If you are, you probably have heard of Greenwood Fish Market. It’s where you can get the freshest and most variety of oysters and at almost wholesale prices. It’s not too late to find out if you don’t know about this place. This has been the secret hide out for those who live along Bukit Timah and Dunearn Roads.
From 23 June to 27 July 2014, they are having their Oyster Festival. This is their third year organising it and the season is just right because the seas are still cold in the northern hemisphere. Cold water is where you can harvest good oysters. At the same time, the southern hemisphere is already in the winter season. It’s the time of the year where we in Singapore can get the best of both hemisphere.
Look at the prices above and you know it’s quite a steal and probably the best prices you can find in Singapore. Remember that it’s all fresh live oysters and not frozen ones.
I got the privilege to listen and dine with Mr David Lee of Greenwood Fish Market, a veteran in seafood in Singapore. It was a wonderful experience as he shares about his knowledge of fresh seafood especially oysters. It opened my eyes about oysters – how to look at oysters, how to pick a good one, how to test if it’s alive, how to eat it correctly.
There were 5 of us at the dining table at the cosy Greenwood Bistro. David was explaining the finer details of oysters eating and also about the wine they sell here at Greenwood Fish Market. His son Alan, was busy in the kitchen preparing the oysters and also other food for us. He comes out once in a while to check how are things and also explain the cooking methods.
I know there are fans of different kinds of oysters out there. Everyone have their own taste and likings. So we were glad to have a quick lessons about oysters. There is no best oysters to eat. Just the right season and the ones that fits your taste buds.
Here’s the start of our experience, from the first platter:
Canadian oysters are usually bigger in size, i.e. more fleshy. They are also less briny (salty).
The shells outside are not as pretty as Australian ones. It depends on your preferences. There are people who loves Canadian ones.
$4 each during the Oyster Festival
New Zealand is near the Antarctica and the water is really cold and clean. So oysters are of very good quality generally. The cold weather season (which happens now) is when oysters fatten up. The sea water is extremely salty here, so the oysters are also very briny. It has a smaller flesh size than the earlier Canadian ones. They taste nicer the Canadian ones to me.
$4 each during the Oyster Festival
David showed us this particular one that is spawning. It’s when oysters are what many people call ‘milky’. This is when the oysters are reproducing. After spawning then the oysters become skinny. So some people love the milky ones, and some like the skinny ones. It’s when you have them.
From the Canadian, New Zealand and Australian oysters on this platter, the Aussie ones are the tastiest to us. The characteristic of this South Australian species is the perfect shape of the shell. It has a nice deep cup and the perfect ones are when the oysters are fuller and plumper and slightly overfills the shell. Another characteristic is the very clean shell. Its shell is almost without any barnacles too.
The southern seas are very salty, so these oysters have a very salty taste to it too.
$4 each during the Oyster Festival
Tip for picking and eating good oysters:
- the oysters must be alive! Do a simple test! (read below on how to test it)
- the oysters must be from a reputable source. Some countries have oyster farms beside latrines.
- the oysters must not be washed with water. The tap water some places use (even hotels) will wash away the original taste and gives it a slight tap water taste.
- the oysters is best eaten as it is, without anything else, especially Tabasco. A drop or two of lemon get rids of the ‘fishy’ smell for some people.
- the inside of the oyster shell must be perfectly smooth and whitish. This means the oysters are not ‘diseased’.
The second round of oysters for us. David also sells around 150 labels of wine here at the bistro. One criteria he has from his supplier is that they must not be supermarket brands. If you want to buy wines, this place might be your next destination too. He told us his mark up and we are so surprised he only makes so little out of selling the wine. If you dine in the mark up is also not high. Come and see it for yourself.
Back to oysters, he has 20 types of oysters at any time and he supplies it to many restaurants, clubs and hotels in Singapore. There are 4 shipments weekly. So much oysters come in through them that it is astonishing. (maybe to me lah, because the numbers shock me, the wife who is an oyster fan would love to hear about this!)
Tip to you all out there:
If you come on Tuesday nights, order a main meal and you can order oysters at $1.50! Yes, fresh live oysters. They have stocks coming in and Tuesday nights are when customers help to clear stock for them!
These oysters are huge too, similar to the Canadian ones, but you can see there is an ‘arch’ to the shell. This is for those who love big fat oysters. Chinese restaurants love them because they can steam them, but that to some is a waste of good oysters. Everyone has their taste and preference. There’s no right and wrong.
It’s not as salty as the Aussie or NZ ones to us, it was a nice change from the saltier ones.
$6 each during the Oyster Festival
I got interested when we were told about how they are produced and when I got home, I did more research. ‘Fine’ means ‘slender’ and ‘Claire’ means ‘ponds’, or more specifically salt marsh ponds. After reading about it, I will term them as pamper little oysters.
These oysters are pampered with their own minimum amount of space to grow. They have a maximum number of neighbours for each square meter that they live in. They grow in ponds that are well protected and the salinity of the water is well controlled. They will all grow up looking the perfect shape and taste that everyone will like. Ahem, sound like modern Singapore kids?
Of course these tasted perfect. It has the nice texture, the taste, the shape, etc. These are popular in several hotels in Singapore too.
$5 (Fine de Claire) each during the Oyster Festival
$6 (Fine de Claire Special) each during the Oyster Festival
The tastiest oysters we had for the meal. These are the Tsarskaya oysters from Brittany, France. You can just do a search for it and you can read all about it. The cream of the crop for now. It really is very nice from the 6 oysters that we tasted. With the explanation from David and the bottle of NZ white that we had, it was quite an indulgence. Yes, as some on the table exclaimed, this is So Good!
$7 each during the Oyster Festival
You can read all the flavour profiles online or at the tags. I am not an oyster expert, so these flavour profiles described I can’t really taste all of it. My tongue has not eaten enough variety to claim I know everything. I am glad I had help from the expert teaching me things oysters. I am learning.
So how do we test if an oyster is well and alive?
Use the tip of the mini fork that comes served with the oyster and touch the sides or tips of the oysters. If it’s alive it will twitch. For some really active ones, it moves! The moving tells you that it is a live oysters and its safe to eat. Never ever eat dead oysters!
Many years ago, I attended a talk by a top French chef in uni and he said the French only use a drop or two of lemon to test if the oyster is alive. A live oyster will move when a drop of lemon is dripped onto it. He also said no other things to go with your oysters. Eat it as it is.
Ahem…. as we were dining with a lady from American Express Singapore, we took a photo of the oyster with an Amex card to compare the size. Now take out your Amex and compare the size!
- American Express Platinum Credit Card members enjoy 20% off oysters from the ala carte menu at the Greenwood Fish Bistro under the Platinum Private Deals.
- Lucky Draw Promotion (exclusively for Platinum Card Members): From now till 9 Nov 2014, American Express Platinum Credit Card members can also stand the chance to be one of 5 lucky winners every day to win S$100 worth of dining vouchers (TungLok dining vouchers for Monday to Saturday draws and Fairmont dining vouchers for Sunday draws). Every receipt above S$50 earns the card member one chance to win. Chances are doubled when the card member spends S$50 or more in a single receipt at any The Far Card or Palate establishment.
Another Baron Point oyster, which is even bigger than the earlier one. The Ezlink transport card is there for comparison.
What if I am not an oyster person?
If you are not really interested in oysters, here are more temptation for you. If you like smoked salmon, smoked trout or smoked kampachi, they have it here and they smoked them in house. Alan is really proud of his smoked produce. As Alan brought out this platter, the aroma of the Californian Apple wood just fills the air. It’s so aromatic that we can’t wait to try it.
We were told some who have come for the oysters festival last 2 weeks have made bookings for the remaining next 2 weeks. Oysters fans are fanatical people ya?
Hours: Open daily.
Fish Market and Wine Shop: 11 am to 10.30 pm