Years ago, when we used to hang out at now-defunct Chalk restaurant at Old School, Huccalily made friends with the chefs there. I asked the chef, which restaurants chefs frequented. He replied, Les Amis chefs and he (he used to work at Les Amis) often went to four places, including Sin Lee Cuisine.
I went to Sin Lee and it was a quiet, perfectest culinary experience. I still recalled the exact dishes I ordered, and the taste of each dish. Then it closed down soon after. It had lasted for 23 years.
Steamed pork ribs
But by late 2013, it resurrected. This time, it is called–you guessed it–Sek Tong Gai, or “Eat Everything Street.” It was a vastly different experience, not as atas anymore, more localized and relaxed, more cze char style, less like restaurant, although menu came in a high-tech ipad. No more young, svelte waitress in formal cheongsam at a customer’s beck and call. But the auntie server in a casual green polo tee took great care of us: helped us portion out dishes, and changed our plates now and then. Fantastic service.
The food was more homely, less refined, but still as good as I remember. Claypot braised Soon Hock with minced pork, eggplant and tofu ($85/kg, ours cost $97) was ugly–I love its ugliness! The minced pork was steamed for three hours to melt away the fats, and then refrigerated overnight to scrape away the top layer of oil. Hence, the fish was not at all oily. The skin of the deep-fried fish remained crispy, and the flesh was so sweet, tender and fresh.
Another favorite of ours–spinach and vermicelli in stock ($21, above)–had explosive flavors with spinach still crunchy. The steamed pork ribs ($21) wasn’t the fall-off-the-bone sort; it had a bite and I loved it. Steamed with bean paste, preserved plum, ginger, and some crispy salted fish, this one had the feeling of home. Claypot chicken ($18.80, below) came in a thick sweet-salty gravy, very groovy over rice. A pity Sg Food on Foot, Arctic Star, and Elaine Girl Girl didn’t eat carbs or I would have ordered the fried rice, my favorite dish at Sin Lee.
The food had an umami-ness, that elusive feeling of bliss, that is worth coming back over and over again. But lessen on that MSG, yeah? I was parched after the meal. Including the old school herbal tea ($1.80/glass, which used to be freeflow at Sin Lee Cuisine), we spent $165 for four persons, or about $42 each. Highly recommended. The 5th restaurant to receive a 4/5 from us this year.
47 Tanglin Halt Road #01-317 Singapore 141047
T: 6474 4547
6pm-2am, closed Tue.
Rating: 4.017/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.