Last night we had a classically enjoyable outing. Delicious food, superb company and lots of belly laughs. Never mind that some of us had just met for the first time. Six of us gathered at Big Eater Seafood for a night of feasting on crabs. I was surprised to see this is no mere cze-char coffeeshop. It's got bright warm lighting, uniformed service staff, atmospheric wooden patio and decent clean furniture. Practically a full-fledged restaurant offering al fresco 'riverside' dining! Well, OK, Sungei Bedok is more a canal than river, but hey, so long as it doesn't smell, I'm happy enough.
The salted egg crab is their signature (crabs S$38/kg). We were expecting a drier version, but this was still passable. The sweetness of the gravy is balanced with that salty golden sandiness of egg yolks.
We also took the drunken prawns served in a rich savoury herbal soup (S$25). Very delicious broth indeed, with accents of ginger, spring onions, red dates, tang kwei, wolfberry, dried mushrooms and parsley. There were at least a dozen fresh prawns served in a heated metal wok.
Most of us preferred the black pepper crab to the salted egg one. It had a good spicy kick to it. I asked how this compared to the legendary Eng Seng one (I still haven't been there, despite living so close by!). It seems Eng Seng's gives a thicker and sweeter coat of black pepper at times (they can be quite inconsistent, it seems).
Big Eater's version derives additional "heat" from the chili padi in the black pepper mixture. It also seems to deliver a more complex taste from the mixture of garlic, fried shallots, spring onions and other pungent herbs. The crabs are large, and fresh, with huge claws fit for WWF!
Could these be called french-fried french beans? They are deep-fried for that crunchy effect. Intensely flavourful from the dried shrimp, soy and garlic, the beans went well with rice.
We were very excited when we saw a sizzling hot claypot full of BBQ pork spare ribs arriving at a neighbouring table. We thought our order of spare ribs (S$15) would be similar but that was not to be. Stir-fried (and perhaps briefly deep-fried for that lightly crispy crust) with curry leaves. Oh well, I still enjoyed it. The curry leaves gave it the edge.
Another thing we came here for. KL-style black fried Hokkien mee. Or Foochow noodles as we know it in Batu Pahat. Not bad. The extra thick noodles soaked up the gravy well and on top of that, every bite gives you crispy pork lard bursting in your mouth! Crispy pork lard instantly elevates any dish to a higher plane.
I still think this Hokkien mee needs a bit more umami factor, maybe with a stronger seafood stock, like what I've had in Malaysia. Ah a plateful of heaven could be yours in Malaysia for RM2-3 (S$1-ish). This plate is S$8. I secretly wished there was more of it to go around.
A shot of their specialty drink - lime juice with shavings of sng boey (dried preserved plum). S$1.50 each. I didn't try this but heard it was quite sour. Well, good for kicking the saliva glands into high gear for the meal! We were quite thirsty soon after the meal itself and had a second round of drinks. One wonders how much MSG was used in the food. In fact, I was so thirsty even throughout the night!
One of the ways this place stands out is how they allow customers to leave autographed crab shells after their meals. Cute.
This place was quite packed for a weekday night. I'm afraid it is already getting too well-known - as is the case when a taxi driver picking you up from nearby Tanah Merah MRT knows where you want to go before you even finish stuttering the address, "Jalan Pa-, Pa...?"
"Jalan Pari Burong? Ahh, Going to Big Eater Seafood, huh?"
But if you are headed there, never mind going into obscure Jalan Pari Burong. The frontage of this brightly lit shop actually faces Upper Changi Road. There's even free valet parking for those who drive. Oh, and there's no service charge either (just 7% GST).
BIG EATER SEAFOOD
34 Jalan Pari Burong (Upper Changi Road really)
~ For delicious photos see Keropokman's post on this outing!