'Singapore is a food obsessed nation', words famously spoken by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations. One of the reasons why we enjoy food so much is that we view food as essential for gathering, bonding and one of the best 'get-togethers' over food would be the humble steamboat.
Steamboat used to be a purely Chinese New Year eve's event; the reason why they call it reunion dinner. However with the emergence of several buffet style steamboat in the past 10 years , steamboats have now become part of our everyday dining lifestyles. Unfortunately the popularity of steamboats have been somewhat marred by the presence of way too many buffet-style steamboat restaurants dotting the streets of Bugis; containers of seafood, meat left in the open for people to dig through, substandard stock and overall poor quality of food and hygiene really leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.
One of the most underrated steamboat places in my opinion is Ting Heng Seafood Restaurant. Tucked in a little corner of Tiong Bahru and resembling a typical coffee shop, it really does not stand out. Look closer and you will notice the reservation signs on most tables, busy waitresses and tables piled high with steamboats and raw food. This place is known for its fishhead steamboat and is a MUST order in my opinion; service staff make up mainly of middle-aged women and are very friendly and helpful so do ask them for advice on food choices. Here are some of my recommendations:
Fatty Beef ($24 for a large plate). Long thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth beef. Marbled, fresh and dipped in chili, its enough to give any foodie an orgasm. A must-try!
Handmade meat balls (prawn, beef and pork). Unlike the generic frozen packaged meatballs, these tend to be slightly softer which one might not be used to. However, get past this and you will find that these meatballs are the real deal; packed with flavor and that taste that only comes when you bite into something handmade.
This place is known for its Tze Char (cooked dishes) as well and on the waitress' recommendation we ordered the cooked Lalas in black bean sauce and no regrets there. The lalas were sweet, huge and extremely fresh and the sauce complemented these shellfish very well. This is going to be a regular dish on our visits to this restaurant in the future.
Other items I enjoyed were the pork's neck which was very very tender, the fresh fish slices (although a tad too expensive) and the fresh liver which is great for steamboat.
Ambience at Ting Heng might not be fantastic; the restaurant consist of a small indoor area and a larger outdoors area about the size of 2 badminton courts. However, the service and food more than make up for it and this place is great for a family gathering over piping hot soup and fresh seafood.
Ting Heng Seafood restaurant
Blk 82 Tiong Poh Road