But I do acknowledge that the majority of Singaporeans would prefer their matriarchs to take a breather for once and dine out. So here is my round up for the coming rooster year.
First, and in fact, the sole one that made my list is Lan Ting. Yeah, sad isn't it when my compilation has only one entry.
Due to a decreasing popularity in the social media stakes, my Loh Hei invites are reduced to a bare minimum this year. Heck, at least I am self deprecating to admit so and secretly inside, I am at least relieved not to endure copious amounts of raw fish and trickery/golden/oversweet chinese pastries for this period.
Then again, if I were to really pick a venue for a reunion or family gathering, I will definitely stay clear of the usual overpriced suspects in town and opt for an indie selection instead. Some place where it is actually cosy and the chefs really do put up classic and traditional CNY fare that will be both hearty and comforting, without the unnecessary culinary pyrotechnics or gimmickry that are better placed in Hogwarts.
Lan Ting yusheng is straightforward and simply good. It nails the brief with finely shredded vegetables and the requisite oils and sauces. What will stand out is the plump slices of uber fresh salmon that will provide the muscle within this zesty and palate opening appetiser. And yes, messy tossing is required.
I have never been a fan of pen cai all these years, but Lan Ting's really majestic rendition threatens to make a convert out of me. It looks right. Inviting, shiny and beautifully arranged and no sloppiness is evident around the edges.
The inclusion of pan seared scallops is a touch of inspiration and the use of pig trotters with its bone in flavours ensures you will taste more than just oyster sauce here. The broth is immaculately superb, naturally sweet with all the Jing Hua ham undertones, and not overly saucy like most places.
The sea cucumber, and in particular, the mushrooms are so tender you will rejoice and marvel at how good they are braised. Then there is the pig trotter itself, which is the highlight for me. Falling apart tender, yet moist and juicy within. So so good, the price tag is definitely worth it. Simply the best pen cai for me. Ever.
|Roast Chicken with Spicy Sweet Sauce|
Judging by the colour of the skin, you will know the roasting technique here is faultless. Crisp and smoky exterior, and a nicely cooked protein interior. None of that superfluous outsourced prawn crackers which I detest.
Just a Thai inspired sweet and spicy glaze to cut through the fats makes this an ideal combination. Keeping it classic is the way to go and thankfully, none of that overwhelming truffle paste you see in some restaurants. Listen, if you are good, you don't need to insert cheap parlor tricks.
The mee sua is wok fried to perfection too. Sufficient wok breath and the noodles are well infused with broth, makes the generous serving of fresh crab meat almost too luxurious for this most hearty of carb finishes. The capsicum, though, could be better left off the dish.
|Housemade Nian Gao|
The dim sum chef is responsible for the nian gao and it hits the right spots for a non nian gao fellow like me. The brown sugar is rightly judged so it's not overpoweringly sweet and keeps a more natural tea colour as opposed to the darker variants.
The texture is ideal with just enough bite that is not too sticky nor chewy. Just enough texture to elicit biting pleasure but easy to break down after only a couple of bites.
All in all, the prices here are standard without breaking the bank. But it is the high level of cooking that impresses and seriously, if you need to pick a place to do that family gathering in the coming weeks, this is the right choice.
Lan Ting stays close to tradition and this is where they shine most brightly. No fancy or expensive inclusions, just good old fashioned Lunar New Year classics to warm the soul. Hopefully, it will charm your families as well.
907 East Coast Road