Sunday, November 18, 2012

Leng Heng BBQ Seafood and Tales of Lao Ma

Hubby's birthday has come and gone.

This year, no-one seemed to be in a really good mood to celebrate. Hubby's appetite was missing due to an illness and I was still experiencing occasional bouts of first trimester nausea.

Nonetheless, the food nazi in me prevailed. Even if we don't indulge in a sumptous feast this year, we should have at least have something decent.

Since we were buying back, East Coast Lagoon Food Centre came to mind. It has a great range of food (ranging from bbq chicken wings to rojak, wanton mee and seafood) and there is ample parking. I quickly made a "google search" for the best bbq seafood in East Coast Lagoon Food Centre and Leng Heng kept appearing.

I've never heard of Leng Heng before but based on the mouthwatering pictures and accompanying rave reviews, I knew I had to try. What further piqued my interest was recurring mention of the stall's lady boss- a fiery woman named Lao Ma with a commanding presence and a boisterous personality. I also liked that telephone bookings were welcome.

So I called Lao Ma and placed an order. She struck me as a friendly confident auntie with lots of heart. And she is definitely someone who knows (and loves) her food. We ordered a chili crab, 2 black pepper crabs, 2 prawn pancakes (she insisted one would not be enough), lala (mussels), fried baby squids, cereal king prawns and a sambal stingray. The total bill came up to SGD238.

When it comes to the taste test, there were several hits and misses. The prawn pancake was really delicious- the batter was crisp and bursting with hints of chopped waterchestnuts and fresh prawn. Lao Ma's chili sauce and sweet sauce dips were also nice complements. I would order this again.

My other favorite was the cereal king prawns. I'm a sucker for the crunchy oatmeal and this version did not disappoint. I could just eat this dish with rice alone and be the happiest person in town. The prawns were huge, succulent and juicy.

The rest of the items can be described as passable but lack lustre. The crab size was disappointingly puny. Some of the pincers were not even as long as my thumb. Of the black pepper and chili version, I would definitely choose the black pepper one, which packed more punch. Somehow there was an unappetising layer of red oil on top of the chili version.

The fried baby squids were nice but I think places like Jumbo and Seafood Paradise serve up a better rendition. They had turned a little soggy by the time we tucked in so half the magic was missing.

Lao Ma also really endorsed the Lala (braised in a brown unami garlic gravy) but I didn't find anything spectacular about it. This continues to perplex me.

Last but not the least,  the sambal stingray. I found the sambal marinade a little too mild for my liking. I've eaten a better version from another stall in East Coast Lagoon (forgot the name but its beside the famous Rojak stall).

As usual, we over-ordered and had the leftovers for lunch and dinner the following day (Side note: Besides the above, I had also ordered satay and wanton mee). 

Overall it was an okay experience. I don't think I'll specially order from this shop but I don't mind chomping on the cereal prawns and prawn pancake as a snack if I next happen to swing by East Coast Lagoon food centre.

I wonder if Lao Ma will recognise me.


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