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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Restaurant Review : Chaozhou Inn & a $20 Dining Voucher Giveaway



I have to admit when I received the invitation to review Chaozhou Inn, my mind went blank. I struggled to remember if I have heard or seen this restaurant before. A little homework later, I found out that this is actually part of the Fish & Co., group. I was duely intrigued but was unable to associate the ubiquitous family seafood restuarant with... authentic Teochew cuisine.

Tucked away at the basement of Parkway Parade shopping center, Chaozhou Inn was a stark contrast to Sakae Sushi next door. The modern oriental setting was tasteful and ... haute. One almost feel a little intimidated because it looked...too nice to be a family restaurant. However, dear readers, be fearless and you shall be delighted. Featuring a comprehensive but very relevant selection of Teochew dishes, this is a delightful discovery.

The Teochews, who hailed from eastern Guangdong province, is the second largest Chinese dialect group  in Singapore. Teochew cuisine is definitely among what I like refer to in Chinese as Big Cuisine, 大菜. You will find Teochew restaurants in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. The very best fine dining Chinese restaurants in Singapore are generally Cantonese or Teochew. Cantonese cuisine, characterised by savoury, robust flavours, appeals to our craving for richness. Teochew Cuisine on the other hand, focuses on retaining the natural flavours and freshness of ingredients. With little additional seasoning, Teochew Cuisine is famed for being clear, subtle and intricate. (清,淡,巧,雅). While it is easy to find mid market cantonese family restuarants in Singapore, I can't seem to recall coming across too many authentic Teochew restuarants that are positioned for the mid-market segment. Chaozhou Inn seems to fill this gap perfectly.

Dumpling Collage
The tasting menu I was served included some of their signature dishes and 3 new dim sum creations. First on the list is the chef's new Steamed Spinach Dumpling with Prawn & Dried Scallop (瑶柱菜苗饺). Commonly prepared with Chives, this is created specially for those who do not take well to the pungent smell of chives. Without the chives, the dumpling is decidedly less exciting but the sweetness of the prawns and dried scallops more than make up for this subtle morsel.

Pork Buns Collage
Next, came the Braised Pork Belly Bun Chaozhou Style (鲍汁扣肉包). I am not an expert when it comes to braised pork belly but I suspect that this may not be juicy or 'melty' enough for pork belly die-hard fans.

Sesame Cake Collage
The winner for me among the new dim sum creations was the Pan Fried Black Sesame Cake (豆沙煎软饼). Pan fried to a slight crisp, the rice cake remains soft. I love it that the bean paste filling was just sweet enough, and this, eaten with the fragrant crunch of the sesame seeds was really delicious. Restrained by social graciousness, I had to stop at one but I know I would gladly finish the whole serving of 3 cakes.

No respectable Teochew restaurant will be caught without really good braised dishes on their menu. (滷水拼盤)
  Braised Collage 

Teochew braised dish often involves the slow braising of Goose, Goose Gizzard, Goose Liver, Tofu , Pork Intestine etc in a special sauce prepared with a complex mixture of over 10 Chinese herbs and spices. Chaozhou Inn's braised platter stays true to its Teochew roots. Most of the braised dishes we get in Singapore tend to lean towards the richer taste of cantonese cuisine. Chaozhou Inn's preparation is authentic and I hope Singaporeans will learn to appreciate it.

Steamed Pomfret Chaozhou Style

Similarly, no respectable Teochew restaurant will be caught without steamed fish on their menu. Their best selling steamed fish is the Teochew Steamed Pomfret. Steamed with pickled mustard cabbage, tomatoes and plum, this dish yields a clear broth that is so light and  fresh that I can litereally  slurp it up like a soup. Unfortunately, the pomfret was a little overcooked. When informed, chef Francis Yu conceded that the kitchen could have steamed it for an extra minute too long. I certainly hope to revisit this soon.

Chao Yang Four Treasure Vegetables

Double Boiled Old Yellow Melon Soup

If you are one who enjoys a good soup, you will not be disappointed by their popular Double Boiled Old Yellow Melon Soup (八宝老黄瓜炖盅). Priced reasonably at $8 per melon portion, this light and invigorating soup is truly value for money. I enjoyed it so much that I actually contemplated making it at home. However, I decided that it would be unpractical for, to even remotely achieve the same effect, I will have to steam this for hours. The amount of gas I will have burn over this one little melon - it would be better for me to pay $8 for it!

The vegetable dish on the tasting menu is another one of their best selling dish. Chao Yang Four Treasure Vegetables.(潮阳四宝蔬). Prepared with Mustard cabbage, Tofu, Dried Mushrooms, Straw Mushrooms and Gingko Nuts in a abalone sauce,  this is a very memorable dish for me. I was pleasantly suprised by the tenderness of the Mustard Cabbage - it literally distingrated in my mouth. This is certainly different from the crunchy texture that I usually eat.

Yam Paste
Another must-try is the Yam Paste With Gingko Nut and Pumpkin (福果芋泥) . If you have seen floating oil scimming the surface of this popular Teochew dessert once too often, you will be happy to know that Chaozhou Inn's Yam Paste is smooth and creamy... sans the oily heaviness. Chef Yu shared his little trick with me but I would encourage you to go taste it and discern that interesting element :) .

All in all, I was really thrilled about finding Chaozhou Inn. I have no doubt that the authentic Teochew menu, great dining ambience and the affordable price list will win diners over.I don't think this would be politically correct, but I really think we can do with more Chaozhou Inns and less Fish & Co...

For all Singaporean readers who are reading this, there are $20 vouchers to be given out to 3 lucky readers. This would be a great chance to check out Chaozhou Inn. I am going back again to check out their weekday a la carte buffet dinner. Impressive menu priced at $23/ head - it's too important to pass.

To win the $20 voucher, please leave me a comment telling me about your favourite Teochew dish. Make sure I have access to your contact details...Last day for entry will be on Sunday, 8th August! Bon Appetite!

A big thanks to Sharon Poh of Fish & Co., for inviting me to the food tasting session.

80 Marine Parade Road, B1-84D,
Parkway Parade, Singapore 449269
Tel : (65) 6346-6617
Store Locator Here


edith said...

wow, this restaurant looks lovely and I go to PP weekly. What a coincidence.

All the dishes look too good to pass. Can I chose all? Guess I really need to settle for one and that will be Braised Pork Belly Bun Choazhou style coz I find the rest on other Teochew restaurants menu but not this one. So I am really keen to check that out.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Edith, you call to PP weekly? Have you eaten at Chaozhou Inn?

zurin said...

very interesting post Shirley. COngrats on ur first review. looks like you had a feast. everyhting looks so delicious :))

Trissa said...

Hi Shirley! How I wish I could go there - the food looks so well presented... if only I wasn't so far away!

Clare @ Mrs Multitasker said...

Yay I'm glad you enjoyed it! The food does look yummy =) And now I want or nee....

3 hungry tummies said...

The food looks good and beautifully presented! I must give it a try when I return next ;)

Mei Teng said...

The steamed spinach dumpling with prawn and scallops reminded me of har kou (prawn dumplings) usually served for dimsum. That's my favourite dish.

hanushi said...

This looks like a great place for a family gathering. My fav teochew dish is Yam Paste with Gingko. :)

Bakertan said...

Hi Shirley,

Congrats on writing this review and thanks for introducing this place to us readers. The dishes look good and being a Teochew myself, I've gained new insights on Teochew cuisines.

My favourite Teochew dish would have to be braised duck. My grandma would prepare this on every CNY.

Jo said...

Shirley, great review and everything looks delicious. My fav Teochew dish has got to be the steamed pomfret. Love the combination of flavours in this dish especially if the fish is the freshest.

Passionate About Baking said...

Hi Shirley,
Thanks for inviting me to your review and this great giveaway! :)

My favourite teochew dish will have to be Yam paste with ginko nuts! It's a must-have for me whenever I visit any Teochew restaurant (not that I usually do). Please let me win that voucher so that I can have my yam paste again! Wish me luck!

Thanks again for this wonderful opportunity!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Shirley, congrats on the invite to write a review for Chaozhou Inn! All the dishes look so appealing! Bet they taste good, too! But, I'm not Singaporean ... How? LOL!

I'm surprised to learn that Cantonese cuisine actually dominate the scene among Singapore's Chinese eateries! I always thought it's often either Hokkien or Teochew there. LOL! Ah, how ignorant I am! Thanks a lot, I've learned more from you today!

Being a half-Teochew myself (Teochew blood from my mom's side), I can safely say I'm quite familiar with Teochew dishes. (But relatively less when compared to Cantonese stuff.) I love 鹵鴨/雞/anything, 潮式蒸魚. I also love the plain Teochew congee that's often served with myriad side dishes.

Indonesia-Eats said...

I love that pomfret. I haven't eaten that for a year :). I may cook it once the weather getting colder :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

How I miss all these Teochew food!! Time to visit Singapore again :)

cassandra said...

i love love teochew braised goose.... it's so flavourful and so juicy!

tigerfish said...

It is always quiet whenever I walk past Chaozhou Inn in PP :O ...well, you know the relationship btw quietness and food, I supposed? But after looking at your recommendation, it looks well-worth the try.

I have been to another Teochew restaurant before, tried the Or Nee and it is not greasy as well. There, the secret element seems to be water chestnut and not lard as we always assume it to be. Can you reveal the secret element? ;P

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Wow, looks like Or Nee is very popular. The secret here is... coconut milk...:) Try it.

Jess @ Bakericious said...

Shirley, all the dishes look good leh, how to choose... hmmm I will choose or nee, always looks forward for dessert :P

Lynette said...

I like food prepared in its simplest form using healthy cooking methods yet without compromising on the resultant taste. Teochew cuisine fits in nicely, but most noteworthy of my mandatory orders are the steamed Pomfret and ginkgo nut yam paste.

Usually, the Chinese Pomfret is used, but its relative, White Pomfret, makes just as good a fish dish. One point to note is that the fish has to be relatively large in size, of high quality (i don't have the exact name of the origin but I can recognize if someone says it out), and steamed for no longer than 12 mins. The Chinese pomfret has a smoother and buttery texture. High quality white pomfret also has this buttery rich smooth flesh that slids in the mouth. Ask the fishmonger if it's the better quality type if in doubt. Otherwise, the price may speak for itself.

Ginkgo nut yam paste and sometimes with pumpkin added is also a lovely Teochew dish. Basically, pure mashed yam puree with brown sugar and a small amount of coconut milk are sufficient to make an excellent dessert. It's rich and doesn't require oil or lard even, minus the guilt. Really. I personally avoid yam paste when dining out although I truly am an adorn fan of this traditional dessert, because it's often oil-laden making it too heavy and unhealthy.

Will be looking forward to patronize and taste these two Teochew dishes at the restaurant soon.

amiscell said...

I walked past this so many times and never tried. I will definitely give it a shot!

Carolyn Jung said...

Those are the prettiest pork buns I've ever seen. And those sesame cakes look addictive. I've yet to see something like that at dim sum places in the Bay Area. Hopefully, they'll add them to the menu one of these days. ;)

sally said...

Tried their Eat-All-You-Can Buffet and agree their dim sum was superb, definitely from the hands of a chef. Only was amused by the way it was being served. On the high-tea menu form, I ticked 1 for each item under qty section, and out came 1 pc of siew mai, 1 pc of roast pork bao and 1 pc of carrot cake. It's really an eye-opening experience, first time I had dim sum that doesn't serve in sets but pcs. But thankfully the dim sum was good and I will still return another time.


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