Good Eats

Goodbye Hung Kang, you will be missed

Another stalwart of Teochew cuisine in Singapore, Hung Kang has announced that they will not be reopening after the “Covid-19 Circuit Breaker” ends because their lease at the current location is up. Another one bites the dust, damn CCB.

The last time I went to Hung Kang Teochew Restaurant was quite some time ago for my mom’s birthday. It was her last time there as well. We ordered many classic Teochew dishes. I didn’t manage to take all the courses we ordered because I just got off the plane from China and rushed to the celebrations. These were photos from others.

Teochew cold appetiser 潮州冷盤

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Teochew cold appetiser 潮州冷盤

Nothing fancy, the cold appetiser platter looks like something from the “jiak tok” 吃桌 fare that is common in Singapore. The “jiak tok” dated back when most of us would not be able to afford a meal in a restaurants and many chefs do not have the capital to open one. So when you take these two together, the “banquet in the void deck” was born. And we call that experience “jiak tok”, literally “eating tables” as these are large community affair, with large round tables sitting 10 or more, and communal dishes like this cold platter are served.

The cold platter is usually prepared beforehand, that’s why it’s cold. Traditional Teochew pig skin aspic called “nek play tang” 肉皮冻, deep fried spring rolls, jellyfish with sweet and sour plum sauce, deep fried prawn roll “hey zor” 虾枣 and a prawn cocktail salad are usually served. Tonight, we were missing the quintessential prawn roll and prawn cocktail salad. Disappointing.

Roast suckling pig 烤乳豬

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Roast suckling pig 烤乳豬

There are suckling pigs. And then, there is the Teochew suckling pig—with gloriously-shiny, smooth, crispy skin, usually sliced with an under-layer of meat. Hand-grilled to perfection, it almost always draws spontaneous howls of appreciation and delight upon its serving.

And for such an important occasion, like my mom’s birthday, a roast suckling pig, the whole thing, is a must. Crispy skin, even an old lady with no more natural tooth can partake. Yummilicious.

Braised vegetarian 潮州素菜

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Braised vegetarian 潮州素菜

Layers of vegetables (Chinese cabbage, abalone mushrooms, gingko nuts, etc, usually eight items) are layered and steamed, finally smothered with a thicken sauce made from chicken stock. That’s right, it is the Teochew method of 素菜荤做 (vegetarian made with non vegetarian stock).

Fried rice vermicelli 炒麵線

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Fried rice vermicelli 炒麵線

This has almost disappeared from local menus because of the difficulty of making it without destroying the rice vermicelli because of its brittleness. Hankiang still does it the best. I tried it elsewhere, so called Teochew chef from the motherland, that was really horrible.

Pumpkin and yam paste 金瓜芋泥

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Pumpkin and yam paste 金瓜芋泥

The must-have dessert for Teochew, pumpkin and yam paste – super sweet, super filling, super satisfying end for the dinner. A highly-demanding dish where only fleshy yams with a smooth texture are selected. Then, laboriously pounded, steamed and blended with other ingredients.

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Kungfu tea 潮州功夫茶

And washed down with a thick swig of Teochew Guanyin tea.

History of Hung Kang 韩江大酒楼

Longing for the traditional cuisine they had back in China, a group of wealthy Teochew towkays in Singapore decided it was time to open their own restaurant.

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The year was 1962. Hung Kang was incorporated, its name paying homage to the scenic Han River (韩江) in Chaozhou City, Guangdong Province. Depicted in Hung Kang’s logo is the famous Xiangzi Bridge (also known as Guangji Bridge). This ancient relic was built as an 18-pontoon bridge in 1170 AD during the Southern Song Dynasty and still protected as a national relic today.

To be absolutely true to the authentic Teochew cuisine, Hung Kang brought in a team of chefs from the province, along with unique ingredients and spices that were not available locally.

Hung Kang’s opening was met with much enthusiasm. It was the only Teochew restaurant in town that was posh and air-conditioned. The Teochew community gave Hung Kang its overwhelming support, making it a popular venue for business lunches as well as wedding and birthday banquets. I have been going there since I was a toddler.

Hung Kang, it has been a great 58 years. I am going to really miss you. Thanks for all the memories.

Date Visited : Aug 2014

Closed : Apr 2020

 

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