Tony Johor Kaki Travels for Food · Heritage · Culture · History

Adventurous Culinary Traveler's Blog with 64 million+ reads 📧

What Does Sea Tilapia Taste Like? SZ Kitchen @ d’Arena

Actually, I am not a big fan of Tilapia. I grew up with it as it was a cheap protein source but it has an off-putting earthy taste. 

Nevertheless, I always liked the soft tender moist texture of Tilapia fish and its underlying sweet taste. So, I still enjoy it in preparations which masked or neutralised the earthy taste e.g. with lots of garlic, ginger, chili pepper, curry powder, etc. 

Recently, tasted sea Tilapia a couple of times at SZ Kitchen d'Arena outlet.

Well, not exactly sea Tilapia. 

According to Johnny owner of SZ Kitchen, these Tilapia were hooked in the open sea waters of Johor Straits. As there is no wild sea Tilapia, these fishes presumably escaped from nearby fish farms. 

Tilapias are very resilient fish and can adapt to living in brackish or even coastal sea waters. 

The 1.5kg Tilapia was steamed, doused with light savoury soy sauce, lard and dressed with fried garlic and raw aromatic greens. 

The white flesh was thick, tender firm, moist, naturally sweet, with not the slightest trace of earthiness. It is a delicious fish. 

SZ Kitchen d'Arena outlet is the only place I know in Singapore that serves this sea Tilapia. 


SZ Kitchen has three outlets now at Gek Poh, Joo Koon and here at d'Arena. They serve a wide menu of fish dishes with noodle or rice which are popular with workers in the area. It is often full house during lunch.

They regularly offer wild caught fish such as deep sea giant grouper, and even Moray eel, etc on opportunity basis. They have excellent fried chicken wings too.


Restaurant name: SZ Kitchen @ D’Arena

Address: 511 Upper Jurong Rd, Blk E Level 1, Singapore 638366

Nearest MRT: 10 minutes walk from Joo Koon station

Tel: 80130558

Hours: 11 am - 3:30 pm | 4:30am - 9 pm


Join 77K Johor Kaki Followers

Written by Tony Boey on 4 May 2024


  1. When we were kids back in the late 1960s to mid 1970s, sea tilapia were plenty on the West Side of the Causeway Straits of Tebrau, where we used to fish.

    One suspicion on the source origin of these sea tilapia are escapees from the Istana Gardens pool.

    1. Tony Johor Kaki4 May 2024 at 11:00

      Wow Thanks. So it has been around for a while

  2. Tony Boey Well, the Tebrau Straits starts having these since the 70s at least.

    The story back then was these Tilapias started off as farmed fishes from Singapore that escaped during flooding and gets introduced to the Straits.

    The rest is history.

  3. Many decades ago! I had tilapia in school lunch. Cheap and nutritious, taste OK.


All comments submitted with genuine identities are published