Teochew Chive Noodles & Preserved Crabs At Guan Hin

Teochew Preserved Crab

Jeff sent warning that Simon, one of our guides to great food in KL, was coming to town for a brief stop-over. A brief email conference was held to decide on a place for dinner. Simon has one of the sharpest palates around so it will be fun to see what happens.

We decided on Guan Hin. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there so I was happy with the choice. Guan Hin is one of the few old-school Teochew restaurants in Singapore. This was where I first tasted the famous Teochew Preserved Crab that, surprisingly, did not faze me at all.

Dinner started with the traditional Roast Pig. This is the smooth-skinned version that had to be ordered in advance. Well, actually all roast pigs have to be ordered in advance, but saying so makes it sound special. 😉

This sparked off a discussion between the different styles of roasting a pig. Initially it was thought that the difference was due to the different Chinese dialect groups. Whichever the style, it was delicious and there was enough pig to satisfy everyone.

Roast Suckling Pig

It’s hard to go to a Teochew restaurant and not order their famous Cold Crab with vinegar. I’m not a big eater of crabs, but there’s something about the sweet flesh and sourish vinegar and ginger sauce that makes this style of crab appealing to me. Unfortunately, the Cold Crab served that night was not really as flavourful as I remembered it the last time. I made up for it by going for the roe-encrusted shell.

Of course, the first two courses were just a preparation for the main event, the Teochew Preserved Crab. Since the last time I blogged about this, many people have used it as evidence that I actually do eat seafood. 😉

Anyway, for some people, the Teochew Preserved Crab has got to be one of the most disgusting things to put in their mouths. It has the consistency and texture of phlegm, they would say. Well, there is some truth in this; after being drowned for hours in a special soya sauce, the insides turn black and gooey and the roe (only female crabs are used) turns a very runny but vibrant orangey-red.

Teochew Preserved Crab

It was delicious. Served cold with chopped peanuts, this taste sensation is indescribable because there is nothing quite like it. There is no need to crack the shell of the legs and claws because you can just suck the flesh right out. Very savoury with a slight sweetness. This is a dish, from our experience, that should never be eaten on an empty stomach because it is very robust and will cause the runs, hence the roast pig and cold crab earlier.

The roe was simply spectacular. Cold with a runny, grainy (it’s roe after all) texture with a bit of crunch from the peanuts, it was sweet, sourish and salty all at the same time. With a bit of parsley, this cholestrol-laden treat will kill you eventually, but what a lovely way to go.

Teochew Preserved Crab

The other “advanced order necessary” course was the duck stuffed with glutinous rice. Having tried the one at Pudong, I was surprised to see a really dry looking duck being served. Needless to say, we all made a grab for the Keropok.

On biting into the duck, I have to say my first impression was right. It was dry, hard and completely tasteless. That is because all the flavours where absorbed by the rice that was mixed with chestnuts and other good stuff.

Duck stuffed with glutinous rice

It was very filling and delicious. I liked the way the fragrant glutinous rice was not too soggy or too dry. And the chestnuts simply disintegrated in your mouth in a puff of sweetness.

The big surprise for me that night was the Chive Noodles. Again, this is another “advanced order only” course because it is handmade and the owner fries it himself. When it was served it was looked really unappetizing. Browned, congealed-looking with extremely-processed ham sprinkled on top and cups of a mysterious white powder around.

It looked like an alien landscape designed by H.R. Geiger on a bad day.

Handmade Chive Noodles

The owner actually came out to see how we reacted to it. A few of us were put off when we discovered that the white powder was actually icing sugar to be sprinkled on the green thing with the fake ham.

Without the icing sugar, the whole thing had an unpleasant, raw and (ha!) green edge to it. The owner was quite insistent that we try it again with the icing sugar.

Sprinkled on top, it seemed as if some form of mold grew on the alien landscape.

Handmade Chive Noodles

But oh my, it made an awesome difference. The icing sugar actually took off the raw edge and enhanced the sweetness of the chives in the noodles. Needless to say, we cleared the whole plate in minutes. Handmade Chive Noodles, fak processed ham and icing sugar, who would’ve thought that such a combination actually works and well too.

The wines that night were stately and elegant. We had the opportunity to taste a short vertical of the same vineyard and they were both good. The surprise wine of the night was the Chateau Mirebeau 1998; elegant with a strong structure. We thought that it has great potential to develop into something magnificent, and at current prices, it’s a real steal.

IMG_0089

The biggest disappointment that night was the Or Nee (Yam Paste) dessert. They used vegetable oil instead of the fabulous pork lard. This lead to very loud protests as we had ordered the traditional Or Nee dessert with pork lard a week in advance. The owner further excabated the situation by saying that the general public prefers the vegetable oil substitute for health reasons. The owner told us that he tried to boost the lackluster flavour by adding some pumpkin. To no avail.

This is one of my pet peeves. If you want to be soooo “health-conscious”, please avoid what you feel is “unhealthy” instead forcing people to dilute or mangle their tried and tested recipes. Go forth and enjoy your cardboard-filled wheat cakes and Salmonella- or other bacteria-laden vegetables, just don’t insist that the rest of the world follow you.

Fortunately, dessert was not a total disaster (we ate a spoonful each and threw the rest away) was saved by the always magnificent Chateau Monbazillac 1976.

Chateau Monbazillac 1976

Dinner was wonderful because the great company. Simon was regaling us with his culinary adventures and we all had fun sharing our stories around. As always, we were the last to leave Guan Hin long after the regular diners have left. Service as always was great, unfortunately, the food this time was not up to the usual high standards.

However, the Teochew Preserved Crabs from Guan Hin was even better than before. And we should all consume as much as we can before someone discovers that soya sauce has salt in it.

Guan Hin is at #01-01 Block 34 Whampoa West, Tel : 6298 3179.

Kong Bak Pau (Braised Pork inna Bun)


Posted on 2nd Oct 2007 in Food and Drink, Makankaki, Teochew

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There Are 6 Comments

 

vinoti commented on October 3, 2007 at 12:31 am


hi. great wine for the night! may i know where to purchase the Chateau Mirebeau 1998?


 

Ivan commented on October 3, 2007 at 9:46 am


@vinoti: Hi, we got it from an overseas private distributor.


 

Ann commented on October 3, 2007 at 9:58 am


Hi Ivan

The food looks good. Thinking of bringing the family there. May I know are the prices expensive? How much would the various items especially the preserved crab cost?

Thanks in advance!


 

Ivan commented on October 3, 2007 at 12:11 pm


@Ann: Hi! The menu we had consisted mostly of dishes that require preparation in advance and so they are priced accordingly. The preserved crabs, from what I know, aren’t cheap. I do not have the prices because I was a guest, so you’ll have to call to enquire.


 

chocolate reindeer commented on October 4, 2007 at 5:33 pm


that actually looks rather scary!! It’s so big and black. And it’s not actually cooked.. Come to think of it… isn’t the method of preparation akin to century eggs?


 

Jaime-La-Nourriture commented on October 5, 2007 at 1:23 am


hey! the crab looks really good! i have nv taste the old crab b4…at first i thought i was a red sea cucumber! hehe…didnt see much teochew restaurant left…thanks for the recommendations?


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