When it comes to having zi char in a place that feels like home, you don’t have to look further than Gu Ma Jia, which literally translates into ‘my aunt’s home’. And it couldn’t be more aptly-named! I loved the warm cozy feel of the place, family pictures hanging on the walls, and watching Gu Ma herself bustling in and out of the kitchen as she checks on you and makes sure the dishes are served up in a timely fashion.
Price: $$ – $$$
Gu Ma started out as a hawker selling wanton mee and chicken rice more than 30 years ago. And after that, because of her passion for food and love of experimentation, she decided to start her own restaurant with all the dishes she had created. Her vision was to cook delicious homecooked dishes for families to enjoy. And boy did we enjoy this heartwarming meal.
Here are some of the highlights on the menu:
We started with the Ubin Lala Bee Hoon ($18) which was a plateful of comforting, smooth bee hoon that just glides down your throat.
The broth was really flavourful despite being so simple and had plenty of wok hei.
One of the more unique dishes we were served that day has got to be this Kai Lan Two Styles ($18).
Instead of just the usual blanched Kai Lan in oyster sauce, this one came with the original blanched version as well as a shredded fried half that was crispy, fragrant and added a refreshing texture to a classic dish.
Up next, their signature Assam Fish Head ($28).
This dish was fantastic! I’ve always been a fan of a more assam-based fish head curry. And this hit all the right spots. It was spicy enough to give a great kick, but no too overwhelming so the other flavours in the assam gravy came through nicely, and the fish meat just slid off the bone. Definitely recommend this when you go.
Now for the soups. This is Gu Ma’s specialty Signature Traditional Beancurd Soup ($28).
This one was definitely boiled for many hours because you could just taste all that pork rib and bone goodness in the soup. It was simple but very satisfying although it might be slightly pricey considering the basic ingredients.
Now on to something rather dramatic.
The Kyoto Pork Ribs ($20) are served up in style on top of a flaming hot pan. When the flames die down, the server unveils the sizzling, glistening pork ribs that were wonderfully tender on the inside and had a delicious lingering flavour.
Do eat these while they’re hot though as they do get a bit hard when they’re cold.
Another interesting stir-fried veggie dish is the Sweet Potato Leaves ($16).
These were fried in mouthwatering sambal and had a wonderful, crunchy texture. Definitely a refreshing alternative to the usual kang kong.
And finally, what’s a good zi char meal without getting our hands dirty with some fresh crabs? Here’s the Salted Egg Crab.
What I loved about this dish was how it stayed true to the natural flavours and textures of the salted egg. There was no additional sugar or MSG added to complicate it too much and the simplicity of the sauce actually brought out the sweetness of the crab beautifully. Very fresh and came with delicious orange roe.
And finally, on to desserts.
The Mango Pudding Pop ($4) was a real hit among the kids especially with those passionfruit bubbles on the top.
This was slightly sweet so if you’re not a fan of milky or sweet desserts you might want to go for the next one instead.
Here’s their Enzyme Jelly Dessert with Wolfberries.
Not usually available on their regular menu, this one tastes a lot like fruit vinegar but in jelly form. It’s great for digestion and had a delicious Chinese flavour because of the bits of wolf berry and other herbs. This was a more refreshing end to the meal although I think it works just as well as a drink which they serve up with basil seeds and fruit.
Gu Ma Jia definitely serves up quality homecooked dishes for a reasonable price. But more importantly, you do get the feeling that you’re very welcome and taken care of, just like how you’d feel at a family member’s house. That’s something rare in Singapore and the warmth and hospitality here comes very much appreciated.
Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家) Food Pot
Address: 45 Tai Thong Cres, 347866