Review: Catfish Restaurant, Gemmill Lane (Singapore)

From a very formidable list of restaurants compiled by my best friend, Catfish Restaurant was the one my friends and I eventually ended up having dinner at, partly because they were one of the few that took last-minute reservations on Sundays. I came with little to no expectations of enjoying the food as its website mentions that they serve Asian Fusion cuisine (and I’m not a huge fan of fusion). My expectations could not have been further from reality!

Street view of Catfish Restaurant

Both indoor and outdoor seats are available but we went for the indoor seats as it was a warm evening. Mood lighting gave the restaurant a cosy, intimate vibe, making it a nice place to wind down and relax. Do note that there aren’t many tables due to space constraints so it’s best to make a reservation before heading down.

Save for a tiny hiccup at the start, where we were made to stand around because our reservation couldn’t be found in their system, most of the staff here provided stellar service. I brought along a Whiskdom bake box of cookies and brownies for sharing and upon seeing this, one staff immediately offered to place it on a separate counter to free up our table space. They even plated it up and served it alongside our dessert later on! Many of them also gave us recommendations on what to order and conscientiously explained what went into our dishes when they served them. It is clear that they take pride in what they do here, and I was highly impressed by their knowledge and professionalism.

Seating area at Catfish Restaurant

For starters, we ordered the crispy fish skins, catfish tacos, smoked tuna tartare ceviche, grilled octopus leg and squid noodle ramen. Everything was so good! You could tell that each dish was constructed with so much thought, from the flavours and textures to the overall presentation aesthetic. The flavours were carefully procured and well-balanced in terms of their sweet, sour, bitter and savoury ratios, making each bite a tantalizing delight. As starter dishes, they were light and refreshing, perfect for opening up our appetites. I couldn’t pick a favourite even if I tried, although I would recommend the squid noodle ramen just because it was so novel and unexpectedly delicious.

Crispy fish skins dish from Catfish Restaurant
Crispy fish skins

Catfish tacos dish from Catfish Restaurant
Catfish tacos

Smoked tuna tartare ceviche dish from Catfish Restaurant
Smoked tuna tartare ceviche

Grilled octopus leg dish from Catfish Restaurant
Grilled octopus leg

Squid noodle ramen dish from Catfish Restaurant
Squid noodle ramen

Next up, we had the Sichuan BBQ snapper fish and beef short rib pastrami for our mains, along with some sides of potato purée and roasted cauliflower. Initially, I was slightly worried that the snapper would be too spicy but it turned out to be a lot more fragrant than spicy. The meat was well-cooked and delicately soft too. We couldn’t say the same for the beef though as the quality was inconsistent among us, depending on which slice of beef we got. Some were juicy and melt-in-your-mouth, others were a tad dry and tough to chew.

Surprisingly, the sides were unbeatable just like our starters! The potato purée was wonderfully smooth and well-seasoned, and the roasted cauliflower was nicely browned and umami. We went round the table to share which dish was the star of the night and a few of us actually nominated these humble yet outstanding sides as our choice 😀

Sichuan BBQ snapper fish, potato purée and beef short rib pastrami dishes from Catfish Restaurant
Sichuan BBQ snapper fish, potato purée and beef short rib pastrami

Roasted cauliflower dish from Catfish Restaurant
Roasted cauliflower

On to dessert! There weren’t many options available unfortunately and none of them particularly caught my eye (thankful for my Whiskdom bake box at this point). We ended up ordering the Eton mess and the lemon custard tart, which tasted just a little too sweet and too sour respectively for my liking.

Lemon custard tart and Eton mess desserts from Catfish Restaurant
Lemon custard tart and Eton mess

My overall rating of the experience: 4 out of 5 stars. Almost all the dishes we had were crafted and delivered with incredible finesse, resulting in the awesome gastronomical experience we had that day. I can only imagine the hours of planning and experimentation that went into finding the right balance of flavours, but it definitely paid off! For someone who wouldn’t voluntarily choose fusion cuisine, I truly enjoyed the food here (: However, there were some dishes that didn’t quite hit the mark, especially the desserts. Also, the quality of service we received really depended on which staff was attending to us, and the difference was night and day. Some were genuine and enthusiastic in their interactions, while others gave off a rather standoffish vibe (or maybe they were just having a bad day). Anyway, it was interesting that given the name of the restaurant, you’d expect there would be an actual catfish dish, but is there? That just might be the ultimate culinary catfish.

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