Just down the same row of shophouses and restaurants as Corduroy and Finch, is a new restaurant called Ubin Seafood. Since it is so close to home, we tend to drive by pretty often, and it seems that every time we passed it, the place was filled with more and more diners.
Eventually, I discovered that this particular outlet of Ubin Seafood (there's another one in Ponggol) is owned by the family of my friend and colleague Alex, a fellow gourmand whom some of you may remember as the generous host of a birthday dinner at Sebastien's.
Well, with a pedigree like that, there was absolutely no reason not to go visit. So on Friday, the boys and I went down for some good ol' Ubin Seafood.
Ubin subscribes to a generally al fresco concept because, really, what other way is there to enjoy chilli crab? It would have been more authentic to enjoy your seafood by the sea, but I suppose the Bukit Timah canal will have to suffice. Thankfully there were numerous fans strategically located to circulate the air and prevent the area from getting unbearably warm, but I would still recommend dressing very casually and choosing a cool night to visit.
We pretty much left it up to Keith to do the ordering, and I'm very glad we did, because all his orders were spot on, with almost nothing left over.
An order of sambal kang kong (Chinese kale) ($8), because we're all very health-conscious. I'm not actually very fond of sambal kang kong, because I tend to find it a bit too spicy for me, but this was pretty good. Spicy and crunchy, it's probably one of those obligatory orders. Still couldn't eat much though.
We also had a plate of onion omelette ($8), which is one of three omelettes they serve, the other two being prawn and oyster. I'm glad we ordered this, onions and eggs seem to me a much better combination than prawns. No complaints here at all, the omelette was easily polished off by us.
Next, an order of har jiong kai or deep-fried prawn paste chicken ($12), which for all its mouthful, was absolutely delicious. Sweet, tender and juicy, these were quickly demolished too.
There is no way you can go to a seafood place and not order chilli crab. It's simply something you don't do here in Singapore. So naturally we had to have us some chilli crab ($3 per 100g, total $24). The sauce is the best part, and the one at Ubin Seafood is just spicy enough, thick and lush, good enough to lick off your fingers. I'm not a crab connoisseur, but I thought it was pretty good.
Chilli crab also cannot be eaten without these man tou or buns ($1 each). I enjoyed the fried ones, and was much too full to try the plain ones. Each bun is as filling as a bowl of rice, so be sure not to over-order.
And here you see Xiaozheng, the chilli crab virgin, learning how to eat his first chilli crab. He looks bemused.
I know this seems like a big plug, and it probably is, but I really did enjoy dinner at Ubin Seafood, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as an inexpensive place to have lunch (Set lunches start from $4.80) or dinner ($20 per person for the four of us).
Of course, its location has plenty to do with it, being about five minutes away from my place. In terms of ambience, it's not Les Amis, but as long as it hasn't been too hot, and you're not attired too warmly, Ubin Seafood is pretty decent as an outdoor place. In terms of service, the restaurant is fair crawling with waitstaff, which means you never have to wait for service, and food arrives pretty quickly.
Ubin Seafood (casual, seafood)
797 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 6466 9558
Opens Daily (including public holidays)
Lunch: 12 noon - 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm - 12 midnight
Location: 4/5 (5 if you own a car and live near me)
Overall: Good affordable seafood without having to travel to the coast, but be sure to try other items on the menu.