For Mother’s Day, we celebrated early with a family dinner on the Thursday. In our family, any celebration is an excuse to eat out.
When my parent’s first arrived in Brisbane in the last 80s (before I was born!), we lived in Woolloongabba behind the Buranda shopping centre. In their days before children, they often ate out all around town (the fun you have before children!) often skipping Sing Sing Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant who first opened in nearby Annerley.
Sometimes, when a place is so close, you just keep telling yourself you can try it any time. My parents never made it there. Sing Sing remained there for 25 years before relocating to West End last year. Finally, my parents who live further away decided it was about time that they tried it out for Mother’s Day! They remarked on the irony of having to travel so far to try Sing Sing when they used to be literally minutes away.
Belated public shout out to my mother for always supporting me no matter what I do!
My parents rarely go for the banquet option – they like to make their own choices. Being familiar with Cantonese food, my parents tried to choose more of the options from the Vietnamese side of the menu. My Dad always picks the food – doubling checking with us mostly so that we can remember what he ordered when he tells the waitstaff (he’s more forgetful now!). It doesn’t help that we usually order a lot of food. Mother’s Day dinner was no exception.
I got really excited when we ordered the combination bird’s nest. There is a different version which is not found in Brisbane that we always order when eating banquet dinners in Singapore which is made out of crumbed, fried, mashed taro. Alas, this version uses grated potato and it is more crispy than fluffy. Always a visually exciting dish – who wouldn’t want to eat food and the bowl it is in?! This combination was a good mix of tender calamari, chicken, beef with cauliflower, celery and lots of cashews.
My favourite dishes were the Vietnamese spare pork ribs which were flavoured with lemongrass and other spices. Deliciously charred, if not on the dry side as it normally is served. The other favourite was the Vietnamese shaking beef – bite-sized tender pieces and tossed lightly with a light coating of sauce, onion and capsicum.
Going to a Vietnamese restaurant, you have to try a green papaya salad. Acidic and tangy from lashings of fish sauce and lime juice, topped with pork and prawns. It was light and refreshing compared to the other dishes which were protein-heavy.
Unfortunately, the rest of the dishes – the chicken, the hotpot, the sizzling prawns were much the same. They used the same prepared vegetables and more or less the same flavour profiles. I’d have appreciated the use of chilli to try differ these dishes. Or anything really.
Still hungry, we ordered a dish from their specials board. It was more of less a sweet and sour roast duck. A nice difference from the other dishes which seemed to merge into one.
We ordered 8 dishes plus rice for 6 people. It cost us about $150. At $25 a head, we ate A LOT of food. You could easily get away with one dish + rice per person. Great value for food that will fill you up. Sing Sing also offer BYO drinks – with a bottle shop conveniently a few shops down.
As expected, it wasn’t the best food but there’s enough variety between the Chinese and the Vietnamese menus to keep you satisfied.
As noticed, this place is great for large groups. They even have their own free parking around the back, which if you’ve ever tried to drive to Hardgrave Road, you’ll know is a nightmare for parking.
Now that my parents have finally satisfied their Sing Sing curiosity, we just need to find the next excuse to eat out as a family.
Dining details: group of 6, Thursday night. 6.30pm dinner.
The verdict: Sing Sing offer lots of options (Chinese and Vietnamese) and at very cheap prices. It wasn’t the most memorable food but it was generous, satisfying and pretty tasty.
This restaurant wins the award for: inner city cheap group dining
Sing Sing Chinese and Vietnamese Restaurant
Tuesday – Sunday: 10.30am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm
93 Hardgrave Road, West End