“Tried and Tested Recipes, 30 Years on”
Inside a charming little shophouse on the corner of Prinsep Street is Red House Seafood. Serving up Singaporean favourites since its establishment in 1976, the restaurants’ 3rd branch is where modernity meets old-world charm.
A traditional wood-furnished shophouse right in the city dishing out fresh seafood to locals and tourists alike.
I had the pleasure of tasting a couple of their signature dishes, some of which are new additions, and others, tried and tested staples that have been on their menu for the past 30 years.
Truffle Wild Mushroom Dumpling ($4/3 pcs). A medley of brown mushrooms wrapped in a thin dumpling skin to liken glistening jade pillows.
Truffles are notorious for overpowering the flavours of the entire dish, but the subtle truffle flavours here were balanced by the earthiness of the mushrooms. Just a tad oily though.
Beancurd Skin with Prawn ($5/3pcs). This was a real treat. Compared to the regular fried beancurd rolls at dim sum restaurants that are stuffed with more fillers than actual meat, this was pretty much 70% chunky, crunchy, fresh pieces of prawn. All wrapped up and fried to crisp perfection.
Custard Bun ($4/3pcs). The usual, salted egg yolk custard filling in a fluffy white bun. The custard in this one was sweeter than most, though.
Takesumi Chilli Crab Bun ($8/3pcs). A very chic looking bun, with the chilli red filling against the black dough coloured with Takesumi bamboo charcoal powder. This is an improved version of the Chili Crab Bun supposedly.
Crab meat is lovingly picked by the chefs from the Red Houses’ speciality chilli crab and put into the bun. The generous strands of flavourful crabmeat are outstanding on their own, accompanied by a crispy, deep-fried exterior. It is a shame the dough on the inside was undercooked though, discounting the otherwise delightful dim sum.
Prawns with Creamy Custard Sauce ($24/$36/$48). This was a real winner to me, unlike anything I’ve had before. Fresh, not frozen, prawns fried and coated in a the restaurants’ signature creamy custard sauce.
The prawns were fresh and crunchy to the bite, smothered in the most amazing sauce made of a bunch of ingredients, those that I know of being evaporated milk and milk powder. The sweetness of the prawns coupled with the sweetness of the sauce add depth to the overall dish. Striking a balance between the sweet and savoury.
They come de-shelled too, but don’t bother. This is worth getting your fingers dirty and licking the sauce off the shells make them that much better.
Spicy Seafood Combination ($28/$42/$56). Underneath that thick sauce is a mix of grouper, squid, prawns and scallops.
Another signature dish imagined by the chefs at Red House inspired by the flavours of Thailand. Lemongrass, galangal and coconut milk resonate in this dish, a change from the traditionally Chinese dishes.
The quality of the seafood is not compromised in any way, the freshness of the seafood manages to hold up the heavy and flavour-packed sauce without being overpowered.
The full-bodied sauce is perfect to dip those fried mantous in, too.
Scottish Brown Crab Wok Fried & Tossed in White Pepper ($65/kg). Speaking with Sunny, the restaurant manager, Scottish brown crabs are used instead of the Sri Lankan crabs that we are used to because they are rid of that pungent odour that comes with seafood from the area.
The result? Crabs of the same species that are as chunky, if not even chunkier than their Asian counterpart.
With a sturdier shell, the crab meat is succulent and indeed meatier than most. With a thicker and creamier crab roe. The white pepper is also more sophisticated and refined than the black pepper version which can sometimes be too overwhelming.
Fresh Crabmeat “Pao Fan” ($28/$42/$56). No, it’s not porridge, nor is it just rice in soup. The rice grains are boiled in soup, long enough for them absorb all the flavour of the soup but not long enough to release the starch in the rice to turn it into mush.
This “pao fan” was sitting in a broth of shark cartilage that had been boiling for over two days to give it a rich milky flavour. The broth was also flavoured with vegetables like ginger and spring onions, all of which compliment the delicate flavours of the soup.
Topped with handfuls of puffed rice to contrast the soft grains of rice in the soup, it provided varied textures to what could have been a texturally bland dish. Handpicked pieces of crabmeat were also used, making the dish more luxurious overall. A warm comforting soup dish in contrast to all the denser items on the menu.
Chilled Lime Sherbet with Lemongrass Jelly ($7.80). What you don’t need after a heavy meal is an even heavier dessert. Homemade lemongrass jelly that melts in your mouth and a tangy lime sherbet. A cold refreshing dessert does the trick to keep you from falling into a food coma afterwards.
Old and new, modern and traditional, Red House Seafood has merged the two seamlessly. Homey enough for a family dinner, and elegant enough for a business meeting, the Prinsep street outlet is able to house both under the same roof.
But of course, food comes first and the folks here do a mighty fine job at it. You can definitely expect fresh seafood when you visit, with seafood being flown in three times a week. Nevermind the fancy cooking methods and condiments, the quality seafood used really prove to be the main event and stand out in every dish, however it’s cooked.
Do note that Red House does have a special Chinese New Year menu set only on CNY eve – 18 Feb 2015, while all regular items have marked up prices till 5 March 2015.