Friday, August 25, 2006

Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant

Lobster Sashimi

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.

Bamboo ClamThe 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.


D said...

Coincidentally, I tried their neighbor, Owen's Seafood only yesterday. Somewhat similar experiences, I'll put it up on my blog in about a week.

Anonymous said...

hi, theres an ah yat seafood in bangkok also, from what i hear, its one of the better places to go for seafood and chinese food in bangkok, if u ever want too.

D said...

I've posted my review on Owen Seafood, you might want to check it out if you plan on visiting Ah Yat's competitor any time soon. Are they really competing or they're under the Unique Seafood umbrella? I'm still curious on how they split the profits.

D. said...

That thing is also called a razor clam (in the US, at least).

Jenny Strachan said...

The long clam is abundant in Scotland at really low tides, we call them "spoots" or "spouters" (or "razors" as in old fashioned cut throat razors) as they stick up or spout up in the sand just as the tide is returning. You have to be quick to catch them as they shoot down up to a metre into the sand leaving you with the empty shell! Try them fried with crispy pancetta.

Anonymous said...

I just came back from ah yat at turf city. our first dish came with rice and our next dish, which was chilli crab, did not arrive after 50 minutes of waiting. we asked the waiters and waitresses during that span of time. they just nod their heads and say its coming without even looking at us. we finally asked for the manager and requested that he cancel our order as their service and the waiting time was unacceptable. the manager just billed us without even apologising to us. he never said a word. this is the king of service you'd pay to a high end restaurant! will others who face such bad service from them please voice out as well? thanks.