Teochew porridge 潮州糜, my comfort food, has been referred to as 打冷 “Da Lang” in Cantonese. It all originated from Shantou 汕头 where a lot of our forefathers came from. Fuyuan has been regarded the best of the heated competition there. At first glance, it seems that the seafood has been cooked for a long time and is not fresh. Our parents always teach us to eat fresh seafood, so what’s going on?
Primer on Teochew Porridge
鱼饭 “fish rice”
As Chaoshan 潮汕 region is close to the sea, many Teochew lived by the sea and became very competent fishermen. The abundance of seafood and lack of refrigeration in the old days meant that most of the catch were boiled on the fishing boats using seawater before the fishermen returned to port. Hence, 鱼饭 “fish rice” was invented.cz
These days, they don’t use seawater anymore due to pollution 😦 so you can safely consume the “fish rice”. Instead, the fish is cleaned, salted and then boiled together in layers of baskets.
It is because of the intermingling of all these different varieties of fish that give “fish rice” its distinctive flavour. The detractors say it’s fishy and killed all the distinct flavours of each type of fish. Those who love it seek to recreate it at home to no success because it is that industrial scale cooking that gives it the complex flavours.
潮州打冷 “Da Lang”
打冷 “Da Lang” is not a Chaoshan concept or Teochew. In fact, it was believed to be “Made in Hong Kong. “Da Lang” sounded like “打 Round” which is Cantonese colloquial for asking around. The typical “da lang” restaurant would have a long table with all the cooked items laid out in their glories and you can choose whatever you want. You are spoiled for choices.
In Singapore, Teochew porridge is similar in concept. And you would choose typical a fish from the fish rice selection, a couple of marinated seafood (raw or semi-cooked), a meat (braised goose, stewed pork knuckles, etc), some tofu or omelette dish and vegetables or pickles. These are served with either a plain porridge or savoury choices like sweet potato or oyster porridge.
Tonight, we came to Fuyuan Teochew Porridge 富苑打冷, one of many “da lang” restaurants in Shantou but definitely the most popular among tourists like me because of its varieties and scale of operations, and also because it was featured in 舌尖上的中国 Tastes of China TV Series.
The whole 紅魚魚飯 chilled red snapper was cooked with the scales and innards still intact. Unlike the mullet, where they will clean and split the fish for you, the snapper was served just as it was. It was not as fresh as I would expect, and the flesh was quite damp and soggy.
沙鱸蝦 chilled “swalow” prawn was really sweet (as in seafood) and savoury at the same time. Still retained the crunchiness.
醃蝦 marinade raw prawn was my favourite of the dinner.
(PS: I got food poisoning from this trip to Chaoshan, I believed from this dish.)
醃血蚶 marinade raw cockles were my second favourite. It brought back childhood memories of marinade cockles we used to make at home.
鹵水拼盤 stewed goose platter came with goose breast meat and liver. The liver was creamy and nice. And the braising liquid was just like my mom’s.
凍花蟹（蠐）chilled flower crab was a bit of disappointment. The crab meat was not flaky, towards mushy. This was supposed to be the season for crab, yet there was very little roe. Looked like the crab has been dead for some time.
落湯錢 glutinous rice ball was a dessert glutinous ball with peanut and sugar sprinkling, a bit like our Singaporean “muay chee”.
I regretted ordering this 炒泊殼 stir-fry baby mussels instead of the 泊壳米 baby mussel rice. While the stir-fry uses fresh baby mussels and has a strong basil and chilli taste, the baby mussel rice was precooked and cold but shell-less. It was a hassle to work through the small little shells to go into the mussels. Sure it would be good as a drinking snack, but not for dinner.
This is the best 蠔烙 oyster omelette I have tasted – fresh oysters not overcooked with crispy eggs and just enough potato starch. Princess thought it was too oily.
And for some greens, we ordered 炒豆苗 stir-fry bean shoots, kind of underwhelming given all the good food we had.
The ordering process
The operations here run like clockwork. You walk through the doors, a waitress walks up to you and tells you have only one chance to order as you walk down the 5-6 metres long counter. No kidding, you only have one chance.
First up, you have the pickles and cold starters. Next time I would have ordered the baby mussels rice, and perhaps some pickles.
Next section, chilled seafood and fish rice. I regretted not ordering the mullet and lobster.
Then, cooked food section that consists the braised and stewed food, with the fried and steamed kueh. Their signature is the stewed pig trotters and knuckles. Too big for our party of 4.
Finally, fresh seafood and live fish tanks cooked to order. And choices of vegetables other greens.
So, here’s my suggestion for 4 persons or more – pick 2 – 4 items from each section, the portions are not big. And then order a couple cooked to order like oyster omelette and stir-fry vegetable.
Service is horrible at this place, it’s a wonder they are so popular. If their food standard is to drop, I am pretty sure it will lose business just because the service is really bad. I would come once for the experience. Just once.
Fuyuan Restaurant 富苑饮食
Date Visited : Jun 2019