Deep down, half the Chiu Chow in me loves to seek out close-to-the-hometown Chiu Chow fare. And this fairly new place in TST has the makings of a classic Chiu Chow place. Thanks to half the Chiu Chow in D - this new discovery of his is quite a find.
Of course, in trying a new Chiu Chow place, the classics have to be done right, otherwise there is no second time.
Starters of braised pig trotters were juicy and tasty from the spice-laced soya sauce which was absorbed by the trotters. This is perfect for those who like their beer or even something stronger to start the meal with. By the way, Coke works too!
The cold crab was just the right temperature for yet another scorching day. Cooler than is served at most other Chiu Chow places, but not too cold as to lose the flavour in the chill, the crab was firm to the bite and flick-off-the-shell fresh. Eaten with accompanying Zhejiang vinegar, a perfect summer quencher!
The winner of the day was the politically incorrect bowl of braised shark's fin. The thick broth it was swimming in is the result of countless hours of simmering stock that tasted like a whole lot of chicken and Yunnan ham goodness and probably a whole bunch of other decadent delicacies from the dried seafood larder of the restaurant. Served with a dash of brandy, it needs nothing else, so don't reach for any vinegar or pepper. Probably one of the best I've had.
The very bouncy prawn balls were literally prawns rolled into a ball - I exaggerate a little but there definitely wasn't much processing involved since you can still see the pink as you bite into one. The crunch was therefore from the freshness of the prawns used and not because the colloid had been bounced around too much. I would hazard to guess that it is hand-rolled because of the texture.
The Cantonese in me usually likes my veges quickly blanched to retain crunch and vitamins but the spring vegetable claypot was actually very good. Sweetened with the pork and radish, this mustard green family member has none of the bitterness which I generally dislike. And despite the roasted garlic and pork, it wasn't at all oily and really quite refreshing to eat, despite the heat.
The finale of pan fried egg noodles, a quintessential Chiu Chow staple served with Zhejiang vinegar and sugar was a fitting finish. The chef took the trouble to seal both sides to a crisp - the usual is one - and kept the moisture of the noodles on the inside, making it a contrast in textures and with the contrasting sweet and sour of the condiments, it would be difficult to not like this.
To call this miracle cuisine might be a stretch but it comes pretty darn close.