Review: Old is Still Gold at New Ubin Seafood

Review: Old is Still Gold at New Ubin Seafood

At New Ubin Seafood, there’s room for trendy new recipes even as signature favourites remain for Chinese New Year

It’s knives out again this Chinese New Year as restaurants put out their best menus in anticipation of the biggest eating affair for Chinese globally. And amid stiff competition, more unusual offerings have appeared- from octopus yusheng to brined suckling pig and even kangaroo meat dumplings

Still though, some like New Ubin Seafood in Singapore appear unfazed by edgier eats, choosing instead to stick to classic intergenerational favourites, such as salmon prosperity yusheng, marmite pork ribs and fish maw crab meat soup. 

One of New Ubin Seafood's best-sellers, Classic Chilli Crab. Photo: New Ubin Seafood

“Because meals at New Ubin are modelled after what I’ve grown up eating around the family table, it’s not too far off from any other meal at New Ubin. Besides including some Chinese New Year specialties, we always incorporate our signature dishes like the USDA prime ribeye and chilli crab as add-on options to our Chinese New Year set menus,” says co-owner Pang Seng Meng. 

But increasingly, there’s room for surprise. 

Foie Gras Satay. Photo: New Ubin Seafood

“Many more Singaporeans are traveling overseas and so their palates are now more international, which is why we are introducing more European style and Western offerings. You have the traditional chilli, black pepper and garlic baked crabs, and the usual seafood and zi char offerings, but we also serve soft-boiled eggs with foie gras and truffle salt, and barbequed kurobuta pork ribs,” says Pang. 

Still though, amid the changing food landscape, Pang believes the point of coming together for meals remains unchanged. “The purpose of a reunion dinner is to reinforce our family ties. I recall growing up when we would all gather on Chinese New Year’s Eve at our paternal grandparents’ home where I’d meet all my cousins and the meal would be prepared by my eldest uncle’s wife. To us, food must be good and shared, and eaten communally.” 

One of New Ubin Seafood's signatures, USDA Black Angus 'Choice' Rib-Eye. Photo: New Ubin Seafood

That’s perhaps a nod to their roots as a family eatery on Pulau Ubin. He explains, “Times were simpler then when New Ubin was still on Pulau Ubin. Ingredients were humbler but there was still a lot of heart in the food we prepared. We haven’t had an inkling of the fame we have today, nor were the dishes that got us there in the menu, but the ethos of cooking dishes that I grew up eating around the family table during Chinese New Year remained.” 

Now, some 30 years later, the New Ubin brand is found across the city at Chijmes, a trendy food and drink strip in downtown Singapore, and another within the central town of Balestier. Late last year in the island’s major residential neighbourhood of Tampines, their “Singapore-style” barbecue joint New Ubin Village transitioned from a novelty concept pop-up to become a more permanent affair. 

For Chinese New Year reservations and enquires for New Ubin Seafood from 10 Jan to 8 Feb, call 9740 6870 or email makan@newubinseafood.com

For more delicious recommendations and recipes on Chinese New Year, see our Chinese New Year 2020 page. 

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