PUBLISHED November 6th, 2014 04:00 pm | UPDATED May 18th, 2020 04:31 pm
On the day we were heading to The Catch, we saw that the (in)famous food critic Wong Ah Yoke gave these folks a 4-star rating. And despite the heightened expectations, we left The Catch very satisfied and mightily impressed with the great service and delicious food.
Be warned though – it is rather difficult to find the place. Even with a GPS, we got directed to the airport. The trick is to search its nearest landmark, Johore Battery, a war memorial in Changi that dates back to the 1940s, and follow the signs along the way in.
Presented in a tasteful and rustic manner, there’s a smallish air-conditioned dining area that includes a private room and a big backyard encapsulating their bar and al fresco seating that they were still in the midst of setting up. We’re quite excited about the latter as each table would be in its own little kelong-like wooden pavilion. The menu is an extensive one, which predominantly features seafood that is prepared in different ways – some usual, others we have never even heard of.
We kicked off with the Chef Marinated Cold Japanese Cucumber ($5). Essentially slices of fresh and crunch Japanese cucumbers with a sour chilli marinade, its a light, almost-perfect opening dish that awakened and prepared our appetites for the hearty meal that laid ahead. Next came the very fragrant Deep Fried Cuttlefish with Pepper & Salt ($8). We usually say no to deep fried seafood, but these octopus tentacles in a well-seasoned batter dusted with chopped garlic and spring onion won us over with its soft and chewy texture and crunchy exterior.
But the star of the appetisers for us was definitely the Crispy Brinjal with Salted Egg Yolk ($6). The eggplant slices were perfectly cooked, which is not at all easy to accomplish. The natural blandness taste of the eggplant balanced the strong and fragrant flavors of the thick salted egg batter (note, not gravy!) very well – definitely a dish we’ll come back for.
Our first seafood dish was the Lala Clam Boiled In Chinese Wine (from $14). At the first glance, the dish looks mediocre. But a sip of the broth, made purely from the stock of the amazingly fresh clams and some invigorating Chinese wine, will instantly change your mind about it.
In the midst of our raving, Danny – the main man behind The Catch – recommended we try the Double-Boiled Peppery Soup with Bunashimeji Mushroom & Bamboo Pith (from $28). With a hint of ginger and slices of fresh fish that just melt in your mouth, this delicate yet strong broth is something we want for flus and broken hearts.
Next up was the Sautéed Beef Cube with Black Pepper (from $22) that took us by surprise. This crowd-pleaser of a dish was devoured within minutes (and we already had a lot). While the sauce was a tad too peppery, the beef was of good quality and was well-cooked – by far the best we’ve tried in a Chinese seafood restaurant.
The last main course was none other than Chilli Crab (seasonal price), which arrived with the mandatory deep fried buns. Unlike the others we’ve tried in the bigger brand-name restaurants, the gravy is sufficiently spicy and carries a fragrance derived from a generous amount of shrimp paste (aka haebee hiam). The kitchen staff were considerate to have the crab shell cracked to the point where you could just slip the meat right off the shell, skipping our usual struggle with crackers. Needless to say, we mopped up every bit of it.
Despite our full stomachs, Danny insisted that we gave their signature Braised Noodle with Seafood in XO Sauce (from $14) a try, and we relented. Chinese noodles can taste quite overpowering, but the XO sauce managed to balance and complement it well enough. Our Singaporean palate was begging for a spicy kick with this.
The dessert menu wasn’t really that impressive, but we did try something that made us sit up and take notice – the delicate Chrysanthemum & Apple Jelly ($3.50). Light but not bland, the fragrance of the chrysanthemum seeped through the sweetness of the apple to really embrace your taste buds. Topped with sago seeds that gave it a little crunch, this was the perfect full-stop to our sumptuous meal.
A word about the drinks before we sign off. Their bar is well-stocked with draught beer and we’ve been indulging in their more-than-adequate house white wine – a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc at $40 – throughout dinner. They also have quite possibly the cheapest sangrias in Singapore at $10 a glass. Our favorites were definitely the Classic Sangria, which was not overly fruity, and the delightfully fresh Sake Sangria.
Delivering more than we expected, The Catch impressed us with their novel methods of preparing seafood. The people behind the establishment are passionate about food and that passion is translated through each dish that they put on your table. Plus, their six-course set lunches for two are great value for money at $39++.
Written by Wenna Yeo
Check out more seafood at Quality Japanese Seafood at Ishinomaki: Review and Review: Crab in Da Bag – Scrumptious Seafood At Stadium Walk