Does it always have to be this way? Is it only those cze char places, that resist upmarket touches like air-conditioning and mood lighting, and instead seat their diners within whizzing distance of road traffic, that are capable of serving better than average char? Last night's dinner with the makan gang happened at Le Wai Tian Seafood at Changi Road. Foldaway table, plastic chairs, melamine crockery, big industrial fans for ventilation, all the classic trappings of a corner coffeeshop. You would not go there to propose to your girlfriend but you would go there to eat yourself silly.
1. Yam Basket
2. Thai-style Fish Head
3. Herbal Black Chicken Soup 4. Lianhua Baocai
5. Prawn Paste Chicken
6. Fried Tanghoon
7. Pig Trotter with Sea Cucumber
8. Venison Hotplate
9. Black Pepper Crab
10. Ginger Onion Mutton
11. Fresh Fruits
The food was a lot better than what we ate at Hillman a month ago, in my opinion. It was an 11-course marathon of food, food and more food. The fish-head does not look pretty, but the cook made a right old tasty curry in his signature Thai style. The gravy was slurpirily good, tasting like tom yam soup and nonya laksa gravy combined together. So good we had to call for another helping, which means we actually had 12 dishes. Oh wait a minute, we also had birthday cake (Happy Birthday YKW!) so that brings us to up to thirteen. Lucky us.
Other than the fish head curry I also enjoyed the herbal chicken soup which had that kao-for taste of being double-boiled long enough for all the flavours and goodness to be released into the liquid.
The black pepper crab was the most expensive dish but I would not have wanted to miss any of it. Although we did not have meaty Sri Lankan crabs, the small mud crabs more than compensated with its meatiness and sweetness; the pepper sauce was tinglingly hot and finger-licking good with little bonus pieces of crab roe scattered throughout. What was even more amazing was how quickly we worked through the mountain of crabs even though it arrived late in the evening when all had declared they were very full already.
Some dishes suffered from overseasoning and mediocrity, but the overall impression was very positive. If I lived in the neighbourhood I would be happy to eat there often. Dinner dragged on a bit, I think we threw the cook off-course with our inconsistent requests. One minute it was to say the portions were too small, another time the opposite complaint, faster, slower, this, that. Luckily the staff were good-natured about it all. Best of all, the tab for the meal came up to only $360. No tax, no cess, no service charge.
Le Wai Tian Seafood (Kim San Leng Foodcourt)
324-T Changi Road, S(419799)
(Junction of Telok Kurau and Changi Road)
Tel : 6440 8937