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Sin Huat is a famous seafood restaurant located in a coffee shop type setting in Singapore. Now by coffee shop I’m not talking about Starbucks, in Singapore there are open air restaurants that are referred to as coffee shops and inside there are usually a few different places to eat there, the main place and then some semi-hawker stalls set up as well. So I guess they are some sort of cross between a real restaurant and a hawker center. Anyhow, Sin Huat is one of these except that instead of your normal cheap simple cze char fare (cheap homestyle food) they specialize in expensive seafood.
The restaurant has become very famous with the likes of Anthony Bourdain dining there and the owner / chef Danny Lee has also become famous for being sort of a food nazi. What makes him a food nazi? Well, first you are not allowed to order at other stalls otherwise he’ll refuse to serve you. Next, there is no menu at this restaurant and he is pretty quick to tell you what you should order. Lastly, he speaks fairly quickly and assertively. So did he meet up to his reputation? The other stalls were closed that day and I wouldn’t have taken my chances anyhow, so I can’t verify that, but by all accounts it’s true. He didn’t have a menu and was fairly quick to tell me that I should order the shrimp that day. He was pretty fast in talking, but I thought he was actually a nice guy and was pretty receptive when I was talking to him about the food later and seemed really appreciative when I told him how good I thought it was. So it’s probably just the case of a chef who is very passionate about his food. Also, he is an ex-pig farmer, so I don’t think you’d expect him to be a polished white shoe type of guy anyhow.
The restaurant looks like a typical Geylang coffee shop meaning that it’s run down, has little to no décor and actually looks kind of shady, which is in stark contrast to most of Singapore. If you’re not familiar with Singapore, Geylang is home to two things: 1) the red light district and 2) some of the best food in Singapore. The service was brisk and I get the feeling they don’t speak English too well although I think Danny does speak English to some degree.
These were provided at the beginning of the meal for free. It was just typical peanuts and then peanuts with a sweet coating on outside. Nothing out of the ordinary, but the peanuts with the sweet coating were kind of addictive. 7.75/10
Scallops in Black Bean Sauce:
These were live scallops in the shell and came in a surprisingly thick black bean sauce that had some vegetables in it. The sauce was excellent with a nice black bean flavor although not nearly as strong as you would think looking at it and was slightly sweet. I thought the sauce was really nice and the scallops were great fresh scallops. The only thing is that the sauce overpowers the scallops, so you don’t fully enjoy the good quality of the scallops. Overall though this was an excellent dish. 8.75/10
Sauteed kalian is definitely a favorite dish of mine to eat when I’m in Singapore. Its leafy vegetable that somewhat similar to spinach, but has a more firm texture than spinach does. They sautéed it in a light brown almost clear sauce with golden fried onions on top. I’m not sure what it was about that sauce, but it was so good that we ended up getting two orders of this. 8.75/10
While the restaurant is known for its crab bee hoon, which I will talk about later, the gong gong turned out to the star of the night. Gong gong is a shellfish that I believe is a type of conch (anyone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). They come in the shell and you use a toothpick to pull them out, but don’t worry they are very easy to pull out. You then dip them in this spicy sweet brown sauce that has lots of diced chilis and green onions in it and I’m just going to call it “crack sauce” because it has to be one of most addictive sauces I’ve ever tried. Gong gong are similar to eating snails or maybe a clam, but much bigger and more awesome. We couldn’t get over how good these were; this is a “must try” dish not only at this restaurant, but if you are coming to Singapore in general. 9.25/10
Steamed Shrimp with Minced Garlic:
Danny basically told me I must order these, but it sounded pretty good, so I obliged. These were live shrimp, butterflied and then steamed with a lot of garlic and a light sauce. The shrimps were good quality with good sweet meat and the garlic tasted great with them. The only compliant I had about the dish is that the garlic somewhat overpowered the really nice flavor of having good fresh shrimp meat although that said the garlic was pretty good. 8.5/10
Crab Bee Hoon:
This is the signature dish at Sin Huat is known for. Bee hoon (mi fen) and is a thin white rice noodle. He steams the crab with the bee hoon in a clear sauce. It doesn’t sound like much, but wow this is really really good. The crab flavor with this amazing sauce all combine with the bee hoon and the bee hoon is the perfect medium because it soaks up all the flavors. It’s almost hard to explain if you haven’t had it, but it’s amazing and probably one of the best dishes I’ve had in Singapore. Also I thought the crab meat might end up being drained of its flavor from the steaming, but surprisingly the crab meat still tasted good. 9/10
Overall, I thought the food was really excellent here and it’s probably one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve eaten in Singapore.
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