Restaurants & Bars

Two Teochew Places, both near Chinatown, Singapore

Limster | Sep 26, 200310:35 PM

Lee Kui (Ah Hoi)

A fluffy oyster omelette, with good goobs of sweet potato flour for a thick chewy consistency in spots.

Crisp tasting cold crab in shell, lightly chilled, firm, but not clammy.

The shrimp balls are more Hokkien than Teochew. Instead of rolling a mix of minced pork and shrimp in a sheet of bean curd skin typical of the latter, these are lightly battered, more commonly employed by the Hokkien. Great stuff; I tend to favour the Hokkien version. Moist savoury interior, good chippy crispy exterior. Perfect with the natural condiment of sweet sauce made from (IIRC) fermented soy. The pickled turnips and carrots add a sharp counterpoint to the fried heaviness.

Braised goose, a Teochew signature, is exactly the way it should be. Rich, but not cloying, moist meat with a nice ring of skin and fat, a luxuriant dark sauce, and bright green cilantro adding its airy qualities to the mix. Slices of a firm bean curd (tau kua), buried beneath it all.

A generous plate of fried baby pak choy, still full of vegetable snap and verdancy.

Finished with a lard smooth paste of sweet mashed taro ("taro mud") punctuated by smooth, pure-tasting, near white ginko nuts and Chinese pumpkin, a rich golden flavour, sweet with a different degree of softness against the taro.


Ban Seng

This place performed decidedly weaker than Lee Kui, although it was cheaper, and did attain a minimal level of competence on average. Won't go into all the details of each dish here, since I would recommend the pricier Lee Kui, but will touch on some additional Teochew dishes that I didn't have there.

Shrimp balls here were of the Teochew style as described about and pretty good. The braised goose was a little stringy and therefore not as smooth an experience. The sweet taro mud was well rendered and lard fragrant, but lacked the pumpkin.

A huge braised sea cucumber came stuffed with a savoury minced pork filling. Good texture on the sea cucumber, thickly chewy and gelatinous in the mouth, but yielding easily on the second chew. It could have been braised with a slightly richer sauce to impart some seasoning into the sea cucumber to spare it from its blandness, but the meat filling came to rescue, imparting the flavours of its seasonings once the mouthful was complete.

Steamed pomfret with pickles had firm white flesh, smooth and easy on the palate. Fairly classical.

A fair dish of cray fish in a smoky but lightly hot dry curry.

Crystal dumplings were poorly made, the skins broken and too sticky, with none of that delicious lustre and firmness. The ones at the Tiong Bahru hawker centre are still the ones to beat.

I think I still enjoy the Teochew food at Ban Hin in Bendemeer Road the most. But it's was so many years ago. Will have to rty them next time.

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