Rong Heng Seafood Restaurant @ East Coast: Where Robots Serve You Food… Almost

rong heng seafood steamed crab

Before National Day, we had a seafood dinner at East Coast (lovely place that it is) and visited, for the first time, Rong Heng Seafood Restaurant, which is located near big names like ‘Long Beach’, ‘Jumbo’, etc. While the other restaurants were really busy, it was quieter at Rong Heng, which we didn’t mind, since it meant that food wouldn’t take long to be served and we can dine in peace and quiet. There were quite a number of robots stationed at the entrance but only 1 was actively working within, delivering our food from the kitchen’s entryway right up to our table. The restaurant claims to be the first in Singapore to employ robots. And I think it’s a smart move because of the labor crunch and also because of the novelty factor; they even got featured on The Straits Times last year! But whether you employ robots, drones or what-have-you, it doesn’t matter if the food doesn’t taste good, right? So that’s what I focus on…

We ordered a crab steamed with ‘hua diao’ wine (花雕酒) and egg white:

rong heng seafood

The chef was a little heavy-handed with the cooking wine but the taste was not unpleasant. The crab was fresh and tasty too. *If you’re unsure whether a certain eatery or restaurant serves fresh crab, have it cooked using the steaming method. Nothing’s going to help mask an unpleasant odor or taste if the food is steamed. If cooked in a chili or black pepper sauce, much can go unnoticed. 😉

We also ordered the seafood horfun. It was a tasty dish with 3 plump prawns on top:

rong heng seafood horfun

The appetizer was a crispy baby squid dish which my pal liked, but I have never tried before. If blindfolded and asked to identify this dish just by tasting it alone, I’d guess it’s ikan bilis or some kind of roasted peanut. It’s crispy to the point of being plain hard and while I can see the little tentacles and squid bodies, it’s a bit hard to reconcile the sight with the taste, like, how is this not anchovies when it tastes so much like it?!

rong heng seafood crispy baby squid

And the first thing we were served was Chinese tea (and it’s included in the bill, not gratis). It’s like they didn’t bother to find out if we want a fresh coconut or Coke or something else. But I suppose tea is the best accompaniment to a typical Chinese meal. Though beer would have gone well with the crispy squid. #justsaying

As mentioned earlier, there was just one robot on duty (with a blue scarf around her neck) when we were having our dinner. Once the dish is ready, the chef places it in the window and presses a bell. Upon hearing the ‘ding’, the staff (in blue) will transfer the plate onto the tray the robot is carrying, and off she goes…

rong heng seafood robots

When she arrives at our table, there’s a quick greeting and she tells us our food is ready… all in Mandarin. And a waiter will transfer the plate from the robot’s tray onto our table. If we are too preoccupied with snapping photos and/or a video, the robot will actually go off with our food. I suppose it has not been programmed to be able to know when the tray is empty or still laden with food. So that was funny! 😀

rong heng seafood robot restaurant

In terms of the seating arrangement, I’d recommend that you *not* take a seat at one of the smaller tables near the glass panels. Sure, the view is nicer but the tables seem like they were meant for use with steamboat equipment. It’s not hollow underneath so you cannot stretch your legs or even sit close to the table. And I experienced cramps before the end of our meal.

rong heng seafood review

What’s this black paneling doing here? It’s where I should be able to stretch out my legs!

rong heng seafood restaurant review

So if you don’t mind sitting outdoors or have a larger group of friends or family with you so you can take one of the bigger tables (which, thankfully, have leg room), you’ll enjoy your dining experience here even more.

Robots on standby… (they are like additional service staff who can be activated with just a moment’s notice)

rong heng seafood restaurant robot waiters

After we had stepped out of the restaurant and walked some distance away, a lady from the restaurant ran out after us. She wanted to hand us a business card with her name and number on it. Also, she’d written ‘15% discount’ on the card. Apparently, we simply have to look for Susan when we head back again and we’d get 15% discount off our bill. I’m not too sure if we’ll be back, but you are most welcome to use this privilege: look for Susan, get 15% off. 🙂

Rong Heng is located right next to Long Beach.

rong heng seafood east coast

While dining within Rong Heng, I spotted wait staff helping diners over at Long Beach put on their disposable aprons. That level of service is impressive. Besides the quality of the food, I suppose the restaurants have to compete based on attentiveness and service quality. They could certainly learn a thing or two from Haidilao, for instance. If Rong Heng had, maybe, given us each a small bowl of dessert (which we didn’t order), that sweet gesture might have us coming back again, as the meal costs over $100. Instead of having the lady run after us and try to shake our hands (I kept mine firmly in my back pockets. LOL)