Friday, September 12, 2008

Singapore - Beng Thin Hoon Kee

As far as Fujian restaurants in Singapore go, Beng Thin Hoon Kee is an institution - since 1949 to be exact. And very surprisingly, my 4 colleagues (all Singaporean women from various generations) had not heard of it. I'm like "duh: where have you guys been?".. and so off we went to initiate them into Fujian food in Singapore.

Access is a tad confusing especially with refurbishment works at OCBC center but just remember to take the car park lifts to level 5 and you'll see the very Chinese entrance right there.
I ordered what I felt (from my teenage years) to be the definitive Fujian degustation menu - Beng Thin's specialties from as long as I can recall:

For starters, the duck salad with neatly julienned cucumbers and honey dew melon, drizzled with plum sauce and tossed together made for a refreshing and appetising beginning to a hearty and nostalgic adventure. Always a good choice since Fujian food tends to be on the heavy side.

Next, the "hae chos" (prawn rolls with water chestnut, etc.) rolled into a sausage, cut up into manageble pieces, then deep fried to a golden brown, served with a yummy tar-like textured sweet and black soya sauce.
The star of the restaurant is the oyster omellette - eggs and tapioca starch mixed and fried to a thin crisp - like a crispy crepe, served with mid-sized oysters laced with a little bit of chilli, the ultimate in combining textures of creamy oysters with crispy crepe. Oh so good.. and not greasy, perfect!

The pork belly stew served with a Chinese hamburger bun shaped like a semi-circle with a red dot is the traditional Fujian family dish, where young and old gather and bond over a hand-held bun stuffed with strips of the tender pork belly slathered in the rich soya sauce. You don't have to use your hands at the restaurant though..

The other "must try" is the Fujian noodles with shrimp and pork, which you can drizzle black vinegar over to cut some of the alkalinity from the yellow noodles. I do NOT eat this anywhere else because of the grease and alkalinity from the noodles but Beng Thin manages an exception in my books because of the stock they use for the gravy, rich with seafood and pork. And a relatively light hand with the oil.

If you need your fibre, the stir fried "dou miao" (pea shoots) is pretty good.

Finally, if you need a sweet ending, Beng Thin is well known also for its "Or Ni" (sweet yam paste with steamed pumpkin and ginko nuts). However, being of Teochew ancestry, I beg to differ. The Or Ni is competent but nowhere near the quality I am used to from a true-blue Teochew eatery.

But where Fujian cuisine is concerned in Singapore, Beng Thin wins hands down.

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