Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1MB Travels: Singapore: Long Beach Seafood - Dempsey Hill

Before I headed out with family to Singapore for the holidays, we asked everyone we knew who was from / had visited Singapore for recommendations. Many independent sources agreed on Long Beach Seafood, including my 'Foodie Mentor'.

With several locations across the city, we ended up going with a cabbie's recommendation of Dempsey Hill (one of our favorite things on this visit are the super friendly cab drivers - they are clearly very proud of their city and more than happy to act as self-appointed tour guides). This location is across from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and is aptly placed - along with a few other eateries - in a lush, green setting sort of reminiscent of plantation estates in Hawaii.

The restaurant is especially charming at dusk, when the sun is retiring and lights start to set the rolling hills aglow. You can dine al fresco either on the patio on the front lawn, or 'upstairs' in the colonial style, airy balcony overlooking the gardens.

As you might have guessed by their name, the place is famous for its seafood, most notably their black pepper crab and chili crab. Foodie Mentor literally flies out to Singapore at least once a year just for crab, and often at Long Beach Seafood.

To whet our appetites and round out the meal, we started with a plate of House Specialty Live Prawn (small $18SG / ~$14US) which had a golden, crisp breading with chilis and other exotic seasoning over sweet, juicy - incredibly fresh prawns. All this was beautifully presented in a Chinese influenced classic 'bird's nest' made with molded and fried egg noodles (did I mention that Singapore is populated by a lovely and harmonious mix of primarily Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and Europeans, each bringing their heritage and culinary traditions with them to form a unique blend of all four in local cuisine?)
Next up was a uniquely Singaporean dish that fellow blogger, and Singaporean transplant to LA, Burp and Slurp included in her awesome list of 'must eat' dishes - ideally from a hawker center, but since we saw this on the menu on our first night I decided to just go for it at Long Beach! Homemade Otah in Banana Leaf ($1.80SG per pc minimum 4 pcs / ~$6US total) consisted of fish and shrimp ground up into a paste, and mixed with chilis and other seasonings, before being shaped into a patty that is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled. Very fragrant and flavorful! Long Beach's preparation was a little pungent though, so we didn't finish all four packets.

Then came the piece de resistance: Live Sri Lankan Chili Crab (by the kg) - at Long Beach you can choose from many different varieties of crab, from Alaskan King Crab to snow crab to what we got - Sri Lankan crab (which seems to be ubiquitous in Singapore, and the lowest budget option). One bite and I understood the substance behind the hype - with this much bold-flavored sauce, you'd think it would be a waste of / overwhelm the fresh taste of crab, which was alive and kickin' moments before it arrived at your table. But somehow, with incredible skill, this was made so that you taste BOTH the instantly addictive flavors in the tomato-based, chili spiced, creamy sauce AND then just beneath it, the freshest, juiciest, sweetest crab meat. This is the kind of crab that makes you throw all sense of decorum off the balcony and dig elbows and double chins in. I couldn't get enough of it - all 1.5kg of it.
My dad stared in horror for the hour and a half that I tore at the crab, without so much as a breath, while a mountain of discarded shell and wet towelettes piled up beside me. His face said: "This daughter's never getting married."

Then, to add insult to injury, I grabbed the gorgeous golden hunks of Fried Buns (aka mantou), dipped them into the chili sauce so as not to waste that proof-of-divine-design, and finished off the entire plate of those as well. (Thanks, Burp and Slurp for the food recs and the tip to have mantou with the chili crab!)

I could have eaten that crab every night we were there if not for needing room to sample other local flavors. To cool off from the heat of the crab, I downed two Young Coconut waters - straight from the pure, untouched interior of freshly cracked coconuts, not from some vacuum-sealed pack, one of my favorite drinks on earth - and was in heaven for the rest of the night.
All in all, an incredible first meal in Singapore that set a high bar - in the summer, without air conditioning it might be too hot and humid to dine here outdoors, but for our winter visit the weather was perfect.

[For other photos and stories from our trip to Singapore, check out the album on my Facebook page.]

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 5.5 bites
Originality - 6 bites
Ambience - 5.5 stars
Service - 5 stars
Overall experience - 5.5 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%


Long Beach Seafood - Dempsey Hill
25 Dempsey Road, opposite Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
Ph: +65 6323-2222
Website: longbeachseafood.com.sg


  1. "this daughter's never getting married" HAHAHAHA. so cool how it's still moving!!

  2. The restaurant is especially charming at dusk, when the sun is retiring.Very cool place to enjoy!!!!



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