We are big fans of Anthony Bourdain, having followed him since his Cooks Tour days back in the early 2000s. So when we booked a trip to Singapore after our friend's wedding in Phuket we went back to old episodes to get his recommendations. One place stood out over the episodes and his subsequent article for Men's Health, "13 Places to Eat Before You Die" - Sin Huat Eating House. We simply had to go.
While doing a bit of research we realised the visit would be a bit daunting. For one, there is no menu. No list of dishes, no prices. Next, it is set in Singapore's red light district. Horror stories of overcharging abound. We asked our concierge on Saturday to ring and ensure they are open on Sundays. They decided to go a step further and try to book us a table. Um, no. The response, as they relayed it, was humorous. "Mr and Mrs Vachon, I don't think they are the type of place that takes bookings. The owner said he operates on his own. I asked if you could reserve a table and he said he was cooking and had to hang up." There you go.
So we did more research, summoned our courage, and grabbed a cab from our hotel. We gave our driver the address and he was very surprised that western tourists had such a precise address in the red light district. He also told us no women were allowed there. Huh? Ah, no women allowed in the brothels, should we decide to go on a bit of a tour. We assured him we were going only for the food and he said the food was good, no great, in that area. So as to confirm our choice he pulled out "The Book", or the restaurant guide to Singapore. If it's in there it's great he said. Sure enough, it was there, which made our driver very happy. We asked that if we were early could we find a place to have a beer and he said, "For you? No. Go to Boat Quay or Clarke Quay". Oh, we were being underestimated.
Ok, so we are Vachons - we arrived at 5:45pm knowing they open at 6pm. We asked for a table, received a finger point to the watch, and decided to go up one block and share a beer to wait. Once 6:30pm rolled around and we saw people heading toward the shop we raced up to grab a table for two. We were seated immediately and asked, or told, to have a Tiger beer. Surprisingly, there were smiles all around. Not nearly as harsh as we had heard ("The Seafood Nazi" has been used a few times). Soon, Danny (the owner) popped by to take our order. We were prepared - garlic prawns, crab bee hoon, and veggies as our order. And the scallops as a back up if pushed for more. Sure enough, we placed our order but then was encouraged, no told, to have the scallops. No worries, all to plan!
BTW, don't worry, there is no garlic in these dishes. :)
We started with six scallops in black bean sauce. These were the freshest scallops in the most beautiful sauce we have ever had. Thick and rich, the sauce coated the scallops beautifully. Fantastic start.
Kai Lan is the name of this dish and we both agreed it was the best veggie dish of our lives. Sweet, salty, and rich the sauce on these crunchy veggies was divine.
The name Garlic Prawns says it all. Beautiful large prawns in a fantastic prawn stock. Did I mention the garlic in these dishes?? And apologies, this was so good I forgot to take a picture before we dug in...
Crab Bee Hoon
The Piece de resistance - Crab Bee Hoon is the signature dish. Massive Sri Lankan crab with vermicelli noodles on a gorgeous broth. Say no more.
We had to be rolled out. And a bonus - the convenience store next door carries reasonably priced drinks to bring back to your hotel.
After all, including towels and five big Tigers and a ten dollar tip, we spent $185SD. That's about $150AUD or USD for two people. To be honest, that's reasonable for any seafood feast, let alone the best one we have ever had. And in the end we saw more smiles from the staff than we see at most Sydney restaurants. Next time in Singapore GO!!
And we wanted a good picture of Danny but had to settle for this as he was slaving away on other customers' orders.