Thursday, November 15, 2012

Big Fish Bistro at East Coast

We are blessed in Singapore to have so many wonderful eateries to satisfy our tastebuds. And new ones pop up all the time. It is even more rewarding that some of the owners not only take the time and trouble with presenting great tasting food, but also fuss about the ambiencet and the service. But Big Fish takes this even one step further. It adds social responsibility of only serving sustainable food sources.

While I am not known to be an environmentalist, it is heartwarming to hear Patrick Terence Lim, co-owner of the Big Fish Bistro talk about consulting WWF to select sources of their seafood. About his staunch insistance on freshness, on service and of course great tasting food. It is not always that I see such passion in a restaurant owner. Most are dragged down by the chore and grind of running a restaurant. But Patrick was cheerful, informative and exudes passion.

Big Fish co-owner Patrick...expounding his passion for food, service and the environment.

I attended this session as the restaurant's guest, with my friend Melvyn.

Patrick and his partner bought over the restaurant earlier this year...the place has been in business for 7 years under the name Big Fish Seafood Grill Restaurant. They redecorated the place, it now has a bright, cheery and airy feel

We started with the ice tea...a very interesting concoction of tea: an ice blended tea with lemon juice and with bits of rind. Despite the milky look, it is milk free...and was very refreshing. The bits of lime provided some bite, though I hardly tasted the tea.

We first tried the house special fish and chips

Fairly large serving of two big battered fish on a bed of french fries. Patrick revealed that instead of the regular dory used in fish and chips, he uses red snapper.

So why not dory? Well, I hear from the grapevine (not from Patrick) that what is passed on as dory or sutchi which is sold frozen in supermarkets around the island is actually catfish from fish farms in Vietnam. Why catfish? Well they eat anything and everything, and grow very fast...equating to a very good yield. Any give a second thought to the fact that these fish slices are so large when you buy them frozen and when cooked yield only a small fillet?

Red snapper is, by far a superior fish. Sourced from a sustainable supplier, and fresh...the meat was tender, with a rich flavour which reminded me of the sea. The batter was very crisp. Very good fish and chips. Oh, the chips were excellent too.

We also had the spicy seafood ciopino

Ciopino is a kind of Italian fish/seafood stew. But Big Fish introduces an Asian twist. They add sambal to the tomato based broth. Thsi packs a bit of punch...I would have preferred a bit more...but I guess most patrons to a bistro would not be expecting firey fare, so its a good call by the chef. Having said that, the broth does have a kick. The ingredients are fresh. Prawns were large. Fish nicely cooked, and half a crayfish.

The piece de resistance was the day's Chef's Special. Grilled Parrot Fish served with smashed boiled potatoes and sautéed greens.

This is a beautiful specimen. Very fresh, with the characteristic blue and orange lower jaw.

The dish is only available when the chef can find fresh parrot fish that morning, and is cooked with its scales on. The scales and skin act as a natural pressure cooker. The skin and scales are removed on service by the waiter, but in this case the owner.

I found the fish a tad overcooked, but only a tad and this coming from one who preferred fish which is only cooked just so...just so that the edges of the bones are still almost rare. But this was not so far over that it was beyond redemption. Indeed, it was still very good. The flesh was mild, but very smooth, and had a mild hint of the sea, indicating freshness. The sauce was particularly the kichap manis with chilli my mother used to make for dipping her barbecued stingray, this was similar.

Overall, I would rate this dish very highly indeed. The fish was excellent, the sides were nicely done as well. Melvyn thought highly of the dish too, and he preferred to eat it without the sauce.

For desserts we had creme brule

Nice, but rather de rigueur.

And tiramisu without rum. The restaurant, while not halal, does take its meat from halal certified sources, and do not serve pork or alcohol in the food...though they offer alcohol as drinks. So this tiramisu is made without the aid of the punch provided by the booze.

So how does it taste? Very good. I would still have preferred some alcohol, but the tiramisu was mild though flavourful. One can taste the chocolate and espresso within. Melvyn thought it to be very good.

Big Fish also prides itself in a wide selection of interesting teas. We had this one clear, very light, cleansing tea...White Ginger Pomegranate from T-Salon in New York.

To be drunk sans milk or sugar, it provided a wonderful, very aromatic end to the meal.

Thanks to Partick Terence Lim for being the perfect host, and introducing a very interesting restaurant.

Big Fish Bistro
85 Upper East Coast Road

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