I have been dining at Roland’s since the 90s. Frankly, they have received all the shoutouts they deserved, and rightfully too, because for the past few decades, not only did their culinary standards not drop, I can’t help but feel it’s gotten even better!
We were very fortunate to clinch the last private room last Friday evening. The restaurant, which seats a thousand pax, was running a full house. Oh well… just another day at Roland’s!
Although tempted to try new dishes, the classics were just too precious to forego.
Always start with an appetizer platter. House favorites Crispy Baby Squid and Stuffed You Tiao were the calls of the day. Roland’s crispy squid is fried to a crisp and glazed magnanimously in a sweet dark sauce. The little crustaceans stay crazy crunchy, to the last teeny tentacle! They taste as original as they did decades back! You Tiaos, or Chinese crullers, are a breakfast staple for many Asian Chinese. We dip the fried dough in warm soy milk, hot coffee, or sticky porridge! Think churros in creamy hot chocolate or café con leche in Spain. At Roland’s, these dough sticks are stuffed with mashed squid paste, then deep fried. This simple enough recipe is tried, tested and served at many eateries from hawker stalls to high end restaurants. And most are reasonably tasty… until you taste Roland’s. First and foremost, Roland’s you tiaos are stuffed TO. THE. RIM. with soft spongy squid meat that’s fresh and tender to the bite. So stuffed they’re almost double the width of an unstuffed cruller! Freshly fried to order and served with a peanutty tamarind flavored dip that gives a contrasting flavor to the savory dough stick. Crunchy on the outside and juicy soft inside; without the slightest hint of recycled oil. Oh! The freshness in each mouthful is delectable.
USA Duck – Roasted golden brown and served in a house-made sweet sour plum sauce. I’m not sure if I’m liking the duck or the sauce more! On their own, each seemed rather normal, even predictable. I mean, most roast ducks are served with sweet plum sauce anyway. Roland’s smokey duck was robust without any gaminess. The plum sauce carries a little tartness within its sweetness which makes the duck just that little bit more unique.
The thing about Roland’s, he calls it what it is! And Black Sauce Prawns is exactly what that is. Sounds ordinary enough… But! The magic happens in the mouth when you discover, black sauce is not merely black sauce! This is the one item I will specifically request for more sauce! Because this bewildering sauce will have every Keto dieter eating rice again. Watch everyone eagerly spoon this sweet umami jet black goodness over their once white rice and savor each last grain amidst moans of “Mmmms”! Twice, the server attempted to clear the plate when all the prawns were finished and received roars of protests and stabbing glares from us! There was no leaving any sauce behind! We intend to wipe the plate dry!
Steering away from the usual Sambal Kangkong, we opted instead for the Stir Fried Kangkong with Cuttlefish. This unassuming dish is almost unattractive at first glance. But the first mouthful will change your life! Probably enhance it too, ever since (haven’t you heard?) pork fat had been declared healthy recently! You see, the veg & cuttlefish combo is cooked in a mild spicy prawny paste (I’m guessing XO sauce) together with scattered bits of fragrant crispy pork lardon. Every mouthful explodes with aromatic porky goodness and crunch. It was polished in seconds!
Spinach with Dried Beancurd Sticks– Couldn’t have made a better choice than this wholesome vegetarian dish. Simple ingredients and clean flavor. The slightly sweet nutty beancurd and tender spinach soaked up the luscious brown sauce DELICIOUSLY.
Don’t get me wrong, who doesnt love a Fried Prawn Paste Chicken aka Har Jeong Gai!? It is a great chicken dish. It’s everybody’s go-to, and I personally love it very much. But we eat it sooo often; and everywhere; we even cook it at home! I’m pretty sure there’re a dozen other foods I should try instead of this common fried chicken. It took some arm twisting and a very convincing “YOU-MUST-TRY” for me to cave. When the golden brown wings were brought into the room, a whiff of prawn paste filled the air. I took a small bite into the piping hot plump mid wing…. “Woah!” Dayum! It sure was tasssssty! Heavily marinaded, and once again, freshly fried to a tender juicy finish. I silently wished we all had more than one wing each.
The most famous dish at Roland’s is unmistakably their Signature Chili Crab. After all, this iconic dish is allegedly created by none other than Roland’s Mother, Mdm Cher Yam Tian herself, back in the 50s. Never mind other chefs may beg to differ… Roland’s Chili Crab is truly quite the star! It isnt overwhelmingly spicy yet deliversenough punch to keep you wanting more. It has an old school flavor that sits well with everyone. The crabs are meaty and sweet, falling off each cracked shell effortlessly, proof of pristine freshness. A swipe of the heavenly spicy eggy sauce before dropping the crabmeat in your mouth, followed by a good lick of fingers to make sure you get every last drop! And of course, the mandatory Man Tou Buns are a must to wipe up every ounce of that legendary spicy sauce.
Another classic is the Black Mussels in Sambal Sauce. The garlicky spicy sauce coated every mussel nicely. And that finishing touch of coriander adds a fresh chivey flavor and fragrance, while cutting out the heaviness of the thick sauce.
Deep Fried Marble Goby With Superior Soya Sauce– An entire fish deep fried to a crisp, then dressed in sweet soy sauce. A classic Cantonese style of preparing live Soon Hock (Marble Goby). Although fresh live fish is best steamed to bring out the natural sweetness of the meat, we can’t help but indulge in this unhealthier version… just because it’s so damn delicious!
A final dish to commemorate the birthday we were celebrating this evening. Seafood Crispy Noodles was the perfect wrap to our lavish meal. The savory brown sauce just so lightly softens the crispy egg noodles. The portion is generously ladened with fish, prawns, squid, shimeji mushrooms and leafy greens in a silky egg drop gravy. Sooo good with some pickled green chilis too!
Kudos to the Roland crew. I was wildly impressed that our meal was not affected one bit in quality despite running a full capacity that evening. All dishes were served timely and pipingly hot and garnishes weren’t forgotten! Portions were substantial. , and service was on point. We had a personal server who saw to our every whim and fancy with professionalism. Can’t ask for more!
Roland Restaurant @ Block 89, Marine Parade Central, #06-750 Singapore 440089. Phone +65 6440 8205
Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post!