Review: Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong’s fusion seafood ideas go swimmingly well

By Evan Mua February 2, 2024
Review: Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong’s fusion seafood ideas go swimmingly well
Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong delivers a unique farm-to-table experience. Photos: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere
  • Founded in 2018, Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong is Singapore’s first fish-farmer owner restaurant in Singapore
  • The concept focuses on using the freshest local seafood to create interesting dishes that are injected with local flair
  • Interesting signatures include its curry mussels and smoked seabass pate

It’s rare to see restaurants that are able to amass a faithful following in this current F&B climate. Buzzy new cafes pop up every few months to social media fanfare but few survive past the second or third year. 

It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to capture the loyalty of Singaporeans’ finicky palates but it’s a feat that local seafood specialist, Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong, has achieved, given that this is its sixth year running.

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong
First starting out in Haji Lane, it’s been operating out of Jalan Besar since July 2020. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Being the first farmer-owned concept in Singapore, the hidden gem quickly garnered the attention of discerning seafood aficionados seeking the freshest catch straight from the kelong (a regional term for fish farm).

Combined with Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong’s charming modern take on local flavours, it’s no surprise to see that the Jalan Besar establishment is usually filled throughout dinner service on Friday nights.

The backstory

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong
The space is cosy and great for intimate dinners. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Started in 2018, Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong originally operated out of rowdy Haji Lane, in a unit that’s since taken over by Japanese-fusion outfit Habibi-San.

It was founded by co-owner Wong Jing Kai who also heads up Ah Hua Kelong, one of Singapore’s rare fish farms. Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong was set up with a vision to spotlight locally farmed seafood through a curated “kelong-to-table” menu.

After a good run at the original Haji Lane outlet, which had amassed a healthy cult following by then, the restaurant eventually migrated over to its current nesting spot at 8 Hamilton Road in July 2020.

This casual and laidback new space retains the intimate vibes that Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong had become known for, all while jazzing it up with a few distinctive features.

That includes a rustic patterned wall, meant to replicate fish scale textures, as well as an open kitchen with counter seats that allows for an up-close with the rousing flames and clanging pots.

Our verdict

Diving in, the obvious common denominator on its menu is seafood, which is the star in a vast majority of Ah Hua’s dishes or is a strong supporting element.

Another hallmark of the restaurant is its finesse in incorporating familiar Singaporean flavours into dishes, while occasionally weaving in touches of Japanese influences.

These efforts culminate in a variety of creations that combine creativity with nostalgic comfort, rather than the trite grilled seafoods found at most other seafood restaurants. 

Ultimately, what really stood out for us was how the dishes were creative, but not made to be perplexingly elaborate — something many fusion concepts are guilty of. And we appreciate that: It’s exactly how local-inspired fusion should be, in our opinion.

Beyond the grub, the service at Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong was also superb, with prompt service and friendly staff that greeted everyone with a smile, despite being busy with the evening’s full house.

What it’s good for

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong smoked seabass pate
This smokey treat is a stunner. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

A friend who’d visited before gave us a fervent recommendation for the smoked seabass pate (S$20), served as part of an ensemble comprising sourdough, caramelised onions and pickled garlic shoots.

The reason for their infatuation was apparent — this was a match made in heaven. The buttery and crunchy sourdough immaculately complemented the oodles of smoke and umami from the chunky pate.

While it ran the risk of being jelak (or being overly rich), the onions and garlic shoots added a sharp acidity that deftly cut through all that heaviness.

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong seabass kabayaki
Here’s an interesting alternative to grilled unagi. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Anyone who enjoys grilled unagi (Japanese freshwater eel) should also opt for a portion of the seabass kabayaki (S$16), in which slabs of seabass are enrobed in kabayaki tare, a glaze usually used in preparation of unagi.

Although not as fatty as unagi, the seabass is still plushly textured with a mix of soft and fatty parts.

The dish is pretty straightforward but Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong nailed the grilling to a T, delivering a well-caramelised and texturally pleasing starter that’s excellent for sharing.

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong seafood glace risotto
The seafood risotto is one of the crowd favourites. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

In the mains department, we tried the seafood glace risotto (S$26), one of the perennial crowd-favourites. In its rendition of the Italian classic, Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong uses barley as the base starch instead of traditional arborio rice.

This common substitution usually results in a charming mix of nuttier undertones and chewier, stickier texture — though it turned out slightly too clumpy in this instance. 

However, that minor flaw is quickly forgotten when you take your first bite and your palate is inundated with a medley of sweetness and rich seafood. 

It gets even better when you get to the well-executed accompanying ingredients, especially the bouncy squid and juicy mushrooms.

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong panna cotta
Even the panna cotta comes with a unique presentation. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

After all the carbs and seafood, we needed a refreshing dessert to reset the palate, hence we opted for a fool-proof panna cotta (S$10).

This wasn’t just any ol’ panna cotta, though. Its version actually came with a surprisingly eye-catching presentation, dyed in a shade of pastel blue and served with shards of sour plum-dusted meringue. 

It was vibrant and citrusy yet light in texture — exactly what we needed to round off the indulgent night at Scaled by Ah Hua Keong.

What it could improve on

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong curry mussels
Curry mussels are another all-time signature. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Another Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong quintessential had to be the curry mussels (S$18). Rather than the trite white wine or herb sauces, the mussels are doused in a curry that was described by the staff as a mix between the Indian and Chinese styles.

We can’t deny that this combination added a gratifying spice-forward oomph that went really well with the mussels, but the fusion element was disappointingly absent as it leaned mostly towards standard Indian curry.

Fried mantous were also included to allow diners to mop up the curry, chilli crab-style. Alas, we did wish that they came a little crispier and, more importantly, three mantous were hardly sufficient. 

That said, more mantous can be added on as an additional order, if you’d like.

Our quick takes


Is it conducive to conversation? Tables are spaced appropriately so the chatter from other tables don’t spill over. Our seats at the counter were cosy and great for intimate conversations.

Is a reservation necessary? If you’re visiting on a Friday night or weekend, it’s better to make a reservation as it can get rather packed

How to get there? You can get to Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong from Bendemeer and Lavender MRT stations on foot, both routes take anywhere from five to ten minutes, depending on how fast you’d like to get to your meal.

HungryGoWhere paid for its meal at this restaurant for this review.

For more ideas on what to eat, read our stories on the best places to get claypot rice in Singapore and zichar places to visit for rustic seafood delights.

Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.

You can also book a ride to Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong for a seafood meal.

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong

8 Hamilton Road
Nearest MRT station: Bendemeer, Lavender
Open: Wednesday (5.30pm to 10.30pm), Thursday and Sunday (12pm to 2.30pm 5.30pm to 10.30pm), Friday and Saturday (12pm to 2.30pm 5pm to 10.30pm)

8 Hamilton Road
Nearest MRT station: Bendemeer, Lavender
Open: Wednesday (5.30pm to 10.30pm), Thursday and Sunday (12pm to 2.30pm 5.30pm to 10.30pm), Friday and Saturday (12pm to 2.30pm 5pm to 10.30pm)

Evan Mua


Evan started off writing about food on Instagram, before joining outlets such as Buro and Confirm Good to pursue his passion. His best work usually comes after his first whisky shot in the morning.

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