Steamed threadfin fillet topped with preserved mustard greens
For years, the grand dames of Teochew dining – Hung Kung and Huat Kee – have held on tightly to their braised goose turf without so much as a hiccup. Teochew eatery, Chao Shan Cuisine, looks set to challenge the old order.
Chao Shan proprietor, Ah Liang, hails from the Teochew family of cooks behind Guan Hin Restaurant, before he decided to venture out to start his own restaurant. His spiffy independent Teochew outfit is set in a shop house unit on the bustling Beach Road, opposite Shaw Towers.
It’s an awkwardly tight unembellished space and filled with linen-blanketed tables and an unsavoury mish-mash of plastic chairs, but don’t let the areal camouflage deter you from Ah Liang’s 30 years of cooking experience. The ten tables crammed onto the outdoor pavement at our time of visit didn’t.
Braised goose meat
True to expected form, the braised goose meat (small, $18) arrives as slim tiles resting on bricks of firm toufu in a fragrant dark gravy brew. Another classic Teochew crowd pleaser is the crayfish (seasonal, $40 for 6) – lightly steamed and strewn with a riot of yellow chives, ginger and sliced mushrooms. Served in a shallow pool of its own broth, the crayfish was disarmingly voluptuous. At first glance, it appeared moderately sized but when deshelled, the crayfish flesh was plump and voluptuous as it was savoury.
Veer off the classics and take a chance with the fish: the seasonal steamed threadfin fillet topped with preserved mustard greens ($23 for 2 slices) is a clear, refreshing dish, and the wok-fried oysters in a light black bean sauce ($16) hold perfectly-cooked oysters that still retain their raw flavour.
The crab meat bean curd ($15) tossed with shreds of barely-cooked eggs stood out with ground BBQ leatherjacket (or skipjack) fish and crab meat.
Wok-fried oysters in a light black bean sauce
For dessert, the crisp fried water chestnut cake crowned with crushed peanuts ($12) will have you snuggling up in the seat. But don’t get comfortable and linger – Nancy, Ah Liang’s wife, will swoop down and watch your table like a hawk for the next customer. We reckon that’s fine if you factor in the absence of service charge.
Chao Shan Cuisine restaurant at Beach Road
Rating – Food: 4.5/5; Service: 3/5; Ambience: 2.5/5; Value: 3/5
85 Beach Road
Tel: 6336 2390
Opening hours: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10pm (Daily)