Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chin Huat: an old seafood haven

Chin Huat is an old name and hand at live seafood. Its been around, serving live and exotic seafood since the 1980s. And it still does. Now operating from the quaint, bohemian quarter in Clementi, and Novena (same row as my favourite Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice), the restaurant looked very modern, and a bit luxurious. Tanks of live seafood occupy one corner, but the interior was like a typical modern Chinese restaurant, safe for the absence of red decor.

The Makan Tribe gathered and once we were assembled, I began the task of ordering for all.

For starters, the bamboo clam:



Superb! Everyone around the table loved it. Sweet, succulent. But yet the meat was slightly chewy yet tender and yielded its freshness with a breath of the sea as well as clean, sweetness. Wonderful. The sauce, laced with deep fried garlic, was excellent...and a good accompaniment for rice. Reminded me of the superb bamboo clams I had in Hong Kong recently.

Next dish, we had the sambal asparagus, but I managed to blotch the picture, so no pic of that. The asparagus, green, thick, was delicious...cooked just right. It had some crunch, but was tender, and not green tasting. The sambal had some bite, but not too spicy, and had some bits of ground dried shrimps as the taste enhancer. Excellent dish.

We had one of the house specials...the braised giant garoupa in claypot:



Excellent braising liquid...sweet, slightly salty, and thick, rich. The garoupa was cut into thick chunks, and deep fried, before being braised. The fish was fresh, tasty. Its meat tender and yet held together by a springy skin. Quite superb.

We also sampled the braised duck with sea cucumber:



Another superb braised dish, and goes well with plain steamed rice. The duck was tender, cooked till it could fall off the bone. This particular bird was just right, not too fat as ducks can tend to be, but just a thin layer of fat, hiding below the beautiful, brown skin. The sea cucumber could have been more springy, and more consistent texture, but the one which were served was quite good.

Next the Dong Po pork belly, hong sao style:



A rather large slice of pork belly was braised in a red sauce till tender...till the distinction between fat, muscle and skin of the pig became almost indistinguishable from each other...served thus, it looked like an almost homogeneous piece of meat. Tender to a fault, the sauce was a bit piquant, pungent, while all the time based on savoury sweetness. Nice, but for me not really exceptional. Kin thought it to be excellent.

Some steamed, and pan fried man tou accompanied the pork:



These were exceptional. The bread was light, soft, and a bit gelatenous inside, but the outer shell was crisp, golden brown.

Finally, we had 2 rather large Sri Lankan crabs done with what Chin Huat calls their Golden Sauce...which is primarily salted egg yolks:



For me this was the piéce de résistance. The huge crabs were cooked (baked?) in the sauce. The sauce itself was rather dry...much drier than most salted egg yolk crabs served in other restaurants. The cooking process must have been under rather fierce fire...the crab shell was rendered almost crispy. The meat was superb. Fat, rich, smooth, tender, sweet. What crab should taste like. And as the crabs were rather large (1.5kg each), there was quite a lot of crabmeat to go around.

And finally, the dessert: ohr nee



Less sweet than most I have eaten, the yam was fragrant and thick, but the interesting is that the pumpkin sauce was rather more liquid, and larger in volume than most. The yam was almost swimming in the pumpkin sauce.

Overall, and excellent meal at a rather reasonable price, considering we had some nice live seafood...about $450 for a table of 8, and we were very full after. The taste was excellent....one of the better meals I have had in a while. And highly recommended.


Chin Huat Live Seafood
105 Clementi Street 12
#01-30
Tel: +65 6775 7348 +65 6775 7348
Daily 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30–11pm
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