The Chinese restaurant on the second floor of Singapore Recreation Club was not one of my favourite food place in the club. So when they change the restaurant operator after the change in SRC Management Committee, I was very pleased that Swatow decided setup shop here.
I have been a long time member of SRC and the Chinese restaurant on the second floor, although opened to public, has not always been full or crowded. We only go when there’s nothing else we want to go. But now there’s a reason for me to go – Teochew food from Swatow group.
This is the third restaurant for Swatow group. They have the main one in Swatow Seafood Restaurant at Toa Payoh goes for Teochew delicacies and dim sum in which flavours; Swatow Gardens at Serangoon Garden with a Cantonese slant with Hong Kong chefs helming the kitchen; and now Swatow City with an authentic take in which the Head Chef himself came from Swatow, China.
So when Mom’s birthday celebrated came up, we made reservation for their Birthday Celebration Menu.
Birthday Celebration Menu
The set menu is an eight-course (of course it has to be eight) dinner with some of our favourite Teochew dishes.
1/8 子母寿桃 Longevity Bun
First up, the auspicious sounding Mother and Children Longevity Buns. Longevity bun is a Southern Chinese tradition where we make buns with sweet fillings like red bean paste or lotus seed paste (usually the latter because we don’t like things that are black for celebration), and instead of steaming it all white (again we don’t like white in celebrations as well), they are made into shapes of peaches and blushed with a little bit of red food dye. And we gave it a nice sounding moniker 寿桃 “longevity peach”. And Swatow takes it a step further with the Mother and Children concept – one huge bun surrounded by little buns to signify 子孙满堂 “blessed with lots of offsprings”.
2/8 潮式脆皮乳猪全体 Crispy Roasted Suckling Pig
Mom loves the suckling pig for celebrations – she would make up order this for our ancestor worship, for all celebrations big and small. Swatow’s version has the shiny skin (although the tail bit was a bit crackling) and we can taste that it has been deep fried before serving to get it crispy. Accompanied by small little deep fried buns and hoisin sauce, it is almost like peking duck but with suckling pig. But I have a question – where’s piggy’s tail?
3/8 蟹肉瑶柱烩金钩翅 Braised Shark’s Fin with Dried Scallops and Crab Meat
Don’t worry, it is not exactly shark’s fins from the endangered species. There are more shredded chicken than anything else.
PS: they have replaced the shark’s fin with fish maw for sustainability and changing food trends.
4/8 潮州蒸大斗鲳 Steamed Pomfret in Teochew Style
Yum yum, this is the classic Teochew steamed pomfret. A 1.5kg pomfret has to do. We seldom have this size at home because simply can’t finish it.
5/8 黑松露带子炒芦笋 Sauteed Scallop and Asparagus with Black Truffle
What’s that baking paper doing there?
6/8 汕头双脆 Crispy Eggplant with Leeks
An unique dish, I never had this elsewhere. And I was surprised that the eggplant can be done this way. Eggplant is firstly coated with a thin layer of batter and then deep fried. Then it is stir-fried with Australian leeks to give that nice aromatics from the leeks and another type of crispy texture – hence the name “double crispy”. Nice.
7/8 蚝皇鲍汁炆伊面 Braised Ee-Fu Noodle with Abalone Sauce
You need to have longevity noodles with every longevity noodles. And you get a quail egg with every bowl too. It’s been a while since we see quail eggs served because someone said that quail eggs have too much cholesterol for its small size. I never believe in such BS about dietary cholesterol as long as everything is eaten in moderation.
8/8 金瓜福果芋泥 Sweet Yam Paste with Pumpkin and Ginkgo Nuts
Finally, the classic Teochew dessert of mashed taro with steamed pumpkin and gingko nuts poured over with an insane amount of molasses. Before you think, “Wait a minute, aren’t all those legumes good for you?” No, they are all boiled in sugar too. Again, eat in moderation.
These dishes form fond memories as part of my growing up years and that’s why we always have Teochew for Mom’s birthday celebrations or family gathering. However, they are hardly seen now as Teochew restaurants are either disappearing, or not offering them anymore as some of these dishes are difficult and time-consuming to create, or the changing fads of culinary preference of instagrammable food.
Singapore Recreation Club (SRC) Level 2, B Connaught Drive, Singapore 179862 (City Hall MRT)
Tel : +65 6338 9595
Date Visited : Oct 2017
PS (16 May 2020) : The SRC branch closed after CNY in 2019 because really there’s not much foot traffic despite all the promotions and the Swatow name. There are two more branches for Swatow, but I recommend their main restaurant in TPY next to the National Library for your Teochew cuisine fix.
Swatow Seafood Restaurant
Toa Payoh Blk 181 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh #02-602, Singapore 310181
Tel : +65 6363 1717
Serangoon Gardens Country Club, Heliconia Wing, 22 Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557271
Tel : +65 6343 1717