For a discerning foodie to want to visit the same place again, the food served there must be super delicious! So I trusted Nat when he suggested going to Sik Bao Sin Eating House (吃饱先) for our usual makan outing. He had a yummy dining experience there previously, and in his words: "It's very nice, one of the best things I ate this year, worth traveling for." Wow when you hear praises like that, you will brave the colorful streets of Geylang for it. Geylang may be the red light district of Singapore where lonely men abounds, but many locals will tell you that's also where glorious food super abounds!
Sik Bao Sin essentially serves zhi char cuisine but in a more comfortable setting than the usual coffeeshops (yay to air-conditioning!). The menu is very concise, with just 13 items to be exact. Expect regular favorites such as Sweet & Sour Pork, Bittergourd Pork Ribs and Kangkong Belacan, as well as Watercress Soup.
Patrons from every table were seen tucking in to almost the same few dishes, which are mostly Sik Bao Sin's signatures. If you have been here too and find the tastes of these dishes somewhat similar, wonder no more as the kitchen is helmed by Desmond Chia, who came from his father's Sik Wai Sin (食为先), a eating house long-famed for their limited yet delicious Cantonese zhi char dishes.
Desmond brings with him 13 years of experience accumulated by predominately presiding over the fiery wok at Sik Wai Sin. One would not expect anything less from him than his mastery skill of stir-frying that elusive wok hei flavour into our plate of Kailan Beef ($25) over extreme high heat. A very simple dish which stood out for its smokey aroma and lovely tenderness of leafy greens. Personally, I would prefer the beef to have a softer bite but am more appreciative of the fact that the meat is not massacred by the usual Chinese-style preparation method of over-tenderizing it. The kailan beef was my favourite dish of the evening. A definite must-order!
Another appetite whetting dish which called for a bowl of white rice is the Tofu Prawns ($19). Though the beancurd was pleasingly smooth, prawns were plump and crunchy, it somehow did not wowed me as much as the kailan beef, but nevertheless, it's still a highly enjoyable dish because of its lip-smacking gravy.
Steam Pork with Salted Fish ($14) is a dish which does not score much on the aesthetic scale, but a whiff of its wonderful aroma will seduce you in hankering for it! Even though the dish was placed furthest away from me, I could smelled the salted fish's piquant scent distinctly from where I'm seated. From the firm yet bouncy texture of the pork patty, we deduced that it should be hand-chopped. Very delightful dish which reminds one of home.
We thought the Steam Fish Head ($25) could be fresher but the douse of savory fermented soybean paste sauce with lard croutons masked its less than perfect quality. Nat said the carp head was better during his previous visit, so I guessed the inconsistency could be due to an supply issue.
The Black Chicken Soup ($25) was an indisputable winner for its flavorsome taste. Don't bother about eating the chicken meat because the cooking process has already rendered it tasteless. All its wonderful essence are already extracted into the soup that was gently double-boiled with Chinese herbs, yielding a clear non-greasy broth which feels much lighter compared to boiled versions which gives a cloudy finish. I like the soup, but also thought at the same time it's a dish I can replicate in my own kitchen without much difficulty.
Overall, the dishes we've tried at Sik Bao Sin tend to lean towards the saltish side which is certainly a good thing for those who prefer a heavier handling for their food. To heighten the enjoyment, rice will be the best accompaniment.
Prices are not stated on the menu, but is nett with no service charge or GST. Though we paid a little more compared to what we would have fork out at the usual zhi char places, the dishes were well-executed and definitely worth both the pennies and calories.
Sik Bao Sin (吃饱先) is literally translated as "eat full first" in Mandarin, and can loosely mean "fill up the tummy with food first before facing whatever comes next". I like this philosophy behind the name of the eatery..... because I'm one of those who can't think on an empty stomach lol! What about you?
Sik Bao Sin Eating House 吃饱先 (Desmond's Creation)
Address: 592 Geylang Road (between Lor 34 & 36), Singapore 389531
Contact: +65 6744 3757
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun Lunch 11.45am-2.30pm, Dinner 5.45pm-9.30pm / Closed on Mon