We were devastated when Siang Hee moved up north to Serangoon Gardens. It was our cze char go-to; consistently reliable and quite importantly, conveniently located. So for a while, we resorted to driving out to No Signboard whenever a cze char craving hit, which main outlet in Geylang meant we had to navigate narrow lanes lined with shitty parallel parkers, and foolhardy pedestrians who'd make excellent human bowling pins.
Then we discovered Tian Tian Seafood Restaurant, a casual roadside joint located a little down the block where Siang Hee used to stand. While many flock to Tian Tian for its fish head steamboat, we're partial to their cze char offerings. The menu is extensive, cooking is deft, and ingredients are fresh, making food that's wonderfully comforting and homestyled. A bonus: prices here are very wallet-friendly.
Parking is incredibly scarce, so a tip is to dine for supper, as the restaurant is open till 3am. Or make like a geriatric, and eat dinner early early at 5pm when it opens.
The Braised Crispy Noodles with Beef Brisket ($8) may be more fat than meat, but it's sinfully delicious. The noodles could do with a little more crunch, but that became moot when bathed in that velvety rich oyster sauce gravy.
My favourite late-night carb option, the Braised Vermicelli with Meat & Seafood ($6), imbued with a lovely smoky fragrance, was slathered in the most glorious egg-drop gravy. Seafood was swimmingly fresh and cooked to perfection.
The Hotplate Egg Beancurd ($10), loaded with minced pork and scrambled eggs a-bubbling, was blanketed in a salted bean paste sauce.
A must-try, the luscious Coffee Pork Spare Ribs ($12) was as yummy as it was fragrant, burnished with a bittersweet caramel-like sauce.
The Fried Sambal Sotong ($12), laced with sweet onions, green and red peppers, was finessed perfectly, soft and springy with a robust heady chilli sauce.
The Steamed Live Prawns ($18 for 300gm), sweet and plump, was sided by a delicate Hongkong-styled soy sauce dip.
The Stewed Mixed Vegetables with Vermicelli in Claypot ($10) was lackluster, primarily because it'd dried out. Whatever stock there was was completely absorbed by the glass vermicelli, making this more like a stir-fried vegetable medley than a soupy hodgepodge of still-raw greens. This would have been better left simmering on the stove for half an hour longer to cook the greens thoroughly, and served brimming with broth.
Tian Tian serves crabs of 2 sizes, the small ones, which are no more than 700 grams, and substantially larger ones usually over 1kg. Our Black Pepper Crabs ($36.40 at $52/kg) were small but sweet, and coated in a sweet-ish garlicky buttery sauce. Delicious.
The Salted Egg Yolk Crabs ($36.40 for 700gm) were fantastic as well. Buttery layers complemented salted egg yolk notes for a heart-stoppingly good flavour.
Tian Tian Seafood Restaurant
239 Outram Road
Tel: 6324 1082 / 6324 1083
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 5pm to 3am;
Sundays from 5pm to 12midnight