We had a 7pm reservation for the monthly dinner gathering among members of our extended family at Seafood Paradise Restaurant in Defu Lane 10. It was here in the middle of an industrial estate amidst a motley cluster of motor workshops, warehouses & light industries where the highly successful & popular homegrown restaurant chain Paradise Group had its origins. We've dined at their restaurant at the Singapore Flyer which was very busy & crowded so we thought we could have a fuss free meal in the boondocks away from the madding crowds, plus free parking. A mistaken notion indeed. When our group arrived both the aircon & non aircon sections of the restaurant on the ground floor of the sky blue Swee Hin Building was a hive of activity, the car park & the lane outside the compound were packed with cars & a cheerful trio of aunties were on hand to welcome us & usher us to our tables.All these people are here just to eat, there's nothing else to do in the vicinity. If people bother to find their way hete the seafood must be of top notch quality & freshness, & the cooking must be excellent. This proved to be so. Our tables were already set out, complete with finger bowls, nutcrackers for attacking the crab shells, wet towels, peanuts & copper pots of Pu Er tea. The table crew is a veritable United Nations with local aunties, young women speaking Malaysian accented Mandarin, China men & women and several Indian guys. Great teamwork among them throughout our dinner, they were unfazed by the crowds & their demands, and promptly fielded our requests for more rice, tea & ice cubes throughout our meal.
We ordered cheesy bacon rolls & cuttlefish with water spinach (kangkong), steamed goby, poached live prawns and crabs done two ways and a roast chicken for our two tables of family members, with each & every dish tasting lip-smackingly good. The food startef to arrive within half an hour of placing our orders, so the kitchen crew works briskly to meet the customers orders of a restaurant operating at full capacity.
Cheesy Bacon Rolls
The cheesy bacon roll recommended by our server was a great choice, crispy bacon encircling squid paste with a core of molten cheese. Yummy. This was so popular we ordered an additional portion for the kids.
Seafood Paradise has a unique rendition of this popular dish that we first tried at their SG Flyer branch & liked it well enough to order it again. The kangkong is fried till crispy complementing the springy cuttlefish very well. We could enjoy the textural diffetences between the KK & cuttlefish as the chef has wisely drizzled their spicy chilli gravy on the dish, instead of masking the natural flavours in other restaurants by submerging everything under a dense gravy.
The roast chicken was a crowd favourite & well executed by the chef, with crispy skin covering meat that was moist. Even the breast meat was not tough & could be eaten even without the accompanying saucer of flavoured salt.
Poached Live Prawns
We ordered 300g of prawns & requested a marble goby fish not exceeding 600g (both at market prices). The prawns were served together with saucers of dark soya sauce with minced chilli. However we preferred to dip them in the tangy Thai chilli with fish sauce that was provided at every table.
The goby fish was very fresh & steamed to perfect timing. The kitchen crew has loads of practice daily steaming market fresh seafood so they've mastered the knack of timing the steaming process expertly. Even 10secs too long on the steamer will ruin the texture of live fish & prawns. However we made a wrong decision opting for the goby fish to be served Teochew Style. The chef added too much shredded salted vegetables to the stock so the dish was too salty. If he had just added a few shreds of pickled vegetables we would have a better appreciation of the fresh juices of the fish that had filtered out during the steaming process.
Teochew Style Steamed Goby Fish
The highlight of our seafood feast - the crabs - were served last. Seafood Paradise's signature Creamy Butter Crabs need no introduction. We ordered not one but two Sri Lankan crabs to be cooked this way. The creamy gravy's taste was accented by a sprinkling of chopped kaffir lime leaves. We ordered a basket of the deepfried Chinese buns (mantou) to mop up the smooth, rich gravy with not a drop wasted.
Creamy Butter Crab
Black Pepper Crab
The Black Pepper Crab was fragrant & robustly spicy so this dish is not for the faint hearted. Even those with low spice tolerance thresholds could appreciate the sizzling aroma of the black pepper when the dish was served.
It was obvious we spent more time getting our fingers dirty tucking into the lip-smackingly good seafood, bacon rolls, etc than bonding with the family. Our meal would have been perfect had the restaurant thrown in a complimentary tropical fruit platter for our dessert. The family agreed unanimously to assemble again at Defu Lane for another seafood feast once a month or at least once every two months. Borrowing a word from the Mastercard adverts, family time spent this way is Priceless :-).
Live Seafood,Creamy Butter Crab,Cheesy Bacon Rolls,Roast Chicken,Cuttlefish Kangkong
Date of Visit: Jan 12, 2013
Spending per head: Approximately $35(Dinner)Other Ratings: