Tuesday, August 23, 2011
It's not hard to find a good Cze Char place in Singapore. With one in almost every coffeeshop under a HDB block, they have a cookie cutter-like menu that surely offer some sort of crabs, omelette, pork ribs and kangkong. Of course, some have standards that are higher than others and will amass a faithful group of followers from all over Singapore. Mellben Seafood is probably one of them!
A gathering with two other couples brought us to their Ang Mo Kio outlet which proudly took up the space of an entire coffeeshop. While parking was relatively abundant in the HDB estate, the restaurant queue could be quite horrendous if you didn't come early enough. We witnessed a perpetual snaking queue that lasted throughout our meal!
Even after getting a seat, the lengthy waiting time for food to be served could also test your patience (and stomach). Thankfully, all the food orders were served at almost one swop so you wouldn't have to pick finish on one dish before another arrived. A word of caution though: Make up your mind when you first order in the queue, subsequent add-ons tend to be ignored or simply forgotten.
Stirred Fried Sweet Potato Leaves with Belacan, Signature Deep-Fried Tofu
Opting for this instead of Kangkong as obligatory greens, it had a nice "wok-hei" and was tastefully spicy. I was hoping that their tofu would be the ultra smooth type at Pow Sing, but it turned out to be some sort of coarse, minced tofu mixed with spices. Not that it was bad though!
Sweet and Sour Pork
A friend had the craving for this and it turned out to be a good choice! Although the meat was leaner than I would have preferred, the flour coating was just nice as it gave a good crunch without leaving a mouthful of flour. Comfort stuff to go with rice!
Chilli Crab with Deep Fried Mantous
Moving onto the stars of the dinner: Crabs! Sacrificing big, meaty Sri Lankan crabs, we had three that night and all were cooked with different methods. I would start off with the one that was admittedly, mediocre. The gravy was plain disappointing as it felt watery and didn't have any chilli/ketchup/whatever-chilli-crabs-were-supposed-to-be-like taste to it. Didn't even bother to mop it up with the freshly fried buns.
Creamy Butter Crab, Claypot Crab Been Hoon
On the other hand, the other two were simply brilliant and probably justified the long queues at Mellben! The first one was oh-so-sinful as the rich, savoury gravy coated the succulent crab meat. Now this should be mopped clean with buns!
The crab soup was another addictive experience. Sweet, smooth and milky, we definitely had many bowls of this and was thankful that we ordered additional portions of soup and thick beehoon to be shared! Very satisfying!
Bill for 6 was just over $200 after taxes, including drinks and rice for all. With reasonable pricing and excellent quality (know what to order!), Mellben is definitely a place to keep for yummy Cze Char. But better come early or risk the maddening wait!
Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3
Taken with Nikon D70