Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chen Li Yuan, Tanjong Pagar

This eatery (72 Tanjong Pagar) does Northern Chinese cuisine. I've been hearing about them from a couple of sources. After a bit of asking around and reading, I decided to do dinner with the family. Even though I had some idea of what to expect from friends whom have eaten at this here, some things turned out pretty unexpected. For one, the restaurant looked a lot older than I had in mind. The heavily accented Chinese spoken by the people running the place was also difficult to understand. There were also hits and misses from the food. We left with a mixed feelings about the restaurant. On the bright side, the prices here were rather affordable. This dinner for seven people came up to just about $97 and the portions aren't too stingy.

fried Mao's pork

I think I got the name of this greasy and spicy pork belly dish right. I had the impression from somewhere that the slices of pork belly would be thicker but these were thinly sliced. Reminded me of bacon. There was also actually much less meat than it looked because most of the plate is filled with onions and chillies. This could have been pretty good with beer from all the flavour but I thought that portions of meat needs to go up. No one orders Mao's pork for the vegetables.

braised lamb ribs

The spiced braised lamb ribs were good. If I come back again, this would be on the re-order list. I couldn't help but compare with a disappointing rendition of lamb ribs which I have had recently. For the record that this one was many times more satisfying than that was. The tender braised meat had enough of the natural lamb flavours which had not been drowned out by the sauces. Meat also easily slid off the bone. Good stuff here not to be missed if you enjoy lamb. There were some sliced egg tofu on the sides which looked oddly out of place. I'm not too sure what to make out of them, but since I do like them, I thought it was good with the sauce from the dish.

fried pumpkin slices in salted yolk

We had some praises for these pumpkin slices. They were sweet, much like sweet potatoes and were great when eaten hot. The only gripe would be that the salted egg yolk lacked flavour and was mostly just salty. I've developed a recent liking for salted yolk things. Having them on fried pumpkin slices was a refreshing change to the usual prawn rendition that everyone is doing. 

marinated duck's tongue

I didn't expect the duck tongue to have bones (the spiny or feeler like things that you see) in them. Was eating them for the first time. The flavour 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. Haha! I'm sure I didn't feel that way about eating gyutan from Kazu and I don't understand why this one did so. I'm probably not going to order them again.

xiao long bao

The xiao long baos here were disappointing. This was probably one of the worst ones that I've ever had. The dumplings were dry and had little or no juice in them. They were also served barely lukewarm. No worries about scalded tongue here. All of us had expected the meat under the skin to be bursting with hot juices. I meant, that's one of the reasons why we eat them too right? They looked pretty good when they were served.

broccoli, egg white, fish and dried scallops

This broccoli and shredded fish dish was nice. Predictably nice. There always seems to be a broccoli and a seafood dish about in most Chinese restaurants and this one definitely looks to be just one of them. I had forgotten to add vinegar and also didn't really taste any of the dried scallops that is supposed to be in the dish. But it was still good the same.

shredded pork with poh piah skin

The shredded pork here were regular shredded stir fried pork. Their sauce was rather flavourful and the chives added flavour and texture. The dish was served with flour skins. What you had to do is to wrap the pork and vegetables in those skins and eat them. Like a fajita if you would.

caramelised apple

One of the highlights of the dinner were this caramelized apples. These apples were battered and deep fried and then coated in hot caramel. Accompanying them were bowls of cold water. What you had to do was to dunk the hot apple slices in to the water to harden the caramel surface which would then form a crispy and sticky shell.

What I liked about it was that the citrus flavour of the fruit was intact and was essential in balancing the sweetness from the caramel on the surface. They had to be eaten fast since the caramel cooled pretty quickly and would stick the apple slices on the plate. The apples remained hot for quite a while and oddly, it came with rainbow sprinkles on the top. Pretty sure they were meant to be purely cosmetic.

red bean snow buns

These "incredible shrinking" puffs of egg white are quite common as Chinese desserts. They're stuffed with red bean paste and are suppose to be light and fluffy. These ones here were unfortunately not so fluffy as the egg white skins were dense and a little heavy. The sugar coated puffs looked huge when they arrived one could literally see them shrink slowly. The taste was otherwise quite the norm.

1 comment:

The Hungry Cow said...

My first and so far only taste of duck tongue was in Taiwan. I remembered it to be small chewy bits of meat (cartilage?) that were addictive. Haven't seen them here...till now! Thanks.