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Aug 18, 2012 08:50 AM

Singapore - Old Lai Huat Restaurant for Old-fashioned Seafood Dishes

Old Lai Huat started back in 1963. Today, it's still amazingly busy - the clientele are mostly locals 'in-the-know'. Situated at the end of Rangoon Road, pretty close to the very busy "bak kut teh" Ng Ah Sio and also Founder stalwarts, finding a parking spot can be quite a challenge.

This evening, we ordered:

- Duck & salted mustard leaves soup. Tomatoes, sour plums, and ginger added some strong flavors to this very traditional soup. We ordered seconds here.

- Old Lai Huat's house specialty, the crisp Sambal Pomfret, which can be consumed bones & all, I thought the sambal was a bit too spocy for me, but the manageress assured me that quite a few Singaporean customers asked for even spicier versions!

- Spinach cooked with sambal belachan - another extremely spicy dish.

- Minced pork omelette - perfectly cooked here.

- Crisp yam ring filled with sitr-fried chicken & cashews. The dish had a very old-fashioned flavor reminiscent of the cooking we get in Singapore back in the 1960s. The food of my childhood :-)

- the piece the resistance: chilli crabs. Surprisingly, not a very spicy version served here (especially when compared to some of the earlier dishes). Golden-fried "mantou" buns were perfect to dip into the eggy-spicy chilli sauce.

- Crispy baby squid - another very well-done dish, as the crisp squid were coated with a sweet-tangy sauce.

Very reasonably-priced here: the above dishes plus drinks (beers, soft drinks, fruit juices) for 6 persons amounted to S$160 only! Mind you - we're talking about old-fashioned "tze char" style of cooking here: simple, robust flavors.

Address details


Old Lai Huat Restaurant

223 Rangoon Road

Singapore 218460

Tel: +65-6292 7375

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  1. You mean water spinach a.k.a. Ong Choy. :-)

    How would you characterize the "regionality" of the cuisine here?

    The duck & "Harm Choy" soup is fixating itself in my mind now...bad, bad klyeoh! I often make "Harm Choy Tong" with chicken (on the bone) or pork spare ribs as the meat but haven't done duck meat for a long time.

    10 Replies
    1. re: huiray

      Hey, I just realised (from my own pic) that they served me water spinach instead of the "normal" spinach that I ordered! :-D

      I guess they must have blanched the "ong choy", because the vegetable dish was very tender. Admittedly, I had very ltitle of it as I'm afraid of searingly-hot sambal belachan dishes.

      The cuisine in there is a mish-mash of various Chinese-Singaporean cooking styles, but I think the owners are Hokkien as the manageress spoke in Hokkien to an elderly lady who sat near the cash counter, calling her "Ah Ma" (grandma).

      The chilli crabs and sambal pomfret, of course, transcended all dialect groups in Singapore, and are very "Singaporean" to a 'T' :-)

      1. re: klyeoh

        Glad you enjoyed it! I know you can't, but if you visit on weekdays / weeknights, the place can be depressingly quiet. Weekends seem to bring the fanboys out of the woodwork.

        I haven't ordered the crabs there for a while - have they switched to SL crabs?

        I would add that unlike a lot of tze char places (including its parent outlet at Horne Road, Lavender), Old Lai Huat is air-conditioned, which is a big plus when you are eating such spicy food.

        I'm booked in for dinner at Mooi Chin this Friday and will report back.

        1. re: Julian Teoh

          Great, Julian, look forward to your Mooi Chin post :-)

        2. re: klyeoh

          Heh. :-)

          Y'know, I had to look up what "tze char" is. Ah, "chuee chow" [or, using Yale - jyu2 chaau2][煮炒]. I don't remember this term in KL - but I may have simply forgotten it.

          The web does seem to indicate it is a Singlish term, rather than something also used in Manglish. Is the term of some currency in KL and Malaysia?

          1. re: huiray

            It does seem that "tze char" is rarely used, if ever, in KL. I think KL-lites refer to these types of places as "dai pai dong" like in HK?

            Penang does use the term, though with the Penang-Hokkien pronunciation "choo char".

            1. re: klyeoh

              The KL term for this is probably "tai chow" which is restaurant style cantonese cuisine at street food prices.The atypical outlet is a coffee shop turned into this type of restaurant in the evening when all the day stalls have closed.
              "dai pai dong" is rarely used in KL.

              1. re: dyson17

                Aha. I presume that by "tai chow" you mean "大炒" ?

                Do you mean "typical" rather than "atypical" which would mean "not typical"? (So the "typical" outlet would be a coffee shop etc...)

                1. re: dyson17

                  3 dai chow places in Kuala Lumpur, as per the recent issue of Time Out KL:

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    I understand Hung Kee ( is also a "dai chow" place at night.

                    Sim Hap Kee in Cheras appears to be another:

                    There seems to be one called a "dai chow" place (daytime operation too, it appears) off Jln Ipoh:

        3. Looks like a place I should check out. Is it near the end of the road, where vehicles turning in from the CTE/PIE comes by?

          1 Reply
          1. re: M_Gomez

            It's a turn-off from CTE, just *before* the Moulmein Rd flyover (exit 7D). Else enter from Tessensohn Rd :-)