Being half a Teochew, finding a new Teochew Porridge Restaurant, or more correctly said a revamped one, gave me a sense of simple happiness and nostalgia.
ChaoZhou Porridge at River Valley Road, near the ‘clubbing street’ of Mohamed Sultan Road, has been a pleasant place to satisfying these Teochew Muay cravings – wide selection, personable service, in a comfortable air-conditioned environment.
My staple of Teochew porridge has also been around the Jalan Bukit Ho Swee area, where friends would order MANY dishes because we each have our own favourites.
Dining at ChaoZhou Porridge generally cost us about twice more, but we enjoyed the ambience and quality of the dishes. .
The Teochew style of porridge has been called “rice plus water”. ChaoZhou’s style Is more to that, prepared by immersing rice into boiling water then cooked under high heat. Such a process splits, separates and makes the rice grain soft.
Compare this to the Cantonese counterpart which is cooked till the rice becomes disintegrated, smooth-textured like thin gruel, flavourful.
My family would call this the “labourer’s porridge”, as it origins is closely linked to the Teochews adding water to rice to expand the staple and save money. The light porridge has also been described as 半山半水“half-mountain, half-water.” More poetic definitely.
At ChaoZhou, I would order the Steamed Meat Ball with Porridge Water ($5.50), with two plump slight salty pork-vegetable balls immersed in plain-tasting porridge water, otherwise known as “um”.
Dishes to savour are divided into Cold; Steamed; Braised; Deep-fried; Boiled Vegetables as well the ChaoZhou signatures. The Head Chef accordingly has travelled to Chaoshan to learn from the best chefs and acquire local recipes.
If you want to have a mix of everything, give the Braised Delights Platter ($16.90) a go, which includes tender braised duck pieces, pork belly, large intestines, egg, beancurd and tau pok in rich dark sauce.
Year. The duck meat is braised for a rich taste, before being repeatedly soaked in brine to lock in the fragrance.
Having back to ChaoZhou Porridge a few times, I am now more carefully with over-ordering as the price can get unexpectedly high.
There are a few standout dishes with its updated menu.
The Braised Radish with Seafood Sauce ($20) was served in a hotstone brimming with premium-grade radish, sliced into bite-size pieces and then braised in seafood sauce for an hour.
The dish was brimming with flavours permeated into the radish pieces, the sauce soaked right into the core. In Chinese, we would call it “ru wei”. Oh, and the zup into the porridge was so oomph.
Another dish you can try is the Scalded Miniatus Grouper with Cordyceps Flowers ($38) where the miniatus grouper is divided into pieces and then scalded in boiling water. This technique retains the fish’s firm yet smooth texture.
I have to say this. I do think there are too many new Western-style bistros, cafes, restaurants etc etc, and so I am very happy to see the restaurants like ChaoZhou opening up.
Good-tasting family-style Teochew cuisine going slightly more upmarket, I wish there are more such openings.
221 River Valley Road, Singapore 238279
Telephone: +65 6268 6763
Opening Hours: 11am – 12am