Friday, August 08, 2008
East Coast BBQ Seafood
A few weeks ago, I met up with Jiawei, an old friend of mine.
This dude is quite the character, and I mean it in a good way of course. I remembered him as being very animated and lively. He has wide hand gestures that are hard to miss. It has been more than two years since we last met up. We used to be coursemates back when I was still pursuing my Mass Communication diploma at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
It was great to see that he was exactly the same - as cheery as always. As we caught up, I asked him what he was doing now and what he said next definitely pricked my ears and I'm sure you will be interested too.
He was helping out at his uncle's barbeque seafood stall at East Coast Lagoon Food Village. Located at East Coast Park around the Marine Parade area, this food centre is known for serving up one of the best satay beehoon in Singapore. Then there's also the famous barbecue pork noodles, beef noodles and the most delicious chicken wings. There are also many bbq seafood stalls there. I've eaten at one of the bbq stalls before but am usually rather disappointed because of the small portions and cut-throat prices. So naturally, when Jiawei told me about his uncle's stall, I had to probe further.
But what's the use of asking so many questions when I could actually taste for myself how good it actually is? You've got to taste it to believe it, yes?
So I went down last weekend with my mum and Dot. Before I say anything, perhaps you want to see the first dish we ordered:
The photo alone says plenty. Okay, maybe only if you are a big fan of seafood and perhaps clams.
Commonly known as 'la-la' here, these clams are usually stir-fried in a tasty spicy red sauce. We locals enjoy dishing the sauce on plain rice once we've fished out all the clam-meat.
I did the same here. But it was different, so different that I was very surprised.
But in a GOOD way.
The sauce that came with the clams were unlike any I had ever tasted. This is not an exaggeration on my part. Thicker and tastier, it had a fuller flavour than the other versions I've eaten. There was a slight sweet and tangy hint that made the spicy note sort of 3-dimensional.
Okay, I might be stretching it quite thin here. But bear with me. I am desperately trying to use every opportunity I can to practise my food description skills since that's what I do (my full-time job).
So of course I was curious and I asked Jiawei's uncle what made it so special. I hope I'm not leaking some trade-secret here, but he said that he added tomatoes. Oh and one thing to note, he makes most of his sauces at home before bringing it down to the stall and yes it is his own recipe.
Even the sambal he used for the lip-smacking sambal stingray is homemade:
Yes it looks fiery red and it is spicy but not until it burns your taste buds.
Now when I ordered the stingray, I assumed the only option I had was sambal. Well at least that's what most of the bbq seafood stalls offer: Sambal Stingray. Then Jiawei told me that his uncle has another option: Butter & Garlic Stingray.
The moment he uttered those two words 'butter' and 'garlic', I was sold. But I still wanted my sambal stingray so he offered to season half of my stingray with sambal and the other half, with butter and garlic.
The result was enthralling. I know it's not a common word used for food but what the heck anyway. I have never seen any other bbq seafood stall serving stingray the way his uncle does. Any foodie would know that butter and garlic is a marriage made in aromatic heavens and when done right, can create a whirl-wind romance, yes between said dish and hungry diner.
Sometimes it is true, you have to try it to believe it.
It looks like Jiawei's uncle might have something really good up his sleeves. If he can manage to pull off good clams and stingray, I'm sure the rest of his dishes would be just as good, including the sambal kangkong:
And I was right. The kangkong was just as good with a solid sambal.
I found out from Jiawei that prior to the renovations of the food centre, his uncle used to have a satay stall there. But after they moved back in to the newly furbished food centre, he decided to focus on bbq seafood and they have been there for the past 4 years.
When I went there for dinner, I did tell Jiawei I would write about this place if I liked it enough and well since I loved it, I decided I had to share it with you.
They also sell salmon, sole, seabass, squid, lobster and fried oyster among others.
Seriously, I think sometimes, you don't need a table with white starched table cloths and a room in air-conditioned comfort to enjoy a good meal. This stall might be small but it serves some kick-ass seafood that would be a delight to any diner.
You can find this stall at number 38, it is relatively near the DBS atm.
East Coast B.B.Q. Seafood
38, East Coast Lagoon Food Village
1220 East Coast Parkway