A little further south down the river than Clarke Quay lies Boat Quay, which is known as Singapore’s best place for seafood in the CBD! In the shadow of skyscrapers you can enjoy a multitude of good-value seafood dishes, from steamed bamboo clams to fried squid to Singapore’s national dish, the Chili Crab!
I always make an effort to walk through Boat Quay in Singapore. I don’t always feel like eating, but I do like to see what is on offer in the various riverside restaurants and small bars. Boat Quay is perhaps not that well-known among international tourists (even though the area is designed with tourists in mind!), but for the budget travellers, there are many cheap hostels in this part of the Singapore River. I don’t think these hostels are of particularly good quality, but accommodation is expensive in Singapore – so some of us don’t have a choice where we get some kip! One thing I do like, though, is that there are usually small bars and pubs at the foot of these hostels that line up along Boat Quay, and there is live sport shown here throughout the day and evening. Boat Quay does have a good atmosphere in this regard (even if it is not anything like as raucous as Clarke Quay further upstream) although obviously it’s main purpose is to showcase some of Singapore’s best-loved seafood dishes!
When you walk along Boat Quay, you will also see tanks full of live fish and crustaceans. These will no doubt be cooked upon command and served at your plate in no time! I have seen so many variety of lobster and crab over the years, but whenever I am walking through this area, I always like to stop and take another look. While you will find North Indian, Sri Lankan, Malay, and some Chinese restaurants, it is without question that seafood forms the main part of the meal, regardless of where you choose to eat! The shop owners/restaurateurs here don’t seem to mind that you’re taking photos, although I wouldn’t advise on touching – not unless you want your fingers bitten off!
It takes a while to get used to the national dish of Chili Crab, but when you have adapted to the techniques required to smash the crab and mop up its succulent juices, then you can consider yourself an honorary Singaporean! At Boat Quay, it is very geared for tourists to experiment with their seafood dishes (including crab), whereas elsewhere on the island that is famous for seafood, such as East Coast Park, attracts perhaps more of a local clientele.
Whatever you eat at Boat Quay, make sure you lap up the atmosphere of this admittedly strange portion of the Singapore River, where there seems to be something of an identity crisis between the colonial times of yesteryear and the modern Asian Tiger that Singapore is today. One thing’s for sure: the food as always been great!