You know it's well and truly Summer when all of the best shows on tv end their seasons' run. That's about the time we relinquish our couch potato lifestyles, and occupy our now-freed nights by hitting the gym. Sometimes, we try squeezing in a few dozen balls at the driving range as well. If we do, it's usually past most restaurants' last orders by the time we're done at the club, so it's pretty slim pickings for dinner.
Through a series of unfortunate events (we'd originally popped by Nagomi but it was serving an omakase-only menu which would have been too tedious for a Tuesday night. So we went to Hai Di Lao opposite but it was a 45-minute wait, at 10pm on a week-night. So we made an about turn and went to Tiong Bahru instead), we ended up at Sin Hoi Sai, a seafood-cze char late-night joint popular with revelers. In fact, the last time I was at Sin Hoi Sai was for some supper, post-clubbing, when I was still in my teens. In a drunken stupor of course.
It may have been my leaky, alcohol-hazed memory, but I don't remember Sin Hoi Sai being this mediocre. I can't imagine how it's stayed in business this long, and am confounded as to how it continues to bring in a large enough crowd to occupy the 2 shop spaces in the prime Tiong Bahru enclave, but it definitely isn't the outstanding cze char restaurant it once was. It was a disappointingly wasted meal, and one that wasn't exactly economical either; we really should have gone across the road to Tian Tian for dinner instead.
The Sliced Fish with Ginger & Spring Onions ($18) barely passed muster, the fish was clear and fresh and the aromatics lending a nuanced flavour. Standard, run-of-the-mill fare, and I've had better.
The glaze, with its smoky-sweet-savoury notes, coating the Marmite Pork Ribs ($15) was the best thing about this dish. The lovely glaze was let down by the dry and tough meat. In this regard, Siang Hee does a much more worthwhile rendition.
The Hotplate Beancurd ($12), with minced pork, egg scramble, and a gooey soy gravy, wasn't particularly objectionable, but it was insipid in a terribly forgettable way.
The Soya Bean Skin & Kailan ($12) and shimeiji mushrooms was dreadfully unbalanced. The greens had stodgy overtones that clashed badly with the nutty flavour of the beancurd skin and the bitter notes of the vegetarian oyster sauce.
The braised peanuts was perhaps the best dish of dinner, it was soft and melty and mellow. And it was quite a consolation that it was complimentary.
Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant
Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Road
Tel: 6223 0610 / 6223 0810 / 6224 3905
Open daily from 5pm to 5am