Being a daughter-in-law is never easy—let alone to a family who runs a business. Clarice, who manages Orchid Live Seafood alongside her husband, the second-generation owner, would know that best.
The restaurant has had its fair share of moves in the Yishun and Sembawang area. It first established itself at Orchid Country Club in 1999 before opening outlets at Bah Soon Pah Road and Jalan Kelulut. We visited their newest outlet at HomeTeamNS Khatib to learn more about the restaurant’s history and how they have grown in the past 2 decades.
A go-to for live, fresh seafood
Patrons who frequented their Bah Soon Pah Road outlet would remember the twelve iconic fish tanks at the restaurant’s entrance. Filled with Boston lobsters, Soon Hock (marble goby) and more, fresh catch is clearly the name of Orchid Live Seafood’s game. Clarice tells us that they tried to recreate this experience—of showcasing the seafood in the tanks so that customers could see live catches in action—at their newest outlet as well.
Making the jump from corporate to F&B
Even before Clarice got married, she dedicated her weekends to helping out at the restaurant. A superhuman feat, as she was still juggling a nine-to-five job from Monday to Friday.
Unfortunately, in 2014, Clarice’s mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. Having been a pillar of support for the family and the one who conceptualized the restaurant, her passing left them at a loss.
“My mother-in-law… was the backbone of the family.”
Clarice of Orchid Live Seafood
As they needed more hands on deck, Clarice quit her corporate job in the finance sector and started managing the business alongside her husband.
Orchid Live Seafood’s signature creations
Clarice’s husband and his family are of pure Teochew descent, and it is no surprise that they introduced her to her first taste of Teochew Cold Crab ($70). In fact, Clarice calls herself a Teochew crab convert and much prefers it to chilli or black pepper crab! Steamed and chilled before being served, this dish perfectly marries the sea’s briny flavours with a sweetness that you can only find in the freshest seafood. Look closely and you’ll notice that the crabs are in the process of molting. These crabs are specially chosen as they are sweeter and full of sought-after roe. Without lavish sauces, dips, or overpowering flavours to compete with, the crab simply shines in all its glory.
Next up on the menu is the Steven Chicken (from $14). A fried boxing chicken created by Head Chef Steven back in 1999, this dish is rather uncommon. It features chicken wings with flesh pushed to the ends of the bone before being fried. Reminiscent of marmite chicken but with a much more crisp exterior, the wings are best enjoyed with bare hands. Yet another memorable dish is the Live Boston Lobster 波士顿龙虾 ($68) with Cream Cheese. A prominent pepperiness that hits the spot and the ultra-creamy gravy cemented this dish as one of the highlights!
Behind the Original Lobster Porridge
Orchid Live Seafood has more than just the freshest live seafood in Singapore. In fact, they invented the Lobster Porridge that so many of us love today. Cooked in the style of Teochew congee, or muay, the rice absorbs the essence of the lobster broth during cooking. Also, did you know that their deluxe Southern Australian Lobster Porridge ($155) features the most premium lobsters in the world? The freshly caught lobsters were sweet, succulent, and had a firm bounce to each bite. These top-grade crustaceans are the key to the umami-packed broth. Every sip you have remains light while being almost creamy at the same time.
Preserving her in-laws’ legacy
At the end of our interview, Clarice expressed that she still wishes to continue where her mother-in-law has left the business. Indeed, she still meets customers who ask how her parents-in-law are doing. Upholding the standards that the previous generation has set, on top of having to be parents to two young children, is the unique responsibility that the couple shares.
Although picking up the baton was no walk in the park, I would say that Clarice and her husband have succeeded. Their food simply feels like home. And I’d describe the restaurant’s luxe seafood dishes as comfort food at its best, all full of soul, heart and love. The efforts made to honour their parents’ blood, sweat and tears have definitely blossomed into the Orchid Live Seafood that we know and love today.