These days, F&B establishments open their doors faster than you can video an egg porn video, so much that I am inclined to only try eateries with new concept / dishes. Such cafes / restaurants will usually be placed at a higher footing in my head at the outset. Steam Box @ Serangoon Gardens falls neatly into this category, being Hong Kong’s recent food trend of steam-potting.
Steam-potting is very simply, steaming your food at the table, instead of the usual grilling, or hotpotting. From poultry to seafood to dim sum, you can have the food ready within 6 minutes at the most, thanks to the high-speed steaming technology. The orders are sorted into coloured plates, which correspond to a specified period of time that they should be steamed for.
Because most dishes are served raw and unmarinated, having condiments to complement the food is quite a necessity. Each person is charged $2.50++ for unlimited servings of condiments. Amongst the 18 different choices you have to create your own dipping sauce, three of them are made in house: the sambal sauce, seafood spicy and sour sauce and black pepper meat sauce.
Before the interactive dining experience commences, you will see that buried under the steaming plate is a cooker. It is mandatory to order either a Century Egg, Pork Rib and Parsley Porridge ($15++) or Clam, Dried Scallop and Ginger Slice Porridge ($18++). The fun bit is that the porridge will serve as a base – that is, as you start steaming your food, their essence and nutrients will drip into the cooker and enhance the flavour of the porridge. However, I think this is my only and major gripe; I am not one who eats porridge. And I can only imagine how a group of two, or even three persons may not be able to dine here because of the need to order a porridge base that they will not be able to finish. It is not the most flexible option and to me, it is a policy not very welcomed.
Of the few marinated dishes they offer, I have tried, and love the Chef’s Marinated Spicy Pork Rib ($4++/small plate, $8++/big plate) and the Chef’s Marinated Ginger Chicken Thigh with Wolfberry ($4.50++/small plate and $9++/big plate). I especially could not get enough of the latter, where I was pleasantly surprised at how tender the meat was. The marination was also on point; a very Chinese dish that maybe being abroad for 9 months had made me desire it even more.
Other dishes include Premium Shitake Mushroom ($5.60++), Iberico Black Pork ($9++/small plate, $18++/big plate), Australian Prime Short Rib ($11++/small plate, $22++/big plate), Clams ($13++) and more. I must say, maybe because they are served raw and unmarinated, the prices are largely reasonable in my opinion.
Interestingly, you can also steam your own dim sum. We had the Creamy Egg Custard Bun ($4.80++/3), which appears similar to, but not to be mistaken for Salted Egg Yolk Bun. My favourite is the Otah Siew Mai ($4.80++/3). Although its entire structure was weak (especially after steaming), the relatively messy affair was quite worth the while.
Coincidentally, Steam Box opened exactly two months ago. While the interior of the restaurant is nothing fanciful, it does not bother me much especially if it means that it will not cost me an arm and a leg to dine here. The increasingly health-conscious me takes a huge favouritism towards the concept. The only downside is that you will receive an unsolicited facial at the same time – it is fine when the steaming plate is covered and cooking, but when you open it and start to dig in, having steam in your face will be inevitable if the wind direction is not in your favour. But well, one way to prevent this is to take the food out of the steaming plate and put the cover back on before you start eating.
In any event, it is one restaurant I’d recommend to anyone who asks, on the condition that you do not mind having porridge.
Photos by Kathleen.
Address: 68 Serangoon Garden Way Singapore 555964
Telephone: 6281 6939
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 6pm – 11 (Tue – Fri); 11am – 11pm (Sat & Sun); Closed on Monday.
This was a media session.