Palm Beach has two things in its favour in the competitive Singapore seafood scene – location of the restaurant right at Fullerton looking towards MBS, and accredited for inventing the national dish – the chilli crab.
Origins of Palm Beach and Chilli Crab
Chilli crab is a popular seafood dish among locals and foreigners in Singapore, and consists of mud crabs deep-fried in a sweet, savoury and spicy gravy. It has been referred to in various food publications as Singapore’s national dish.
Chilli crab is said to have been invented by Cher Yam Tian in the mid 1950s when she added bottled chilli sauce to her dish of stir-fried crabs, instead of using tomato sauce, her usual ingredient. In 1956, she and her husband began selling the dish from a pushcart along the seaside. Business was good and they eventually opened a restaurant in 1962, called Palm Beach, at 514 Upper East Coast Road. In 1984, they sold off some of their shares in the business to migrate to New Zealand. (PS: The family has since returned and opened a new restaurant called Roland Seafood.)
Hooi Kok Wah, one of the four local chefs known as the “heavenly kings” of Chinese cuisine in the 1960s, is also considered a pioneer in the history of chilli crab in Singapore. When he opened Dragon Phoenix Restaurant in 1963, Hooi created a sourer version of chilli crab that used lemon juice, vinegar, sambal, tomato paste and egg white in the gravy, instead of bottled chilli and tomato sauces. This has become the more common version of the dish in Singapore.
Dinner at Palm Beach
With over 50 years in the business, Palm Beach has created a vast array of seafood dishes, some of which that were invented Mdm Cher have become popular mainstays.
Grilled otah-otah 烤乌打
Homemade spicy (mild) mackerel fish paste with aromatic fresh herbs and spices, double coated with white cod fish and wrapped in banana leaf
A local delicacy, the otah-otah is Indonesian origin but made better with prized ingredients like squid and mackerel. I would love for it to be spicier but Palm Beach clientele is mainly foreign, so they have to watch the spice department.
Crispy crullers 酥脆油条
Deep fried fresh squid paste in a dough fritter
Another local seafood staple that came from the famous Upper East Coast stretch, the dish more known as sotong youtiao. There’s a lot of sotong in each youtiao, but that imbalance also made it loose some of the crispiness.
King prawn soup 玉露大虾汤
Chicken stock with dried orange peel, Chinese cured meat, coriander and lime juice
This “award-winning” soup was actually unimpressive. I wonder what award that was.
Spicy kangkong 马来风光
Stir fried in sambal chilli sauce
Plausible attempt, nothing to shout about, also nothing to complain about.
Palm Beach signature chilli crab 棕榈滩招牌辣椒螃蟹
Live crab cooked in the Chef’s secret blend of chilli and tomato sauce, drizzled with egg white; garnished with fresh coriander
This recipe has been perfected over 6 decades since invented by Mdm Cher. I find it a bit too sweet for my liking, but my daughter loved it. The sauce was thickened by starch so it loses the consistency very quickly.
Palm Beach signature black pepper crab 棕榈滩招牌黑椒螃蟹
Live crab stir fried with french butter on high heat and coated with fragrant black pepper
Although black pepper crab is attributed to Long Beach Seafood, it is more buttery than Long Beach’s version. But I still prefer the white pepper crab from No Signboard.
No relation to Palm Beach – on the contrary, they have been competitors in the old seafood stretch along Upper East Cost Road.
Lobster porridge 龙虾粥
Served with side condiments of dough fritters, spring onion, dried shredded scallop, silver fish, coriander, olive vegetable and cashew nuts
I thought cooking a 1.8kg Boston lobster in porridge would be a fantastic way to end the dinner. It turned out to be a bad decision as the porridge was cooked into a thick tasteless gruel and the lobster lost all the sweetness in the process. I should have just asked for the lobster to be cooked in other styles.
Location, location, location
Palm Beach is located at One Fullerton, home to the iconic Merlion and where the Singapore River meets Marina Bay. The restaurant offers air-conditioned indoor dining as well as al fresco seating where you can enjoy the breeze and watch the sun set.
With panoramic views of the city skyline to serve as a stunning backdrop, Palm Beach is the ideal location to experience authentic Singaporean food with friends and family, for business meetings, or to host private celebrations.
Palm Beach Seafood
#01-09, One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road Singapore 049213
Tel : +65 6336 8118
Date Visited : Oct 2019