Monday, May 31, 2021

Mellben Signature Seafood Restaurant @ Block 7, Tanjong Pagar Plaza [Singapore]

Crabs in the past were presented in less complicated forms; steamed, with chilli or black pepper. Things started evolving quickly about 20 years ago when eateries started coming out with crab bee hoon, golden sand etc. Mellben (Ang Mo Kio) was where I had my first crab bee hoon!

It was mind boggling then and I happily introduced it to my family and other friends, but the queue was always so insanely long; I think my last visit was more than five years go. Fast forward to early May this year, where my family and I decided to check out Mellben Signature at Tanjong Pagar Plaza, for mother's day celebration. 

Unlike the original branch in Ang Mo Kio, this is a restaurant, with air-conditioning and operating hours that start from noon. Good for my family as we are not fans of dinners beyond 6.00 -7.00 pm.

There are even private rooms if you don't want to mix with peasants like me. Maybe because the operating hours were not revised on the google (it reflected opening from late afternoon), the restaurant was empty and if I remember correctly, there were just two groups of diners, excluding us, throughout the meal. 

While the setting was overall quite nice, the only one thing I can't stand was the fishy stench of seafood lingering in the restaurant. That's unacceptable for me, given that the pricing wasn't exactly cheap. 

Starting lunch with a pot of tie guan yin!

Mellben's Crab Meat Fried Rice - unexceptional since you would have mistaken this as normal fried rice. The amount of crab meat was limited to shreds of them across the dish and can't be compared to the crab meat fried rice I recently had from 8 Crabs.

Stir Fried Shimeiji Mushroom with Garlic Chives - now that I am looking at the price, I think the shimeiji mushrooms must be of a high quality as this plate cost S$35.00! Can't deny the freshness of the vegetables and that they did taste great. 

Deep Fried Crispy Beancurd - as these were deep fried, I thought they would appeal better for my palate. Unfortunately, I took issue with the mashed up texture within as I was expected silky soft beancurd.

The accompanying sauce was expected to spruce up the flavour but sadly, it wasn't a good taste fit with a sour plum sweetness that's honestly better for roast duck .

Ice Chilled Sweet and Sour Pork
- there were so much ice; I wonder if I should also put them in my mouth. Whatever the case, these were honestly good with a light, crispy batter covering the juicy pork meat. The lychee might just be a visual companion at first look but taste wise, it was a nice, fruity complement. 

Creamy Butter Crab - I was contemplating between salted egg or creamy butter and the latter won because I have had too many salted egg stuff recently; like salted egg custard buns! 

As there were eight of us, we opted for a medium sized crab that's between 1.2 to 1.5 kilograms. The crabs were expensive as they were priced S$90.00 a kilogram! Sigh, I am so missing the fresh crabs I had from Love Seafood in Batam

Absolutely no complaint about meat; chunky and full of satisfaction! Nevertheless, it's the sauce that matters since we would have gone with steamed if the crab meat was all that matters.

Another letdown - it wasn't as buttery enough on its own and watery with a dilution of the 'creamy' on its name. Strangely though, the watery butter sauce did manage to enhance the crab meat, making it even more delectable.

Fried Buns - I always have high expectations for this and it's amazing that not many restaurants get the taste right. Many a times, the buns just tasted bland and that's a no-no.

Same case for the buns at Mellben; can only thank the watery butter sauce that make it slightly better by giving it a bit of flavour for me to swallow them down my throat. 

Crab Bee Hoon - it had been a long hiatus and the aroma was killing me as I still had to grab some photographs first! My first move after phototaking; take a scoop of the hot broth and have a sip! 

Hm.... it didn't jog back good, old memories of what I used to have; not as delicious as before, and there was a stronger pepper aftertaste. Star was more the thick bee hoon though as it did a wonderful job soaking up the broth and I did enjoy the dish slightly more.


Even though the crabs were pretty good, I wasn't impressed with the cooking style as a whole, be it creamy butter or bee hoon; at least not for the price of $247 (for 2.7 kilograms of crab) that we paid for. The best dish was the sweet and sour pork but even then, the much cheaper version at Por Kee Eating House was better. Would I be back? Not for a long time. 

7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, 
#01-105, Singapore 081007

As above.

Operating Hours
Mondays to Fridays - 11.30 am to 10.15 pm
Saturdays - 12.00 pm to 10.15 pm
Sundays and Public Holidays - 5.00 pm to 10.15 pm
(Call 8111-2823 / 6220-5512 to confirm)

Other Branches
As above. 

Mellben's Crab Meat Fried Rice - S$10.00
Stir Fried Shimeiji Mushroom with Garlic Chives - S$35.00
Steamed Homemade Beancurd with Crab Roe - 
Deep Fried Crispy Beancurd - S$15.00
Ice Chilled Sweet and Sour Pork - S$36.00
Fried Buns (Set of 5) - S$3.00 
Crabs - S$90 a kilogram
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Additional Information
Since we officially can't dine out until after 13 June 2021, you may wish to consider the bentos that are available for takeaway, with prices ranging from S$9.80 to S$23.80 each.  

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Black Tap Craft Burger and Crazyshake Milkshake @ Marina Bay Sands [Singapore] #marinabaysands

My lunch at Oriental Chinese Restaurant was so filling; my dinner was pushed back to such a late timing that I actually intended to forgo the meal as I didn't want to eat so close to my sleeping hours. 

But we chanced upon Black Tap while window shopping at Marina Bay Sands, and there wasn't a queue! Now, the restaurant is famous for their burgers and milkshakes and I deemed it a rare opportunity to find it without a line! p.s. we arrived at close to 9.00 pm. 

I happily hopped to the front of the queue poles; only to receive news that there's no table. Well, that's the bad news but the good news was that the wait was only about 15 minutes and we were free to walk around the The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands until they call us. 

Super love eateries that provide complimentary water and the one at Black Tap came in a large glass bottle! That's customer service; free things get me extremely happy. 

Strawberry Smash - my cocktail for the night which was made of silver rum, mint, lime and strawberry! It was a bit strong and strangely thirst quenching with bits of strawberries streaming into my mouth as I drank from the straw.

Churro Choco Taco Crazyshake - there's a reason why a milkshake is known as crazyshake; it was expensive (cost more than my burger), humongous and luxuriously decorated like a beautiful art piece, not a beverage! 

One of nine crazyshakes on the menu, ours was cinnamon toast crunch shake with "vanilla frosted rim with cinnamon toast crunsh topped with a choco taco, two churros, whipped cream & dulce de leche drizzle".

Like many first timers to Black Tap's milkshakes, we absolutely had no idea where to start eating. Thankfully, there was a straw for us to at least drink the milkshake; it was thick, creamy, milky with crunches of cornflakes and a light hint of cinnamon.

Alex started with the choco taco! It was soft and not to my liking; the whipped cream was tasty due to the corn flakes and the sweet dulce de leche drizzle (similar to caramel); churros were stale with a crisp crust. The serving was good enough for three persons and to be honest, I am quite curious with the other eight crazyshakes that I didn't try!

Buttermilk Coleslaw - I must be feeling guilty for having such a late night sinful meal. Whatever the case, this is one coleslaw I would never ever order again; the buttermilk dressing didn't have much taste with a watery consistency that both Alex and I couldn't stomach. It might easier for us to just eat the raw, shredded cabbage with chilli sauce. 

Carolina BBQ Wings - Alex isn't a burger fan and decided to have wings instead. Four flavours were available and carolina was chosen for its "sweet & smoky bbq, fresh herbs". 

The wings tasted like they were recooked even though the sauce covering them were the kind I enjoyed; barbecued with a sweet tinge. The bowl of house buttermilk dill (tasted like sour cream to me) did a good job in making the wings slightly more palatable. 

All-American Burger - when one didn't know what to have, it's always good practice to just go with the original, with a substitute to sweet potatoes fries (S$3.00 extra) from boring French fries.  

The dish consisted of prime burger, lettuce, tomato, pickles, American cheese and special sauce. I don't understand why they were de-constructed as the best way to enjoy a burger is to put at least the buns and patty together and munch down! 

Unless requested, the doneness of the beef patty would be medium; my preferred doneness anyway. In summary, it was juicy with the good, old classical beef burger feel, even if it's without the lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. Bun wasn't memorable though, unlike the one from Shake Shack

Maybe because it was quite late; I actually didn't finish the sweet potato fries! Truth was, they didn't taste spectacular. I was more impressed with the pickle; interestingly crunchy and appetizing! Does Black Tap have them separately on the menu? I did notice a 'fried pickles' snack though. 


Only upon my exit that I realized there was a counter dedicated to making the crazyshakes, with glass jars filled with candies and other sweet decadents! If it's not within the restaurant, you might have mistaken it for a standalone milkshake store! 

10 Bayfront Ave #L1-80,  Bay Level, 
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 
Singapore 018956


As above.

Strawberry Smash - S$21.00
Churro Choco Taco Crazyshake -S$24.00
Buttermilk Coleslaw - S$8.00
Carolina BBQ Wings - S$15.00
All-American Burger - S$23.00
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Thursday, May 27, 2021

8 Crabs - Refined Delicacies Feast (Including their Grade AAA Premium Sri Lankan Species Wild Caught Crab) for Home Delivery #advertorial

I do get the opportunities for advertorials in this blog but many a times; both parties are unable to compromise on the terms. My terms are easy; I just need control of my content and the other party will have to accept even if the review is bad.

With the above response, most would just stand down their offer, but not 8 Crabs. As a crab lover, I had heard of 8 Crabs and intended to order their crabs for home delivery, when it appeared so many times on my Facebook feed! And it's so coincidental that this came during the period when dine-in is disallowed from 16 May till 13 June 2021. 

Well, the offer to subsidize some cost is always welcome, so long my terms are met, and with that in mind, I ordered their Refined Delicacies Feast that is said to feed 3-6 persons! The total number of people that would be fed - my parents, Alex and I since the current regulations only allow two unique visitors per household. 

My request was for the food to be delivered between 6.00 and 7.00 pm and this bag reached us at about 6.40 pm. For online food deliveries; punctuality and the correct order are of utmost importance. I actually accepted two advertorials before but they didn't materialize as one got my date wrong and the other accidentally passed my food to another customer. Maybe I should write about them in a future post. 

The red bag might not seem much but the unraveled contents revealed much more! Thankfully my mom didn't attempt to cook extra dishes to complement this seafood feast. 

Refined Delicacies Feast included a Large Chilli Crab, (you can also choose black pepper, salted egg or plain classic steamed), six pieces of Live Hokkaido Royal Scallops with Vermicelli, Deshelled Prawn with Wasabi Mayo (Small; I counted ten) and one Crab Meat (Real) Fried Rice (Medium). I also added one set of Fried Mantou and one serving of Diced Organic Chicken Thigh in Dried Chilli.

Diced Organic Chicken Thigh in Dried Chilli - more commonly known as La Zi Ji / 辣子鸡), this menacing looking dish was supposedly a new offering at 8 Crabs and came strongly recommended by the lady liaising with me for this advertorial. 

Flavour wise, it had that necessary punch of spiciness with an aftermath of light numbing on the tongue. Batter was thick although this should have been fine if I were to eat them immediately after removal from the wok; which wasn't possible since this was delivered to my parents' place. On second thought, maybe I should have thrown them into the air fryer for a crispier bite! 

So much chilli and peppercorn! Just wondering if I could reuse them to fry other things; the food would likely have reduced flavour and diluted spiciness, I guess.  

Live Hokkaido Royal Scallops with Vermicelli - for home delivered food, this already wowed us with its presentation and I can't imagine how beautiful they would have looked when served in a restaurant, curated on a nice plate.

No complaint about the scallops; I was more in awe with the thickened sauce that seemed to be a simple yet tasty combination of soya sauce and oyster sauce. Oh, I do have a suggestion; possible to add in more vermicelli?! Soaked in the sauce, they were delightful. 

Deshelled Prawn with Wasabi Mayo - this was one item I had high expectations with. I still remember the first time I had it, at Seafood Paradise Defu Lane more than 10 years ago! Back then, I was so blown away by the taste; it became a must-order whenever I am at the restaurant. 

This was a letdown; I can forgive the not-as-crispy texture as this was takeaway. However, the wasabi was weak and I think they might as well be called mayonnaise prawns. 

Crab Meat Fried Rice - when it comes to seafood fried rice, my experience so far had been less than pleasant as the seafood given would be so little; it just didn't justify the the premium in pricing. 

8 Crabs' version was significantly different; there were so much crab meat hidden in the fried rice! It's a great pity then, that the fried rice lacked the essential wok-hei and were also quite bland for our palates. Such a waste of good ingredient; the crab that is.

Large Chilli Crab8 Crabs is actually renowned for serving "grade AAA premium Sri Lankan species wild caught crabs" and while I was tempted to get more crabs or a bigger crab (they have XXL crab that weighs 1.4 kilogram), I decided to opt for the Refined Delicacies Feast with just one large crab (about 750 grams) so that I can have more things to review.

Crab was of a good size with delicious, plump, solid meat in its claws. I did find the texture of the meat in the body to be a tad less solid, although not to the extent for me to reject. The crabs were said to be air-flown daily so maybe it's just poor luck on my part. In the event of dissatisfaction with the crabs, there's actually a "1 for 1 Replacement Guarantee" by 8 Crabs

Anyway, I super love the taste of the chill crab sauce; elevated use of tantalizing tomato sauce with a spiciness that's way more comfortable for me, and enjoyed with bites of tiny, hot garlic! To be fair, my mom would prefer a spicier version. Again, I should have toasted the Fried Mantou(s) to attain the crisp texture to better enjoy the sauce! 

Oh, remember the crab fried rice? It tasted heavenly once you mix the rice with the chilli crab sauce! I was so tempted to store the remaining chilli crab sauce as it could be used as a base to stir fry vegetables! I did that once with the chilli crab sauce from Shifuge and the food was delish! 


Verdict - I enjoyed the meal even though as takeaways, there was significant disadvantage associated with the texture of the food, like in the case of the prawns, the laziji and the mantou. I wish their physical restaurant for dine-in would be up soon as it would help address the texture issue. Crab wise, I think it is reasonable for the pricing and I would actually order their XXL crabs in the near future!  

Website to Order

Refined Delicacies Feast - S$119.00
Diced Organic Chicken Thigh in Dried Chilli - S$18.90
Fried Mantou - S$6.00
(Free Delivery for Orders above S$120)