We were trying to hit up Kok Kee wanton mee at Lavender when we belatedly realised that they'd closed their shutters for good. Thoroughly disappointed, but still in need of sustenance, we wandered over the the coffeeshop behind and spotted Royal Js Seafood. A sizable week-night crowd suggested good food was to be had at the brightly lit cze char joint, so we thought to give it a shot. Besides, their much touted fried porridge seemed a novel antidote to the drizzle-cooled weather.
Perhaps the inordinately slow kitchen killed our appetite, or perhaps we ordered the wrong dishes, but we didn't think the food here was particularly outstanding to warrant a crowd. There were a couple of delectable dishes, but most were pedestrian, entirely unmemorable affairs.
The Prawn Fried Porridge ($36), a premium version of the overhyped fried porridge, was really porridge that was fried in a wok than simmered in a pot. Taste-wise, it was indistinguishable from regular 'ol porridge. Still, it was a scrumptious claypot of rice gruel, robust with fried yam cubes, pork lard nubbins, conpoy and shredded cuttlefish for a umami unctuousness. Topped off with 4 giant prawns which were sweet and juicy, this was delicious and comforting. A must-try here.
The Minced Pork Fried Tofu ($10) was a half-and-half. The beancurd was incredibly smooth and silky, but the garlic minced pork gravy needed salt and oomph. It was too bland.
The Crispy Garden Chicken ($12) was a riff on popcorn chicken, burnished with a tumeric spice rub and laced with fried shredded ginger strips. Nice but forgettable.
A twist to the ubiquitous sweet-and-sour pork, the Tasty Fried Pork ($12) was glazed with a marinade that was part coffee, part plum sauce, and part guinness, that was at once sweet, piquant, and smoky. A must-try here too.
The Drunken Clam Soup (complimentary) was a moot appetizer, because it was lush with coriander leaves, which spoiled and overwhelmed the natural sweetness of the soup.
Royal J Seafood
30 Foch Road
Tel: 9357 3993
Open daily from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner