- Rachel Chia
Tian Tian Fisherman’s Pier Seafood Restaurant, Boat Quay
Before Covid-19, most people might have dismissed Boat Quay at a tourist spot with eateries for the uninitiated to Singapore fare, but there’s a gem along this stretch that’s flourishing even with travel down for the count.
Business is booming for Tian Tian Fisherman’s Pier Seafood Restaurant, which has scored itself a Michelin Plate award for three years running. The restaurant, which takes up three-units along Boat Quay, is even launching a second outlet along a few doors down this month.
The best seats in the house, in our opinion, are the ones on the outdoor terrace area, which boast incredible waterside views of Parliament House, Marina Bay Sands, Elgin Bridge and Cavenagh Bridge. The view gets even better once the sun sets and the city lights start to glow. Of course, being next to the Singapore river also sets the mood for a good seafood meal.
We start the night with the hearty Braised Wild Patin Fish with Golden Soup in Claypot ($68). Patin is a type of wild catfish, and Tian Tian’s variety is caught from the Rajang River in East Malaysia, then frozen and shipped over. The collagen-packed, orange-hued soup is boiled from dried scallops, chicken and ten different spices, complementing the soft, fatty fish belly, enoki mushrooms, onions, tofu, and shrimp balls. We especially love the nourishing soup, which we felt insufficient in quantity compared to the ingredients (though this is hardly a bad thing). A belly-warming choice for a cold day.
The Flying Noodles with Chili Crab ($88) takes the cake for most Instagrammable dish of the night, and its arrival at the table prompted everyone to whip out their cameras. The simple dish comprises chilli crab and crispy Hong Kong noodles, which are twirled up into a pair of chopsticks before being bathed in hot oil, deep frying them into shape. We were impressed by how crisp the noodles were – they retained their crunch while sitting in the chilli crab sauce, and kept their shape so well, the chopsticks didn’t sag despite 20 minutes or so of photo taking.
Taste-wise, the fresh 600g Sri Lankan crab was packed with thick, juicy and succulent meat. The Canto-style chilli crab sauce was on the sweet, watery side, and tasted strongly of tomatoes. Kids will definitely enjoy this.
Garlic lovers will adore the Fried Spicy Crab in Authentic Bi Fen Tang Style ($88), which features crab fried in copious amounts of minced garlic, alongside ginger, chili padi, green onions, dried salted radish and dried red chili powder. The dish’s name (Bi Fen Tang) refers to a typhoon shelter, and it’s meant to describe how the crab is fried in high heat, with the spices raining down on the shell. Unlike regular crab dishes, the crab here is fried “till golden”, according to the menu description. This means the meat takes on a different texture from regular crabmeat: with more doneness, it’s tougher and oilier, carrying a faint whiff of wok char.
Non-seafood lovers can still find something to enjoy in the Pan-fried Guo Ba with Glutinous Rice ($38), an outstandingly fragrant dish of pan-fried glutinous rice with Chinese sausage, mushrooms and chicken. It features the same ingredients as regular claypot rice, giving it a similar taste and texture.
Cooked using three types of rice: peal, glutinous and five-grain rice, what impressed us the most about this dish was its layered mouthfeel, with grains alternating between crunchy guo ba (scorched rice, cooked at the bottom of a pan till crispy and nearly burnt) and soft, sticky glutinous rice, all punctured with bursts of saltiness from the unctuous meat and soy sauce. Delish.
The final dish of the night was steampot. A healthier alternative to the more common hotpot, ingredients in the steampot are steamed at high temperature (the steampot operates at 2800 kilowatts) under a glass cover for just four minutes per round, allowing the seafood to retain its taste and texture without loss of nutrients. The number of rounds is determined by the number of ingredients you can pack on the steamplot plate.
There are three kinds of Steamlicious Steampot Sets at Tian Tian: A, B and C, at $38, $48 and $29.80 per pax respectively with an ongoing half price promotion (U.P. $96, $138 and $56 per pax). Each set requires a minimum of two diners.
We enjoyed the cheaper Set C, which still came with a respectable spread of ingredients: US oysters, wild prawns, lala clams, fan scallops and mini octopus. Apart from the seafood, the set is supplemented with a range of vegetables and tofu, including golden mushroom rolls, handmade Hong Kong-style fishballs, sliced chicken, mushrooms, black fungus, steamed luffa (which is similar to bittergourd) and vermicelli with dried shrimp. All the ingredients were fresh and delicious, but the incredibly plump oysters stood head and shoulders above the rest. Each of the three sets comes with these oysters, so you won’t have to worry about missing out.
While it’s not part of the set, we strongly recommend topping up for the Boston Lobster Poached Rice ($10 per pax, with every steampot set) which is worth the extra cost. Diced pieces of Boston lobster (half a lobster per 2 diners) are placed at the bottom section of each steampot, and as the top layer cooks, juices from the seafood, meat and veggies collect at the bottom, mingling with the lobster into a potent, flavourful soup. Because we got a female lobster, the umami-rich lobster coral had infused into the ‘broth’, creating an almost salted egg yolk flavour packed with lobster essence.
A bowl of crispy rice is mixed in to finish the poached rice; the crisp rice adds texture and stops the dish from tasting too much like porridge. The whole table could not stop slurping this up – definitely the main highlight of our meal at Tian Tian. Note though, that the lobster does become a tad rubbery after being steamed for so long.
Tian Tian is currently running a half price promotion for its steampot sets, so it’s worth a trip down to try them out for a great alternative to steamboat. Just don’t forget to leave room for the poached rice!
Tian Tian Fisherman’s Pier Seafood Restaurant
73, 74, 75 Boat Quay Singapore, Singapore 049861
Open 11am to 11pm daily