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Old 16th April 2017, 11:44 PM   #1
yflyer
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Default Singapore Dining - Uncle Tan's Kelong

If you have ever been on an aircraft on final approach to Changi Airport from the north-east, and had a window seat, you may have noticed many kelongs off the coast of Singapore and Johor.

Kelongs are wooden structures built on the sea, used for fishing. These often have living quarters on them. A very small number of them are open to visitors for dining.

Uncle Tan's Kelong is one of those kelongs which serves rustic local fare, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. It is not exactly a restaurant: it is more akin to private dining although there is nothing really very private about eating on an open floating platform in the middle of the sea.

You call to make an appointment for dinner, and at the designated date and time, head to Changi Point Ferry Terminal for a short bumboat ride to the kelong for your meal, bringing along your own beverages, as none are provided.

As regulars on SQTalk would have guessed, it was all Mrs yflyer's idea. Not content to roam the far corners of Singapore in search of sustenance, she decided that she wanted to sample cuisine offshore as well, and roped in a few of our friends to join us for dinner.

Last edited by yflyer; 19th April 2017 at 12:37 PM..
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Old 16th April 2017, 11:54 PM   #2
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Earlier that day, I decided to burn a few calories off before our kelong dinner by indulging in a run along one of my favourite running routes: from East Coast Park, near the Lagoon, to Changi Village, with a long stretch of this route running along Changi Coast Road, alongside the airport.



This is a route which will change on April 22, when the existing coastal road will be closed, and a new road hugging the coastline (With both footpath and dedicated cycling lane) will be opened. While the new route promises to be scenic, it does add several kilometers to the distance, which would make the route a little more challenging to do on foot, although the route remains great if you are on a bicycle.

Towards the end of the route, you hit Changi Beach Park, with it's windswept beach...



...and just a little further along, you arrive at Changi Point Ferry Terminal and Changi Village.



My running route that day, which ended right at Changi Village and the Ferry Terminal. On the map below, the small island to the north of Singapore, and just South of Johor, is Pulau Ubin (Itself a popular destination for cyclists and lovers of the outdoors). Uncle Tan's Kelong is located in the waters south of Pulau Ubin.


Last edited by yflyer; 19th April 2017 at 12:36 PM..
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Old 16th April 2017, 11:59 PM   #3
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That evening, I headed back to Changi Point Ferry Terminal with Mrs yflyer, and an intrepid group of friends, to catch the bumboat to Uncle Tan's Kelong for dinner.



Somehow getting onto a bumboat and heading out to sea for dinner felt like quite an adventure, especially on a day like this, with clear skies and a strong breeze...



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Old 17th April 2017, 12:12 AM   #4
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A short ten minute ride to the Kelong, which was located just off Pulau Ubin.



We stepped gingerly off the bumboat onto the wooden platform...



...and explored our surroundings...



Several tables laid out...



All very open and airy...



This was an operating kelong...



Fish everywhere!



You had to watch your step while walking around...a step out of place and you would end up in the water...



Don't expect auto-flush sensors in the restrooms. In fact, no flush is necessary at all.

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Old 17th April 2017, 12:13 AM   #5
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Great views of sunset from the Kelong.



Best to arrive in daylight hours so that you can see the sunset.

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Old 17th April 2017, 12:19 AM   #6
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Time to eat...



We brought champagne and wine to accompany our meal...



The platform swayed occasionally as we ate.

At a couple of points in time, large waves from passing vessels caused the whole kelong to rock, including our tables and chairs.

For anyone prone to sea-sickness, this kelong experience is probably not for you. But it was mostly an occasional, gentle, swaying that most people would be ok with. All part of the atmosphere.

"You'll know when we have had too much to drink, when the platform feels completely still...", I joked.

Last edited by yflyer; 19th April 2017 at 12:39 PM..
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Old 17th April 2017, 12:26 AM   #7
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Herbal chicken soup...



Crabs...



An amazing looking fresh-caught fish...a couple of folks in our party felt the fish would have been even better if it had spent less time in the pan, but I thought it was very tasty...



Large prawns...a deep orange-red, and very sweet...



Deep fried cuttlefish...



Hae chor (Prawn rolls)...



Very fresh tasting lala clams...



All of it went very well with the champagne, and a bottle of Plan B Riesling...




Last edited by yflyer; 19th April 2017 at 12:42 PM..
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Old 17th April 2017, 12:29 AM   #8
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We dined as the sun set...with a cool evening breeze and the sounds of our conversation and the gentle lapping of waves against wood...(Some other reviews mentioned the sound of an electric power generator, but I don't recall that being particularly intrusive...)



...and by the time we were done, the moon was high in the night sky...



A view of the kelong from the rear of the bumboat, on the boat ride back to Changi Village...


Last edited by yflyer; 17th April 2017 at 01:23 AM..
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Old 17th April 2017, 12:37 AM   #9
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Final thoughts?

The food was simple, rustic fare -- quite delicious.

Was it better than a meal at Jumbo Seafood or any other landside restaurant? Probably not a fair comparison. Folks don't come here for a slick restaurant meal.

What this place does is transport you far far away from the daily grind in Singapore, to a simpler, more relaxing way of life. And experiencing that, even for just a few hours, can be quite priceless.

What an experience, unique in many ways, and a nice change from your typical landside restaurant.

A memorable evening in a unique setting!
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