Our April L.A. Dinner was held at Jumbo Seafood at Riverwalk. The Riverwalk outlet is nearest to the office, so in the event that taxis aren't available (FYI, it's notoriously difficult to hail a taxi in the CBD on Friday evenings, and even calling for one is quite an exercise in futility), walking to the restaurant is always a viable option.
I love the seafood at Jumbo. It may be a little commercialized, in that food seems to be churned out like a production line, and service is run like a well-oiled machine with cyborg-ish wait staff, but the food's still consistently delicious.
A tip is to make sure you get advanced reservations (best to call at least 2 weeks in advance for peak days), otherwise, be prepared with alternative plans.
We got a private room to facilitate the chatting. The restaurant's such a bustling hive of chatter that you'll find yourself straining to hear each other across the table. A private room ensures the yak of the other diners gets shut out behind closed doors and need for hearing aids is negated.
The Donut with Seafood Paste ($20 for large), thick crispy you tiaos stuffed with chewy seafood cakes is a safe bet as a starter. This was quickly devoured by us hungry folks.
The Deep Fried Beancurd Skin with Seafood ($20 for large) is the beancurd skin version of the seafood donuts. Juicy bouncy seafood paste with crisp flaky beancurd skin.
The Ribeye Fillet with Pepper Sauce ($33 for 3 pieces at $11 per piece), albeit a little artificially tenderised, was, nonetheless, flavoursome, fatty and tender.
The Scallops wrapped in Yam Ring ($32 for large), a signature here, is a must-try. Succulent juicy sweet scallops accented by soft mashed sweet yam with a flaky crust. You can't stop at just one of these babies.
The Crispy Fried Baby Squid ($18 for medium), coated in a stickily sweet sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds, was addictively crunchy.
The best part about the Herbal Drunken Live Prawns ($52 at $6.50 per 100g) was the alcohol-tinged broth. It was sweet and intense and rich, but managed to somehow complement but not overwhelm the delicate sweetness of the medium sized prawns.
We also ordered a local fave, the Golden Salted Egg Wok-Fried Prawns ($44 for large), deshelled for convenience and the ones without husbands/boyfriends/fiances to peel the prawns for them. The mildly grainy salted egg yolk coating was lightly spiced up by diced peppers.The prawns for this were noticeably bigger than the drunken prawns. A better bite.
The Steamed Marble Goby Soon Hock with Soya Sauce ($72) was steamed to perfection. Soft and moist flesh with a delicate soy marinade made lighter with julienned yellow chives.
The BBQ Red Tilapia ($36) was highly recommended, and for good reason. The fish was grilled to a smoky char, highlighting the mild sweetness of the fish. A lemon spritz lent a citrusy zing.
Jumbo's Black Pepper Crabs ($112) are an absolute winner. If you think this isn't as spicy as the chilli crabs, think again. This left even the regular chilli lovers sniffling away. Despite the heat, the sweet crab meat was nicely balanced by the black pepper seasoning.
The Chilli Crabs ($112) here are spicy, robust, with just a tinge of nuttiness. Generously egg-dropped, the gravy was finger-licking good.
Like Bert and Ernie, chilli crabs go hand-in-hand with Deep Fried Mini Buns ($10 at $0.50 per bun for 20 buns), fluffy insides with a crisp outer crust.
Yes, we may have indulged in lots of seafood, but we also loaded up on our greens. Although, I must admit that the Braised Homemade Beancurd ($32 for large) with spinach and mushrooms was so good that it shouldn't have counted as vegetables. I loved the plentiful mushrooms and luscious oyster sauce gravy in this.
The Braised Chinese Spinach ($32 for large) with conpoy, century egg and salted egg yolk was a lighter, but no less delicious, soupy vegetable dish.
The Mee Goreng ($28 for large) at Jumbo is famous. It's a Chinese-style of the Malay staple, with the predominant use of tomato ketchup sauce. That said, this was still deceptively spicy. Well fried with good wok hei. The prawns and squid were swimmingly fresh.
The Mango Pudding ($5) was a refreshingly fruity way to round off the heavy meal. Light and smooth with freshly diced mango.
Jumbo is run by Teochews, so it's not surprising to find a classically Teochew dessert such as "orh nee" on the menu. The Sweet Yam with Gingko Nut ($4.50) was moistened by a sweet corn soup.
The Hashima with Red Dates ($7.80) was another light dessert, if you can stomach the idea of eating frogs' fallopian tubes. The very plain hashima was sweetened with the use of red dates and rock sugar.
Jumbo Seafood Restaurant
20 Upper Circular Road #B1-48
The Riverwalk Singapore 058416
Open daily for lunch from 12noon to 2.30pm
Dinner from 6pm to 12midnight