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Huat Kee Teochew Restaurant, Singapore

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Huat Kee Teochew Restaurant, Singapore

Limster | Jan 24, 2005 05:12 PM

Teochew's one of my favourite cuisines from southern China. Braising in rich stocks is a central technique. Seafood being very common ingredients. Flavouring with ground dried shrimp and pickles (not always at the same time) is a justified obssession. Although it's considered one of the pillars of Cantonese/Yue cuisine, it has a number of similarities with Fujian/Hokkien cooking as well.

Braised goose (a signature dish of the cuisine) is well made, the braising sauce not as hearty as some, striking a more subtle note with gentle use of dark spices like star anise. The bean curd (tau kua variety) underneath the goose is dense but soft and full of little holes that are great at soaking up the sauce.

Prawn rolls (minced prawn and pork wrapped in bean curd skin and deep fried) are a classic rendition here. Crispy without any greasy residue. Lovely with the traditional sweet sauce and pickles.

The steamed vegetarian combination rests on a solid foundation of stemmy mustard greens (gua cai in Hokkien, sorry don't know regular name), soft (near a point of delicious mushiness, we loved that texture), very lightly bitter and very lightly sweet. Mushrooms and a few varieties of mock meats rendereed in gluten are delicious in their own right, but also add textural contrast. Excellent and delicate sauce, probably mushroom-based.

XO-sauce bean curd might be considered rich and oily by some, but I'm a big fan. Usually, dried scallops are lost in the mix of the sauce. Here it takes centre stage -- crispy, savoury and lots of it, touched by a tiny point of spiciness and topping the soft squares of bean curd. Excellent dish.

Sea cucumber stuffed with minced pork is a decent rendition. I liked the chewy and dense texture of the large sea cucumber (about 3-4 inches in diameter), but it's a little bland, the braising liquid hasn't penetrated it as well as it could.

My standard dessert order of taro paste with gingko nuts and pumpkin is very well made, the pumpkin cooked in syrup for an intense, pentrating sweetness. (At Teochew restaurants, always ask for the version with pumpkin, it really is much better than those with only gingko nuts.) Note to vegetarians: this dish is made with lard.

Elegant and careful rendition of Teochew dishes. (For a more hearty version of the same dishes, I used to favour a restaurant on Bendemeer Road, whose name escapes me now -- it's been >5 years.) The XO Bean curd and the steamed vegetable combination were my favourite of the evening.

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