Last night we were deciding where to eat.
We were all open to ideas and in no time at all, we were considering choices as far flung as Sze Chuan Mala in Tiong Bahru, Har Cheong Kai in Balestier Whampoa Keng and good Korean fried chicken in Tiong Bahru.
Yes completely schizophrenic and amenable (we were sipping French wine at the time – it does that to you).
Then my Hamsome friend (can you hear the bitterness in my voice?) suggested New Ubin Seafood and asked if we have tried their nasi lemak which needs pre-ordering.
Wait – what ?
Nasi Lemak at New Ubin ?
It’s like waving frilly red underwear at this Raging Aging slightly Virginal Bull.
So I immediately called up and was delighted to learn they happen to have one portion of nasi lemak they could give to us. But they would need to quickly cook the rice for us.
Things were falling into place.
Providence has spoken.
It was like marrying the village 40 year old virgin purely out of love and finding out on wedding night that she was an insatiable nymphomaniac, had a flat toned tummy with packs forming and a penchant for yoga such that she could scratch her head with her toes.
And of course do unimaginable bendy poses.
Don’t judge me – we all have our priorities and dreams.
I didn’t need much persuasion because New Ubin Seafood is one of my perennial favourites.
So off we went.
Chijmes New Ubin
It was completely buzzing when we arrived. Sheesh – on a Tuesday at 830 pm and it seemed like every table was filled!
And the magic that keeps their standards up ? Boss man Senior Pang was there – saying hello from table to table and keeping a strict no nonsense eye on the dishes coming out.
He was kind enough to spend some time at our table and we enjoyed chatting with him and asking about his new outlet that just opened in Tampines.
When one of our dishes arrived, he roared “who put spring onions in this dish??” and sent it back to be rectified.
Such exacting standards.
He departed soon after as he had to go to his Zhong Shan Mall outlet to oversee things.
He’s such an institution.
The Nasi Lemak
These guys just surprise me time after time.
The nasi lemak was sublime.
The rice and omelette was as they should be and was good enough. It was explained to us when I called that the nasi lemak rice needed to be cooked quickly to meet our order. It usually needed a bit of time to set and for the fragrance of the coconut to seep in but they will do their best.
So I believe that it would normally be more fragrant but it was as good as any for something they had to whip out fairly last minute.
But two things really stood out. First – they have got the chilli absolutely spot on. It was rich with a bit of a kick and just the right balance of spicy savoury sweetness. It reminded me exactly of how nasi lemak chilli should be. We asked for seconds.
And the simple ikan bilis was transformed into this amazing shattering goodness – it really lifted the whole dish to a whole new level.
The dish was accompanied with fried boneless spicy chicken which was quite good mind you. But the fact that the humble chilli and ikan bilis overshadowed everything else just filled me with happiness.
If you can get that right, everything you added on was just a bonus.
It was like finding out the nymphomaniac you just married who can’t keep her hands off you also had extremely kind eyes and shared your passion for dogs.
And liked Phantom of the Opera “All I ask of you “.
“No more talk of darkness
Forget these wide-eyed fears
I’m here, nothing can harm you
My words will warm and calm you”
Wait, where was I ?
The second dish that came with the nasi lemak was chilli cuttlefish and that was very good . It was succulent and the sambal accompanying it was dope.
Looks like nasi lemak will be on my fixed repertoire whenever I come to New Ubin.
Grilled Angus Beef with Heart Attack Fried Rice
Who would come to New Ubin and not order their Grilled Angus beef and their famed heart attack fried rice ?
It’s been years and I have sworn each time that I would not order this dish the next time I came, but it’s futile. It’s one of their star dishes and each time I come here, it beckons to me like a beautiful mermaid playfully flipping her tail at me and serenading me with her siren song.
“Say you love me every waking moment
Turn my head with talk of summertime
Say you need me with you now and always
Promise me that all you say is true
That’s all I ask of you”
Succulent and slightly charred Angus grilled beef were soon on our plates, accompanied with Idaho potatoes and condiment dressings. We felt the heart attack fried rice was slightly sweet this time around like it had some kecap manis added into it but upon checking, were told it was the same cooking method as before.
Hmm- still delicious but the taste was slightly different from before.
And if I wanted beef drippings and French butter clogging up my arteries, I wanted it being clogged the same way each time.
Boss’s Bee Hoon
Yes we had too much carbo but, again, I am never able to not order this dish.
So simple yet so alluring.
The wok hei was so omnipotent it smelt almost burnt. And so unapologetically black sauced.
It was robust, pungent and all man cave.
It was truly gangster – my kind of dish.
Mutton curry and Briyani
I remember trying this dish many many moons ago when they first started offering Indian curry dishes on their menu.
I remembered vaguely coming away impressed and satiated.
But wow – this time round it bowled me over. I say hand on my heart that this dish beats many mutton briyanis I have had in Singapore.
The mutton was melt in your mouth tender and was really spicy the way I like it, although it could be too spicy for some.
Briyani was fluffy and aromatic with the right amount of folds of flavour unfolding from the spices.
I am half Indian in spirit and Rajalingam was happy and all approving.
Ching Long Cai
Literally translated it means Green Dragon vegetables.
That’s as kickass Chinese sword fighting kung fu era as you can get.
If you wanted to be pedantic it’s called 韭菜 (Mandarin Pinyin: Jiǔcài, Cantonese: Gau Choy). In English, the name is Chinese chives, also known as garlic chives, Oriental garlic, Chinese leek (Allium tuberosum).
But this is where it gets intriguing.
It is grown in Cameron Highlands Malaysia by a man named Lau Kuan.
Lau Kuan is a living hermit who practises Kung Fu daily high up in the hills, shuns people and can speak to animals and vegetables.
Just kidding. Stretching some artistic licences.
There is an article in the Star newspaper dated Monday May 16, 2005 entitled “Farmer rejects pesticide use in growing chives” that explained why this green dragon vegetable does not have a strong taste like the normal garlic chives.
Kudos to this Malaysian farmer who has put this vegetable on the tables of many of our Chinese restaurants.
The vegetable looks and tastes like a cross between a leek and a chive.
Cheek and Live.
Romeo and Juliet so to speak.
Lau shares how he produces this vegetable:
“He lets his chives grow for six weeks before chopping off the top half of the leaves to be used as mulch and fertiliser. He then covers the remaining chives with a thick nylon netting for 10 days in a process known as blanching before harvesting them. Limiting sunlight made the chives more tender and delicious as they contained less fibre, Lau said.”
New Ubin did justice to Lau Kuan’s efforts. My dining companions commented that it was not over fried but was al dente and springy.
It came with flecks of lard and I don’t believe I’m saying this since I am a certified lard whore of the highest order, praise the lard (Benny Se Teo I stole your phrase) but maybe leave out the lard for this dish ?
All your dishes are already rich and opulent and I always feel a little guilty twitch in my chest when I dine at your restaurant.
So maybe leave your vegetable dishes lard free so I can pretend and say “oh it’s ok about the seven artery clogging dishes we just ate, the vegetables dish I ordered was so healthy….”
Maybe accompany it with chunky garlic slices or even whole with the garlic a little burnt and blistered ?
Bossman gives his recommendations
I am told by Alex, New Ubin’s CEO to try their Masala King Prawns and Smoked Pork Curry the next time I am there, as those are some of his favourites.
My learned Friend has spoken (Alex was a practising lawyer for some years) and I shall listen.
So stay tuned – I don’t think it will be long before I find an excuse back to New Ubin.
Probably with Village 40 year old Virgin on my arm.
New Ubin closed down their Hillview location but have reopened a brand new 5000 sqf outlet at Tampines.
So they are currently in Chijmes, Zhongshan Mall and Tampines.
I have always felt Hillview difficult to find and inaccessible – to me anyway.
So now they have moved to the east – to my Hood.
This is a sign.
New Ubin Seafood is at:
New Ubin Tampines
18 Tampines Industrial Crescent, #01-16 Singapore 528605
New Ubin ChijmesChijmes, 30 Victoria Street;
New Ubin Zhongshan
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, 16 Ah Hood Road.