Zi Char - Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant

January 11, 2017 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Zi Char - Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant
3 Punggol Point Road
#01-08 The Punggol Settlement


http://www.ponggolseafood.com.sg/


Chili Crab (SGD $60 / 1kg)



Heritage Seafood Zi Char Place

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 6
Ambience & Setting: 6
Food & Beverage: 7
Service: 5
Value for Money: 6
Spent about SGD $45 per person.


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Founded in 1969 by Mr. Ting Choon Teng, Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant quickly attracted crowds with its winning combination of relaxing sea-side ambience, fast efficient service, great tasting Chinese Zi Char seafood dishes, and affordable prices. Having moved several times over the years as the Punggol area was under reclaimation, Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant has since returned to its point of origin in June 2014, and continues to entice crowds to make the journey to the edge of the island.




Ambience at Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant is kept simple. The clean, brightly lit, spacious place is neatly laid out with functional furniture, given a touch of vibrance with its yellow walls and yellow tablecloths. Cool, bustling, noisy, with a decent sea-side view. Still, this is not a place you visit for atmosphere, though it's passable enough for a casual dining Zi Char restaurant.

Service at Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant resembles your neighbourhood coffeeshop more than a restaurant. Befitting its kampung roots, the service here is fast, efficient, and brusque. Staff fulfill orders quickly, but don't expect polite courtesy, engagement, or menu knowledge. At least they clear and set tables quickly for the next diner in the queue. Due to the high volume, they sometimes get orders wrong, so checking is advised. Also, little touches are missing, such as tissue paper, hand washing bowls, or bibs.

Food at Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant is typical Chinese Zi Char, with a heavy focus on seafood dishes. In fact, you can probably skip the meat dishes, and just get either seafood or vegetable dishes. With their long history, they've developed several signatures, most of which feature a tasty sauce. Ingredients are fresh, and dishes are well executed. Portions are large, meant for communal dining of at least 3 - 4 people or more. Prices are slightly more expensive than most coffeeshop Zi Char places, budget SGD $45 per person for a full meal here.


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Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant Seating
Punggol Seafood Hock Kee Restaurant Seating


Signature Dishes



Absolutely loved the Dhal Lentil Crackers (SGD $Complimentary), with its crisp, crunchy texture, and earthy nutty flavour. Liked it so much we got another helping!

Dhal Lentil Crackers (SGD $Complimentary)



The Stir-Fried French Beans With Dried Shrimp (SGD $9 / $13 / $18) was well executed, with a tender, juicy texture, and a robust vegetal savoury flavour with a hint of salty. While I would have liked it to be less oily, this is still pretty good. Worth ordering!

Stir-Fried French Beans With Dried Shrimp (SGD $9 / $13 / $18)


Stir-Fried French Beans With Dried Shrimp



The Stir-Fried Green Dragon Vegetable With Garlic (SGD $12) features fresh, crunchy garlic chives and bean sprouts, sourced from Cameron Highlands, in Pahang, Malaysia. Stir-fried along with a generous helping of garlic, it's incredibly fragrant. Nicely vegetal, with an earthy sweet taste that finishes with a hint of spice. So easy to eat, and so good. Highly recommended!

Stir-Fried Green Dragon Vegetable With Garlic (SGD $12)


Stir-Fried Green Dragon Vegetable With Garlic



The Fried Chicken Wings With Shrimp Paste (SGD $12 / $18 / $24) was rather weak in flavour. As a fried chicken winglet, it's pretty good, with a crisp, savoury salty skin, and chicken meat that is tender, juicy, sweet, and comes easily off the bone. But it lacks that intense depth of flavour from prawn paste, which is sorely missed here. Not worth ordering. Skip this.

Fried Chicken Wings With Shrimp Paste (SGD $12 / $18 / $24)


Fried Chicken Wings With Shrimp Paste



The Half Shell Scallop With Vermicelli & Minced Garlic (SGD $18 Half Dozen) features fresh, meaty scallops with a nice bouncy texture. Taste is sweet savoury, with the thin vermicelli rice noodles having been stir-fried in a stock of soy sauce and seafood. Lovely fragrance from the garlic, complementing the entire dish. Good!

Half Shell Scallop With Vermicelli & Minced Garlic (SGD $18 Half Dozen)


Half Shell Scallop With Vermicelli & Minced Garlic



The Sambal Mussels (SGD $12 / $18 / $24) was very good, a really tasty dish. While the mussels are rather small in size, they're fresh and plump, with a lovely seafood sweet flavour and a meaty chew to texture. The dish is completed with the same tasty sauce used to cook the chili crab, a rich, thick, luscious eggy gravy that is sweet savoury with a mildly spicy touch. Pairs great with white rice. Highly recommended!

Sambal Mussels (SGD $12 / $18 / $24)


Sambal Mussels



The La La Bee Hoon (SGD $14.80 / $28.80) was excellent, with its rich, milky peppery soup / broth that is so warming and comforting. The fresh, plump clams are meaty sweet, and the portion is generous. Love the smoky wok hei / breath of the wok that has infused into the thin rice vermicelli noodles, and the crunch of carrots and spring onions lend a bright freshness. While it's the newest signature dish on the menu, it more than deserves its place. Highly recommended!

La La Bee Hoon (SGD $14.80 / $28.80)


La La Bee Hoon



They Steamed Grouper In Soya Sauce (SGD $7 / 100g, $42 / 600g) features a whole, fresh grouper. I got a small size one, the fish meat is semi-tender and comes off the bones easily, and it has a nice sweet flavour. Easy to eat too, the light soya sauce gravy lends a soft salty flavour, without being overpowering. Fresh, clean-tasting fish, simple comfort food. Not outstanding, but good enough to satisfy most. Good!

Steamed Grouper In Soya Sauce (SGD $7 / 100g, $42 / 600g)


Steamed Grouper In Soya Sauce



The Mee Goreng (SGD $8 / $12 / $16) is their star signature dish here. However, during our visit, it seemed we got a poorly executed plate. The noodles had a slight burnt taste, possibly overcooked. Presentation was also unappetizing.

Mee Goreng (SGD $8 / $12 / $16)


Mee Goreng



The Orh Nee / Yam Taro Paste With Pumpkin (SGD $4 / $14 / $21 / $28) is decent enough. The thick, creamy yam taro paste is rich in flavour, the earthy nutty sweet flavours complemented by the tender, floral sweet pumpkin. Instead of coconut milk, they've used a simple sugar syrup instead. Decadent and filling. Worth ordering!

Orh Nee / Yam Taro Paste With Pumpkin (SGD $4 / $14 / $21 / $28)


Orh Nee / Yam Taro Paste With Pumpkin



They're reowned for their Chili Crab (SGD $60 / 1kg), which features a secret blend of 13 different ingredients and sauces. Well deserved too, the sauce is rich and robust in flavour, notes of sweet savoury floral with a hint of spicy. Love the generous amount of egg within, and the balance is just nice. Great for mopping up with bread or rice! The crabs are meaty sweet and fresh, easy to consume as it's been pre-cracked before serving. Unlike most other seafood restaurants though, I find it odd that tissue paper or washing bowls are not provided.

Chili Crab (SGD $60 / 1kg)


Chili Crab



A unique Salted Egg Yolk Crab (SGD $60 / 1kg) here. Despite lacking the depth of flavour from curry leaves, the salted egg yolk gravy is still rich, thick, and nicely savoury salty without being cloying. The crabs are meaty sweet and fresh, easy to consume as it's been pre-cracked before serving. The pairing results in a nice contrast of taste, of salty against sweet against savoury, yet it works. Pleasantly surpised by this, though it falls just short of being memorable. Good!

Salted Egg Yolk Crab (SGD $60 / 1kg)


Salted Egg Yolk Crab


Salted Egg Yolk Crab



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