Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Captain K Seafood Tower - Latest Korean Food Fad

Written by Pinky Chng

I thought all things Korean had already hit Singapore's shores – Korean barbecue, Korean fried chicken, bingsu, you name it. But enter Captain K, a new Korean seafood tower concept that's been all the hype of late.

Food is served in 9 layers of steamers stacked on top of each other, with the soup base at the bottommost tier to catch all the briny juices of the seafood, enriching the soup.

The variety of seafood and crustacean served may vary according to seasonal availability, but typically include scallops, prawns, oysters, shellfish, squids, and crustaceans. 

The first two tiers comprised of scallops and oysters respectively. We were off to a good start, with these being my two favourite tiers. 

Scallops Tier

The tender scallops were lightly seasoned from being boiled with the minced garlic, tomatoes and green peppers, while the bouncy vermicelli soaked up the briny juices, making for a robust mouthful in terms of both flavour and texture. The oysters were plump and the flesh almost creamy; the sweetness was a sure sign of freshness, making them tasty enough to have on its own. 

The big crustaceans, on the other hand, performed less well. We were served chilean king crab and lobster that day, neither of which were particularly sweet. Steamed without any sauce or seasoning, it was just, you know, meat. 

The other tiers of seafood fell in the unmemorable middle of the spectrum – they weren't great, but not bad either.  

9 Layers of Seafood

To name a few, the squid stuffed with fried rice was a pleasant break away from simply pure seafood, although I wouldn't feel like I'd missed out on much without it.  

The prawns were served to us in one of the lower tiers (whereas they're usually on one of the top layers), which might have been the reason why they were overcooked and slightly mushy. That being said, I enjoyed the langoustines more as they were slightly brinier. 

There was also a tangy yuzu sauce, a rich miso sauce, as well as a pleasantly piquant thai green chilli sauce and sambal sauce to go with the seafood. My favourites were the miso and thai green chilli – flavourful enough to add a kick to the seafood while awakening its natural flavour slightly more. 

Soup Base - Ginseng Version

Then came the star of the show (or so I thought) - THE SOUP. Finally!!! By the time we were midway through the tiers of seafood, I was already getting impatient to get started on the soup. We could choose between kimchi stew, kombu dashi, and a premium korean ginseng chicken soup, and we went for the former. 

The sweet, briny seafood juices diligently collected into rich kimchi soup? Sounds great in theory, but unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations in reality. The kimchi soup was a little too MSG-laden for my liking - the saltiness drowned out any flavour that the seafood juices might have added to the soup. Meh. 

Ok, the soup wasn't bad; it just didn't live up to its promises. So this is just me being salty (pun intended) from being let down after 8 layers of anticipation :( 

There were also individually priced small plate items such as luncheon meat, mushrooms, tofu, and ramyeon noodles to add to the soup. So, at least it was good for ramyeon noodles. Everyone likes kimchi ramyeon noodles. 

Seafood Tower

The seafood tower was admittedly great for its novelty factor, although it got a little bland after a while – it was just steamed seafood, which is enjoyable when fresh and sweet, but I couldn't exactly say that of all the tiers of seafood I had that day. Instead, most of them had to rely on the sauces to carry the day. 

The major gripe I had with this concept was that I couldn't eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, and instead had to go layer by layer. If you're also the kind who alternates between desserts and mains at a buffet dinner, it might be quite a bummer for you as it was for me. 

Despite marketing itself as a Korean seafood concept restaurant, there was nothing much distinctly Korean about it, save for the soup base and the fact that the towering steamer was imported from Korea. But if you're a fan of seafood, you might want to try this out!

Captain K Seafood Tower
30 Prinsep Street

Author Pinky Chng is someone who, when not eating food, spends her time thinking about food. Or watching videos of penguins falling down.

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