Makansutra: Peng's serves up Teochew pleasures in heart of Hougang
Peng's Restaurant & Catering serves up authentic, good old-fashioned fare in Hougang
Hougang is known to be a Teochew enclave, harking back to the old Kangkar wharf (now a part of Sengkang) where the Teochew community once thrived in fishery business and was known for its unique south China cuisine.
But today, you will be hard-pressed to find good Teochew fare in the area - many such restaurants are located in the city.
But Peng's Restaurant & Catering holds the fort and has kept the faith in a sleepy lane off Upper Serangoon Road in the heart of Hougang.
A winner right off the bat was the Stir-fried Chai Poh Kway Teow ($12). It forces you to look at all the bits and textures introduced to the soft and smooth kway teow - dried shrimp, garlic, chopped long bean, chive and kailan.
I loved the symphony of flavoured flecks that covered the well-fried fish sauce- accented noodles.
Then the Liver Roll ($10) slid over and it made me stare at the well-stuffed cross section. The liver, pork, greens and carrot, encased in a thin, crispy bean skin, all looked right back at me and totally beckoned me.
Dip that into the plum sauce, chomp down and it is another Teochew sensation on the palate.
Next up was the Teochew Braised Sliced Duck ($12). Traditionally, this is done with goose but fresh supplies are not easily available in Singapore so many restaurants resort to duck.
It was sliced against the grain, like how the old Chinese cleaver masters did. Then it was stacked atop a few chunks of tofu, like a little sliced braised duck monument, slathered with thick braised soy sauce.
The gaminess was so well contained in those thin slices, and the complementing tofu chunks completed yet another Teochew culinary icon.
The other star dish not to miss is the Oyster Omelette ($12).
Peng's round and fried egg frittata version was soft inside, doused in a thick seafood sauce and topped with juicy oysters.
We tore next into the Steamed Threadfin Tail (market price) done in taucheo or fermented soy bean paste, but this one tripped up. They over-steamed the fish and did not temper the salty sauce with other condiments and seasoning.
Redemption arrived in the form of the orh nee ($5 a portion) or yam paste. It was thick and creamy, and a whiff of umami was hiding in the sweet paste, topped with soft pumpkin and gingko nut.
At the end of the meal, I realised I had not even made it through 10 per cent of Peng's menu, which calls for another session back there.
Peng's Restaurant & Catering
30 Lorong 1 Realty Park
Opens 11am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10pm daily
This column will now appear in The New Paper on the last Thursday of every month.