Last time my mum went to Singapore, all she could talk about was this great all-you-can-eat steamboat place with tons of seafood on Beach Road. So we made a beeline for this place on our first night there. I use ‘beeline’ in a loose sense of the word, as we got horribly lost and spent hours wandering around in the heat before giving up and catching a taxi there.
There’s a few of these places all next to each other, and all roughly $20 per head. You get a big pot of broth (or two with a divider), and go up to grab food from the buffet to poach in the broth. There was all kinds of seafood, thin slices of beef and pork, fish balls, mushrooms, greens and a bunch of stuff I didn’t recognise. They also had a selection of dipping sauces and accompaniments, and some coolers with a few different kinds of fruit juice or cordial. There’s some pretty great stuff up there, but you have to be quick – I noticed one table would watch for the staff to bring out a new batch of crabs or prawns, then immediately go up and grab almost all of it (their plate of shells was truly impressive). Steamboat in Australia tends to have a smaller variety and costs a lot more, so if you love your seafood it’s definitely worth trying in Singapore!
Chilli crab was our biggest splurge, but it’s apparently not to be missed in Singapore! I wish I’d done some research and found the best place to eat it, but although I felt vaguely like we were getting ripped off the riverside restaurant on Clarke Quay was pretty lovely. There’s a big line of seafood restaurants along the river, all competing for the custom of people walking past. We went into one that offered us a ‘special deal’ of $4.30 per 100grams of mud crab (this is the cheapest crab on the menu). It doesn’t sound so bad when you put it that way, but the smallest crab they had was 2.2kg! I rarely eat crab so don’t really have any local pricing to compare it to, but it did feel like a bit of a shock after spending the past few days eating $2-$5 hawker food. The crab was delicious, and the sauce/soup oddly sweet with just a hint of chilli heat. I think it’s also probably way too much food for two small women to eat in one sitting, although my mum (not to be ripped off) made a valiant effort and pretty much finished it. I’m really glad that I tried this classic dish, although I can’t actually say that I enjoyed it more than a $3 chicken rice so I’m not sure it’s something I’ll be repeating in a hurry!