Apologies for being out of action for quite a while. Real life had been taking up a lot of my extra time but I am back! Thank you for the support and messages even when I paused blogging for a while. So here I am and I will be featuring a Teochew restaurant for my first article of 2017.
In recent years, we have seen the closure of some of the old-time Teochew restaurants such as Mong Hing at Beach Road and Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) at Mosque Street. Being Teochew, my family is always on the hunt for good Teochew cuisine. I have shared on Chui Huay Lim and Paradise Teochew in earlier entries. They do serve decent Teochew food, just a little commercialised. Recently, my family had dined at Chao San Cuisine 潮汕林 and we were glad to revisit after so many years before at their previous Beach Road outlet.
The restaurant was packed even for a weekday dinner and lucky for us, we made a quick reservation before heading down. The ambience reminded me of Lee Kui – full of chatter yet oddly comforting and familiar.
We started with a serving of a whole cuttlefish which my Dad claims that only Teochews can appreciate.
The cuttlefish is served cold, thinly sliced with spring onions atop. To eat it the correct way, one has to dip into a sweet sauce to taste (though I prefer to have the Teochew vinegar chilli with it). I had never known this as an exclusive Teochew dish though I always loved it. The natural sweetness in the almost velvety cuttlefish slices is delectable enough to have them on its own.
How can one not have pork aspic at a Teochew restaurant? It is one of my favourite Teochew dishes and Chao San Cuisine does this pork aspic justice. The fitting amounts of fat and lean pork inside the gelatin that melts in the mouth with each bite – definitely need a full plate of this. The other 3 types of starter on the plate are liver rolls, prawn balls and spicy jellyfish. I have to give credit to the prawn balls and liver rolls, which had well-marinated filling (lots of it too) in them. We added an order of their Siewmai (Sio bee 烧卖) which was disappointing as the filling was falling apart and the skin too thick for our liking.
The oyster pancake is another signature Teochew dish. We had mixed conclusions about this pancake as I really liked the balance of flour and eggs plus it was really crispy. My parents, however, feels that the flavours were a little lacking.
We have had Teochew cold crabs before but we have yet to have black olive crabs anywhere, so we gave this a try. The black olive accentuated the natural seafood sweetness of the fresh crab and we didn’t mind at all the generous amounts of orange crab roe that came with it. The price tag was the other surprise as we expected it to be pricier.
This Chestnut Chicken stole the show from the Black Olive Crab. We were delighted at how tender and well-stewed the chicken was. With the nutty flavours of chestnut, the sweetness of the carrots and unaminess of mushrooms in the stew – we savoured every last bit of the chicken, leaving only the bones behind. This is a miracle for my family as we usually do not fancy chicken breast meat but all of it was gone at the end. Needless to say, this was our favourite dish of the night.
Now for desserts, we usually go with Yam Paste (芋泥 Orh Nee), which is cliche, I know. One of our family friends highly recommended for us to try the Yam Strips 风沙芋 which took a long time for the kitchen to prepare.
It was worth every minute of the wait. The yam strips were crispy on the outside, covered with powdery sugar and melts in the mouth when you take a bite. It’s savoury sweet and so so delicious! Hubby took extras of these, satisfying that sweet tooth of his.
The bill came up to around SGD$177 for four of us and there was no service charge! We did give a tip as the staff were very attentive despite the busy crowd. We are already planning to bring the extended family here to try out more dishes like their Chai Po Kway Teow and cold crabs 🙂
Chao San Cuisine
17 Phillip Street
#01-01/02 Grand Building
(65) 6336 2390