Should Chinese restaurants be left for special occasions and New Year dinners? Not to us. In fact, the light and delicate stylings of Teochew cuisine can be a welcome break away from gravy-laden steaks and creamy pastas (particularly if you're looking for somewhere to bring picky Chinese parents). So if it's a slice of Eastern cuisine you're looking for this week in Singapore, we've got the breakdown.
IMPERIAL TREASURE FINE TEOCHEW CUISINE
When you visit a one-Michelin-starred restaurant by the illustrious Imperial Treasure group, you expect nothing short of a perfect experience. At Imperial treasure Fine Teochew, the focus is mainly on mellow, refined flavours with a gourmet flourish.
A blend of cultural richness and grandeur, it's the perfect excuse to spoil the parents (or the in-laws), what with Mothers' Day just past, and Fathers' Day round the corner.
Indulge in extravagant seafood that includes a tender Braised 14 Head South Africa Abalone in Oyster Sauce (SGD$168++ each) and Sauteed Empress Clam in Teochew Style ($138++/small).
Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine is located at ION Orchard, #03-05, Singapore 238801, p. +65 67362118. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 10.30pm, Sat 11am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm, Sun 10.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm. The secondary location is at #02-01 & #03-01, 7 Wallich St, Singapore 078884, p. +65 6384 2722. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm; Sun 10.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm.
Live in the illusive North? Fear not, Swatow Seafood's outlets around Toa Payoh and Serangoon Gardens also let you in on some Teochew thrills. Serving up home-made dim sum by day and seafood delicacies by night, their modus operandi revolves around preserving the light and fresh appeal of the cuisine.
Although nestled far from the city, the atmosphere is boisterous and vibrant most days. Take your pick from their dim sum push carts laden with indulgent Abalone Kueh Pie Ti and Egg Tarts, or stop by for dinner with Cold Crab and Braised Scallop with Cabbage.
Swatow Seafood is located at Block 181 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh #02-602, Singapore 310181, p. +65 6363 1717. Open daily 8am - 10.30pm; Serangoon Gardens Country Club Heliconia Wing, 22 Kensington Park Rd, Singapore 557271, p.+65 6343 1717. Open Mon-Fri 11am - 10pm, Sat-Sun 9am - 11am.
TEOCHEW RESTAURANT HUAT KEE
Family-run for over three generations, Huat Kee's age-old brand has been fixing up plates of authentic Teochew food since 1969, with a menu that boasts classic recipes that continue to display the same level of authenticity and consistency as their Amoy Street days.
With dishes like Teochew-style stewed vegetables and jellied pork trotters, their specialty claypot menu also features Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Shark's Fin (SGD$688++ for 10 pax).
Keeping up with the young'ins, you can also visit their online store for takeaway orders of abalone and shark's fin, or order a whole Suckling Pig ($168++) to go.
Teochew Restaurant Huat Kee is located at 30 Orange Grove Rd #02-01, Singapore 258352, p. +65 6423 4747. Open Mon-Sat 11am - 2.30pm, 6pm - 10pm, Sun 10.30am - 2.30pm, 6pm - 10pm.
CHUI HUAY LIM TEOCHEW CUISINE
A steadfast resident in the 170-year-old Chui Huay Lim Club at Leng Kee Road, the restaurant holds its humble Teochew roots close with humble muay lunches with classics like Ngoh Hiang ($9++) and Oyster Omelette (SGD$12++).
Not sure where to start? Try the all-encompassing Teochew Classic Platter ($58/$98++). But home-cooked isn't all they can do: the chefs at Chui Huay Lim also flex their culinary prowess with exquisite seafood dinners.
For more pao fan options, be sure to check out their newly-opened Chao Ting Pao Fan at Telok Ayer also promises a variety of rice bathed in rich seafood stock.
Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine is located at 190 Keng Lee Rd, Singapore 308409, p. +65 6732 3637. Open Mon-Thu 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm, Fri-Sun & PH 11.30am - 3pm, 5.30pm - 11pm.
HUNG KANG TEOCHEW RESTAURANT
Even if Hung Kang is household name to many Teochew families, it doesn't matter if you're not ga gi nang (one of them), you'll still feel right at home here.
The two-storey shophouse eatery in North Canal Road, specialises in old-school homemade favourites, like the aromatic servings of braised duck, steamed pomfret, or Teochew raw fish.
For larger groups looking to treat themselves on a budget, try the Set Meal for 10 ($728++) for a taste of a glistening whole Teochew Suckling Pig with paper-thin crackling skin encasing juicy pork, or even create your own 5-course set menu.
Hung Kang Teochew Restaurant is located at 28 North Canal Rd, Poh Heng Building, Singapore 059284, p. +65 6533 5300. Open daily from 11.30am - 3pm and 6pm - 10.30pm.
CHIN LEE RESTAURANT
Having found their very own Teochew specialty restaurant, Easties were quick to mark the humble HDB-based eatery in Bedok as having the best Teochew cuisine in the region. The Homemade Teochew Prawn Ball ($12++) and signature Fried Oyster Pancake ($15++) seem to have pretty solid fanbases.
The restaurant offers a range of set meals for 10 between the $500 to $1000 price range. A bustling haunt even on weekdays, be sure to come early, and don't leave without wrapping things up with a creamy-sweet Teochew Yam Paste with Gingko Nut ($3.50++).
Chin Lee Restaurant is located at Block 115 Bedok North Rd, #01-285, Singapore 460115, p. +65 6444 5554. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am - 2.30pm, 6pm - 10.30pm, Sat, Sun & PH 11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30pm - 10.30pm.
PARADISE TEOCHEW SCOTTS SQUARE
While relatively newer than its heritage-rich counterparts, modern Chinese restaurant Paradise Teochew certainly manages to bring through the rich flavour bound to Teochew history.
Also known for being one for adorable Steamed Custard Buns ($5.80++ for 3 pieces), other popular favourites include the Chilled Yellow Roe Crab in Teochew Style ($8++) packed with sweet meat and golden roe, Braised Sliced Duck ($18++), and if the Sliced Crispy Chicken Served with Foie Gras and Fresh Fruits ($25 half/$48 whole) doesn't get your mouth watering just by the sound of it, we don't know what will.
Paradise Teochew Scotts Square is located at 6 Scotts Rd, Scotts Square, #03-04, Singapore 228209, p. +65 6538 0644. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am - 2.30pm and 6pm - 10.30pm, Sat-Sun 10.30am - 3.30pm and 6pm - 10.30pm.
This article was first published in City Nomads.