Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Food Picks: Lok Kee, Long Beach @ Stevens, Beauty In The Pot

ST PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE

BALANCE OF SOUR AND SPICY

Lok Kee is not new, but I have not been able to try its Barramundi With Pickled Chillies ($40 for small, $80 for regular). That's because I usually dine there with just one or two friends, and even the small portion is for four persons.

I was there with a big group recently and we ordered the regular portion. It was a huge serving and because the barramundi came as a boneless fillet, there was plenty to go around. And the dish was good, with an appetising balance of sour and spicy flavours that are not overly fiery.

If you are dining there for the first time, you would probably want to order the Awesome Flaming Pineapple Beef ($34). It is braised beef that is served in a whole pineapple and flambed at the table - a sight that often gets everyone whipping out their camera phones.

Tastewise, it is pretty decent, with tender chunks of beef and bursts of sweetness from the pieces of pineapple.

For the Chinese New Year period, the restaurant serves only set menus. Look out for those with these dishes. 

WHERE: Lok Kee, 03-01 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road MRT: Dhoby Ghaut OPEN: 11am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm daily TEL: 6884-4566


PEPPERY MUD CRAB

Long Beach's latest outlet in Stevens Road is its most accessible for those who do not drive. It is in one of the satellite pods outside the new Mercure hotel and right behind a bus stop.

It is also the smallest, about half the size of other Long Beach outlets such as those in Dempsey and Kallang Park.

The dishes are similar, though and you can always ask for some that are off the menu as well.

One of them is White Pepper Mud Crab (above, seasonal price). The menu offers the dish but cooked with Alaskan King Crab, which can weigh a few kilograms and can cost more than $300 each. Mud crabs are usually around 1.5kg, for which you pay less than half that price.

Another dish I always order is Deep Fried Flat Rice Noodles With La La King (from $28). The hor fun is cooked two ways. The bottom layer is tossed in oil and sauce, then covered with clams cooked in a thick gravy. This is then covered with a layer of crispy deep-fried hor fun. The contrasting textures are what make it so memorable.

For the Chinese New Year period, the outlet is offering set menus starting from $268 for four persons. Menus for 10 persons range from $668 to $2,088. Dishes include "Li Shan" Claypot Live Marble Goby, which is delicious with the fish fried then braised in stock.

WHERE: Long Beach @ Stevens, 30 Stevens Road MRT: Stevens OPEN: 11am to 3pm daily, 5 to 11pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 5pm to midnight (Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays) TEL: 6445-8833


A PINK BEAUTY

When I heard that Beauty In The Pot recently opened its latest outlet at OneKM Mall, I was confused. Isn't that where the hotpot restaurant's first outlet, which opened in 2014, is?

Well, the month-old outlet is a bigger, better version, located one floor above the older unit. It is also all decked in pink, a cherry blossom hue (above) that reminds me more of spring than romance.

The menu is bigger too, to match the one at the chain's second outlet in Centrepoint, which opened in December 2016. Besides the original two stocks - a collagen broth and a spicy one - there are also coconut broth, herbal drunken chicken broth, wild pine mushroom broth and tomato sweet corn broth. Prices start at $14.

The extra ingredients include Otak-Otak Fish Paste ($10.80), which tastes like a soft, spicy otah. But I prefer the classic Ebiko Prawn Paste ($18.80) because I just love how the tiny fish roe burst in the mouth.

Fried Beancurd Skin (from $4.90) is also a favourite because it does not have an oily taste, unlike at some other chains. It is best eaten after being dipped for three seconds in the broth. Any longer and it loses its crispness, and a shorter time means it doesn't soak up the flavour of the broth.

WHERE: Beauty In The Pot, 03-38 OneKM, 11 Tanjong Katong Road MRT: Paya Lebar OPEN: 11.30am to 3am daily TEL: 6284-8820

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2018, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe