While Gardens by the Bay is considered a national attraction, there’s now another reason to visit; the birth of the kopi crab. 10 years down the road, would it become an embodiment of Singapore cuisine, where the chili and black pepper crab now stand? I was about to find out.
Helmed by Chef Yong Bing Ngen, who also runs fine dining restaurants Jing @ One Fullerton and Majestic Restaurant @ New Majestic Hotel, Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant is the humblest of the three. Do not mistake it for a typical seafood restaurant you would find at East Coast Park though, as the experience I had here was definitely more up-market, as evident from the ambience. The tables are spaced well apart and you will never have to strain your voices just to be heard.
As with most Chinese Seafood restaurants in Singapore, the menu is extremely extensive, though the signatures do revolve around Seafood. The cuisine style is interesting because there’s a mix of the usual tried and tested fare, with avant garde dishes for the more adventurous.
Our Soup of the Day ($18++/small) was a homely Turnip soup with pork ribs. No doubt it had been simmered for a long time, given the sweet flavourful stock.
One of the deterrents to ordering steamed live prawns is the hassle of having to deshell them yourself. Of course, that’s not the only reason why I loved the Steamed live prawns (Market price: ~$70 per kg) here, which were skilfully sliced through the middle for easier access to the springy fresh without the need to dirty your hands. I enjoyed how the minced garlic was not too pungent, doing well to complement the delicately sweet prawns.
The highlight of the night was the Live crabs in Bay’s signature “Kopi” sauce (Market price: ~$56 per kg). From what I understand, Majestic Bay is the only restaurant that currently offers kopi crab, which was conceptualized as a result of Chef Yong’s love for coffee. 3 types of coffee beans; Arabica, Brazilian and White are used to produce an optimal aromatic flavour that engulfs the entire restaurant whenever this dish is brought out from the kitchen. To best describe that aroma, it would be Garrett’s Caramel Popcorn! As a finishing touch, a shot of coffee liquor is doused on the crab and ignited, releasing even more aromatics. Apple Jam and butter are also used to thicken and balance out the flavour of the sauce, so that the bitter taste of coffee isn’t too overwhelming. The result is surprisingly positive and such novelty is worth a try. That said, my preference still gravitates toward a decent butter crab or salted egg crab.
We also had the Sautéed Wild Mushrooms with Asparagus and Minced Garlic ($18++/small).
The Baked Rice and Assorted Seafood in Chef’s Recipe Sauce ($68++/small) was my favourite dish of the meal. It was a play on Macau’s Portuguese Baked Rice, albeit a more extravagant version. It reminded me much of a Spanish Paella fused with Japanese Curry, adorned with baby abalone, scallops, mussels, live prawns, squid and potatoes. The rice was extra fragrant as it was fried before the baking process. I usually don’t help myself to seconds but I made an exception this time. In fact, everyone at the table did. I was just super thankful that the portion size is really generous, easily satisfying the 6 of us.
We ended off with the Sweet’s Temptation ($20++), a dessert platter for 4 comprising Black Glutinous Rice Balls rolled in Coconut & stuffed with Yam Paste, Mochi stuffed with Cream, Strawberry & Mango, Deep Fried Red Bean Pancakes and Salted Egg Custard Buns. Personally, I was not impressed. The Black Glutinous Rice Balls was filled with an utterly dense yam paste, which I found much too heavy as a dessert. The Mochi was decent. The Red Bean Pancake was my favourite of the lot, with just the right amount of filling for the filo pastry used. While I am a fan of Salted Egg Custard Buns, the ones here are much too stingy on the custard filling and you won’t get to that climatic moment where all the custard oozes out when you make your first tear into the bun.
Overall, I was pleased with the entire experience and would definitely consider a revisit, especially given the food quality and reasonable prices. There’s a dim sum menu available for lunch as well, which features a Chili Crab Man Tou that I have been hearing good things about, where the crab meat and chili sauce is stuffed into the bun. Say nay to dirty hands!
Special thanks to Janice and FoodNews for hosting this dinner tasting!
Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant
18 Marina Gardens Drive, #01-10 Garden’s By The Bay (Flower Dome)
Tel: +65 6604 6604