around the table, the ice serves to keep the dish chilled. The plating is surprising un-Asian with lemon foam and avocado salsa which adds a touch of zest and smooth butter to the slight salty chewy texture of the Australia abalone marinated in a special sauce of 5 spices, old ginger, soy sauces and Chinese wine for 3 hours.
This dish is a definite winner at the table if you're up for a richly textured and flavoured Chinese fish broth to rival the best bouillabaisse from Gérald Passédat's 3 Michelin star Le Petit Nice in Marseille. One of the unique ingredients in this dish is the Mola-Mola or Ocean Sunfish, which has a collagen-like texture and flavor reminiscent of lobster as the pieces melt in your mouth.
The golden broth is enrich by combining chicken, duck, white pepper, old ginger, orange peeled, spring onion and pumpkin, and slow cooked for 8 hours. The ravioli containing freshly peeled Sri Lankan crab was a quaint Italian addition to an otherwise Chinese dish. The addition of a tea light beneath keeps the soup warm and you can slowly slurp away at the delicious contents.
* Steamed Razor Clam with Spring Onion Garlic Sauce
This Hong Kong style dish is popular with many diners due to the fresh ingredients and clean flavours. The natural seafood sweetness of the Scottish razor clam is heightened by the light fragrant sauce of spring onion, garlic, young ginger and chicken fat. The steaming is timed just right to ensure the clam is still soft and chewy without being overcooked.
The chilli crab and the black pepper crab are iconic dishes of Singapore's cuisine, consumed by nearly every local and visitor. The black pepper crab is sometimes preferred due to its fragrant and drier cooking style. And Seafood International Market and Restaurant makes a mean black pepper Sri Lankan crab.
The mud crab is well fried and generously coated with a secret peppery gravy made of 10 spices that's smooth, spicy, sweet, salty and simply finger licking good. With a live 1.2 kilogram crab, there's lots of sweet, juicy and chunky white meat to tear into. With the issued bibs, you can enjoy the dish without worrying about getting any of sauce on yourself.
* Steamed Marble Goby with Mild Spicy Coriander Sauce
Steaming may seem easy but it take masterful skills to ensuring the meat is still moist and tender without being overcooked. The marble goby is a popular fish for this recipe that combines the clean taste of soft sweet flesh with a savory sauce enriched with garlic, shallot, ginger, coriander, chilli, lemon grass, plum sauce and pickled vegetable.
Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White believe you don't need to complicate things to get the best results it is about simple flavour combinations and high quality ingredients handled with great care. The simple braising of the Korean glass noodles and rice vermicelli with prawns, scallops, clams and superior stock, then wrapped in opeh leaves, infused the noodles with sweet seafood flavours. The Korean glass noodles and rice vermicelli was also a welcomed departure from the usual egg noodles.
Who would have thought a Chinese seafood restaurant would produce delectable Thai sweets and desserts? They were sweet and filling with the flavours of coconut cream, syrups, tropical fruits and sweet sticky rice just like I remember in Bangkok. My personal favourite is the red ruby with coconut cream. All the Thai desserts are freshly made on-premise using recipes and ingredients found in Thailand.