The location is not where you would associate fine dining, but Geylang has always been a gourmet heaven. And San Shu Gong did not disappoint.
I grew up in Geylang at No.333 so I was very familiar with this notorious neighbourhood. Opposite San Shu Gong was the location of the now-demolished Gay World Amusement Park, which I spent many hours of my childhood in the evening to walk around the pasar malam (night market). And in the night market were many food stalls selling snacks and lok lok.
San Shu Gong occupies one of those colonial shophouses with their signature “five-foot way” – corridors on the ground floor required by the colonial masters to offer pedestrian a covered walkway in this tropical weather. This part of Geylang has gone through significant gentrification. The plot of land that used to be Gay World will be condominiums in a couple of years. There’s a couple of Michelin Plates and Bib Gourmand eateries among the multitude of eateries along this main thoroughfare.
It was Mother’s Day weekend, and the reservation list was full despite that Circuit Breaker was rolled back to Phase 2 (limit to 5 diners per table). While they claim to do private dining, there’s nothing omakase about the meal. You pick from a limited but varied menu that consisted of classic Teochew and Cantonese dishes.
Chilled Cherry Tomatoes Marinated with Sour Plum
冻 梅 香 小 番 茄
I tried this starter in Shanghai in a recent trip, and it was really refreshing and palate inducing. I wold prefer them to be soaked longer and the tomato blanched to remove that edge in raw tomatoes.
Braised Platter 鹵 水 拼 盤
I was surprised to see braised goose the menu. While this was not the Lion-head Goose, but it was goose nevertheless. You can never replace the unique gamey flavours of goose with duck. We ordered the platter, with goose wings and goose web, and pig’s large intestine on a bed of tofu.
It was the Teochew braise that caught my attention. Unlike the local Teochew version, which is darker, the HK/Teochew style has a lighter colour but more complex flavour braise. The goose was not as good as the ones I had in Teochew, but given that we have stopped importing goose, this was good enough.
Tianjin Cabbage Roll with Yellow Crab Roe
蟹 黃 翡 翠 卷
This was not in the menu and was the chef’s “private dining” course of the day. Essentially, it was made with mud crab meat and roe wrapped in blanched Tianjin cabbage and steamed. It was then completed with a savoury spinach sauce.
It was a well made dish, but they could be more careful with taking the crab apart. There’s still bits of shell in the filling, and would be challenging to the kids.
Braised Salted Pork Ribs with Mustard Greens
石 锅 咸 骨 大 芥 菜
This is a classic Teochew dish. Mustard cabbage 芥菜 is a bitter vegetable that I hated when I was a kid. But as I grew older, I developed a liking to this stalky vegetable. And as long as I can remember, it has always been mustard greens in braise or salted vegetables.
The stock was made from Jinhua ham, which is like a Chinese version of the prosciutto ham but one that cannot be eaten raw. We use them primarily in soup as a flavour enhancer. And the woody, waxy taste of the ham has been transferred to the mustard greens, resulting in a simple yet satisfying soup.
Braised Carabinero Prawn with Mi Sua in Seafood Broth
地 中 海 红 虾 焖 面 线
These beautiful Carabineros are a large deep-sea prawn species that hail from the Eastern Atlantic into the Mediterranean Sea. Carabineros translates as “police” in Spanish. Apparently, because the color of their shells matched the uniforms of Spanish customs police. The last time I had them was in Nouri where it was served rare. Here, it was lightly poached with the boiling prawn stock poured over it at the table side.
What I really loved was the “cream” in the prawn head, which gave the rice vermicelli lots of umami and flavours. Of course the stock was outstanding, it was almost like lobster bisque pour onto the noodles.
Steamed Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts & Pumpkin
金 瓜 白 果 芋 泥
Wow, their yam paste was really smooth and the pumpkin was not smashed like other places. It is one of the rare occasion when my sister declared it was good. The only flaw, they did not use lard. But it was seriously good even though it used vegetable oil.
Teochew “Tau Suan” with Gingko Nuts & Flour Fritter
油 条 福 果 豆 爽
The very down-to-earth tau suan has been given an upgrade with the introduction of orange zest in the hot dessert. My sister joked that we could do the same with the hawker version but zesting some orange into the regular tau suan to triple the price.
Deep-fried Yam Stick Encrusted with Fine Sugar 反 沙 芋 条
If there’s one dessert that all Teochew chefs hated to make, it would be this yam stick encrusted with sugar 反沙芋條. Firstly, you cooked the best yam you can find by deep frying them. Then, you have to toss the hot yam sticks in caster sugar to coat and form a crust on the yam surface. It cannot be too hot or else the sugar becomes caramel; it cannot be too slow or else the sugar becomes crusty; too wet and the sugar becomes a coating. And when done perfectly, it was not exactly the best dessert – like a sugar coated sweet potato fries. But it was a demonstration of the chef’s skills. And I can declare, this IS the best 反沙芋條 I have tasted in Singapore. And this opinion is concurred by my picky sister.
There are fresh seafood that are iced and prepared according to your preference. Today, there was only threadfin available, but I guessed on a regular day, you would have more choices.
There’s only one private dining room, and it was nostalgically named Second Aunt 二姑姐, the term of endearment for the second elder sister of your father and typically your favourite aunt that would spoil you rotten.
They are expanding according to the waitress. The owner has decided to take over the shop next door as well and the floor above to open up more private dining rooms where there’s a minimum spend.
In the meantime, reservation is required as they are constantly overbooked. With the Phase 2 restriction, the waiting list would be longer.
San Shu Gong 三叔公
135 Geylang Rd, #01-01, Singapore 389226
Tel : +65 6741 0344
Date Visited : May 2021
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