simply good old-school homestyle cooking in the tiong bahru enclave. this place looks like the set of some period drama (I’m not sure period is necessarily appropriate – is a history of 48 years enough?), from the simpler days of kampung living. it’s open-air seating, old-school cutlery, and the loud buzzy feel of community you don’t much get nowadays – and the food’s pretty good.
worth visiting for some decent fish steamboat – or just to soak in a little nostalgia.
there’s something about this place that strikes me as being incredibly poignant, though I’ve never lived through the era this place seemingly ‘reminds’ me of – the area is incredibly old-school (which explains the new hipster occupants), and it’s seldom you get to eat in such a large uncovered space anymore. not fancy-shmancy at all – the sort of place you could bring the grandparents and extended family – and well-suited to any raucousness.
they do cze-char and seafood dishes – but we stuck largely to their fish steamboat, which came quickly and with a broth intense with hours of cooking. can you see how fresh the fish is? if you catch it at just the perfect doneness, the fish flakes off gracefully and barely hangs from the skin – marvellous. their free-form meat and fish balls also deserve a mention – free-formed rounds of pale paste that cook up to bouncy, fresh specimens.
and as with all steamboats, you must get tang ou (a sort of chrysanthemum leaf). a barely-cooked crisp sprig gives a refreshing bitterness that goes fantastically well with soup.
we also got a couple of cooked dishes (largely spurred on by seeing them delivered to the other tables) – a deep-fried spring chicken arrived with thin golden skin and tender meat; and our spare ribs had a great sauce dark with vinegar, though had too little meat and was both fatty and boney.
they do a tofu with enoki that was also pretty decent – the just-thick-enough sauce went great with rice (although por kee’s tofu wins out).
it’s not fanciful food, and also not the best cze char I’ve had – por kee just a couple minutes away might do a better job, but these two places remind me of exactly what it is our parents are missing when they see the country changing – and sometimes you realise just what it is we may be losing what with all our new hipster coffee joints and hyped food imports.
worth a visit – it makes for a great family dinner.
Ting Heng Seafood Restaurant
82 Tiong Poh Rd
tel +65 6323 6830
$$: steamboat for four + one spring chicken + two dishes = one-thirty