Desaru diving trip inspired chef to create lobster porridge with seawater 23 years ago

Very comforting bowl of porridge

Situated in the heart of Jalan Besar, Wan He Lou (萬合樓) is a small eatery known for one dish: Lobster porridge.

Created by the in-house chef Lau Siaw Dee, this dish has an interesting origin story.

Back in 1998, Lau was working as a chef in a seafood restaurant in Pengerang, Johor.

The coastal area in nearby Desaru has many coral reefs, which lead to an abundance of lobsters, said Lau.

“In the afternoons, whenever I was free, I would head out to dive and catch lobsters!”

One time, while Lau was on a leisure diving trip with friends, he caught a lobster and cooked it with seawater, mineral water and rice.

The resultant porridge — bursting with the fresh sweetness of the lobster and tinged with a slight taste of the sea — became the first iteration of Lau’s lobster porridge which he brought to Singapore in 2001.

Lau came up with his famous lobster porridge on a diving trip in Desaru. Image courtesy of Wan He Lou.

Today, he doesn’t use seawater — of course — but sea salt which Lau said gives his porridge a touch of sweetness.

The flavours of the porridge has also been brought down a notch to cater to the lighter Singaporean palate.

Here’s what Wan He Lou’s Lobster Porridge (S$39.90) looks like:

The hearty dish is both sweet and savoury thanks to the intense broth which is simmered for 6 hours.

The stock is made from a base of chicken and vegetables. Just before it is served, the lobster is added for a few minutes, so it isn’t overcooked. This results in a firm yet juicy lobster..

The rice grains are cooked until they are soft, but still retain some bite. Overall, this is a very comforting bowl of porridge.

Wan He Lou uses Spiny Rock Lobsters instead of American Red Lobsters (the kind you typically find in lobster rolls). While they have less meat, they have a stronger taste, making it suitable for cooking in a porridge.

If you are keen to try out Wan He Lou’s lobster porridge, you might want to check out the restaurant’s set lunch which costs S$19.90++ per person (two pax minimum).

The lunch has four to seven courses, depending on the number of guests eating.

The set lunch includes an abalone and prawn appetiser platter, sweet and sour sliced fish, prawn paste chicken, and seafood pot stickers.

Here are some photos of the other dishes in the set lunch:

The Prosperity Ball with Seasonal Greens — smooth meatballs with qing long vegetables.
The Sweet and Sour fish which uses Snakehead Fish.
The Prawn Paste Chicken
Abalone Tofu which uses handmade tofu

For those who like to enjoy a little tipple at lunch, Wan He Lou also has a curated selection of sake, sochu, and beer which go well with the set lunch.

The best part of it is this is a daily all-you-can-drink alcohol buffet — just S$29.90++ for you to drink your fill (within two hours).

Wan He Lou

Jalan Besar outlet

Address: 65 Maude Road, Singapore 208347 (map)

Contact: 6294 8057

Beauty World outlet

Address: 9 Yuk Tong Avenue Singapore 596314 (map)

Contact: 8725 3328

Opening hours: Lunch: 11am to 2:30pm, Dinner: 5am to 10:30pm daily


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By : Joshua Lee – MOTHERSHIP

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