Established in 2008 as a small coffee shop serving a menu of both Singapore and Penang signature dishes, Penang Seafood Restaurant a zi char restaurant that decided to expand into a full fledged Chinese Zi Char restaurant in 2011. Today, due to its large variety of reliably tasty and inexpensive food, Penang Seafood Restaurant still draws long queues and its authentic Penang dishes, which are allegedly even more delicious than what you would get in Penang, Malaysia! A bold statement that caught our attention. So this weekend, my friends and I wanted to try the food for ourselves.
Just a few minutes walk away from Aljunied MRT station, just on the outskirts of Geylang, is the Penang Seafood Restaurant. You’ll find the restaurant sitting on the corner of a strip of retail stores. Tables are available both indoors and outdoors. A clean, bare place, brightly illuminated by fluorescent lights and is tightly packed with families and friends standing in line to have their dinner. Noisy, chaotic, and vibrant, it is akin to typical Chinese Zi Char places. We seated ourselves in the outdoor dining area for a more breezy and cooling atmosphere.
The service at Penang Seafood Restaurant is quick and effective. Turnovers are fast and table orders are prepared and served all at once. A great plus point for those who like to wait for all the food to come before getting that insta-worthy shot (me included). The waiting time for orders are about 15 minutes, which is reasonably fast as we were there for dinner on the weekend. The staff are quick to clear empty or dirty tables easily and are helpful with basic requests.
The food served is classic Chinese Zi Char, with a focus on noodles, seafood, and Malaysian cuisine. The portion sizes are intended for social dining, so it is best to have a party of at least 3 – 4 people. Prices are fair and inexpensive, comparable to most other Zi Char places in Singapore, around SGD $30 per person for an abundant amount of food. We went a little crazy with the food because we got so many recommendations and ordered their Chilli Crab, Black Pepper Crab, Volcano Chicken, Assam Laksa, Char Kway Teow, Fragrance Bee Hoon, Fermented Pork Belly and Salted Egg Chicken. (Don’t judge, we’re big eaters!)
The crabs are fresh and meaty. With a good ratio of sauce, it’s sweet, spicy and tangy and goes perfectly well and when paired with the deep-fried mantous, it’s decadent. Slightly stronger tomato tinge as compared to other Chilli Crabs, and it is richly layered with egg. The spiciness of the sauce and the plump, meaty crabs were to die for. It’s not too spicy as well for those who can’t take spice well.
Black Pepper Crab
Even though the Chilli Crab is a very popular option, the Black Pepper Crab is just as great. Likewise, their crabs are fresh and meaty. The black pepper taste is not too overpowering, and has a good balance of flavour. The sauce was strangely addictive and unlike those that I’ve tried anywhere else. The sauce is slightly sweet but maintains a good balance of spice. I personally prefer the Black Pepper Crab as I’m more of a spice lover and this one hits the spot. Points for their presentation as well!
You can’t go to Penang Seafood Restaurant and not order their volcano chicken. Almost every table seated near us ordered this signature dish of theirs. Their roasted volcano chicken is served with simmering broth filled with vegetables, mushrooms and tofu over charcoal fire, and it is flamed with rum tableside. The price-point probably had a lot to do with the novelty of it all. However, the flame goes out in seconds so remember to get your cameras ready. The pool of soup packed with clams below was delicious. The chicken meat though, was a little dry, but the skin was still delicious and crisp. The fire gives the chicken a slightly charred and crispy skin. They can also remove the chicken from the stand for easier dining and cut it up for you.
Soft and plump laksa noodles in the Assam broth, which was packed with sour flavour from the tamarind. One of the nicer Assam Laksa I’ve tasted with just the right amount of Assam feel and long thick laksa noodles. It is made to suit locals’ palate and uses kampung fish that makes the broth thick and rich.
Char Kway Teow
This fried kuey teow is similar to the ones you can find in Penang. It’s definitely not as good but enough to satisfy your char kuey teow cravings. This dish has a strong wok hei element from the wok, with an appealing smoky scent. The portion size was large enough for us to each have a good taste and the large plate held a good amount of kway teow, egg, squid, lap cheong, bean sprouts, and cockles.
Fragrance Bee Hoon
This is similar to fried sheng mian but in beehoon form. With the thin bee hoon deliciously soaked in gravy, it is filled with prawn, many slices of pork and fishcake. The eggy gravy went well with the fried meehoon!
Fermented Pork Belly
This one’s definitely on my recommended list, with crisp strips of salty savoury fatty pork belly. The Fermented Pork Belly is crunchy and you get the fatty feel of the tender and juicy pork belly from the coating of fermented soy beans.
Salted Egg Chicken
This salted egg sauce was so creamy, thick and tasty – it’s a comforting taste of home. I’ve eaten a lot of salted egg chicken in my time and most of them have this artificial taste to it, but not here. You can taste the quality of the ingredients and the meat had a good bite to it. Eat too much of it though, and it could get a little jelak as it’s a little saltier than the usual ones.
For an authentic taste of some Penang classics, definitely head down to Penang Seafood Restaurant and remember to bring along friends as their portion sizes are huge and great to share. They are located at 32 Aljunied Rd, Singapore 389817 so head on down!