The daughter had spent the morning measuring and studying horseshoe crabs with the Singapore Nature Society on Sunday a couple weeks ago. After picking her up at the Kranji mud flats, we were in the mood to do some ‘rural lunching’ ourselves, especially dressed as we were not for high end restaurants. Made a phone call to Orchid Live Seafood Restaurant and luckily they had space for three.
We’ve been there a few times before and it has never disappointed. Located at Green Valley Farms, the first nursery along Bah Som Pah Road, it is a complete kampong, back-to-the-70s experience. There’s no aesthetics whatsoever, and I’m not sure if I saw a signage at its front entrance. But it’s one of those places you are assured of good food, and the prices are equally palatable.
The star of the menu is the lobster porridge, made Teochew style — the rice is still whole and swimming in a sea of soup. In this style the stock is extremely important as it carries the flavour of the dish. Here it comes in a massive claypot with four lobsters, halved, cooked in it. They put it aside on a plate when they portioned out the porridge. The Boston lobsters were very fresh and the flesh nicely cooked and sweet. They were caught from the tank outside the restaurant minutes before. The porridge itself was good, rice quite tender, and the soup was really flavourful. Eaten together with the lobster and other dishes that came, we surprised ourselves by finishing the entire vat.
We had ordered the ‘Buddy Set’ menu at $118 for three. This included another of the restaurant’s star dish Steven Chicken, created by their chef, and deep fried, coated in a sweet tangy caramelised sauce. Combined with the crispness of the chicken and the moist flesh, it was excellent. Perfect with chilled beer on a hot afternoon.
The chilli mussels (or what we Teochews would call ‘dua tao’) came in way too much sauce but it was cooked just right, nicely tender and bouncy, and the sauce nicely balanced, slightly hot. It’s yet another signature dish here. Happily there was no grit in the mussels nor bits of broken shell, which sometimes plague such a dish. The sambal potato leaves we ordered was the only disappointment, as the leaves were old and fibrous. If not for that, it would have been a good one too. Dessert is old fashioned red bean potong ice cream hauled out from the freezer at the front door. I hear the cold crab, a Teochew delicacy, is worth trying here. That’s going down on my list for the next visit.
The charm with Orchid Live Seafood restaurant is its retro flavour. The carpark is a pitted concrete space up front which reminds me of the old restaurants of the early 70s when I was a kid. Cars just park wherever they find a space on the uneven ground. On the side, you’ll see old tyres and the odd swing amid weeds and greenery left to grow wild. At the restaurant, the bulk of the tables are al fresco under a wood-framed canvas canopy – again a totally ’70s set up. On cool evenings, that would make a fun place for dinner. (Positively broiling there in the afternoons.)
While they seem quite laid back, these guys are very proactive and even have several Father’s Day set menus going on. Service is polite and prompt too. Call ahead for reservations first, and it’s best to go with a larger group. (Orchid Live Seafood has another branch at Jln Kelutut, but this is where you go for the rural experience.) Highly recommended!!
1 Bah Soon Pah Rd, Singapore 769959