The food is supposedly so good that renowned chef Anthony Bourdain proclaimed it to be one of the 13 Places to Eat Before You Die, and 2016 Michelin Guide Singapore deemed it worthy of a Bib Gourmand acknowledgement.
Even so, we had hesitated about visiting Sin Huat Seafood Restaurant for the longest time because of the reputed negativities. Exorbitant prices. "Food nazi" chef. Rude service. Long waiting time. All are infamously as famous as Sin Huat's legendary crab bee hoon dish.
But when we finally plucked up our courage, we were rewarded with the most most most AWESOME CRAB BEE HOON! The best I've ever eaten in my life! #notexaggerating #notanyhowsaysay
The entire dining experience at Sin Huat itself was just as unforgettable.
I was kind of prepared to brave through whatever bad I've heard, but in all fairness, it wasn't bad at all.
True, its location in a dingy coffeeshop along the red-light district of Geylang can't be considered as the most comfortable of places, but therein lies the unique charm of having a meal in a non-pretentious part of Singapore.
There is no menu per se. We were simply waiting, sipping on our drinks and busy catching Pokemons until an uncle wearing rubber boots and a tee that seemed to have gone through too many cycles in the washing machine came over to recommend what's available for the evening.
After a while, I realized that "uncle" is the man himself..... chef-owner Danny! Oops!
"Zhong yu!", my friend said "finally" in Mandarin as our wait is almost over. 终于? 中鱼?
Our hearts almost stopped when chef thought we wanted a medium-sized fish! "The fish is $150 per kg tell you first ah. Don't order and then later complain expensive."
"Do you have zhi char items? Like... har cheong gai?" the same friend asked if there is prawn-paste chicken wings (my favorite btw hehee).
Chef looked at us in disbelief. "Hello? We are a seafood restaurant. Is chicken seafood? Those seafood restaurants selling everything under the sky shouldn't be called seafood restaurants!"
"Gong gong $80 per kg want anot?" "Vegetables? I have it for yi si yi si (意思意思) only" as chef recommends the edible sea snails, and "token" vegetable dish.
I can imagine some people taking offense at chef's straight-talking style but we were more amused than anything else. We had a good laugh.
Okay, seriously, I appreciate that chef is upfront about the prices and gave suited advice on serving quantity when we asked so that we can make informed decisions and save ourselves of major surprises when bill comes.
There is really no reason to complain about high prices or hidden cost, unless customers feel it's culturally embarrassing in asking too much which could imply an inability to afford the meal. "没面子"? Just ask lah.
We went on to order a couple of dishes before chef disappeared into the kitchen. This is almost like a one-man show if not for the "aunties" who helped to send the food to the tables.
Otah ($24 for 2 pieces) which chef described as "size of an handphone" - looked like a Samsung Note 7 - was the first dish to arrive. Hungry tummies aside, we were more than happy to lap up each delicious piece. Love its handmade thick and soft, almost Japanese tamogoyaki-like texture, savory sweet-spicy taste, and especially those chunks of fish meat within.
Garlic was used in a very heavy-handed manner, apparent in dishes including the Scallops ($50 for 2kg), Prawns ($84 for 12 pieces), and even the Frog with Essence of Chicken ($26 for 2 frogs). Fortunately none of us are
Take for instance the scallops. While garlic paired with black bean sauce made quite an irresistible combination, it's difficult for the seafood's natural sweetness (if any) to shine through that thick blanket. The texture of the scallop is undeniably on point though: Plump with a pleasant chew.
Those frogs were also steamed to a perfect texture: Succulent and smooth with such lovely tenderness. It needed just a splash of chicken essence to sizzle up the flavors.
Vegetables ($20) were well-executed with a perfect crunchiness and slathered in a saltish oyster sauce blend.
To say the legendary Crab Bee Hoon ($168 for 2 crabs) exceeded our expectations is an understatement. There are so much raves about it that I'm even mentally prepared in case ours turn out to be "over-rated". I'm imagining nonsense.
While the crabs were fresh and sweet with an abundance of luscious roe, it was the bee hoon that stole much of the limelight. The strands of rice vermicelli was prepared to an immensely enjoyable soft yet springy bite, superbly-infused with loadful of flavors and..... wok hei! Every mouthful was wok-breathtakingly magic!
We were hooked and wished there could be more of this tasty bee hoon given for each crab, but then again, perhaps flavors wouldn't be as intense if proportion is changed.
So I tried Sin Huat before I died, and its crab bee hoon has ensured it wouldn't be my last. This is definitely worthy of calories, time, and money spent!
Sin Huat Seafood Restaurant
Address: 659/661 Lorong 35 Geylang, Singapore 389589
Contact: +65 6744 9755
Opening Hours: Daily 7pm-12am
Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Nett - no service charge, no GST (3) Correct at point of published date.