Chinese Charmers

Chinese Charmers

Even though the other countries of the world have so many tasty offerings, nothing hits the spot quite like sublime Chinese cuisine for this boy.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

Red Hot Chili Peppers? Nope, it’s red hot chili dumplings at @a8undance. Now there are two ways to have them: with noodles, or you could go keto & enjoy a solo show with the dumplings. Yes, these are definitely yumplings, not dumplings. Now that the obligatory dumpling pun is out of the way, we can get to dissecting these portly pork & prawn dumplings.⠀

There’s an ample amount of minced pork that’s been crammed into the delicate dumpling skin along with a snappy, satisfyingly fresh prawn. Each bite gives a deeply satisfying chew due to the massive amount of meat stuffed into each & every dumpling, and these might just be the second most satisfying dumplings in Singapore. They were steamed to perfection, but I can’t comment on the flavour & seasoning of the pork fillings due to the Sichuan spicy sauce. ⠀

The ‘red hot’ component is the main driving force behind the flavours of these dumplings. It’s spicy enough to have you taking intermittent swigs of your beer, but it definitely isn’t viciously violent. It is more numbing that spicy, with the sapid Sichuan sauce providing that familiar, pleasant numbness on your tongue with every chomp of these dumplings.⠀

For nine dollars ninety before an additional ten percent service charge, a plate of these five red hot dumplings at Abundance is a decent return on your investment.

Yes, I’m pissed that Singapore’s going into Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo (all you had to do was close the damn borders CJ!). However, I can take comfort in the fact that I finally made time to pay a visit to @a8undance, ‘cause this still new tiny little hole in the wall has some gratifyingly good food.⠀

Sure, at $11.90 before ten percent service charge, the XO Fried Rice can seem pricey when compared to a far more popular fried rice merchant, but the moolah I spent was a solid investment. The fluffy, sensually oil slicked short grain rice was well fried & imbued with little eggy bits and tiny shreds of actual crabmeat within. The XO sauce that has been fried with the rice imparts a deep, umami unctuousness to the delightfully carb-y pile. Sure, there isn’t much wok hei in the rice, but the XO sauce makes up for that.⠀

The additional crispy chicken cutlet ($4.50+ additional) alluringly draped on top of the fried rice is amply appetising. The juicy chicken fillet is expertly battered & deep fried with what smells like the ubiquitous Chinese five spice mix, and the crispy skin is undoubtedly delightful. Definitely a worthy add on for a fantastic plate of fried rice.⠀

Abundance is definitely living up to their name, ‘cause there certainly ain’t no lack of delicious dishes on their menu. Better yet, there’s an abundance of comely craft beers on their taps to wash down it all down.

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I still have no idea why #loklok became the hottest new food trend in Singapore, but since it’s meat on sticks, count me in! @shakeshakeloklok is a new lok lok establishment right outside Chinatown MRT exit A, and their sticks are solid stuff. Of course, they’ve got a couple of things not stuck on sticks, but the main reason why you’re there with a pal or four is to stuff yourself on skewers.⠀

Some definite must haves include the inordinately juicy Thai Moo Ping skewers ($5 for 3 sticks), which are terrifically tantalising Thai grilled pork chops that’ve been marinated & coated in a sticky, subtly sweet sauce. The squid is kind of diminutive, but they are delicious thanks to a dusting of marvellous mala seasoning, which is delightfully numbing & slightly spicy. Of course, you gotta get all the varieties of deep fried mushrooms (yes, ALL), and the bacon & pork belly skewers.⠀

As for the non skewers, they’ve got some crayfish that’s absolutely cray cray thanks to its freshness and the same mala seasoning powder. Of course, lok lok wouldn’t be complete without beer, and Shake Shake has a vast variety of bottled & canned brews for your enjoyment.⠀

Shake Shake may be new, but they’ve already shook me down for lots of money. And I’ll do it again, mark my words.

I’m comfortably drunk right now, and it got me feeling @dimsumhousedxz Deep Fried Yam Puff (misspelled as putt on the menu). $4.50 for three puffs stuffed with a moreish meat & mushroom mix that’s wrapped in yam paste, battered & deep fried does warrant a raised eyebrow, but ain’t nobody thinking about the price while pounding down these puffs.⠀

Come to think of it, these yam puffs are perfect drunk food. Scrumptiously savoury & saucy pork & ‘shrooms wrapped in carbs? Check. Deep fried? Most definitely. Delicious to the point of being mildly sinful? Oh hell yeah. Using these piquant puffs to appease the alcohol munchies? Priceless.⠀

Hotel? Trivago. (Yes I know the meme is as dead as my hopes & dreams, just stfu and lemme have this one)

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Chinese carrot cake isn’t really carrot cake, but it’s actually radish cake thanks to both carrot & radish being called the same thing in mandarin. Yes, I know carrot is technically红萝卜 in Chinese but everyone just calls it 萝卜.⠀

@dimsumhousedxz rendition of this dim sum classic ($4.50 for this ménage à trois) is decent but not mindblowingly excellent. It’s pretty par for the course with the radish paste being seasoned skilfully and dotted with chunks of lup cheong (Chinese preserved sausage). Then it’s steamed, panfried and plopped in front of your face for you to devour. The oiliness is managed to a moderate level, but you will get slick lips after eating this. Forget lip balm, this stuff’s a gorillion times better.⠀

Sure, the carrot cake here is pretty run of the mill stuff, albeit decent, but it’s still worth ordering.

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As you may be able to tell, I fancy sum good dim sum quite often. As such, I was pretty pleased to find out that @dimsumhousedxz is a newly opened dim sum restaurant that‘s reasonably close to my crib.⠀

Har gow (prawn dumpling) is one of my all time favourites, and Dim Sum House serves up a very delectable version of it at $4.50 for a basket of three. The thin skin is delicate & quite nearly melts in your mouth. The large pieces of fresh, juicy shrimp within have been steamed & seasoned to perfection. The subtle & satisfying savouriness is enough to please most, and dipping it in some sweet chili sauce aids in heightening its deliciousness.⠀

The dishes we tried on our first visit were all doubtlessly decent, and that verse from one of Drake’s tracks sums up the food quite accurately. Just hits, no misses.

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I don’t know why they chose a wacky name like Brosis, but their food is simple yet satisfying. Their babi pongteh (braised pork stew) set, going at $12.50, comes with rice, chap chye (Nyonya stewed vegetables) and a drink. It’s a little expensive considering that there’s a lot of piquant Peranakan food out there in hawker centres, but it’s not too bad for a casual dining joint.⠀

The babi pongteh was quite delicious, with the pork stewed to supple softness. Due to the time taken for that, the umami flavours of the stew liquid has infused every last fibre of the pork and makes it tremendously tasty. The liquid itself is undeniably unctuous as well, with the spices permeating every drop of that luscious liquid.⠀

The stewed veg was considerably more disappointing, as it was close to flavourless. Mixing a bite of chap chye with the considerably more tasty babi pongteh helps, but what would really help is if the veg was sufficiently seasoned.⠀

On the whole, Brosis isn’t too shabby if you’re looking for a quick Peranakan fix, and it gets considerably more value for money with #burpplebeyond one-for-one.

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@kamsroast_sg must have a thing for the number 17, because this ‘toro bbq pork combo soya chicken rice’ was also, you guessed it, $17. There’s a whole lot of plain white rice supplied with each serving, and it can easily last you two meals. It’s probably an attempt to pad the dish and try to make it worth the costly price of entry. It doesn’t quite work that way however.⠀

Still, the toro char siew was satisfactorily fatty & juicy. Plus it had a copacetic char on the crust, and the sapid spices had thoroughly permeated the redolent roast meat. I quite appreciated the thickness of the cut of char siew, as it was thick enough to give a superbly satisfying chew while not requiring too much work to masticate.⠀

The soya sauce chicken was passably moist & amply ambrosial with a nice, smooth skin. I’ve never understood the appeal of putting on the oil, grated ginger & spring onion mix on chicken until I did it to myself. The aromatics were absolutely appealing, and the fragrant oil lent its hand to lubricating & enhancing the taste of the soya sauce chicken. Plus, the little bit of heat from the ginger & the burst of freshness from the spring onions was sublime.⠀

I certainly enjoyed the soya sauce chicken & char siew rice, but my wallet sure as hell didn’t. Oh well, at least I tried it out for myself.

@kamsroast_sg is a Hong Kong style roast meats restaurant, and since they deliver, it would be remiss if I didn’t get my hankering for hearty roast meats settled by them. It’s quite expensive, and this ‘roast duck combo crispy pork noodles’ is certainly that as it costs an eyewatering $17.⠀

It was undeniably unctuous, with the succulent roast duck being thoroughly infused with all the spices while roasting. It was a random part of the duck, but it was still moist and acceptably chewy. The beautifully browned skin had all the fat competently rendered out, and it was a fabulous fowl experience.⠀

The roast pork was stunningly savory and beautifully seasoned. The only thing was that the rind wasn’t as crisp as I was hoping for, but a fast five minute visit to the oven was enough to crisp up the skin. Protip: prop the sio bak rind side up, without any contact with the tray. Otherwise it’s just gonna bake in its rendered fat and it’s not gonna get crunchy.⠀

The noodles were simply seasoned, yet quite attractive in a very homely way. A splash of sesame oil elevates the noodles a step above, so mix that in before you devour this dish. The chili on the side was surprisingly spicy and slightly overly spicy, and it made for a feisty feast.⠀

Kam’s Roast produces decently delicious meats, but it’s a herculean task to justify the prices. It’s good for a tryout, but unless you’ve got pockets deeper than my depression, you’re going to be burning money like Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Finally getting around to clearing my backlog from January, and boy this has been sitting on my phone for way too long. I still can’t explain why I was hit with a craving for lu rou fan (braised meat rice, usually pork belly) that wouldn’t bugger off, and @ludingji.sg was the only option anywhere near me.⠀

It was addictively ambrosial, with the soft, supple strands of pork belly thoroughly flavoured with a sapid soy based sauce. Well, it was more ribbons than strands but you get my point. Plus, on the side was a braised egg, that to my very pleasant surprise, still had a molten core of yolk. You ain’t gonna get any #eggporn shots out of it, but the yolk is still liquid enough to be mixed into the mouthwatering mess for extra pleasure.⠀

While the portion size was satisfactory, and the rice, braised pork and egg were simply scrumptious, I can’t say that it’s fully worth $9.50 in good conscience. Not when there’s so many other options out there that offer the same quality for less.

I love pot. Like seriously, pot is hot. And hot pot is great especially on a rainy day like today. For legal reasons that’s a joke.⠀

I’ve taken to calling Shi Li Fang budget hai di lao, but perhaps I judged it a little too harshly. Sure, the meat ain’t topnotch, but it’s decently affordable, and they hit the spot real good. Veg is also pleasantly fresh, so you can feel somewhat less guilty. And finally, the soup bases, especially the chicken collagen one, are superbly sapid. ⠀

Yes, I know the soup base is an MSG bomb, but say it with me kids: we’re here for a good time, not a long time!

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When I saw just how yuge the soon hock (marble goby) was, I was kinda apprehensive. Generally speaking, big fish tend to have flesh that’s a lot less firm than a smaller fish. However, Chef Sam completely proved my dad & I horribly wrong, as his steamed soon hock with chye poh (preserved radish bits), bean paste sauce & preserved plums was undeniably my favourite dish of the dinner.

The flesh was impossibly firm & flaky, and the freshness of the fish was absolutely unprecedented. That being said, the freshest of fish can only get you so far in terms of savoury satisfaction, and that’s where the chye poh, bean paste & plum would like you to allow them to introduce themselves.

The supplemental sauce was stunningly stellar, being sweet and salty in just the right amounts of each to make you moan in pleasure, and yet it was ludicrously light and completely guilt free. There may be some fishy business as to how Chef Sam got the sauce to be this sapid, but it’s just good business, and business is a boomin’.

Don’t believe me about just how frgggin fab this fish dish was? Just ask me old man. He NEVER goes for seconds, but he gladly took thirds of this fish. Yessir, it really is that phenomenal.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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