Another festive feast this Chinese New Year, we decided to try out another popular Chinese restaurant. This time, we went for Teochew-style cuisine which is well-known for its seafood and vegetarian dishes.
As with any celebratory dinner during the new year, we had our prosperity toss, or in this case, a Smoked Salmon Yu Sheng.
I’m not a fan of using shark’s fin in cooking, but this was somewhat a reality check that many Chinese restaurants still use it quite extensively in their soups. Case in point, this Braised Shark’s Fin with Assorted Seafood & Bamboo Pith in Brown Sauce.
I try to avoid shark’s fin when i can, because I don’t believe the damage done to the shark population warrants the use of it in Chinese dishes. The cartilage has no flavour whatsoever, and adds nothing by way of taste or aroma. A lot of it really is about ‘face’ and a show of being able to afford the prized fins. That said, the soup itself was delicious, mostly because of the sweetness of the shrimp and chunks of bamboo. It really would’ve tasted the same without shark’s fin.
As an appetiser of sorts, we had the Marinated Duck Combination.
This was an interesting mix of sliced braised duck, and super tender slices of cuttlefish. It has a unique herbal aroma and both the duck breast and wings were very juicy and flavourful.
One of the more unique dishes we had that night has got to be these Sauteed Baby Oysters with Fresh Lettuce.
The oysters were really different from the usual fat, succulent ones we see in oyster omelette dishes. But this was fried with garlic, spring onion and cut chili. So it was really an explosion of flavours in the mouth.
We also used the fresh lettuce as a wrap to add some fresh, crunchy texture to the dish.
Then came yet another treat — Egg White with Lobster in White Truffle Oil.
I loved the soft, fluffly texture of the egg whites, and they were pretty generous with the lobster chunks. Also, I liked that the truffle oil flavour wasn’t overwhelming with only a flirtatious hint of it to tantalise the tastebuds, allowing the natural sweetness of the lobster to shine through.
Coming up, a dish I’d never tried before. Check out this Braised Sea Cucumber with Dried Oysters and Black Moss.
I was really intrigued by the black moss. It actually had a rather umami, seaweed flavour and had a very fascinating texture. It was actually good! Also, braised mussels on a bed of sea cucumber and cabbage was a new experience. Braising the mussels made them slightly more firm than usual, which went perfectly with the more gelatinous texture of the sea cucumbers.
And a Chinese meal is never complete without a solid steamed fish. In this case, we had the Steamed “Soon Hock” fish with Assorted Seafood & Bamboo Pith in Brown Sauce.
Nothing super exceptional, but the fish was fresh and that’s all that usually matters with a good steamed fish.
And finally, my favourite dish of the night. Their Signature Minced Meat Egg Noodle or “Mee Pok”.
It may not look like much, but we were all so stuffed and yet managed to finish all of it! There was something about the combination of lard, black vinegar and egg noodles cooked to firm, springy perfection that really hit all the right spots. When it comes to bak chor mee, the balance of flavours is really key. And i daresay this comes pretty close to Tai Hwa’s level of mouthwatering goodness.
And finally, ending the meal with something sweet — Fried Nian Gao washed down with some super thick Gong Fu Tea.
All in all, a very satisfying meal. Although the service was a little haphazard with them forgetting to give us napkins, not having a lot of the dishes available that day. But they made up for it by being really attentive after that. Not so sure if it’s really Michelin-worthy, but it’s definitely a great place for the family to gather and enjoy some comforting, authentic Teo Chew cuisine.