Since the opening in 1983, the neon-lit "Lobster" logo lighting of The Seafood International Market & Restaurant facing the East Coast Parkway served as a beacon for foodies in search of live and quality seafood. Now in its 30th year, the seafood restaurant has upped its game. While it continues to offer familiar dishes to regular customers and create favourites with new diners, the restaurant has also become increasing popular with visitors to Singapore.
Its menu has experienced refinement in recent years by top-notch chefs like Randy Lee who is introducing new signature dishes for the 30th celebration. This unassuming and soft-spoken culinary talent is a veteran of the Chinese kitchen. His skills have received recognition and thrilled the palates of judges and diners. He was awarded gold medals in the 7th World Championship of Chinese Cuisine in Singapore in 2012, The FHA Imperial Challenge in 2004 and 2008 and the 2nd Red Pocket International Culinary Competition in 2006.
I managed to catch up with Chef Randy during my trip in Singapore to sample his new culinary creations. His objective was to deliver extraordinary yet healthy dishes through quality ingredients and straightforward preparations. Through his continuous exploration of new techniques and flavour profiles, he has created 6 new signature dishes for diners to enjoy in 2013.
* Crisp-fried Baby Squid Accompanied with Poached Razor Clam and Passion Fruit Vinaigrette
The combination of conventional Chinese seafood favourites with an unconventional sauce and Japanese-inspired plating was a feast for the eyes and the contrasting crispy and tender textures were exciting for the palate. Crispy fried baby squids are one of Singapore's most popular seafood dishes. While they looks easy to prepare, it requires skill with the oil temperature to get the tiny squids crispy without being over fried and crunchy. The fresh baby squid marinated with oyster sauce had the right bite with a hint of sweet and sour. Often steamed with garlic, the tender razor clams were poached, coated with a passion fruit vinaigrette and served on a slice of watermelon instead. The light tang from the passion fruit balanced the seafood sweetness of the clams and whetted my appetite.
* Assorted Seafood with Hot and Sour Tomatoes Consommé
This consommé triggered immediate images of the Thai Tom Yum Soup, minus the coconut milk and chillies. I was surprised that Chef Randy's less oily version was able to deliver a similar amount of heat and sourness. The zen-like plating mask a dish with real punch. It was refreshing and bursting with the sweet succulence of the fresh seafood ingredients. While I personally preferred this restaurant's Tom Yum Soup to this healthier version, the consommé is ideal for diners who still want to enjoy the hot and sour Thai flavours without the high oil content and rich aftertaste from the coconut milk.
* Wok Fried Scallop with Shimeji Mushroom in XO Chili
The scallops and XO Chilli sauce were perfect companions. The chemistry between them enhanced by fire result in more in-depth, sophisticated flavours that activates the taste buds. Most XO sauces are crafted from dried conpoy, Yunnan ham, dried shrimp, sesame oil, garlic and dried chilli. Chef Randy's homemade sauce is a secret recipe that adds the right touch of spicy, salty and sweet to the succulent scallops, shimeiji mushroom and asparagus.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning that can be quite salty as a result of the fermentation of rice, barley, and/or soybeans with salt and the fungus "kōjikin". I was intrigued by Chef Randy's use of this quintessentially Japanese ingredient in the famous black pepper crab recipe. The use of miso certainly toned down the spiciness and created more of a salt flavoured sauce with a touch of pepper, which combined beautifully to accentuate the sweet taste of the fleshy crab. Diners who love the popular black pepper crab but are unable to stomach the heat can now rejoice with the miso version created by Chef Randy.
* Golden Braised Couscous Rice with Lobster in Pumpkin Cup
Another surprising use of foreign ingredients in Chef Randy's Chinese cooking with the Israel couscous in lieu of rice. Also known in Hebrew as "p'titim", the grains are much larger than the standard Moroccan couscous. The pellets of grain are slowly cooked with the lobster and vegetable within the pumpkin until they fluff up and absorb the flavours from the accompanying ingredients. The dish was a sweet textural delight and welcomed substitute for the usual rice or noodle dish.
* Thai Lemon Grass Jelo with Red Ruby, Lotus Seed and Coconut Juice
Served on a bed of crushed ice, this tropical dessert highlighted the sweetness from natural ingredients. The lemon grass provided a floral fragrance and combined with the coconut water to deliver a tangy citron flavour with a tinge of mint and ginger. The red ruby and lotus seed provided a contrasting bite to the dish. This is one new Thai dessert that will help cleanse the palate after a large satisfying meal at the restaurant.
Photo courtesy of The Seafood International Market & Restaurant
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Seafood International Market & Restaurant milestone, the restaurant will be launching an 8-month long "Dine & Win" Lucky Draw, running till 30 September 2013.
The 30th Anniversary "Dine & Win" Lucky Draw consists of 8 monthly lucky draws and a Grand Draw with prizes totalling over SGD10,000. The 3 top prizes given out during the Grand Draw include SGD5,000 worth of cash and prizes for the 1st prize, SGD2,000 worth of cash and prizes for the 2nd prize and the 3rd prize is SGD1,500 worth of cash and prizes. The monthly lucky draw prizes include 30 sets of SGD30 cash dining vouchers and 50 Bonus Grand Draw chances. To qualify for the draw, diners simply need to spend at least SGD100 in a single receipt when dining at Seafood International. The number of lucky draw chances increases exponentially with every SGD100 spent. Chances will be doubled for "Just For You" Members and Standard Chartered credit card payment.