Irvin’s Live Seafood House

Continuing with the Jalan Leban foodie outing post…… (Check out my review of Leban HK Café here)

You can hardly miss the glimpse of Irvin’s Live Seafood House’s signboard whenever you drive pass Jalan Leban.

Irvin’s Live Seafood House – formerly known as Irvin’s Seafood Cze Char that used to be a non-air-conditioned cze char stall along the stretch of shophouses at the junction of Zion Road and River Valley Road – is now thriving in its new location. It has progressed and relocated to a bigger, air-conditioned, restaurant.

Old customers who used to patronise the Cze Char stall – who travelled all the way there only to be disappointed with a totally different establishment that has taken over the space – can now find comfort in the fact that their favourite stall hasn’t ceased operations.

VIP rooms

Besides its new interior, and the addition of live aquariums and two VIP rooms hidden behind sliding doors, Irvin has stepped up efforts to enliven the menu, teaming with Chef Yap Kim Fatt’s new creations.

Live aquariums

We arrived not knowing that we were going to be sampling dishes from both restaurants. Thank goodness we were nothing less than ravenous; we braced our empty stomachs and faced the challenge valiantly.

Let the feast begin.

Salted Egg Yam Chips ($9.80)

One of Irvin’s favourite appetiser, and my personal favourite, the Salted Egg Yam Chips comes highly recommended.

Thinly sliced yam is fried to a crisp – with texture similar to nachos –and coated with rich salted egg sauce. High points are given for its novelty, and level of satisfaction. The chips remained crispy throughout the next few courses without turning soggy from the sauce. It’s fascinating, and highly addictive.

No two foodies have the exact same palate and preferences, but with this dish, we were in complete agreement.

Hot Plate Tofu with Special Minced Pork ($12.80)

I love hot plate tofu, but somehow this version didn’t quite satisfy. The texture of the tofu isn’t as delicate as I’d like it to be. The sweet and spicy minced pork sauce, however, was appetising.

If you can’t take spicy food (it isn’t too spicy actually), you can choose a non-spicy version that comes with chicken.

Red Tilapia with Special Sauce ($32)

Ohhh I love fish. And this dish didn’t disappoint. The flesh is moist and tender, cooked to perfection. Deeply flavoured, the flesh is imbued with aroma of the special sauce that comprises bean paste and chilli.

This item is not listed in the menu, but will be prepared upon request.

Salted Egg Crab ($23.90 small, $33.90 medium, $48 per 1kg)

This is a medium portion of the Salted Egg Crab. Small and medium sized crabs require no weighing as they are charged per crab.

If you’ve been reading my blog, crab is one type of food that I usually steer clear of. Whenever it is presented in front of me, my eyes are immediately drawn towards the carpace (the shell cavity at the top of the crab), which is favoured for its high flavour content. Just pick up the shell and scoop up the flesh with a spoon –this will save the hassle of twisting and cracking the claws to get meat out.

The star for me is the salted egg yolk sauce. It received nods from all of us.

Made with a generous amount of salted egg, the sauce is distinctly rich, and exceptionally addictive. It is no wonder that patrons request to purchase the sauce for home cooking. Due to popular demand, the sauce is available for sale at $12 per container. You have to order it in advance though; it is freshly made upon order.

Balachan Crab ($19.90 small, $29.90 medium, $48 per 1kg)

Still, I didn’t try any meat from any part of the crab other than the carpace, hence I can’t judge how meaty or succulent the crabmeat is. The dish, overall, is aromatic, but the Salted Egg Crab wins hands down. This dish, perhaps, will make an alternative choice for those watching their cholesterol intake.

Damn Good Pork ($12.80 small, $18.80 large)

An intense foundation of butter sauce scattered with aromatic curry leaves, coats morsels of fried pork ribs beautifully in cheery sunniness and zealous flavours.

Be sure to give this ‘Damn Good Pork’ a try, for this is Irvin (the boss)’s favourite dish.

Butter Chicken ($15.80 small, $20.80 large)

Not a fan of pork? Go for the chicken, executed in the same manner, doused in the same sauce.

Which is better, the chicken or the pork, you may ask. I’d say it boils down to your personal preference, as both are equally good. Derrick prefers the pork while I prefer the chicken.

Claypot Pumpkin Prawns ($13.80 small, $22.80 large)

“Oh… another salted egg yolk dish?” we thought in our heads. As a matter of fact, this is not a salted egg sauce, but a pumpkin sauce.

Our palates were slightly confused and overwhelmed by the richness of the preceding dishes that we mistook this for salted egg sauce. Well, it is saltish, and the similar use of curry leaves distracted us from telling the sauces apart.

Upon further clarification, it is confirmed that not a single bit of salted egg is incorporated into this dish. If you scrutinise hard enough, you’ll realise the pumpkin sauce is less ‘sandy’ as compared to the salted egg sauce, and has a subtle hint of sweetness.

Love the generous amount of pumpkin sauce.

Diners who do not want to get their hands dirty can request for the prawns to be deshelled at an additional charge of $5 for the small portion and $6 for the large portion.

Salted French Beans ($10.80 small, $15.80 large)

It was only after all that richness in the previous dishes that I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity and lightness of the greens.

French beans are briefly cooked with dried shrimp and chilli padi, topped with an abundance of deep-fried shallots.

Special promotion for blogreaders
Quote “Singapore’s Most Handsome Restaurant” and be entitled to 10% discount at Irvin’s Seafood House.
Promotion ends 31 July 2012.

Irvin’s Live Seafood House
No.4 Jalan Leban
Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 577548

Opening hours: 11am – 11pm daily