The Jumbo Group of Restaurants is renowned for their seafood offerings and award-winning chilli crabs, but little did we know that it has more treasures in the house – A Techeow “trinity” comprising of Zui Yu Xuan Teochew Cuisine 醉宇轩经典潮膳, Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine 醉花林品潮轩, and Chao Ting 潮亭.
Collectively known as Zui (醉) Teochew Cuisine, it’s a tribute to the timeless culinary heritage of one of Singapore’s founding Chinese dialect group.
We made a visit to Zui Yu Xuan (recently-opened in April) which is located within the historic Far East Square precinct to explore the authentic cuisine it has to offer, and were first greeted by a traditional Chinese entrance way adorned with intricate wood carvings and a sweeping tiled roof.
Beyond the entrance is a courtyard that was once part of the Chui Eng Free School founded in 1854.
It leads into a two-storey heritage building (gazetted as one of Singapore’s historic sites by the National Heritage Board) with an interior that is tastefully refurbished with oriental accents.
Other than the main dining halls on both levels, there are also six private rooms on the second floor which can seat 6 to 25 guests, and are fully equipped with KTV suite facilities for you to do what my dining companions did – sing the hearts out while getting the tummies filled lol!
To start, I would recommend the Cold Crab ($12 per 100g).
A famous Teochew delicacy that is not readily available in just any restaurants, the crabs are first steamed, then nicely chilled before serving.
It is relished most for its creamy roes, and delicate sweet flesh which just need a dip in vinegar to enhance the taste.
The Deep Fried Ngoh Hiang ($13) and Deep Fried Prawn Balls ($22) made delectable starters as well.
A good mixture of ingredients made sure that the pork rolls and prawn balls had a crunchy bite, and the mouthfeel wasn’t too greasy overall too even though both items were deep-fried.
These little snacks were so moreish I lost count of how many pieces I had that evening haha.
It’s those kind of items which will appeal to both adults and children.
Comparatively, the jelly-like Pig Trotter Terrine ($13) and Deep Fried Homemade ‘Puning’ Beancurd ($12) perhaps require a more experienced palate to appreciate its beauty.
Named after Puning, a city in China where the dish originates from, the beancurd had a texture that is crisp on the outside yet inside was soft and moist. It had an unique flavour profile which a few of us akin to stinky tofu but I thought it’s not quite the same.
Can’t say I enjoyed it but it’s a good step forward to try something different from the usual.
It’s back to familiarity when the side serving table came to live as the restaurant staff started preparing the ingredients for our next dish – Geoduck Clam Blanched with Superior Broth ($16.80 per 100g).
The fresh, crunchy clams can be savoured sashimi-style or quickly cooked in superior broth together with an assortment of mushrooms. My preference is for the latter as nothing warms the belly better than a bowl of comforting soup.
We were all surprised by the Crispy Fried Sea Cucumber & Shiitake Mushroom with Abalone Sauce ($24).
Instead of only its typical slippery, bouncy texture, there was a thin, crispy crust which elevated the sea cucumber to a totally different level. As sea cucumber itself doesn’t have much taste, it is paired with a rich abalone sauce to give the dish more flavours. Some of us who are not even fans of sea cucumber adore it.
The Teochew ‘Puning’ Fermented Bean Chicken (half $20 | whole $40) and Teochew Oyster Omelette ‘Gooey Style’ ($13) are also not to be missed.
Using kampong chicken, the meat had a delightful succulent firmness and the use of saltish fermented bean gave it a robust boast in flavours.
Hidden beneath the flat, crispy appearance of the omelette was oysters cuddled with eggy starchiness. So well-executed, some even commented that it’s one of the best “ork luak” that they’ve eaten.
We continued our meal with carb-worthy choices of Pomfret & Rice Boiled Teochew Style with Dried Shrimp & Crispy Rice ($108) and Wok Fried ‘Kway Teow’ with Diced ‘Kai Lan’ & Preserved Radish (S-$18 | M-$27 | L-$36).
The pomfret’s delicate sweetness paired really well with the hot and piping soupy rice broth. Dried shrimp and crispy rice are served by the side so do remember to add it into your bowl for that extra texture. Portion seen here is good for a few people to share.
As the ‘kway teow’ or flat rice noodles approached our table, we can smell its ‘wok hei’! Indeed, each mouthful was filled with that intoxicating, aromatic ‘breathe of wok’ flavour, with diced vegetable and preserved radish providing a nice crunchy textural contrast to the soft, springy rice noodles. A very brilliantly executed dish which I will definitely order again.
Ending with Chinese desserts, we had Yam Paste with Pumpkin & Gingko Nuts ($5.20) and Teochew ‘Tau Suan’ with Gingko Nuts ($5.20).
While the yam paste had a smooth consistency and used shallot oil as a healthier alternative, I feel that it is somehow lacking without the traditional use of pork lard for that irreplaceable fragrance.
On the other hand, the tau suan is life-changing! Added with freshly-grated mandarin orange peels, the warm mung bean soup is full of refreshing citrusy notes. The beans are cooked just nicely and retained a soft bite, while the soup isn’t overly-starchy. So perfect and memorable, I think it will be hard for me in future to have another bowl of ordinary tau suan without comparing it to this superb version here at Zui Yu Xuan.
Zui Yu Xuan Teochew Cuisine 醉宇轩经典潮膳
Address: 130/131 Amoy Street, Singapore 049959 (located within Far East Square)
Contact: +65 6788 3637
Opening Hours: Daily Lunch 11:30am-3pm (last order at 2:15pm) | Daily Dinner 6pm-11pm (last order at 10.15pm)
Prices are stated in Singapore dollars and subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST. Information is correct at point of published date.