Jing Hua Xiao Chi @ Palais Renaissance: The Classics Still SO Good!

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Jing Hua Restaurant has been around for 26 years(!) and specializes in variations of Chinese Dumplings and an uncommonly-seen Chinese Pizza. A deep-fried Pastry in the shape of a pizza and stuffed with minced pork and chives – which were effectively fillings of the dumplings. It was also the first place when I tried and swiftly fell in love with Crispy Red Bean Pancake.

I have not been to Jing Hua in the longest time. On my last trip to the main-Neil Road branch years back, right after it went through a makeover, I found the dumplings a little lacklustre and uninspirational. Fast forward to the past Sunday afternoon, my family hit up the Palais Reinanssance branch and I am DELIGHTED to tell you all that their famed dumplings were BETTER THAN EVER.

That afternoon we ordered our collective weight’s worth of food as our love for Chinese dumplings were reinforced and strong! Not every dish on the menu was excellent but the stalwarts were stellar: Pan Fried Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings 三鲜锅贴 (addictive little nuggets. It was hard to stop at one or three!), Chinese Pizza 三鲜盒子 (solid pastry), and Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings 三鲜饺子 (healthier steamed dumplings but STUFFED with meat and so delectable). My one true love, Crispy Red Bean Pancake, went straight to my heart with the generous thick and sweet red bean paste contained by a doughy fried pancake.

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They were in short, quite splendid.

New dishes (I never saw in the Neil Road branch pre-makover): long sticks of minced pork and green bean-stuff Fried Spring Rolls will see us return for more. Crispy Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings 三鲜饺子, fried version of the Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings 三鲜饺子 was equally as appetizing. Especially when the hot pork-broth bursts out when bit into. The little Rice Dumplings Balls filled with an assortment of Red Bean, Peanut and Sesame, made most of us happy campers.

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There were some dishes we definitely won’t be ordering again: Noodle with Minced Pork & Soya Bean Sauce 炸酱面, Noodle with Sliced Pork & Sichuan Vegetable 搾菜肉丝面, and Green Vegetables. Them three were terribly under-seasoned and lacked “oomph”; we collectively agreed these dishes could be better. If I had to douse the noodles with the complimentary black vinegar, there is no point isn’t it? Still this ONLY meant the next time, we will skip them and have more room for the sublime stalwarts.

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One of the best part of the Palais branch is the modern and fine decor. Located in Orchard Road but surprisingly quiet on a Sunday afternoon, I foresee being loads of visiting-friends to Jing Hua. It makes for the perfect respite from the hear outside and delicious grub, yeah can’t wait to plan my return trip!

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And that Crispy Lotus Seed Pancake is next on my Jing Hua-bucket list! 🙂

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Seng Kee Bak Kut Teh: Exceptional Braised Pork Knuckle!

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If not for social media websites such as Burpple or Instagram, I think my life would be one boring tasteless journey. Because if not for them two, we would never have discovered some seriously sublime braised pork trotters from Seng Kee Bak Kut Teh in Chong Boon Market & Food Centre. This afternoon, my Dad needed to visit a bicycle shop nearby and our hungry selves prevented us from exploring further than the food centre just across the road. A quick Google search saw many recommendations for a particular BKT stall. Never one to resist pork, we made a beeline for it. At the stall, there was so much activity going on and the lack of menu rendered us lost. So my Dad and I stood aside to watch many bowls of Teochew-style BKT, Braised Pork Knuckle, and braised Tau Kee (beancurd skin) with salted vegetables served up; we followed suit. For $17 we got ourselves a feast!

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When ordering we learned from the unbelievably kind and good-natured Uncle at the stall that we could choose between the Lean or Fatty braised pork knuckle. Thank goodness my Dad quickly said lean. If not for his health-consious self, we would have missed out on this huge piece of knuckle with the most tender meat hanging on to the bone. Plus the aromatic sauce quickly got us addicted!

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When my chopsticks first pieced the leg, it met with little resistance and the meat so casually pulled apart. I was impressed right there and then! But when I bit into it, it was first-bite magic. I forgot all other pork knuckles as the deliciousness overwhelmed me.

As for the namesake-BKT itself. Not that it was bad but the broth was in desperate need of more seasoning. I like my Teochew-style BKT sneeze-inducing peppery. That, only Rong Chen in Sin Ming has achieved with aplomb so far. However the uber thick but tender small pork rib was still pretty impressive with a slight “QQ” (crunch) that could be felt on first bite. On my next visit, I will remember to throw in to the soup the little saucer of black soy sauce and red-cut chilli.

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The braised Tau Kee (beancurd skin) and Salted Vegetables may have also been in a dark thick sauce but was markedly different from the Braised Pork Knuckles. ANOTHER aromatic but richer thick sauce, we liked the extra effort that went into preparing a completely different stew.

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My Mum is not into BKT (I will never understand why) so she went a few stalls down and ordered an equally-highly recommended but anaemic-looking Kway Chap. For $10.50, this mammoth plate was filled with SO MANY pieces of fresh-tasting small pork intestines, firm beancurd, fishcake (yay!), pork stomach, thin strips of pork belly and…

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Tongue! Oh holy pork was this pretty heavenly! YUMMMM

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Seng Kee BKT surprised us in the best way possible. Good affordable food prepared with so much passion and effort. There were many big metal pots of goodness bubbling away in the little stall. This was hawker food at its finest!

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Many dishes such as the large steamed fish and even the lean braised pork knuckle were sold out before 1pm so go early or be disappointed.

Guzman Y Gomez @ Asia Square Tower: Carby but YUMS

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FINALLY! After months of procrastination, I finally got my hands on Guzman Y Gomez in Asia Square’s Food Garden and was impressed! From the fragrant, saucy and tender slow roasted pork sandwiched in the impossibly-crisp Fried Taco shell to the Spicy Grilled Chicken Burrito that was jam-packed with large cubes of juicy chicken, black beans, rice and cheese with a spicy sauce harmonising all components, my best friend and I were blown away. Our two dishes were perfectly seasoned and aromatic! I craved for no additional salt. After my dismal meal in Mex-out, my expectations for Guzman was low but the obvious high quality food offered has now set my Mexican-food-standard very high. You know what else was pretty spectacular? The three complimentary sauces that was addictive and one could help yourselves to their heart’s content. Ranging from tongue-numbing spicy to a slightly-sweet BBQ-like sauce. My bestie and I found ourselves eating the thick sauces straight out of the small cardboard sauce bowl. Guzman Y Gomez has gotten me very excited about food again!

Poulet: Please Open in Raffles Place!

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Unbelievably I have never tried Poulet before. You would have thought that a F&B-eager beaver like me would have conquered this French Bistro chain before it even opened their second branch? Well, no. But 10 branches later, I finally tried the famed Poulet Roti at their Raffles City branch. Let me tell you, I have been missing out big time. Because this afternoon I had really good Roast Chicken!

Served with creamy fresh button mushroom Chardonnay sauce and fresh spinach, I could not believe how tender and fresh-tasting the chicken was. My metal knife sliced through every bit so easily – I swear a plastic knife would have easily accomplished this feat too. And when I sliced into the thigh area, a whole puddle of juices flowed out. So impressive! The beautiful blistered-brown skin also stood out for its sweet caramelisation and crispness.

Around the internet, many people criticize the cream sauce. I liked it. Sure, it was not thick and creamy but that is precisely why it scored brownie points with me. Diluted cream evidenced more water than cream –> less calories. I happily slurped up the liquidy-cream, all the while imagining it was low cal. Haha.

As luck would have it, I had two plates this afternoon! You see, I was halfway through my first half-chicken (above picture), and having gobbled up all the button mushrooms and spinach, when the parts near the bone started bleeding out. It was not a pretty sight. But the service staff was so bloody efficient and apologetic when she saw the blood flowing out. She quickly removed the plate and replaced me with another beautiful half.

I scored myself more spinach and mushrooms. What a wonderful first visit!

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Raffles Place-peeps might understand that our only roast chicken option is the chain that begins with Rosti. Quite frankly, the stale roast chicken from the chain is getting from bad to worse. (Don’t get me started on the Fish & Chips. It is a perfect example of how fried food can go wrong) Sure, price-wise, Poulet is more expensive given there are no sides like green peas, cauliflower gratin or salad. But for much tastier roast chicken, I will take Poulet any day. So Poulet owners, please please please open a branch in Raffles Place soon! Poulet is the perfect place to get our roast chicken fix.