This eatery (72 Tanjong Pagar) professes to do northern Chinese cuisine and I've been hearing about them from a couple of sources. After a bit of asking around and reading, I decided to drop by for dinner and check out the food. Even though I had some idea of what to expect from friends whom have eaten at this place, some things turned out pretty unexpected. For one, the place looks a little older than I had expected even though I specifically informed that it was so. For another, the heavily accented chinese spoken by the people running the place was a tad difficult to understand. There were also hits and misses which I didn't really see coming from the food so, I left with a mixed feelings about the restaurant. On the plus side of things, the prices of the food here are actually rather affordable. This dinner for 7 people came up to just about $97 and the portions are, if not generous, are sufficient.
I think I got the name of this greasy and spicy pork belly dish right. I had the impression from nowhere that the slices of pork belly would be thicker thinking of regular stir fried pork, but these are actually quite thinly sliced reminding me of bacon. There is also actually much less meat than it seems because most of the plate is filled with onions and chillies. The pork slices is actually something that would pretty good with beer because of the spice and oil and my main gripe with this is that the portions of meat should be more plentiful.
The spiced braised lamb ribs here is rather good and if I do ever come back again, this is bound to be something on my list to be ordered. I can't help but place a comparison to a disappointing rendition of lamb ribs which I have had recently and I must say that this particular one is many times more satisfying than that was. The tenderly braised meat has enough of it's natural flavors, not being overwhelmed by the sauces and quite easily slides of the bone. Good stuff here not to be missed if you enjoy lamb. There are some sliced tofu of irregular thickness that are placed along the sides of the dish and looked rather out of place. I'm not too sure what to make out of them, but since I do like tofu, I thought it was rather good with the sauce from the dish.
I have some praises for these pumpkin slices which come across as sweetish, much like sweet potatoes and are great when eaten hot. One minor gripe would be that the salted egg yolk on the surface lacks the taste of yolk and is mostly just salty. I've developed a recent liking for salted yolk prawns and having them on hot fried pumpkin slices is a refreshing change to the usual prawn versions. There's a thing about having sweet and saltiness together in some things that carry an appeal which I cannot quite explain or express about liking them.
I didn't expect the duck tongue to have bones (the spiny or feeler like things that you see) in them as I'm having them for the first time. The flavoring of the marinate was pretty good but as I ate them, I couldn't help myself from thinking that they were tongues and after a while, it got kind of creepy. This was especially so when the meat started to get cold. I'm sure I didn't feel that way about eating grilled cow's tongue from Kazu and I can't really understand why this one did so. I'm probably not going to order them again.
The xiao long baos here are simply disappointing. This is probably the worst ones that I've ever had. The dumplings came dry with little or no juice in them. They were also barely lukewarm and I didn't have any problems with popping the whole dumpling into my mouth without having to fear the repercussions of a scalded tongue. I had expected the meat under the skin to be bursting with hot juices and really, that's one of the main essences of having them. Unfortunately this was not the case with the ones here. They actually looked pretty good as they were served.
This broccoli and shredded fish dish was something that I enjoyed even though it looked very predictable in terms of taste. There seems to be a broccoli and a certain seafood dish about in most Chinese restaurants and this one definitely looks to be just one of them. I pretty much forgot to add the accompanying vinegar and didn't taste any of the dried scallops that is supposed to be in the dish, but it was still good the same.
The shredded pork here is pretty much regular of shredded stir fried pork, but the saltish sauce that it was cooked in was rather flavorful and the accompanying chives at the bottom does help in adding an addtional dimension of flavor and crunch. The result was hence quite savoury. The dish was served with poh piah skins on another plate and bascially what you had to do is to wrap the pork and vegetables in those skins and eat them with your hands.
One of the highlights of the dinner was this caramelized apples which are basically battered and fried slices of apple coated in hot caramel. Accompanying this dish were two bowls of cold water and what you did was to dunk the hot apple slices in to the water to harden the caramel surface forming a crispy and sticky shell. The great thing about these apple slices was that the citrus flavor of the fruit was intact and was pretty essential in balancing the sweetness of the caramelised surface. It all has to be eaten fast since the caramel cooled pretty quickly and stuck the apple slices on the plate. Strangely, the apples remained hot and stranger still, we get a token sprinkling of those rainbow bits on the top. I'm pretty sure they were meant purely to be cosmetic in purpose.
These "incredible shrinking" puffs of egg white are quite common as desserts and are suppose to be light and fluffy. The ones in this place were unfortunately not really fluffy as the egg white skins were more on the dense and heavy side. The sugar coated puffs looked huge when they arrived and you could basically see them shrink slowly before your eyes into a much smaller size. The taste was otherwise quite the norm for these things with the hot red bean paste fillings under the sugar coated puffs.