We had "A Whiff of Lemongrass" for dinner.
Not literally, of course. Meena was here for the Nuffnang Awards as a nominee for Best Food Blog. I absolutely love her photos and writing (go visit and you'll see), so I was thrilled to finally meet her.
We (Nic and XLB, Keropokman and Momo) brought her to Eng Seng for the famed black pepper crabs. It was love at first bite. This is a dish that truly deserves its reputation. That molten black lava that coats the crabs is kick ass! It was not only spicy, sweet and savoury but incredibly umami. Wonderful balance of flavours. I'm craving it again, as I write.
Although nowhere as spectacular as their black pepper brethren, the chili crab is pretty decent. It didn't taste spicy at first but after a short while, you'll be aware of a distinct heat gradually burning on your lips and tongue. Oh, don't expect mantous (Chinese buns) here - when they ask you if you want bread, they really mean ordinary sliced bread.
The token vegetable for the meal - stir-fried "nai bai" (they're like mini bak-choy). Nice, simple and garlicky.
The black pepper venison with ginger and scallions - uber tender slices of meat, a la Chinese restaurant tenderizer. Still tasty.
Many people like the mee goreng here. It was competently done, but in the shadow of the awesome black pepper crabs, it did not elicit too many wows.
We also got a taste of the restaurant's famous "shut-down" process. Every customer is informed of the closing time around 8.45pm. Whether you have finished your meal or not, they start turning off the fans and some lights close to 9pm (rather early for a restaurant). Shutters come noisily down and you are left a small exit area around 9.15pm. So, folks, enjoy your crab but don't take too long!
I managed to take home a piece each of the crab dishes, to let hubby have a taste. He'd been a skeptic all this while, and totally refused to come here (anywhere that requires him to queue and possibly endure gruff service) but he agreed these crabs were good. Perhaps, oh perhaps, I can come back again soon.
ENG SENG RESTAURANT
247-249 Joo Chiat Place
Tel: 6440 5560
Open daily except Wednesdays, 5pm - 9.30pm