People say Singaporeans can travel anywhere for food, as long as there is good food. True that? I found myself bussing all the way to a condominium in the east, got lost (reminder to take 36 instead of 16), and glad found some hearty zi-char fare.
Despite the distance, I ventured to Diamond Kitchen 钻石小厨 found at Laguna Park, one of those old condominium estates with huge spaces and neighbourly quietness in Marine Parade.
Why at such an uncommon location? Young entrepreneurs Josh Chou and Lambert Chen wanted to avoid the high rentals of town areas, and were scouting for somewhere charming to present affordable Chinese restaurant food.
My initial skeptical self did not feel that a new restaurant found in an old condo would be very much remarkable, but I was wrong. I could safely say that 70-80% of what was served in Diamond Kitchen was worth coming for.
Some of their signature dishes include Champagne Pork Ribs ($12/18/24), Salted Egg Sotong ($12/18/24), Sauna Prawns ($24/36/48), Crab in Gan Xiang style (market price), Superior Stock Clam Bee Hoon ($12/18/24), Pumpkin Bean Curd ($12/18/24) and Superior Chicken Soup ($18/36).
One of my favourites – fresh Sri Lankan crabs cooked in ‘Gan Xiang’ sauce (market price, about $55 per kg). The ‘gan xiang’ is a Malaysia zi-char inspired sauce, literally meaning dry and fragrant, being aromatic and sweet, salty and spicy at the same time.
While I do not usually fancy crabs in dryer sauces, I found myself sucking off the fresh crab claw meats after sweeping the leftover sauces on the table (very unsightly), while wearing a white shirt. The black (and white) pepper crab has found its competitor.
Somebody in the table said she liked salted egg anything, and this dish was also swept clean. The Salted Egg Sotong ($12/18/24) is must-have for calamari lovers, best eaten when it is served hot straight away on the table. It was lightly crispy deep fried, dusted with some spicy powder, evenly tossed in salted yolk mix, and did not taste overly rubbery or chewy.
My other favourite was the Champagne Pork Ribs ($12/18/24), as I felt myself rekindling my love with this dish once again, fully tender and well-marinated with a flavourful sauce. Tip: I added a dollop of their homemade sambal chilli sauce and the combination was almost divine.
A slight let-down was the Sauna Prawns ($24/36/48), coming served in a bamboo steamer with fresh prawns poured over with a herbal stock laced with Chinese wine, steamed over heated stones. The presentation was anticipating, though the taste and smell felt like more wine and herbs were needed for a more distinct taste.
My fellow Singaporeans friends always say the east is where you should travel for food, and Diamond Kitchen probably is that one more that list.
Diamond Kitchen 钻石小厨
5000F Marine Parade Road, #01-22/23 Laguna Park (condominium), Singapore 449289, Tel: +65 6448 0629
Opening Hours: 11am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 11:00pm
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