Old is gold
For Chinese New Year, some traditions call for sweeping away the old and replacing them with the new. Please do not apply this to our food heritage. The new should come but the old must stay too.
Ever so often, I glance back to ensure we don't leave the good stuff behind as we barrel into the future.
This week, I revisited two oldies but goodies.
They are carrying on two distinctly different culinary heritages - Teochew zi char and classic Peranakan.
LENG HENG B.B.Q. SEAFOOD & CLAYPOT DELUXE
These days, it's rare to find zi char stalls specialising in heritage fare in hawker centres.
Leng Heng has attracted such a long string of regulars, expatriates and tourists over the years that they are now rated on TripAdvisor. Makansutra first ranked them way back in the late 90s.
To this day, their classics remain.
Their salted vegetable duck soup is the most popular dish here. Bold, with enough saltiness and tanginess, the boiled duck thigh sits in the middle of the claypot surrounded by coriander and tomatoes for extra zing.
Their oyster omelette is not what you'll find in Chaozhou, China, but no one's complaining about how it is doused with a mildly spicy curry-like sauce.
I always go back for the same stuff, such as the fried fish head in black bean sauce. Done over high heat, the fish head comes crispy outside but still juicy inside. The sauce is also not too salty.
I also never miss out on their seafood pancake. They sandwich seafood paste and diced water chestnuts between two pieces of popiah skins and fry all that up to a crisp.
Leng Heng B.B.Q. Seafood & Claypot Deluxe
Stall 5/6, East Coast Lagoon Food Village, 1220, East Coast Parkway
- Closed on Thursdays
GUAN HOE SOON RESTAURANT
This is truly an icon in Singapore.
They are known to be the first licensed Peranakan restaurant here and they have a 60-year-old Government-issued certificate to prove it.
Their Chinese family patriarch once cooked for the Nonya community in the Joo Chiat area before deciding to set up an eatery.
While the current second generation husband and wife owners, Jenny and Raymond, are "very tired, with no one in the family wanting to continue", the restaurant still packs in a crowd, even on weekdays.
And despite the foreign cooks in the kitchen, Raymond still hammers out one of the best ayam buah keluak around.
He says: "We stew the chicken till it becomes just short of mushy, like how it was originally with us."
Their self-made otah is also a must-try. You can taste the spices used in this soft and chunky fish paste cake.
Also, I still adore their ngoh hiang rolls. The meat and turnip stuffing was not blended too finely and had enough bite.
Just pair all these dishes with rice, finish up with their chendol and all will be nice in the Chinese New Year.
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant
38-40, Joo Chiat Place
- Tel: 6344-2761
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