We tried Singapore’s worst-rated Chinese restaurant

I think I deserve hazard pay for this series. While the journey has been interesting with a number of pleasant surprises, there is always the dread of encountering a real stinker. I was getting nervous last week as I read up on Forum Seafood Village Restaurant.

forumseafood - storefront

The Boat Quay restaurant currently sits at 1.8 out of 5 stars from 222 reviews on Google and 2.0 out of 5 stars from 519 reviews on TripAdvisor. It has collected 259 1-star ratings on TripAdvisor, accounting for 49.9% of all the reviews there. That figure is even higher on Google but that platform does not reveal the raw number.

forumseafood - restaurant interiror

Much of the feedback from diners mention that Forum Seafood Village Restaurant is grossly overpriced. I took that with a pinch of salt seeing as it was Boat Quay, a known tourist trap. Plus, I would say that pleasant views of the Singapore River are worth something.

What I tried at Forum Seafood Village Restaurant

Forum Seafood Village Restaurant is slightly difficult to find. It now occupies the same space as Tian Tian Fisherman’s Pier Seafood Restaurant— you can locate them by looking out for the huge tanks of live crustaceans lining the walkway.

forumseafood - table of dishes

Service was slightly slow and the huge temperature crack on our hotpot table was less than inviting, but the pleasant view and weather were fine consolations. We ordered the Deep-Fried Spring Rolls (S$12), Sweet & Sour Chicken (Small) (S$26) and Fried Rice with Diced Chicken (Small) (S$16).

forumseafood - spring rolls

The Spring Rolls seemed nice enough in the pictures. Oh boy, when the plate arrived, though!

forumseafood - oil dripping from spring rolls

First, all the rolls were dripping in oil. There must have been 2-3 entire tablespoons of the stuff on the rolls and the plate. It could happen anywhere, I suppose. We asked for serviettes (there were none on the table) and patted the oil away as best we could.

Then, I took a bite.

I don’t understand how they could get spring rolls wrong— it’s one of the simplest finger foods. You just have to add the diced ingredients, season it a little, then fry. Here, the end result was so tasteless that, for the first time in my life, I couldn’t eat even a single roll. It seemed as if they had boiled the ingredients to completely leave them devoid of flavour, then stuffed them in without adding salt or any condiments.

forumseafood - sweet and sour chicken

Part of the name Sweet & Sour Chicken (Small) is very true and the other is quite false. The correct bit is ‘small’— for S$26, there was less chicken than would fit in my palm. The inaccurate bit is ‘sweet & sour chicken’. It would be described more accurately as ‘mildly salty batter with some bits containing chicken’.

forumseafood - batter chicken

I was shocked to put piece after piece in my mouth and be met with nothing but fried batter and no chicken! Is this even legal?

forumseafood - fried rice

Would the Fried Rice with Diced Chicken be the saving grace? All hopes of that were shattered with a single mouthful. With a completely bland taste and heated unevenly, it made me suspect that it was scraped together using leftovers or something. I could not bring myself to eat more than a couple of tasting mouthfuls. Yuck!

Forum Seafood Village Restaurant is, by far, the absolute worst restaurant I have tried in Singapore.

Too often, owners and operators are too busy running a restaurant to also monitor online sentiment. One of the things I try to do to help stalls and restaurants improve their ratings is to give direct feedback. I believe this simple step has worked in the past, going some way to reverse the flood of bad ratings.

I decided to do the same here when I asked for the bill. First, it took more than 10 minutes for the bill to arrive. When the lady handed it over, I explained why hardly anything had been touched, ending with the seemingly-repurposed Fried Rice.

Her only reply was, “No, it’s cooked,” which was almost meaningless in the context. Then, like someone who has been in that situation too many times, she quickly looked at another table and pretended they had called her. Not another word, she was gone.

Final thoughts

This was the first time in doing this series that I felt that all the negative reviews published online were justified. Trying to rationalise what was happening here, I think the owners must not live in Singapore. That’s the only way that they haven’t stepped in and made changes.

It was funny, though, that the restaurant was among those that had the most occupied seats, riverside. When I looked around, it seemed that almost everyone was drinking beer rather than eating. It seems that their beer prices are pretty reasonable.

forumseafood - restaurant by the river

I could find no redeeming feature of Forum Seafood Village Restaurant apart from its favourable location. For that incidental fact, I am happy to give it an additional half-star.

Expected damage: S$30 – $60 per pax

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 1.5 / 5

Forum Seafood Village Restaurant

42 Boat Quay, Singapore 049831

Our Rating 1.5/5

Forum Seafood Village Restaurant

42 Boat Quay, Singapore 049831

Telephone: +65 6536 2829
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 11.30pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 6536 2829

Operating Hours: 11.30am - 11.30pm (Daily)