Purveyors of Teochew cuisine are known for prioritising clean and natural flavours, with dishes prepared using minimal seasoning and flavouring and cooked in ways that bring forth the freshness of each ingredient. That said, such chefs still make use of the full spectrum of Chinese cooking techniques to prepare their food: these range from steaming and poaching to braising, stir-frying and deep-frying, resulting in a delicious spread. Here’s where you can dine on some authentic Teochew fare in Singapore.
Swatow Seafood restaurant has been a stalwart in the industry ever since it was established in 2010. All three of its outlets in Toa Payoh, Serangoon Gardens Country Club and Singapore Recreation Club have a casual atmosphere and serve similar fare –healthy, fresh food with only the lightest of seasonings to bring out the natural flavours inherent in the raw ingredients. Stop by in the morning for some delicate, freshly made Teochew dim sum or head over for dinner to indulge in comfort food dishes. Signature items include the Teochew Cold Crab, a dish that is first steamed and then served cold with a generous portion of crab roe; and the tender Teochew Braised Sliced Duck with Beancurd – a staple in most Teochew eateries. Other highlights include the crispy Prawn Roll and the Chilled Jellied Pork Knuckles.
The original Liang Kee Restaurant was started in 1974 at the former Ellenborough Market by the late Ng Bak Liang, a Teochew immigrant from China. Since then, a few renditions of Liang Kee have sprung up. One of them, Mu Liang Zai Liang Kee, is at Sunset Way and is run by his fifth son, Ng Hong Seng; while the other, G7 Liang Kee Restaurant, is at Havelock Road and is run by a former Taiwanese partner (the partnership with the Ngs soured and they went their separate ways). The one we’re talking about in this piece is a non-descript spot along MacPherson Road, a cosy and family-friendly restaurant run by the late Ng’s third son Ng Siang Lin. A mix of traditional and contemporary dishes are served here: Signatures include pomfret cooked two ways, Teochew Braised Cabbage with Dried Scallop; and Teochew Braised Duck with Beancurd, while more modern fare includes the Salted Egg Chicken and Mami Pork Ribs.
Founded by the late Lee Jee Tee in 1969, Huat Kee started as a humble canteen stall before progressing to a zi char outlet; moving to a couple of locations before settling in Amoy Street; and, finally, its current location at RELC Building along Orange Grove Road. It’s now run by three generations of Lee’s family, including Madam Loh Hock Eng, the founder’s daughter-in-law, who is in her 80s. The operation is now headed by Lee’s grandson, Lee Chiang Howe. The menu here features classics prepared using authentic Teochew cooking methods, such as oyster omelette, steamed pomfret and sliced braised duck. Huat Kee also offers a range of pre-packed, ready-to-eat premium shark’s fin and abalone for corporate clients. Do contact them to find out more if you’re interested.
Chin Lee should not be a stranger to residents in the east. Located under a HDB block in Bedok North Road, the humble, fuss-free eatery has been around since 1973 and boasts a loyal fan base. It is currently helmed by chef Eric Chua who inherited the business from his father. Expect big juicy oysters in its oyster omelette and satisfying crackling skin in its Teochew Crispy Pig Trotter. Other favourites include the plump and crispy Homemade Teochew Prawn Ball paired with a perfect sweet sauce and tender Coffee Pork Ribs. Make sure you try the highly popular Teochew Yam Paste & Pumpkin served with gingko nut (orh nee), a rich and smooth concoction that makes a fine ending to the meal.
Situated in a quaint colonial bungalow in Seletar Aerospace Park, Di Wei’s head chef is Khoo Tai Guan, a man who came from humble beginnings. He worked his way up, starting as a kitchen helper in his younger days before progressing on to hold the title of assistant chef. He then opened a food stall within Food Canopy at Botanic Gardens in 2014 before finally operating his own 140-seater restaurant at The Oval two years later. The affable chef has been whipping up fresh and authentic Teochew dishes for more than 50 years. Stars on the menu include Braised Crab Beehoon, Pork Rib Yam Ring and Teochew Fried Kway Teow with Preserved Radish. Finish with a sweet plate of Sugar Yam Strips – an addictive dessert of deep-fried yam that’s coated with sugar.
This one-Michelin-star eatery offers a fine-dining take on Teochew cuisine, although traditional fare still takes centre stage. Its Ion Orchard premise boasts an airy and bright dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on to Paterson Road and Orchard Boulevard. Standout dishes include a Teochew-style marinated platter of selected meat, Deep-Fried Black Moss Roll, Oyster Omelette, Fried Hor Fun with Diced Kai Lan (which has a pleasing wok hey) and Mashed Taro with Pumpkin.
Located in the historic Chui Huay Lim Club that boasts more than 175 years of history, the restaurant is managed by Jumbo Group and has been offering more than 150 Teochew-style dishes since 2011. The ambience is clean and elegant and the dishes are simple but delicious. Besides the quintessential braised duck, cold crab and steamed pomfret, you might want to try the Crispy Fried Sea Cucumber and Shiitake Mushroom; the homely Teochew Seafood Fried Mee Sua; and the Teochew “Puning” Fermented Bean Chicken, which is composed of plump free-range chicken and a side of pickled vegetables. For a varied sampling of its highlights, get the Teochew Classic Platter (check with the staff on the selects available).
For authentic comfort food, consider the delicious homely zi char dishes at the no-frills Ah Orh Seafood Restaurant at Jalan Bukit Merah. The restaurant’s roots date back to 1919, when it was a pushcart along the former Ellenborough Market. It has been managed by three generations and continues to offer traditional Teochew fare using its decades-old recipes at its HDB location, a spot it has occupied since 1997. There are no jazzed up dishes here like salted egg pork ribs; only dishes rooted in heritage. The food is cooked by the late founder’s grandsons (who were in turned trained by their father, the founder’s son), while his granddaughter manages the front of house. Favourites include Oyster Omelette, Teochew Cold Prawn, Cold Crab and Sliced Braised Duck with Pork Belly.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.