What’s up with all the modern Chinese restaurants opening up in Singapore?
After restaurants in the likes of Sum Yi Tai, Birds Of A Feather, Full Of Luck Restaurant, Blue Lotus and Lokkee, NEW-to-the-market Chinese restaurants include Forbidden Duck, Madam Fan, Qi – House Of Sichuan and Zui Hong Lou are fighting for a similar slice of the pie.
I was intrigued by the name of “Zui Hong Lou” at 90 Club Street, which literally translates as “Drunk Red House”.
People who watch enough period Cantonese dramas or read martial arts novels would know there is a certain connotation for the name, which typically means a raunchy den.
Tell the traditional Chinese mum that you are going “Zui Hong Lou”, and she would give you that-look.
I also wondered at its website that states it serves “progressive rich people Chinese food”. What is that?
The restaurant-bar serves up contemporary Asian dishes in a no-frills environment, with more than two dozen lucky cat figurines lining the bar. Hope those maneki-neko work.
While many similar places often have pricey menu, I was glad the price-point was still kept relatively comfortable to order more items.
Signature Zui Hong Lou small plates include Braised Pork Belly Bao ($9), Soup Dumplings ($7), Kung Pow Baby Octopus ($8), Crispy Squid ($8), and Szechuan Fries ($6); with some big plates such as Whole Fish Asian Style ($28), Soupy Clams ($16) and Tonkatsu ($14).
The Bao which came in other flavours of Crispy Chicken, Beef Rendang, Deep Fried Dory and “Healthy” Organic Japanese Yam was decent, though didn’t excite enough.
The braised pork belly was melt-in-the-mouth soft, but the bun which was slightly dry and lacked of the fluffiness, was the weakest link.
I wished they could break some boundaries to akin to what Little Bao in Hong Kong did.
Despite just returning from China and feasted on a staple of Chinese cuisine, I still relished the Ma Po Tofu ($7) which surprisingly came cold with an addictive spicy-sweet glaze.
The Chong Qing Wings ($10) which were double-fried and tossed in Ma La spices were addictively salty and spicy in a good way, with a similar sensation of eating a snack out of a bag.
What was unexpectedly delicious were the Szechuan Fries ($6) which brought curly fries to another level with its spicy Szechuan BBQ dip.
I say (with no offence to anyone), this is better than those you get from the local fast-food restaurants.
I reckon what Zui Hong Lou needs is to polish up some of the weaker dishes, and have more stand-out big plates – there are currently only four. Would love to be surprised at what there is to come.
Zui Hong Lou
90 Club Street Singapore 069458
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm – 2:30pm (Mon – Sat); Dinner 6pm – 1am (Mon – Thurs, Sat), 6pm – 2am (Fri)