20120304 P1000773 Singapore: Melben SeafoodThe outrageous line waiting to get a seat

If you are a seafood-lover living in Singapore for a few years then it is no surprise that you have heard of this eatery. Be it getting lost at locating its venue at Ang Mo Kio or queuing for about 2 hours, many customers have sacrificed their comfort just to have a bite of their famous claypot crab bee hoon.  You may want to heave a sigh of relief because they also have another location at Toa Payoh that may be less busy. I came here with 3 other people and like other unfortunate customers, we queued, with tummies rumbling, for almost 1 ½ hour. While we were waiting patiently in line, there was a waiter that jot down our order, which made us even hungrier looking at the drool-worthy pictures on their menu! 20120304 P1000775 Singapore: Melben Seafood

Freshly opened coconut

When we were FINALLY seated, the waiter told us that the crab would be out at about 8:30pm. “That crab better be worth all these waiting” I thought as I enjoyed the fleshy coconut and its sweet water. Unfortunately for us, we were seated next to the entrance of the kitchen. It was amusing for others to see us crane our necks in excitement every time a waiter comes out of the kitchen to bring out their claypot crab bee hoon. This was of course before our smiles turn to frowns as the waiter passed our table to serve it to another customer. 20120304 P1000777 Singapore: Melben Seafood

Seafood Sapo Tofu

We were smart enough to buck the trend and order other dishes that do not involve crabs. These dishes made it out to the table earlier than we had anticipated (but to our delight.) First we had Seafood Sapo Tofu, which was quite ordinary, and common in Chinese restaurants.

20120304 P1000778 Singapore: Melben Seafood

 Sea Scallops Wrapped in Deep-Fried Taro

We also tried the Sea Scallops Wrapped in Deep-Fried Taro. While the taro was crunchy and generous in portion, the scallop was not as big or juicy as I had hoped for. 20120304 P1000776 Singapore: Melben Seafood To prove we are such taro-fans, we ordered a second taro dish. Unfortunately I did not remember the name of this dish. The deep-fried taro serves as a bowl, containing a mix of stir fried vegetables and prawns with deep-fried chicken, topped off with some cashew nuts. Overall, a decent dish which satisfied our palates and fill our empty stomachs while we wait for the crabs to arrive. 20120304 P1000779 Singapore: Melben Seafood

Chili Crab and Mantou

When our Chili Crab arrived, the table was filled with oohs and aahs before we start serving each other with the largest crab legs I have ever seen. To our delights, the meat inside the shells was abundant, tender and moist. We alternate devouring the meat with dipping the mantou into a bowl of the gooey chilli sauce, which was less murky than those I am accustomed to. The taste was also less memorable. I could only taste chili instead of the other ingredients that were equally as important as the infamously potent fruit.

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Claypot Crab Bee Hoon

The final dish, claypot crab bee hoon, finally made it to our judging table. Just the sight of it made all of us drool. The milky white broth with a tinge of yellow was thin but rich in wonderful flavor. As it bathed our tongues, we slurped at the slippery bee hoon, which was cooked to perfection. The crab was as large, meaty and tender as that served as chili crab. The most memorable was that the crab meat seems to have absorbed the milky broth, resulting in a sweeter, tastier meat. The bill came with an unrecognizable chicken-stratched mandarin letters that I refused to decipher but the total bill came to SGD 250. The waitress told us that the cost of the 2 crabs itself was SGD170. I thought this was fair because I truly appreciated the generous flesh that those crabs were equipped with. On that note, I think that if you are a true sea-food lover, especially crabs, you’d definitely enjoy this place. It is after all one of the garden’s city’s hidden little gems.
Food: 4/5 Ambiance: 2/5 Service: 3/5 Price: $$$
Melben Seafood Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, #01-1222 Singapore Tel: +65 6285 6762 Opens: Daily (5pm – 11pm)