Eastern House of Seafood Delicacy
It was a bit of an adventure to locate Eastern House of Seafood. The drive there was along a long, dimly lit road flanked by many other F&B options under the void deck. There is only one bus to here and this cze char in the HDB is up on the hill. The signboard of “Eastern House of Seafood” was small and not obvious enough on the road. They have a Bak Kut Teh sign which was bigger and more prominent.
Opened for 2 years, the owner used to run a stall in Kaki Bukit. The chef is from Kuala Lumpur and does pretty good cze char dishes perhaps because the sauces are from Malaysia. So why they have a bak kut teh in their signboard? That’s because they sell herbal bak kut teh for lunch, and cze char OR steamboat for dinner.
It was rather empty when I was there for dinner. That is a real shame because the food is good and the prices are reasonable. Consider dishes such as Dry Roast Sotong ($13). The squid is marinated with celery and soy sauce overnight. Instead of BBQ-ing it as what many other stalls would do, it is bathed in hot oil till it is cooked. What you get is really a tender sotong with nice smokey flavour.
Salted egg is probably the greatest creation on Earth. Haha! The prawns were juicy and that the salted egg sauce added some dimension. There is just enough sauce to flavour it. I have had countless versions of this dish, but the one here has lots more oomph than at most places.
Then we come to the most intriguing dish of all, Assam Fish ($18). Served on the typical fish heating plate, the half red snapper fish they used was absolutely fresh. You will be pleased to know, the fish does not come swimming in a generic gravy from bought from supermarket. Using a secret assam paste recipe which includes ingredients like assam seed, ginger flower and more, the thick assam gravy is a perfect balance of spiciness and tanginess that is strangely yet pleasantly addictive. Lady’s fingers, tomatoes and sweet pineapple chunks add to the allure. Little details matter and the batons of eggplant are lightly charred at the edges which help them keep in shape. I just cannot get enough of this house specialty.
The same cannot be said for French Beans Tempura ($10). Even though it was marinated with prawn paste, I find the batter too thick and the greens were kinda lost in the taste profile. This may work for kids, but for me, I prefer my traditional stir fried french beans.
The Pork Ribs ($16) is a delight to sink my teeth into the meat. Seldom do I see ribs presented as a whole in cze char outlets (like what you would get at Tony Roma’s), usually they are cut up into smaller pieces. The ribs are marinated and steamed with freshly blended garlic to achieve a subtle but distinctive garlicky taste. They are then pan fried with their special sauce, so the meat does not taste as oily.
We shared a plate of Black Pepper Crabs (market price) smothered with a thick and rather pungent black pepper sauce. The crabs come in medium size, but it was enough for us as we tried a whole range of other dishes already. Yeah, the sauce is peppery and honestly, we find it slightly way too spicy for us to say finger licking good. I kinda still prefer Eng Seng’s version, where the black pepper sauce is peppery yet still have a hint of sweetness, which makes it easier to go with mantou. If you want a cold drink to pair with it, go for the balonglong drink.
Towards the end of the meal, we met the boss of Eng Kee Chicken Wings. I asked him what’s his favourite here and he immediately replied “hokkien mee”. So I ordered one plate of hokkien mee to try. I took a look at the menu again, no leh, not inside the menu at all. The owner explained, the hokkien mee takes a long time to cook, and they are not able to accommodate to the requests if the place is crowded, especially on weekends. So it is only available from Monday to Thursday, for regulars who know about the existence.
You know, I am always very afraid to write about dishes which are not available in the menu. And most of the time, I tried to avoid writing it. But this plate of Hokkien Mee ($10) is so good that I must really share. Firstly, let me just put a disclaimer here. If you are associating this with prawn noodles, then it may fall short of your expectations because it doesn’t have any prawn flavour at all. It is NOT prawn noodles.
My grandmother is a traditional Hokkien woman. During my younger days, she would just cook a pot of broad yellow noodles in chicken soup with fishcakes. It’s just one of the staples in our family but it is always so comforting to eat this. Eating this plate of Hokkien Mee just brings back that feeling very much. Prawn broth is not used at all. Instead, its superior broth is cooked with kampong chicken. The recipe is still largely traditional, with the use of some lard, squid, and thin strips of fish cakes. And a kalamansi lime for you to squeeze over the noodles, and dumped a spoonful of homemade sambal chilli on the side.
The best part is really the noodles. The chef would fry the broad yellow noodles and thick Beehoon till they absorbed the rich stock and became slightly gooey. They are moist without being soupy and have the appetising flavour that comes from being tossed about in a hot wok. Excellent wok hei and the flavours are so intense that I don’t really need any chilli nor lime anymore. The gravy holds the dish together and keeps it good till the last bite. Can I say? It is probably the star of the night. So simple, yet so good.
I am still marvelling at our surprise find at the end of the meal. As with all eateries, there are definitely dishes that won our heart and dishes that may not. I must say, I was really impressed with their homemade sauces thus far. The fish head curry comes with excellent assam, and followed by the ribs which come with great tasting sauce! Not forgetting the simple plate of hokkien mee, with so much wok hei and a taste of home. I do see the little efforts in each dish to make it good.
Eastern House of Seafood Delicacy
Address: 55 Chai Chee Drive, Singapore 460055
Tel: 9150 8172
Opening hours: 11am to 10.30pm daily
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