Chinese Feasts

Chinese Feasts

Featuring KEK Keng Eng Kee Seafood (Alexandra), Peony Jade Restaurant (Keppel Club), Red Star Restaurant, Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck Restaurant (Paragon), Lei Garden, Tian Wai Tian Fishhead Steamboat (Serangoon), Imperial Treasure Noodle & Congee House (ION Orchard), East Ocean Teochew Restaurant (Ngee Ann City), Summer Pavilion (The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore), Min Jiang (Dempsey)
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

I am not sure if they have a menu for dessert because we ordered through the gentleman who took our orders.
My family members and I had one bowl each of either the warm “orh nee” - a Teochew favourite of yam paste with ginkgo nuts and what I think is a dash of coconut milk ($5), or the icy-cold peach gum with red dates ($10). We all liked our choices and did not find anything lacking in them.

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If you like your vegetables full of flavour rather than simple and clean, this tasty version will suit you. It has three types of vegetables stirfried with fresh Chinese yam in a lightly spicy X.O. sauce. Best eaten with plain rice.

It was with my mum and dad that I visited this small Chinese restaurant for a second time. Barely a five-minute drive from my parents’ home, we arrived just before 6pm on a Sunday and could only get a table after we promised to return it by 7pm. Yes, they are that popular. So we swiftly ordered and the food arrived promptly soon after.
One of the dishes I found enjoyable was their “har cheong gai” or crunchy shrimp paste coated chicken wings. They came with plenty of crispy golden garlic bits which we happily scooped to add to our rice to savour.

Recently, I stumbled upon “Tasty Court by Chef Pung”, a Chinese restaurant.
Tucked away inside Opera Estate, the unofficial name of the residential neighbourhood in Siglap that has roads named after famous operas, it is smallish in size but offers a respectable selection of dishes.
Since there were only two of us, and most of the dishes come in one standard serving size, I decided two items would be enough for our lunch. Turns out they‘re generously apportioned and could have fed up to four people comfortably.
Anyway, pictured above is the “Stewed Rice Vermicelli in Seafood and Supreme Stock”. The striking golden colour of the broth took me by surprise but it was very tasty and thus, so was the “beehoon” as those strands of vermicelli were a natural sponge. Besides pieces of prawns and fish, there were mushroom in there as well. Although the dish had a lot of flavour, I did enjoy it even more with sliced red chillies. T.H. on the other hand, preferred pickled green chillies with it.

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Well, technically, I did create my own luck because this reservation was made many months ago in anticipation of T.H.’s birthday. And since Chef Sam’s birthday is the very next day, it’s become a little tradition to do a dual celebration.

Anyway, about the meal, with the exception of the double-boiled soup and duck, both long-time signatures, the rest of the menu was new to me. But oh boy, were the dishes astonishingly delicious! Here is what we enjoyed:

1. Double-boiled soup with pork, radish, chestnuts and sea coconut - it had simmered on the charcoal stove since 11am.

2. Hakka handpulled chicken - so easy to eat since the peeled chicken is bones-free. I love the moist, tender flesh and fragrant “zhup” (sauce).

3. Steamed wild-caught Soon Hock - we were lucky to have such a ginormous specimen and it was steamed with bean sauce and preserved plums to such perfection, @kailingtiffyx proclaimed it “the best steamed fish” she‘s ever had.

4. Stirfried five-fingered sweet potato leaves with dried scallop - this flowered with umami flavour.

5. Braised “tau kee” (beancurd skin) in pork broth with abalone - very unique item that sounds simple but has a tastiness that bowled us over.

6. Steamed crayfish horfun - fantastically shiok as the chunks of crayfish were fresh and sweet, and once tossed, those jiggly strands of soft rice noodles tasted divine as they’re coated in shallot oil and crayfish juices.

7. Crayfish omelette - not officially part of the 8-course menu but a surprise from Chef Sam for which we couldn’t thank him enough.

8. Charcoal-grilled duck - this iconic course takes three days to prepare but disappears in seconds. Overwhelmingly good is the only way to describe it.

9. “Tong shui” dessert of “luo han guo” with dried longan and wintermelon - a perfect ending.

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H O S T E D
My favourite from amongst the BBQ items we got to try at Yunnans restaurant was, surprise surprise, the zucchini.
The heat from the grill brought out the best in this vegetable, rendering it supremely juicy. Which was a wonderful study in contrast when I bit into it because the coating of dry aromatic spice rub engulfed the moist sweet pulp in the most exquisite way to create a marriage of incredible mouthfeel and flavour.

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H O S T E D
Right off the bat, Yun Nans surpassed our expectations. Service was kind and thoughtful, and this was before the staff knew we were there as hosted guests.
The cuisine at this Chinese restaurant triggered raves from start to finish, with the highest praise coming from my hard-to-please mother. We got to meet the youthful CEO, Mr. Lu Zhi Tao, whom we found, for someone who co-owns a chain of over 170 restaurants, is very humble and down-to-earth. He shared a lot about their brand concept, and explained the signature dishes in detail such how their custom-made bocarro claypots makes it possible for their Steamed Pot Chicken Soups to be cooked without a drop of water. We tried the NEW one with Matsutake mushroom (exclusive to their new second outlet at Westgate Mall) and thought it tasted magnificent - like sipping on the purest essence of chicken with the bonus of juicy mushrooms to munch on.
What makes the brand stand out is that they procure many of their ingredients from the highlands of the Yunnan Province. So besides being able to offer unique specialities to customers, Yun Nans supports many farmers‘ livelihoods.
Their extensive menu has over 60 items. I recommend starting with chilled appetisers like Spiced Beef Shank and the recently-launched Century Egg with Grilled Capsicum.
Then move on to bigger dishes such as Wild Porcini Mushrooms stirfried with Dried Chilli (both from Yunnan), Pork Neck with Herbs and the recently-launched Steamed Red Grouper with Green Peppercorns (we loved this especially!).
Yunnan is also big on BBQ food so you can find Seabass with Lemongrass on the menu, as well as local Tiger prawns, chicken wings, pork belly, zucchini (my fave) and more, all rubbed in aromatic dry spices and grilled till smoky perfection.
For carbs, the Westgate branch has a NEW Crispy Hor Fun with Yunnan Truffle Prawn BrotH that is texturally playful. But we felt their existing dishes, like the classic noodle dish of 云南过桥米线 and fried rice with minced pork and preserved vegetables, were just as satisfying.
More of Yunnan’s produce is showcased in desserts. One of them, the Double Boiled Pear with Golden Fungus and Snow Lotus which we were served, was so soothing and lovely. It really was the best way to end our feast.

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To start, we shared a plate of Hainanese Ngoh Hiang which turned out to be superb.
Freshly fried, the rolls of crisped soya beancurd skin were filled with a fresh-tasting, well-seasoned mix of minced pork and chopped waterchestnuts.
I loved these especially, smeared with the accompanying sambal belachan.

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BritishHainan’s menu is old-school all the way but every dish is prepared with unmistakable pride, so you can see and taste the quality.
Take this dish for example. The breaded and fried meat was pristinely executed and not oily at all, while the tomato sauce poured over it was nicely balanced in flavour. Portion was also much bigger than expected. You can opt to have the fries switched to rice if you prefer.

If you tap on their geotag, the majority of posts at “Mak Hong Kee” show their classic Hongkong-style roasted meats, which is what I have associated them with since my one and only visit when they first opened. Fast forward a year and ten months. Thanks to T.H.’s friends, Edmund and Serene, the veil over my eyes has been lifted. It’s like I have been inducted into a secret society of sorts, one that knows it is the claypot dishes which are the real stars of this place. Edmund ordered three of them that night for our dinner: the “yong tau fu”, the chicken with salted fish and the bittergourd with sliced beef short rib. I loved them all! Very fragrant, boldly seasoned and super tasty, they were best enjoyed with plain rice. The other dishes we had, the simple steamed egg and the stirfried broccoli with fresh and dried scallops, were really satisfying too. Of course if you have been following my posts on Instagram, you would already know how blown away I was by the astonishingly delicious sweet and sour pork. That dish deserved its own post.

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Flattish in shape rather than the typical round form, every piece of pork has an extremely crispy layer which takes up probably a few microns of the battered coating’s thickness. Beyond that is tenderness balanced with the right amount of meat chew.
The sauce is undeniably sweeter than most but it works with the overall. Fried together with the pork are different-coloured capsicums and pieces of pineapple.
A must-order here in my opinion.

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H O S T E D
The recently-reopened Grand Shanghai Restaurant is the equivalent of that glamorous friend who has a flair for the dramatic, lurrrrves bling and has no qualms being the most overdressed person in a room. In other words, #extra is their middle name. And this applies to everything from the decor to the “live” music (both of which reflect the golden age of Shanghai in the 1930’s) to the dishes we got to try. Anchoring all of these is what we found most heartwarming - the low-key but sincere, attentive service.
Helmed by new Master Chef Jacky Tang who has almost three decades of experience in restaurants in Singapore and China, the menu is centred on Shanghainese specialties that have been adapted with modern culinary techniques for local palates. Here’s a rundown of what we got to try:

1. Abalone with pomelo and sake jelly: A Japanese touch for the first course, it is rather adventurous in taste.

2. “Light & Shadow” crispy duck: Displayed on a caramel sculpture, the slow-oven-baked, paper-thin French duck crisps were addictive. So too the dehydrated lotus root. Limited quantities are produced each day so you ought to call ahead to reserve.

3. Cold dish combination: The drunken chicken prepared with a 10-year-aged wine, Shanghainese chilled crystal pork and braised wheat gluten with mushroom and fungi, were executed well.

4. Deepfried glutinous dumpling stuffed with fresh crab meat and crab roe: A good mix of flavours and textures. I like the mochi-like texture beneath the crunchy sesame seed-speckled exterior especially.

5. Crispy smoked duck: We found the intensely smoky aroma of the crispy skin and tender meat highly appealing. Good on its own or snuggled between the soft steamed buns.

6. Steamed cod in Chinese rice wine: Looks simple but it was a hot favourite.

7. Fried string beans: The minced pork and Sakura shrimp added mouthwatering tastiness to the crunchy vegetable.

8. Shanghainese fried rice: I have long had a soft spot for the combo of rice with diced Yunnan ham and plentiful green vegetables.

9. Duo of dessert: The soufflé egg white ball with soft pieces of banana and red bean paste was atypical but scrumptious. Flecked with gold leaf and wolfberry, the osmanthus jelly proved lovely as well.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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