Friday, August 25, 2006
Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant
I wasn't expecting much from this place (Turf City Main Grandstand #03-01, 6883-2112). It seemed like just another one of those big Chinese seafood places (packed into an odd location too) that would probably just blend in with the rest of the landscape. Moreover, they were running some 50% off deal that suggested to me that they were trying to pull people in with prices rather focusing on the food itself. And yet at the end of the meal, I felt somewhat satisfied with it all. Maybe it was because I set my expectations too low, but either way, there were some interesting dishes that we came across.
The first of these was something called a "bamboo clam." At a quick glance, I thought it was simply some clam extracted from its shell and steamed in a longitudinally halved bamboo stalk. But upon further inspection, I noticed the bivalve structure and realized that this was actually the shape of the clam itself (well that's new!). Anyway, the clam itself was tender and fresh, and I generally liked it, even if they overloaded it with too much garlic.
Peculiarly, next up was a single oyster on ice, complete with Tabasco, which was not something I'd expect out of a Chinese place (well, they didn't give any horseradish nor cocktail sauce). It was a huge one - perhaps five or six inches in diameter, which my brain instantly started flagging in my head as something that could not be any good if it were so big. Still, I went ahead and slurped it down. And while it lacked any edge in its taste, it was still clean and fresh with a smoother consistency than I was expecting. OK, this meal wasn't that bad so far.
The shellfish marathon didn't stop there. A big Australian lobster came next, whose tail was presented in raw sashimi slices on ice. You had the option of eating it as such (and yes, there was soy sauce and wasabi for us...was this really a Chinese place??), or you could shabu shabu it in a big claypot full of clear broth on the side using the metal strainers provided with each place setting. I tried both. The former was refreshing, if a bit tasteless (like fugu), although the firm texture of the lobster meat was something that I rather liked. The shabu shabu option turned out delicately too, even if the broth seemed artifically savory to the point where I assumed that they just loaded that thing up with a ton of MSG.
Anyway, that was just the tail...the rest of the lobster (head, legs, and claws) was taken back to the kitchen afterwards to be stir fried in a typical Chinese garlic and corn starch style. Normally I'm not a big fan of lobster either, but this one in particular tasted like saffron for some reason, with firm yet tasty meat that was easily extracted from the legs. I probably appreciated this dish the most out of them all. And no, it wasn't all about seafood here either. The Peking duck, which they served with egg wrappers but without shredded scallions, turned out so surprisingly crispy that we probably cleared that plate faster than the rest of the bunch (and yes, they took the remainder of the duck back to the kitchen to be stir fried into another dish later).
So anyway, in the end, this all turned out better than I was expecting. Would I return though? Probably not on my own accord. The 50% off deal appeared to be a bit of a gimmick, seeing that the pre-discount charge for the lobster was a whopping S$400 (US$235). I assume that they just inflated the prices up front so that the 50% discount could be applied afterwards, thus creating the illusion of saving money. (Can anyone confirm the going rate for a lobster these days? This was a big one...I don't know the weight but it served eight of us.) Still, I did actually enjoy that meal enough that I wouldn't mind if someone twisted my arm to come back here. Perhaps that's where that 50% off proved to have an (intentional or unintentional) sense of brilliance: there was so much of a draw and resulting turnover here that it kept the shellfish really fresh in the end.
Digested at 10:43 PM
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