Nostalgic Joo Chiat, Steamboat & Lok Lok Buffet at Shi Wei Tian

Joo Chiat, mention it and many will be able to say that it is one of Singapore’s most famous areas for a Straits gastronomic adventure. Historically, the road itself is named after Chew Joo Chiat, a prominent businessman and landowner in the 1910s, who gave his road to the local authorities then to further the area’s infrastructure. In recognition and appreciation, the road was named after him. Much of the area around Joo Chiat belonged to the man, who sold it to developers later on giving rise to today’s collection of Peranakan shophouses.

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Visiting Joo Chiat in the early evenings yesterday was like a walk down memory lane of Singapore. Its a side that is very different from the many HDBs and Shopping Malls almost everywhere else in the suburbs. Low rise shophouses, narrow roads, and shop after shop of eateries decorate the area, with residents almost everywhere enjoying the setting sun or settling in for a nice meal.

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With great setting, I was ready for Steamboat, Buffet, Cze Char and Lok Lok, tucked right at the corner of No 37 Joo Chiat Place – Shi Wei Tian.

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Shi Wei Tian prides itself in its specialty of Herbal Drunken Chicken Soup Base for its steamboat. Made with a plethora of herbs, spices and ingredients, the Herbal Drunken Chicken Soup Base was described as a common factor that each of the partners in the restaurant had when they were at home – a dish that that their elders would use to make. It signified a place many would be familiar with, and with steamboat, a strong sense of communal dining was envisioned.

The buffet comes with the standard soup base of Special Tom Yam Soup Base, Fish Head and Fish Bone Soup Base, and Pork Bone Soup with Sweet Corn. For an addition of $6 and $10 per steamboat, one can also go for the Prawn Soup Base and the restaurant’s Herbal Drunken Chicken Soup Base as part of the Premium items.

I had the Special Tom Yam Soup Base and Herbal Drunken Chicken Soup Base for the night’s dinner. The tom yam variant is not strictly the exotically spicy well known in the land of a thousand smiles, but more of a milder smoother and sweet version that is a little addictive. It might be a bit acquired for some since part of the fieriness is gone, but I guess one could throw in chopped chilli padi if they still wanted the kick.

The Herbal Drunken Chicken Soup is refreshingly savoury and sweet and its lightness goes well with the many steamboat ingredients. A touch of chinese alcohol is laced throughout the broth which gives a slight delightedness at the start but as the dinner goes by, the broth becomes sweetened with the many flavours coming together.

IMG_2016Over 60 steamboat items are available for the buffet ranging from Seafood such as clams, fish maw, cockles, prawns, sotong, fish and mussels; Meats comprising ranges of beef, chicken, pork, mutton, pork belly, liver, stomach, tripe, sausage.

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And if its difficult to choose, there is the Seafood or Meat Platter to begin with to try an assortment before deciding specifically what else to have. Or the platter all over again.

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Mushrooms, Corns, Leafy Vegetables and balls, tofu, fish cake, ngoh hiang, crab claw and more. Its really a feast and these are just a selection. Inclusive in the steamboat buffet are also the House Specialty Fried Rice and Fried Noodle in addition to the traditional steamed rice, bee hoon, yellow mee, tang hoon. There’s udon as well for the slightly more adventurous.

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Photo Credits : Shi Wei Tian

Apart from Shi Wei Tian being an All You Can Eat Steamboat Buffet, simply top $3 on Weekdays and $5 on Weekends per person for the addition Lok Lok Buffet. The style presented at Shi Wei Tian is the Johor Bahru Lok Lok where various ingredients are skewered on a bamboo stick and deep fried. To know what’s available, almost every item on the steamboat buffet menu is also the lok lok buffet menu. Talk about plentiful!

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The meal comes equipped with 12 different sides, dips, sauces to go along. Be it chopped peanuts satay sauce, to sambal chilli, chicken rice chilli or julienned ginger, choose what you like.

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And if the buffet is not enough to satisfy stomachs, there is always the range of Cze Char to order from Shi Wei Tian. The King’s Pork Ribs had each piece tender and meaty, with the first layer being deep fried and then well coated in a savoury slightly tangy sauce sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds for that nutty creamy flavour.

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The Black Pepper Seafood Noodles served up is a good concoction of smoky wok fried noodles with prawns and squid all in a slightly pepperish black pepper sauce that is spicy and savoury.

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This is my first encounter with the Chai Poh Fish ($24) and I love it. Very homestyle with the fish deep fried and topped with fried chai poh giving that slightly salty flavour that harmonises very well with the meaty fresh sweetness of the main.

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The Salted Egg Yolk Pumpkin is also another first for me. Chunks and cuts of pumpkin coated in a batter of salted egg yolk is deep fried to give that salty sweet fragrance all in a single bite. And its definitely addictive, and oily, but good.

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As much as I loved Sesame Oil Chicken, I felt that this version served up was a bit lackluster in flavour. Yes the ingredients are there, but it needs a little more sauce and sesame oil to really pack a punch into the chicken pieces.

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These are not huge drumsticks but are instead Deep Fried Phoenix Prawns ($12/$20). Its a dish that one of the owners Ryan told me was dished out by his grandmother to “trick” him into eating prawns when he was young. She told him it was drumsticks, and he gamely grew to love it. Each piece was huge, and I believe it will be great for all kids, young and old.

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The Homemade Tofu with Enoki Topping in Brown Sauce is a decent creation with the silky soft tofu standing out. More flavour could have gone into the sauce though, but its good if a qing dan dish is preferred after all the heaviness.

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And for desserts, there’s Ice Kachang, Iceball, Chendol and Yam Paste in the a la carte menu.

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Thirst quenchers of Soursop, Lime Juice, Lime Aloevera. The soursop was fascinatingly good and refreshing with that fruity acidic sweet experience and pieces of soursop fruit.

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The gramaphone still works!

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Indoor and Alfresco dining options

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And the youthful faces behind Shi Wei Tian, From Left : Gary, Sylvia (Ryan’s wife), Ryan, Patricia, Adrian and Eddy (not in picture)

Shi Wei Tian’s steamboat buffet is priced quite attractively at $16.80 on Weekdays and $19.80 for Weekends. For over 60 items on the menu, it is a very good spread to go for. Add in the Lok Lok buffet at $3 or $5, weekdays and weekends respectively, and there are even more options to choose from. As an epitome of communal dining, steamboat really does bring people together. The variety is good, the location is attractive Joo Chiat, and if you want more there’s Cze Char to go for (P.S I heard their Salted Egg Yolk Flower Crab is good). And its nice to have one more addition on the family friendly restaurants list to visit, especially if you have a large group at hand.

Many Thanks to Shi Wei Tian for the invitation

Shi Wei Tian
37,39,41 Joo Chiat Place
Reservations : 6346 1338
Email : shiweitian@ambrosiagroup.com.sg
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/shiweitianrestaurant 

  • Pricing :
    Weekday
  • adult : $16.80+ (Add $3 for Lok Lok buffet),
  • children $11.80+ (6-12 years)
    Weekend
  • adult : $19.80+ (Add $5 for Lok Lok buffet)
  • children $15.80+ (6-12 years)

Update 04/07/2011 : Buffet is discontinued. A La Carte Menu is now available. Please contact the restaurant at 6346 1338 for further information of menu pricing.

Opens from :
Sun-Thu 11:30am – 1am
Fri-Sat 11.30am – 3am

Public Transport Directions :
SBS Bus 33, near Eunos MRT Station. Stop opposite Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant