Must tries: beef pork ribs, black pepper crabs with curry leaves.
Have you noticed the self-flattering “Singapore’s Handsomest Cze Char” banner displayed outside an eatery when you drive past the junction of River Valley and Zion Road? Even if you’ve missed that, you couldn’t have overlooked its enticing advertisement claiming to sell huge live crabs at $18 each?
As it turns out, the cze char at Irvin’s Seafood Cze Char (“Irvin”) is indeed handsome and homey, veering towards top notch. Beer pork ribs ($10/$15) were perfectly-fried hunks of tender, beer-marinated meat drenched in a dense and sweet sauce while the sautéed garlic-flecked kang kong ($8/$12) brimmed with heart-warming wok flavours. Even the claypot toufu ($10) tossed with seafood and greens in a subtle yet addictive brew was near-perfect as was the wok-tossed seafoodhor fun in a brilliantly-savoury broth.
Garlic Kang Kong
Notwithstanding that, our biggest beef with Irvin’s was its portion sizes. Weirdly enough, most dishes come in only small (for two persons) and medium (for three-four persons) sizes, while some items like the claypot toufu, are available in just one standard size (for two-three persons).
And don’t come here expecting cheap crabs—the $18 crabs weigh a mere 600g.
If you want your crabs sheer voluptuous, choose the mid-sized ones–about 900g– which cost $28 each or, better still, the bigger, roe-packed variety–which comes in varying sizes—priced at $38 per kg. Then have the crabs prepared in Irvin’s signature style: beaming with golden crab roe or smeared in a lip-searing black pepper sauce with curry leaves.
Our verdict on Irvin’s crabs? They may not be huge, but they are utterly handsome nevertheless.
397 River Valley Road
Opening hours: Daily: 11am-1am
* inSing.com pays for the meals at the places we review.
Evelyn Chen traded her near-solitaire frequent flyer miles from her jet setting corporate days for a critic’s pen, and has been eating, drinking and sleeping on the job ever since. She writes about food and travel and sits on the S.E.Asian judging panel of the San Pellegrino World 50 Best. Evelyn’s gourmet jaunts have been published in Conde Nast Traveller, Destin Asian and The Independent. Her article on Singapore’s fine dining scene won her the Mont Blanc Food Writer of the year award at the World Gourmet Summit in 2010.