Monday, August 22, 2011

No Signboard, Where Is Your Signboard?

Once upon a time, when the world only knows chilli and black pepper crab. There was a store that was quietly gaining fame and crowd for its special white pepper crab, the reason that white pepper crab is not well known (or rarely eaten anywhere else) its that there is only ONE store that does the legendary white pepper crab.

No SignBoard 
Ask any decent foodie around and he will tell you, if you are looking for white pepper crab either eat it at no signboard or dont eat at all. Because most of the compeition who tries to create it will fail miserably and all you get for dinner is a choking peppery crab.

Those were the days.

I used to get my white pepper crab fixes @ the national stadium 'jetty' No signboard branch (No longer there). Not only was it facing the kallang river, it had open sitting and air con sitting depending on your meal companion.

Being able to avoid the crazy peak hour traffic @ geylang was also a great plus point.

Lazy foodies rejoice!
Valet was going @ $4 which i think was great, its really more of paying for the conveniences as parking at geylang is really a driver's nightmare. 

P.s i think they park the cars @ national stadium as had to wait 8mins to collect the car upon dinner.

Claypot beancurd

As it was a family dinner gathering we had slightly more dishes than just crabs, to be honest i really dont remmeber any other dishes @ No signboard other than its white pepper crab.

So for starters we had a claypot beancurd, the stock was great and rich that i was sipping the gravvy even without rice. And the fact that it was seafood made it healthier to enjoy the gravvy.

Our Vegetable dish of the night, mushroom with asparagus.
Somehow anyone who loves kailan will love this dish too. The crunchy slight bittery taste off asparagus and oyster sauce over mushroom was a nice combination. A light dish to start your palette up for next to come, definitely a better choice like sambal kangkong which most of the time is too oil, heavy and bad for dates. (I.e kangkong struck in between teeth)

Surprise package of the night. You tiao salad
I dont believe that i have tasted a better Youtiao salad like this before. The effort of making a decent and good dish has been taken. This is not like those sloppy hard and lightly smeared fish paste that you will find in most Sze char store. It was amazingly soft and the generous serving of fish paste in it made it felt more like eating fishcake rather than you tiao salad. Definitely the best you tiao salad in my books (A pity not much people will go back to a place for meal just because of its salad youtiao)

Yam Ring

Persoanlly i am not a fan of this dish. The fried meehoon is what makes the base, deep frying yam paste is like eating deep fried durian. Double heatiness. I just like the stir fry chicken in the ring as they usually take great, as compared to fried peanuts & corn.

Venison in No signboard sauce

I wonder if its called no signboard sauce because no sauce was in it, it looks nicely done up but totally blant.   
I couldnt identify what was the sauce but going by the taste it wouldnt interest me either, i believe a normal hot plate venison would be better in this case 

Pork ribs (Pai Ku wang)

First of a kind, wrapped and baked? i guess, nicely seasoned with a small dose of sweetness. Meat was tender and meaty, no fats or much bone spotted. A dish to cover if you are here, most diners around us had this too.

Fried Ee mian

If i remembered clearly, there was a fanciful name to this dish as well. Turns out that it was just normal restaurant standard. No comment about this, a forgettable dish.

And now i present to you, the disappointment of the day. With high expectations come high hope, and in return big disappointment.

A shadow of its past, one taste of the sauce and it was clear that no gentle sweetness or fragrant smooth white pepper. What we have here is a overdose of pepper crab.

I understand that chinese crusine is one of the hardest dishes to master due to the complexe amount of sauce, wok, heat level, constant frying. It certainly not as easy as rubbing seasoning over a steak and flipping after 2 mins.

But truly i have to say that it is a disappointment. I barely touched it after eating 1 piece of the crab, my fellow diners agreed and it was infact the worst out of the 3 crab dishes we had.

Salted Egg crab

This came together with the white pepper crab and we unaimously agreed that it was better than the signboard 'white pepper crab' the salted egg was delightful and not overly strong, traces of diced egg white added additional flavouring. The salted egg was also creamy and definately yummy, only drawback was the crab meat sticking to the shells at times.

Chilli crab

The saviour dish of the night. Without a somewhat disappointing crab dishes, we wasnt prepared to leave feeling disheartened, hence ordered the standard chilli crab dish. Why i meant standard is because almost all decent cze  char store can whip a decent chilli crab. And luckily for us, this didnt disappoint, meat was firm and easily detachable, gravvy was yummy and balanced. The small mantou made a fail prove great combination.


Pricing wise this outlet is definitely the cheapest compared to the other outlets @ East coast/ Esplanade/ Vivocity. But i cant help but think in a business way about the chefs allocation.

Picture this, if you are going to charge patrons $75/kg of crab @ i.e esplanade branch. Would you send your best chef to the outlet @ esplande or geylang branch? 

Your guess is as good as mine. 

I am going to try the white pepper crab again and this time i will be trying it out at other outlets hoping that i will again taste the real White pepper crab that meserised me years ago.

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