It was hard not to smile as I read the name entering the Stevens Road restaurant. Enjoy Eating House. It’s so nice and simple, isn’t it? Just what the place is and what the team hopes you get from your visit there.
What’s more? Diners can park for free at Mercure/Novotel Singapore on Stevens from 12 to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10pm daily.
Just like the original branch at Kam Leng Hotel on Jalan Besar, the vibe here is quintessentially ‘Old Singapore’. The menu, though, is replete with modern takes on dishes that the most senior Singaporeans will recognise.
Speaking of the menu, here is what it looks like.
Retro. Cool. Great name. But would it live up to the mark? We settled in to find out.
What I tried
Chef Joel Ong urged us to try the White Pepper Live Alaskan King Crab served with Crab Steamed Egg (S$128 for a portion, S$238 for half) first because it is unique to the Stevens Road branch.
It’s not often that I want to give a standing ovation to a dish but this one sorely tempted me. You can distinctly taste the freshness of the crab meat and Chef Joel’s special blend of white pepper is the ideal seasoning. He explained that they use highly sought-after white pepper corns from Sarawak that release heat without the ‘cutting’ feel common to most other pepper blends.
Enjoy prepares this dish only with live crabs so quantities are limited; call at least 48 hours before your visit to guarantee you get a taste.
The accompanying crab steamed egg paired so well with the main dish. It had a texture that reminded me of chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard).
Another original creation by the team of chefs is the locally-inspired Har Jeong Sotong Kia (S$16). Savour soft and chewy baby squid marinated in shrimp paste but only after you dip it in the oyster mayo.
If, like me, you aren’t a huge fan of oysters, don’t worry. It was mild enough to enrich the sotong without overwhelming it. I think this dish would make a great snack while you throw down a few drinks.
Imagine a sea-farmed barramundi just off our coast fed no antibiotics or chemicals. Just far enough offshore to live in the wild but close enough to hit your plate fresh as fresh can be. That is the appeal of Enjoy’s Salt-baked Barramundi (S$45).
As with the Alaskan King Crab, the difference in freshness between this dish and that served elsewhere is stark. Perhaps it’s just good genetics or possibly the way it is raised, but the bones were small and soft.
Sticks of lemongrass are placed within the fish to infuse the meat with their flavour inside-out.
Three different pairing sauces – burnt butter salsa, homemade sambal and Thai style seafood chilli – complete the medley of flavours. It was awesome but the best was just around the corner.
An aroma greeted me, piquing my interest. As the dish was set down, the red of the curry tantalised my eyes. Quite an entrance by the Crispy Barramundi in Chef’s Red Curry (S$42). Chef Joel’s homemade rempah imparts a characteristic sizzle to the red nonya-inspired curry. That curry itself was thicker than what you usually find and I would say it is more akin to a gravy with its thicker consistency.
The fish was tender and the subtle play of spices highlighted its quality very well. Pair that with the curry/gravy and you get my favourite dish at Enjoy.
Char Siew is best served just a little charred on the outside. That is exactly the condition in which the BBQ Pork Cheek reached my plate with Chef Joel’s Mee Kia 2.0 (S$17), his take on char siew noodles.
The noodles were wonderfully light and perfectly springy while the truffle sous vide egg was exquisite. I mistakenly thought they had skimped on the delicious homemade sauce because it was relatively mild but uncovered a pool of it at the bottom of the dish later. Don’t make the same blunder!
While the Crispy Barramundi was my favourite, the title of Enjoy’s best-selling dish is a tie between Singapore Style Chilli Prawns (S$24) and Grandma’s Te Kah Bee Hoon (S$14 small, S$34 large).
This is Chef Joel’s take on Singapore-style chilli sauce with de-shelled fresh prawns. Genius! Finally, a chef that knows how to separate my pet peeve of prawn shells from my favourite seafood, fresh prawns!
If you are a fan of chilli crab, the prawn version will be right up your alley. Served with a similar thick chilli gravy, and Crispy Mantou (S$2 for 4 pieces), this was a close second favourite after the Crispy Barramundi.
40! 40 individual ingredients in secret ratios. That’s what goes into Grandma’s Te Kah Bee Hoon, named for Chef Joel’s grandmother. She passed down that secret formula used to braise pork leg for 8 hours.
Chef Joel then added the beehoon to infuse wok hei, transforming it into the classic Singaporean te kah bee hoon. A bit overwhelming for those like me who prefer a milder saltiness, this dish was wolfed down by my dining companions.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Enjoy Eating House! The intriguing decor and the chef’s spin on local favourites added to the personal vibe. To sum it up in one sentence, the experience here felt like a family member was cooking for me, putting a lot of care and love into every plate. I definitely see myself coming back for a family dinner when we’re craving modern zi char in a cosy setting.
Expected damage: S$14 – S$60 per pax
*This post is brought to you in partnership with Enjoy Eating House.
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