Quoting directly from its press release: “Multi award-winning seafood restaurant, The Boiler, opens its second outlet at Esplanade Mall. The expansion also comes with an al fresco bar in addition to the air-conditioned main dining hall.”
This is not the first-date kind of restaurant, if you know what I mean. Here, you want to literally get down and dirty. Sure, you get a bib, gloves and even a plastic cover for your mobile phone but to properly enjoy this Louisiana-inspired seafood boil concept, I suggest ditching the gloves and getting elbow-deep in sauce, demolishing spindly crab legs with your teeth and drinking from prawn heads like they are the very nectar of Life. You don’t want to pause to suck your thumbs and get a mouthful of plastic. It just ain’t right!
If you do not possess the finesse, passion and/or willingness to work for your food, there’s always the simple fried stuff such as the Boiler’s sampling platter ($29.90). You get fish and chips, oysters, Louisiana spicy mid-joint wings, onion rings and Cajun fries served with nachos cheese and tartar sauce. It is way better than it looks. Everything is very crispy. The fish is flaky and the batter is light as air. The oysters, though not the biggest, are fresh with a lovely saline flavour of the sea.
Moving into the main event, we started with the Boston Lobster (U.P. $75) with Garlic Butter sauce. The aroma is just intoxicating. The ingredients are simple: garlic, cream, chicken broth (made from scratch) and butter. It is full on the nose but light on the tongue with just enough plush milk fat to present the natural sweetness of the lobster like a jewel upon a soft velvet cushion.
Good seafood has to be fresh. There are no two ways about this. The Boiler imports its lobsters live from various North American locations, according to seasonal harvests. Other seafood on the menu are sourced regionally and are reviewed periodically for quality.
Next, we sampled the Boiler’s Duo Bag ($52) with Tamarind sauce. The mouth starts to water at the whiff of this. Besides tamarind, this piquant sauce is also flavoured with the sweet caramel of fried shallots, with barely a lick of a flame from chilli padi. The fresh basil fills the nose and cuts through the richness.
The clams and mussels of the day were small. Plenty of shell and so little meat. The prawns, on the other hand were stellar. They’re big, very fresh, and cooked exactly right. I know I’m coming back and ordering a hefty all-prawn 500g bag ($34).
Moving on, we had the Sri Lanka Crab ($45, 600-650g) with Peppa’ Butter sauce. This is not the ubiquitous Singaporean black pepper crab that’s typically drier and fierier. If you come expecting heat, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Think of this as a slightly less creamy version of the earlier Garlic Butter, now enlivened with a blend of black and white Sarawak pepper. You get a sizeable mud crab. Very fresh (probably live) with characteristically lumpy sweet flesh.
Lastly, we had the Boiler’s Bomdiggity Bag ($149) with signature sauce, The Works. You get a behemoth of a Dungeness crab, prawns, mussels, clams, smoked sausages, corn and bun. The menu says this is good enough to feed 4. I do not agree. This will feed 2 of me, if we order sides.
Frankly, I barely felt a tingle at medium spicy. It’s a slow-acting, peppery type of heat rather than the sort of unrelenting chilli fire my taste buds were baptised in. In comparison, the Dungeness crab naturally has a softer shell and gives up its more tender flesh readily with less manipulation while the mud crab is decidedly firmer, more fibrous and sweeter. The clams and mussels continued to disappoint in this bag and I simply couldn’t get enough of the prawns.
The Boiler wins with a simple formula of freshness and a light touch with its sauces. We took at vote at our table of 4 and unanimously decided that the Garlic Butter is the best. Tamarind is a close second for me. The lobster is divine and prawns are a must-have. If you come in a big group, definitely start with the sampling platter, or if you’re a couple, just the Fried Oysters ($13.90).
The Boiler @ Esplanade
8 Raffles Ave, #01-13A Esplanade Mall, Singapore 039802Tel: +65 6909 3435
Mon 5.30pm-11pm; Tue-Thu 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-12am; Sun 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-11pm
You may be interested in…
–Dancing Crab, Grandstand
–Uncle Leong Seafood, Punggol: Unexpected Great Service and Extremely Fresh Crabs
–Claypots Full Circle, Amoy Street: No Claypots at this Seafood Restaurant
–Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong, Haji Lane: Fish Farm Opens a Seafood Restaurant at Bar Stories
Written by Pierre Goh.