Pudong Kitchen at Balmoral Plaza


Pudong Kitchen at Balmoral seems to be the worst-kept foodie secret in Singapore. It seems everyone is reluctant to reveal their knowledge of this place.

However, everyone seems to order the same few dishes. Having tried the real thing, it’s hard to find great-tasting xiaolongbao in Singapore; frozen pork just can’t measure up to fresh pork. To try out the best Pudong kitchen has to offer, one has to know the owner. This is because she flies in and out of Shanghai frequently and brings back seasonal ingredients for off-the-menu treats like Za Rou (also known by the more provocative name: “Bondage Pork”).

Of course, being a born under a bad sign, this blog had to organize dinner with his friends on the day the owner was abroad. Of course, the next best thing is to have TTC as the menu advisor. Planning and organizing dinner for seasoned makankakis with discerning tastebuds is no easy task.

Obtaining the service we want at Pudong Kitchen was an exercise in negotiation and diplomacy. The service staff were good at their job, but they like to set their own rules and are used to diners obeying them. Again, TTC and his wife came to our rescue by playing good cop and bad cop. This blog has never seen such skillful maneuverings outside a boardroom. In the end, the service staff were cajoled into providing what we wanted: a measured pace of food service so that we could enjoy our wines with the food.

Dinner started with the usual Champagne and Prosecco. I was glad because it’s the first time I got to use my brand new Champagne glasses from Reidel. The “O” series of glasses from Reidel were designed for cramped dining spaces like Chinese restaurants where you have to reach across the table. No more knocking over wine glasses for me! 😉

The Champagne glasses from the “O” series also feature the same care and thought that is a hallmark of Reidel, right down to the little extra bit of crystal at the bottom to channel up the bubbles.

What better way to accompany the bubblies than a spread of small but refreshingly cold appetizers of cold tofu with century eggs, cold sliced Chinese ham, cold braised taupok with fermented beans and the Sanhuanji (“Three Yellow Chicken”)?


Cold tofu with century egg is something that I cannot resist ordering wherever I go. The pungent bittersweet century egg punctuating the monochromatic but deliciously cold soya sauce tofu is something that I can eat all day.

The other item I liked was the Sanhuangji. If you like cold steamed chicken with Chinese wine, you’ll love the Sanhuangji.


Served with a garlicky soya sauce, this is your traditional cold steamed chicken. The twist here is that they use the more flavourful Sanhuangji which is a special chicken (and not a progressive Chinese punk rock band) that is used for broiling.


At least I hope it is Sanhuangji. Accordingly, it was fleshier and more dense than the scrawny ones we usually get. While I would have preferred a colder version where there is jellied gelatin, when dipped into the piquant sauce, the Sanhuangji was intoxicating.

And no authentic Shanghainese dinner is complete without the traditional Dongborou. This is the pork belly braised in a sweet and heavy dark sauce. The one at Pudong Kitchen was served differently. It was lighter and saltier than the thicker, richer, stickier and sweeter version served in Shanghai. And instead of smaller bite-sized pieces, we got the pork belly in one large chunk.


This is a good thing as those who cannot abide the skin (yes, and fat) can simply carve out the meat leaving the quivering outer structure intact for those who would claim it. The Neutron bomb follows a similar concept.

Speaking of carving out a niche, guess who is one of the largest exporter of freshwater eel or Unagi in the world? According to no one in particular (this is a blog, not CNA), it’s Shanghai. And so, we simply had to try out their style of freshwater eel.


Producers of the popular program Fear Factor should take note. This is an evil-smelling dish that no amount of garlic can mask. This is a very strong-tasting dish that should be eaten with lot’s of rice because of the rich oily texture and the strong taste. No, it did not taste like chicken, if it did then the chicken died horribly, possibly killed by the predatory jaws of freshwater eels.

It is no wonder the Japanese cook it by smoking and covering it in thick Teriyaki sauce; anything to mask the slightly petroleum taste.

One item that I’ve never had before was the 8 Treasures Duck. It was recommended by Eslim and TTC. This must be ordered in advance as it takes a lot of work to prepare.


Basically it is duck stuffed with glutinious rice with other goodies like Ginko nuts and chestnuts.

TTC advised us to order this and not the pig trotters because they use the same sauce, but the 8 Treasures Duck would make a more interesting taste sensation.


It was outstandingly flavourful. While it was not as sweet as I expected, the flavours were well integrated for this. The sticky glutinous rice was soft and fluffy, quite unlike the hard sticky rice we get in Zhongze (“rice dumplings”).

TTC also took the opportunity to introduce us to the technique of excavating and eating the tongue and brain of the duck.

Duck Brain Duck Tongue


Other dishes that came and went were the deepfried chicken pieces with dried chilli that was so savoury with the salt and spicy chilli peppers that I could not stop eating them. The sea cucumber casserole was too subtle for me but the chilled five-spice beef was excellent. And I wasn’t impressed with the Dumpling Soup; it’s the frozen pork taste that did not agree with me.

Their famous Noodles in Scallion oil failed to impress because while the noodles were done al dente, the Scallion oil was not well distributed and this resulted in a patchy tasting noodles. However, all is not lost because the chicken strips in chilli oil was very good. I basically added it to the noodles and it became sweet and spicy chicken noodles. A meal in itself. 😉

And just when you thought that Shanghainese food was all strong spicy stuff, the beancurd skin and ham soup made us do a double-take.


Thick knots of beancurd skin floating amongst Chinese Ham in a clear pristine broth was something that I did not expect after all that heavy stuff. Lest you think that it was very plain-tasting, the Chinese Ham (surprisingly light-tasting) was almost overwhelmed by the surprisingly strong flavour of the beancurd skin. I could actually taste the rich soya bean flavour.

The other item that requires advanced ordering comes with an understated name of Caifan (literally “vegetable rice”).


The normally salty Xuecai (“snow vegetables”) and Chinese ham was toned down by the steaming process and the result was a very clean and light-tasting savoury rice that was quite comforting.

Finally dessert. I was very happy to find out that they had my favourite fried red bean pancake. And to cool the palate down, tangyuan filled with black sesame was just the thing, although I am sure it was not called Tangyuan.

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As for the wines, the Champagne was pleasantly fizzy and refreshing, it was a mistake to serve it after the Rose Prosecco because the prosecco was a very robust with a heavier than usual sweetness that almost covered the lighter Champagne.

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However, the biggest surprise for us was Gaja’s Ca’Macanda Promis 2004. This is one of our favourite wines because it represents the best balance between quality and price.

The surprise was that even though we’ve drunk lot’s of the Promis 2004, we could not identify it (we taste our wines blind). The cause for this confusion was because the wine was decanted for a few hours before serving. The Promis 2004 took on a bigger and fruitier note which was a delight.

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Dinner was pleasant but not excellent at Pudong Kitchen. Make reservations were a breeze and the restaurant was kind enough to give us the private room. This was a good thing given the number of wines and glasses we brought.

However, they have the unfortunate tendency to close very early (9.30pm) which makes it difficult to enjoy the food at a more dignified pace. They were somewhat resistant when we asked for a slower pace and near the end, the service staff got impatient and started peering into the room to see if we were done yet.

In the end, the dinner was somewhat marred by the inconsistent quality of the food and the final service rush in the end. Alas.

Pudong Kitchen is at #B1-02, 271 Bukit Timah Road, Balmoral Plaza Singapore 259708


Posted on 11th Jul 2007 in Food and Drink, Makankaki, Shanghainese


There Are 5 Comments


Karen Lim commented on July 14, 2007 at 1:08 am

Yikes! Such “rich” dishes… I think I have just developed blubber just by looking at the pics…. I would have been happy with just the 1st 3 dishes…


Ivan commented on July 18, 2007 at 2:54 pm

@Karen Lim: But it’s soooo good!


Hungrybear commented on June 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm

The 8 treasures duck I tasted somewhere in China was with a crispier skin.
Now now, who had the duck tongue? :))


TTC commented on June 12, 2008 at 12:54 am

Yes, HB, there is a deep fried version of Eight Treasure Duck, popular in some Teochew restaurants, Had that sometime ago at Guan Hin ( Whampoa West) and I love it too.


Hungrybear commented on June 14, 2008 at 6:57 am

TTC, thanks for the information.
Aiyoh, how can I missed it last year when balek kampung :((

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