Restaurant Review: Chaozhou Inn at Parkway Parade

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My very first restaurant review! Yep, just went for an invited restaurant review at Chaozhou Inn (Parkway Parade) together with fellow bloggers Passionate About Baking and Precious Moment, as well as a writer from omy.sg.

When Sharon from Chaozhou Inn contacted me, I was rather surprised as my blog is not a food blog per se and just personal ramblings on things that interest me. Was also worried due to the recent bad publicity on bloggers attending food reviews. Nevertheless, I decided to go with an open mind. And I was glad that I did coz the session was enjoyable (I need me-time and more social life being a SAHM!) and most importantly food was great (another restaurant to add to my list of dining places for family). Our usual haunt for family gatherings are the more common Cantonese-style restaurants like Crystal Jade, Tung Lok, Kam Boat etc. Although my grandmother and mum are Teochews, it never occur to me to go to a Teochew restaurant and I'm ashamed to admit that I have limited knowledge on Teochew cuisine. Hence, this is an opportunity for me to find out more.

The ambience of the restaurant is classy yet cozy with modern oriental furnishings and plush seats for some of the tables. Private rooms are also available for more intimate gatherings. Apparently the restaurant is relatively new, coming to 2 years only. Menu items are pretty extensive featuring over 90 dishes covering Appetizers, Soups, Marinated/BBQ Selection, Main Dishes, Vegetables, Porridge, Rice & Noodles, Dim Sum and Desserts; and not just Teochew cuisine but also the usual favourites like Sweet & Sour Pork. Our tasting menu included some of their signature dishes and new items.
This is a side dish, homemade Pickled Papaya which I like very much. Crunchy and sourish, certainly whets the appetite!
The first dish served was a new item from the Dim Sum Selection, Steamed Spinach Dumpling with Prawn & Dried Scallop 瑶柱菜苗饺 ($4.50). The translucent skin of the dumpling was nicely done, not too thick yet didn't break easily. The dumpling was juicy with succulent prawns, crunchy water chestnuts and refreshing spinach. I always lament the lack of veggies in Dim Sum, so this suits me well.
Next up was the Braised Pork Belly Bun Chaozhou Style 鲍汁扣肉包 ($3.60). I'm a big fan of Pork Belly. Give me anything Pork Belly and I would be a happy gal. The bun here was very soft and pork belly very tender. Not too oily and nice proportion of bun to meat. Would be better if more juice can ooze out from the bun but considering that a leaner cut of meat was used hence less sinful, I was satisfied.
The third Dim Sum was Pan Fried Black Sesame Cake 豆沙煎软饼 ($3.90). Not a fan of red bean but when paired with this mochi, it was not bad at all. I like it that it was served warm with interesting combination of crisp mochi skin, QQ mochi, smooth red bean  paste and nice aroma of toasted black sesame. Hmmm, would even be better if a bit of savoury ingredient could be added for even more depth to the item. Ok, I'm asking for too much.
From the Soup selection, we had the Double Boiled Old Yellow Melon Soup 八宝老黄瓜炖盅 ($8.00). Oh, this soup I must rave about it!!! The presentation was interesting; the centre of the yellow melon was dug out and filled with generous amounts of bite-size pork, prawns, sea cucumber, mushroom and lotus seeds and the entire melon was double boiled. This method of cooking retains heat of the soup well which is really thoughtful.  
I don't really like old yellow melon soup but this, I was slurping mouthful after mouthful as the soup was really sweet.


From the Marinated/BBQ Selection, we had the Braised Platter Chaozhou Style 潮州卤水拼 ($10.00). The braised sauce was nice and duck meat very tender. I also like the duck wing which was very chewy and flavourful being well marinated with the braised sauce. The duck gizzard was a bit too tough though. There was also silken tofu which paired quite well with the braised sauce too. Unfortunately the chilli sauce didn't make the cut for me, not spicy and sourish enough.
A new item from the Main Dish selection, Battered Fried Oyster 金钱蚝仔酥 ($8.00). Rather disappointed with this dish as there was no taste of oyster at all and the batter was overwhelmed by salt and pepper. I thought the dip of thai-style chilli sauce was a bit too casual, probably could have concocted something more special.
The Steamed Pomfret Chaozhou Style 潮式蒸仓鱼 ($22.00), signature dish of Teochews fared well. White pomfret (supposedly the most coveted pomfret species) was used and for the generous size and affordable price, this was a really good catch (pun intended). The broth was very light and fish meat fresh and sweet. Definitely a must-order!

The restaurant also started a Lunch Special consisting of a steamed rice and soup. We tried the Steamed Rice with Spare Ribs 原盅豆豉排骨饭, and soup of the day 每日例汤 ($6.90) was Winter Melon soup. I enjoyed the steamed rice which was tasty with the spare rib sauce. But the spare rib was a little starchy. As for the soup, well, after tasting the Double Boiled Old Yellow Melon Soup, this paled in comparison. Nonetheless, this is definitely a value-for-money set.
For veggies, we had the Chao Yang Four Treasure Vegetables 潮阳四宝蔬 ($9.00). The four treasures were long cabbage, tofu, three mushrooms (shiitake, button and straw) as well as ginko nuts. The braised sauce was good and paired well with the veggies especially the long cabbage which was cooked till very tender and soft.
From the Porridge selection, we tried the Pomfret Porridge Chaozhou Style 潮州仓鱼粥 ($12.00) which came in an urn-like pot (like those old-time urn used to prepare medicinal soup), I guess to retain heat? Once again, serving was generous for its price. Apparently, a whole pomfret was used to cook the porridge. The broth was very sweet and fish meat fresh. But I did have one piece of meat which was a tad fishy.
Yeah, we've come to Desserts!!! Yam Paste with Gingko Nut and Pumpkin 福果芋泥 ($4.90) is a must-have for Teochew cuisine. I used to look forward to dessert during wedding banquets if Orh Nee was served =D The pumpkin was a nice touch and together with the ginko nut made the otherwise plain-looking yam paste looked so much more refined and appetizing. The Yam Paste was really smooth and light and most importantly not oily and not too sweet.
The Homemade Soya Beancurd 桶仔豆腐花 ($4.50 for 2 pax. $7.00 for 4 pax) is a hot favourite sold at Chaozhou Inn's sister eatery, Sweet Spring, so they brought it over. Quite a cute idea to serve it in a tub like this :) The beancurd was so smooth just like silken tofu. I didn't even need to add the sugar syrup.
We ended the tasting session with the latest creation Sweet Potato Paste with Pineapple. The paste was so smooth and creamy as sugar and butter was added, but a tad too sweet for our liking. Instead of just canned pineapples which looked boring and plain, probably could think of other ingredients to complement the paste and enhance the presentation.

All in all, I was impressed with the quality of the food yet affordable pricing, attentive service and warm hospitality of Chaozhou Inn. Would certainly recommend to my friends and family. Already thinking of bringing my family there for our next gathering and can't wait to try the other dishes.

Thank you to Sharon once again for the invitation and hospitality.

Chaozhou Inn
80 Marine Parade Road, B1-84D,
Parkway Parade, Singapore 449269
(65) 6346-6617
czparkway@chaozhouinn.com
http://www.chaozhouinn.com/index.html

Bittergourd, Chicken & Tomato Curry

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As a child, I disliked bittergourd for its bitter taste and would shun whatever dish my mum whipped up with bittergourd. However, recent years I began to appreciate and like the bitterness of the fruit and more importantly, the health benefits. Sign of getting old? LOL!

Previously when I was still working, I never cook bittergourd since hubby doesn't like it. But since I'm now a SAHM, I have every opportunity to use ingredients that hubby doesn't like for my own lunch. It's also a chance for me to experiment certain dishes and if good, add on to our dinner menu list.

After trying the Stir Fry Bittergourd with Roast Pork, I searched the net for recipes using bittergourd and came across this very interesting dish, Bitter Melon Tomato Curry. I knew I have to give it a try, can imagine the flavours of tangy tomato with spicy curry!

The original recipe uses bittergourd and tomato only. As I want to make it a one-pot dish, I added chicken and pineapple. I thought the addition of pineapple might give the curry a tinge of sweetness. In fact, I think veggies like okra (lady fingers) and brinjal could be added as well =D

 Ingredients (serves 2-3 pax)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 small size bittergourd or 3/4 medium size bittergourd
  • 1 slice pineapple, cut into slices
  • 5-6 pieces of chicken fillet, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • Salt, black pepper, mixed herbs to taste
 Steps
  1. Remove centre core of bittergourd and cut into thin strips. To lessen bitterness, soak in salt water for at least 5 mins.
  2. Marinate chicken pieces with some salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pot, add garlic and shallot. Fry till fragrant. Add chicken pieces and fry till chicken turns colour. Add the tomato, bittergourd and pineapple.
  4. Stir-fry for 3 mins, then add cumin, tumeric and curry powder. Fry till all the ingredients are coated with the powder.
  5. Add enough water to cover 1/2 to 3/4 of the ingredients. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the ingredients are bubbling, turn to low heat and simmer for about 10 mins or till bittergourd turns soft (I like it soft). Add salt, black pepper and mixed herbs to taste.
  7. Serve hot with rice, prata or naans.

Instead of rice, I had my curry with prata.

I think I could have added a tad too much water as the curry became slightly watery. Nevertheless I love this soupy version and was slurping up all the curry =) I guess one could not go wrong with the wonderful aromas and tastes of spices. I thought all the ingredients were well complemented by the curry and the curry was in fact not spicy at all due to additions of tomato and pineapple.

Shall let hubby try and see if he likes it as well. And next time I could explore with more ingredients like okra and brinjal too. Meanwhile, will be searching for more recipes using bittergourd. Stay tune!

Stir Fry Veg with Roast Pork Part II - in Spicy Bean Sauce

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Following my previous post on Stir Fry Veg with Roast Pork, I found a recipe by Amy of Cooking Crave - Stir Fried Bittergourd with Roast Pork and the interesting part was the use of Chilli/Spicy Bean Sauce. Prior to this, I have never thought of using Spicy Bean Sauce in my stir fry dishes but after this, I'm totally obsessed addicted! The chilli bean sauce can enhance the flavour of the dish and whet the appetite due to the spiciness and saltiness; you'll certainly ask for more rice to go along with the dish!

The bitterness of the bittergourd was complimented by the spicy and salty bean sauce. I'm not really a fan of bittergourd but with this dish, I would say I'm addicted!
In fact, it was so good that I tried 2 other veg with roast pork to go along with the bean sauce.


The next veg I tried was leeks. Leeks are in season now, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and true enough, it was good as well! People who don't like the pungent smell of leeks would probably shun this but the spicy bean sauce sort of mellowed the taste and added a unique flavour to the dish.

The third veg I tried was my favourite veg, celery. I LOVE celery! Some people hate the smell and taste but I just love it =D Needless to say, celery went well with the spicy bean sauce as well.

So I would say I'm really happy with my new found condiment, the chilli bean sauce! There are a number of brands available in supermarket and this brand is highly recommended by my mum.

And here is the recipe, taken with reference from Cooking Crave (big thanks to Amy for sharing the recipe), slightly adjusted to my personal preference.

Stir Fry Bitter Gourd or Leeks or Celery With Roasted Pork in Spicy Bean Sauce (serves 1-2 pax)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bitter gourd or 1-2 stalks of leeks or 5-6 stalks of celery

  • 1/2 small carrot

  • 150 - 200 g roasted pork

  • 1 - 1.5 tbsp spicy bean paste (depends on how spicy and salty you like it to be)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1-2 tsp oil (for stir-frying)

  • Some water, about 50ml to 100ml
Steps

1a) Cut the bitter gourd into half, use spoon to remove the seed. Slice into 1/2cm thick (I bought ready sliced ones that come with carrots from Sheng Siong Supermarket and use half a packet). To reduce bitterness of the bitter gourd, place the sliced bitter gourd into a bowl and sprinkle some salt on it, make sure all the bitter gourd are well coated with salt. Leave for 15-30mins before rinsing with water.

1b) For leeks, remove root portion and slice diagonally into 2cm pieces.

1c) For celery, slightly peel/remove the harder fibre and slice diagonally into 1cm pieces.

2) Slice the roast pork into bite size pieces. Slice the carrots into thin pieces.

3) Heat the oil in the wok and stir in the smashed garlic until slightly brown and fragrant. Add the roast pork and stir fry for a few minutes until slightly brown. Add the spicy bean paste. Continue to cook till aromatic and a little bit dry (lower the fire at this time).

4) Add the bitter gourd/leeks/celery and continue to stir fry for a few minutes, let the veg coat with bean paste. Pour in some water and let it simmer in low fire for 5-10 mins depends whether you like the veg to be softer or more crunchy. Personally I prefer my bittergourd to be soft, leeks medium and celery still crunchy.

5) Taste the dish and adjust taste by adding some salt and sugar. I find the bean sauce saltish enough so did not add any other seasonings. Sugar is also not necessary for me as the bean sauce has sugar in it already.

6) Serve hot, perfect with a bowl of rice!

Baked Potato with Ham & Cheese, Baked Tomato with Salmon & Egg

After the Chinese-style Savoury Bread & Pudding, the next 2 recipes I attempted from my new cook book 小小米桶的零油煙廚房 were Baked Potato with Ham & Cheese and Baked Tomato with Salmon & Egg. I thought they are quite a cute couple =D


Ingredients (this recipe is for 4 pax, 1/2 potato each)

  • 3 medium sized potatos (I use pre-washed US potato)

  • 2 slices of ham - cut into very small pieces

  • Some shredded mozzarella cheese

  • Some dried pasley flakes

  • 2 tbsp fresh milk

  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese powder

  • Some freshly cracked black pepper

  • Some salt

  • Optional ingredients: corn kernels, sausage, bacon etc.
Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius.

  2. Wash and scrub the potatoes. Cut 2 of the potatoes into halves. Steam the 4 halves and 1 whole potatoes until cooked, then dig the potato from the 4 halves, leaving just a bit of potato round the rim of the skin.

  3. Mash the potato from the 4 halves as well as the whole potato, add ham pieces, fresh milk, parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper and mix thoroughly.

  4. Spoon the mashed potato mixture into the 4 halves of potato skins.

  5. Top with shredded cheese and pasley flakes.

  6. Bake for about 5 to 10 mins till cheese turns golden brown.
Hmmm... looks delish! I think potato and cheese are match made in heaven.

Ingredients (for 4 pax, I halved the recipe)

  • 4 medium size cooking tomatoes (beef tomatoes preferably)

  • 1/2 can of tuna or salmon (I use salmon)

  • 1 hard boil egg

  • 1/3 Jap cucumber

  • 2 tbsp sweet corn kernels

  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp mayonaise

  • Some shredded cheese

  • Some pasley flakes
Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degree celsius.

  2. Cut hard boil egg and cucumber into cubes. Mix the tuna/salmon with the egg, cucumber, corn kernels, mayonaise thoroughly.

  3. Wash the tomatoes, slice open the top and dig out the flesh such that it becomes a holder. Slice the base so that the tomato stands well.

  4. Spoon the mixture from (1) into the tomato holder. Top with shredded cheese and pasley flakes.

  5. Bake for 5 to 10 mins until cheese turns golden brown.
*Since I prepare both recipes together, I bake both potato and tomato together at 220 degree celsius for about 10 mins.

Hmmm, looks good as well.

Now for the taste test!

This was SO GOOD. Potato, ham and cheese couldn't go wrong! I even ate the skin, haha.
The tomato was delish too!. Juicy and tangy tomato, creamy mayo salmon, bites of refreshing and crunchy cucumber and corn kernels, topped with sticky gooey cheese... YUMS!

Looking forward to try more recipes from the cook book!