Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cheng Li Yuan, Tanjong Pagar, Singapore

Cheng Li Yuan at 72 Tanjong Pagar is a place I've heard about for sometime and have been recommended on numerous occassions to try it out. This place does food that's mainly more of Northern Chinese in origin but they do have quite a variety. As we ordered quite abit that night, I'll try to focus on the dishes worth mentioning, but it's hard to narrow it down to a few because most of the dishes here were really quite decent.

Ok... the first dish that appeared was General Mao's Pork which is really the Westernised name of "Return-to-the-wok Pork" (Hui Guo Rou). Although we were really quite disappointed that the cold dishes did not come first (we should have explicitly provided instructions instead of assuming it was like in China) this tasted good. Greasy, spicy but not too salty; great stuff to go with our Tsingtao.

Then came the Little Dragon Buns (Xiao Long Pao), still not a cold dish. There's value here because each bun averaged less than 1SGD.

The skins were quite thin and soft but the filling was alot richer than I'm used to. This tasted as though the minced was seasoned and the soup that flowed out was a rich pale brown instead of the clear ones that I normally get. It took abit of getting used to but this is definitely one of the better little dragon buns in Singapore.

The seafood and meat dumplings came together with the dragon buns which makes sense because they probably steamed them together. They do not skimp on filling here and each dumpling is bursting with meat. I only felt that they were abit bland but that's probably because I ate the slightly saltier dragon buns first.

Deep-fried pumpkin slices with salted egg yolks. This may seem a weird combination to others but it tasted really good. The crisp batter was coated with fragrant, aromatic salted egg yolk and that complemented the soft, tender and sweet pumpkin flesh within. It helps that I have a penchant for these "Wong Kum - salted egg yolk coated" style dishes too.

So finally our first cold-dish arrived. This is braised beef shin and it was done just right. The tendon in it was tender to the bite and you could taste that it was well-marinated all the way.

Lamb ribs hotpot, another must-try. The amount of spices in this was just enough because it tasted fragrant without being overly herby. The meat is so tender it just slides off the ribs. This is techinically not really a hotpot because there's no heating element underneath it so you have to eat it whilst it's hot. If I were to have a gripe at anything, it would be I wished this was spicier(in a chilli sense). I did like the random tofu bits at the side though, they proved rather amusing.

I was rather surprised that one of the dishes I enjoyed the most was the obligatory vegetable dish. This is broccoli and scrambled egg whites with fish bits and dried scallops. After a generous slosh of black vinegar on top and a quick stir to mix in the yolk, it tasted simply heavenly.

So this was the spread for the night. If you spy in the middle you would see that we ordered two other cold dishes but since they came last (totally not in the right sequence) I didn't bother to take close-up shots of them. The century egg with cold tofu was actually quite tasty but we were quite disappointed with the garlic belly pork. That being said, the garlic belly pork was an off-menu special request, so some points still go to the effort for accomodating us.

For the first round of sweets we had their caramelized apples. Maybe they assumed that we didn't know how to eat this properly because we weren't mainlanders but after awhile they did bring a bowl of water. The water wasn't icy cold though so I had to put in some ice from my drink. Ok.. I've probably totally lost most you at this point but I'll explain why the icy cold water is important for this dessert.

This stuff comes in very hot and very sticky caramel and what you do is you pick up a slice, swoosh it about in the ice water which hardens the surface caramel making it crunchy like candy. Then you take it out and pop it into your mouth. If done properly, the caramel on the outside would have cooled to a crunch whilst the apple within would still be hot. This is quite a fun dessert to have but they could have made the batter thinner.

For all you red bean paste/azuki/anko/ogura lovers out there. This is your jackpot. These fluffy eggwhite puffs are filled with smooth and tasty red bean paste.

This dessert was almost perfect not because the red bean paste was not too sweet. Almost perfect because instead of coating it with icing sugar, they coated it with conventional sugar but this is more of a note than a complaint.

After eating a total of nine dishes and two sweets we were truly stuffed. But the best was yet to come. All of this went for 93SGD which was still under the 100SGD mark!



Anonymous said...

ah hah! Finally, so I take it you like Cheng Li Yuan, I might see you there next time!

Do you notice they spell their own shop name Cheng Li Yuan sometimes and Chen Li Yuan other times? Way to confuse us!

I have been wanting to try the red bean eggpuff thingy but I'm always too full. We usually order the caramel sweet potato and I last tried the red pean pancake (very good red bean paste, pastry above average but too greasy for me).

Did you try the guo tie? I feel their guo tie has improved.

Agree with you the xiao long bao broth is unusually rich, my friends love it though. I prefer the seafood dumplings with lots of minced garlic and vinegar :D

Lord Dianabol said...

Looks to be very good grub, very good grub indeed.

Singapore can be such an amusing place to be.

J said...

oh how exciting, might see cindy there the next time, singapore is so damn small..........

Anonymous said...

We should try Hai tian lou next time, just opp Cheng Li Yuan...although J tried before. But it was featured in Sunday Times last week, the chicken looks damn awesome.

J said...

hey kingkong, i din try hai tian lou b4..... It was Xin tao yuan that i tried.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I come here with my friends, they talk about the dumpling nazi (ala soup nazi in Seinfeld) at Neil Road. The name of the shop is Qun Zhong and apparently the boss is grumpy if you go during peak hours.

I went once at 3pm so he was pleasant enough. The dumplings were good and although my friends say it might have better xiao long bao's, I don't miss it after finding CLY.

Who is J? I think we better have a secret entrance code phrase so we can identify each other. Not sure I can recognise D from this small sunglassed picture unless he wears the same thing all the time...

Anonymous said...

The Nazi boss has a very ethical standard too long to post here but he is no longer present there. Son took over many years ago, standard of good quality dropped but Stil very nice to eat at. Best and still same is the fried red bean pancake never tried better todate