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Oct 17, 2012 08:54 AM

Singapore - White pepper crabs at No Signboard Seafood Restaurant, Geylang

It's been such a long time since I last went to No Signboard Seafood Restaurant, one of Singapore's best-known traditional seafod spots - perhaps nearly 2 decades or more. Several factors for this: (1) No Signboard's flagship outlet is situated right in the middle of Geylang, Singapore's notorious red-light district, (2) The last time I was there - I found its chili crabs and black pepper crabs gelignite-hot, way beyond my tolerance level, and (3) there are so many other seafood spots all over the island serving similar dishes which are just as good: Red House, Palm Beach, Long Beach, Hua Zhu, etc.

But I was back there again this evening after along hiatus - to find Geylang more bustling than before, its streets teeming with recent immigrants, attracted to the district's low rent. Amidst this, No Signboard Seafood Restaurant seemed to have expanded significantly - bigger, brighter, noisier than I'd remembered.

What we had today:
- Deep-fried Chinese crullers stuffed with minced squid-paste, served with mayonaisse and beansauce dips.
- Chili crayfish with egg ribbons, served with deep-fried "man tou" buns to dip into the eggy, spicy sauce.
- Steamed red tilapia with crisp soybean crumbs. The fish was fresh and was steamed perfectly - the flesh just-cooked the way the Chinese loved it.
- Crisp-fried prawns with cereal. The prawns were so crisp, one can eat them shell-on.
- The house specialty: Sri Lankan crabs stir-fried with white pepper & scallions. This dish was purportedly created by No Signboard's founders - Ong Kim Hoi & Choo Ah Kaw, back in the 1980s.
- Seafood fried rice - this was delicious, very well-cooked indeed.
-Stir-fried pea-shoot leaves.

Nice to see that the restaurant's standards have been maintained by the family's third-generation family members. It's now a chain, with 6 outlets all over the island - but this Geylang outlet is purportedly the most popular one.

Address details
No Signboard Seafood
412/414/416 Geylang Road
Singapore 389392
Tel: +65-6842 3415

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    1. re: huiray

      LOL! Well, one thing about Chinese red-light districts - the whorehouses are usually located side-by-side with marvellous eateries. In fact, if you look carefully at Chinese history - good food was usually found in inns to travellers, and where the earliest profession in the world also flourished :-D

      Singapore's Geylang district is merely carrying on with tradition, and some of the most well-known Singaporean eateries are to be found there, e.g. Sin Huat for crab "bee hoon", Yong He beancurd, or the "Lorong 9 Beef Koay Teow".

      1. re: klyeoh

        Heh. I laughed my head off when I read that "article" and came to the end and realized what those two blokes had actually been doing.

        Well, here's two more - one with rather unfair comments from the commentators, I thought; and the other with, um, detailed info about doing the nasty. :::evilgrin:::

        1. re: huiray

          Well, I was pointing out the brightly-lit durian stalls along Sims Avenue (parallel to Geylang Road) to my visiting friends last night. Of ocurse, they (being Englsh) wouldn't touch any.

          1. re: klyeoh

            Haha. Like the one between Lorong 25A and Lorong 27? :-)

            Long, long ago, in a universe old and ancient, I remember the night-time street stalls on Bugis Street as being excellent eateries...while one could also eye those impossibly beautiful and exquisitely made-up "women" sipping their drinks at a nearby table...

    2. Interesting spread. How were the heat levels? I guess shell-on prawns are fine with you if they are nicely crunchy. :-) What "style" was that steamed fish? [I am looking at the menu on their website]

      It seems that of those 6 branches, one is in Jakarta and one is in Macau. :-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: huiray

        The fish was steamed Cantonese-style with soysauce, but topped with crisp-fried/browned chopped preserved soybeans.

      2. haha i dont care i love the food in geylang, i think its awesome, some of my favorite places in singapore are there

        btw what do you think is the best chili crab place in singapore?

        I usually eat at eng seng, but thats bc ive been going there forever and its really known for its black pepper crab. i never really decided what i think the best chili crab is in singapore

        8 Replies
        1. re: Lau

          I quite like No Signboard's version actually these days.

          1. re: klyeoh

            yah next time im back ill go back, i dont think ive been there in maybe like 8-9 years

            1. re: klyeoh

              Are there any differences amongst the various branches of No Signboard? There's one that'll be near my hotel (Esplanade), but I would not be averse to travelling to Geylang if it is better (might be culturally interesting to boot???).

              I would try Eng Seng as it seems like kind of a gold standard for black pepper crab, but No Signboard might be easier logistically if I don't want to have to rush from being a tourist to foraging for dinner.

              1. re: cabking

                Eng Seng is easy to get to in a cab, its the corner of joo chiat place and still road. its very like local coffee shop atmosphere (meaning its an open air restaurant with some other stalls in it and you're sitting on like plastic chairs).

                Back in the day when i was living in singapore on study abroad, there were zero tourists, but now you will see other tourists bc its become so famous. Geylang will be interesting for you, its very different than the rest of singapore.

                make sure to get the you tiao (fried crueller) with sotong (squid paste), i like their version there. also def get kailan and make sure to ask them for bread to dip in the chili crab sauce

                also go early bc if you go later a) they run out of crabs and b) there is a line

                here's an old post i wrote on it:

                btw i assume you like spicy food? bc the black pepper crab is def fairly spicy, my gf and my friend thought it was too spicy. i still like it though although as a dish i like chili crab better than black pepper or white pepper crab

                1. re: cabking

                  No Signboard's outlet at the Esplanade has higher prices than the one in Geylang, but the taste/quality of the food is the same. I preferred the ambience at the Esplanade outlet - more pleasant and comfortable. Geylang can be gritty/edgy.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    haha i kind of like the grit and edge of geylang....i come in there with a tank top on and bark my orders to the waiters and they bark right back

                    last time at eng seng i was talking to the lao ban niang (who is kind of nazi) in mandarin (my mandarin has an accent since its not that great to begin with) and she tells me "your chinese accent sound terrible, too american, u speak to me in english, my english better than your chinese la" (kind of ironic considering she's talking to me heavily accented singlish)...i just laughed and said ok

                    1. re: Lau

                      I remember her - "Ah Hoon". Somehow, she had a soft spot for an English colleague of mine who used to work in Singapore a few years back. She'd accept his requests for table reservations and also kept some of the choicest crabs for him!

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        they always accepted our reservation requests when i lived in singapore, i used to go there probably once every 2-3 weeks when i lived there although i dont think she (or anyone there) ever developed a soft spot for us. she's pretty gruff although the service is fast and efficient