Malacca Celup

We miss the old school lok lok (hotpot with a diverse range of fresh foods such as meat, seafood, fish balls, vegetables and quail eggs served with satay sauce—popular among the Chinese community), so we decided to try this one out, one of the few in town. Although less shabby than the rest of the lok lok establishments in town (located mostly in Geylang) this one still feels pretty lo-fi—minimal thought and effort has been put into its layout and aesthetic—just a couple of no-frills tables and chairs peppered throughout the two-story space with a total seating capacity of about 50. When we decided to pop by on a regular weekday, we were shocked to discover that it was completely packed. We soon found out that the rather attractive price of $17.50 per person (in conjunction with the Great Singapore Sale, happening through end November) for an all-you-can-eat option has something to do with that. After spending about 15 minutes haggling for a table (the manager wasn’t exactly accommodating at first, but warmed up to us by the end of the night with the requisite salutations), we finally got a comfortable seat on the second level. The concept here is simple enough: Order as much as you want from an order sheet placed on every table (like they do in Hong Kong-themed cafes here) and hand it to one of the many friendly waiters. It’s pointless to go through the types of offerings here (see above) as they’re rather pedestrian, but the main draw is the special satay dip, a secret recipe all the way from Ipoh, Malaysia (as opposed to Malacca, as the restaurant name might suggest), according to the manager. Never mind the authenticity of its origin; the sauce is kickass—neither too rich nor too spicy, topped with a whollop of peanuts that satay sauce fans will lap up in an instant. One more thing that sets the place apart: Instead of just a regular pot of boiling water for our dips, the boiler is the satay sauce, which added more texture and flavor to the staple steamboat-like selection. How’s that for a little novelty, if nothing else?