27 July, 2008

7th Storey Hotel Hainan Charcoal Steamboat - Till It Last

Upon hearing that the one of the oldest hotels in Singapore will make way for the new Bugis MRT station for Downtown Line by the end of December, HFB cannot help but make his way to the quaint 7th Storey Hotel to sample their popular Hainanese Charcoal Steamboat and inimitable, or so they say, Hainanese Chicken Rice.

A reservation for two was made a day before the dinner, but even then I was told that only tables on the outside (or back lane rather) was available – is the food really that great that business is so fantastic, or are Singaporeans just like me curious to have a last experience of their food?

We ordered the standard steamboat set for 2 ($29.00), which consist of Vegetables (Bao Pek, Cabbage, Tang ‘O’, Golden Mushroom, Button Mushroom and Abalone Mushroom), Seafood (Sliced Fish, Sea Cucumber, Cuttlefish and Home Made Fishball, Prawns), Meat (Sliced Chicken, Fishball with Meat Stuffing, Fish Maw with Meat Stuffing), Yam and Tofu, and additional orders of Sliced Beef ($9.80) and my all time favourite steamboat item – Cockles ($6.80)!

Do not be deceived by the portion of the beef though as we realised it was stacked on top of a pile of veggies below. With no MSG added in the soup, customers start off with a clear, almost tasteless soup base – similar to Japanese and their Shabu Shabu hotpot – no fanciful Tom Yum, or what not flavours that one gets nowadays from novelty steamboat places.

But this sits in totally fine with me as it enables me to taste the natural freshness of the ingredients provided without the encumbrance from the soup. At the end of it all, one also usually gets a nice tasty soup base concocted from the essence of the ingredients, unlike those that comes with strong flavours to begin with, and way too salty for consumption towards the end. We also ordered a small portion of Steamed Chicken ($11.80) and a bowl of Chicken Rice ($0.80) to share.

One would probably like the fact that the skin doesn’t come across as excessively oily, but taste wise it didn’t exactly wow me – it kinda lacked flavour and wasn’t as tender compared to the many I have tasted.

However, what did won my heart was the rice itself – it was fully flavoured with ginger and garlic (more so the former) and wasn’t overcooked – just the way I like it ‘al dente’ style – with a bite to each grain. Overall, I paid $58.20 (with a 10% discount) inclusive of taxes and miscellaneous which was pretty expensive if you ask me. The ingredients were fresh but wasn’t exactly of high quality and portion was small. Also the chicken was disappointing.

Whatever that is worth, is probably the experience knowing that this place will be demolished soon – so catch while it last!

Food: 3.5/5 (Fresh ingredients and rice was good)
Service: 3.5/5 (Reservation was easy and service was ok)
Ambience: 3.5/5 (I am a sucker for anything retro)
Price: 2/5 (Expensive and small serving)
Total: 12.5/20
New 7th Storey Hotel
228 Rochor Road
Singapore 188451 [CLOSED]

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Anonymous said...

I used to walk past that place every day and never realised there was a restaurant inside!

His Food Blog said...

Hi there!

Same here. I used to past by but never really took noticed until newspaper highlighted them.

A pity it was a little too late - only have till Dec to embraced it.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the selling point was more of the chicken rice, and not the steamboat (which was quite ordinary).

His Food Blog said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for dropping by! I reckon it's both since almost every table that night had the steamboat and the chicken on their table.

Nevertheless, I agree with you that their food is pretty ordinary - for both items - nothing to really shout about!

Anonymous said...

i love the steamboat! i've been eating there ever since i was young!

btw, when are you gonna post our outing to shokudu??

His Food Blog said...

Erm - I think they are ok only - fairly expensive if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

I had been there with a group of friends a few years back. All of us agreed that food portion was pathetic and price was expensive. Taste wise was pretty normal. Definitely not worth it.

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