Black pepper crab Image Credit: Supplied

All it takes is a divine dish for a restaurant to bait you into being one of their biggest fans.

The newly-opened kooky outlet, Kim’s Singapore Seafood at Al Seef Promenade, reeled me in — hook, line and sinker — with their black pepper crab served on a hot plate. The aroma of spices and the sizzle of the juicy crab meat under glistening tangerine shells reaches our table long before the plate lands in front of us.

This delicacy — where the crabs are sauteed in onions and bathed in crushed black pepper, aptly called black gold, is a dish that announces its arrival with its heady, pleasantly pungent smell. You can smell the sea, the spices and everything good in between that even before you advance towards it with a steely shell crackers.

But it’s best to wait for the smoke from the hot pot to evaporate. The anticipation is almost palpable at our table filled with diners from Kerala, a coastal region in South India. Suffice to say, we take our seafood seriously and have a soft spot for a well-cooked crustaceans. This dish hit all the right spots.

What made our experience memorable was also the warm service extended by the staff. They weren’t cloying, but was attentive to our needs as our plates tended to get messy with all those shards of shell flying around. A confession here: the dish was so lip-smacking good that we felt that our fingers were niftier tools in scooping the crab meat along with the thick black gravy.

Another hit on our table was the BBQ sambal squid — grilled squid rings topped with chilli paste. It was spicy and the squid was cooked to perfection. It wasn’t rubbery and the fiery brown marinade had seeped into the rings. But it wasn’t all heat. The flavours were subtle as you could taste the mixed spices.

While these two dishes had us touch marine nirvana, the homemade chicken prawn roll which was filled with minced chicken, water chestnuts and carrots with prawn cubes was relatively underwhelming. When you have the supremely tasty squids and crabs on the table, it’s natural for poultry to be side-lined. We weren’t a big fans of it as it felt a tad greasy.

The famous Singapore eatery, which has been an institution in the Far East since its opening 60 years ago, isn’t shabby with their refreshing summer-perfect mocktails infused with ginger and basil, and their desserts either. Our ice-cream with lemon sorbet, served in a cocktail glass, was a great way to end a meal that was fiery and fantastic.

The location of this contemporary restaurant with its chic, modern interiors and mural-studded walls is perfectly located at the Al Seef sand-coloured neighbourhood. If you want to go back in time, but taste food that’s out of this world then this is a great restaurant to start.

The details

Location: Kim’s Singapore Seafood, Al Seef Promenade

Cuisine: Singaporean/Asian

Credit Card: Yes