Wo Peng Eatery On Macpherson Road


When an adventurous gourmand invites you to try out a new restaurant, you answer the call with alacrity. However, when you find out that 3 adventurous gourmands are attending the dinner…

If my life had a soundtrack, the segment where I ride to the Wo Peng Eatery would be heavy on castanets.

Wo Peng Eatery is opened by Chef Julian Tam Kwok Fai, a Hong Kong-born Cantonese, the former executive Chef of The Funrama Palace. He worked in Guangzhou before coming back to Singapore to open Wo Peng Eatery.

The restaurant is your typical old-school Chinese Restaurant where the decor is a stark contrast of beige and white peppered with daubs of white from the paper napkins all lovingly illuminated by cold fluorescent. I must say I like the chairs as they are roomy and accommodate big asses like mine.

One of the signs that we were in for an interesting meal was the green chillies and Sambal. They were homemade and you can taste the difference. The green chillies were crisp with bright, cheery notes of acidity and a sweet finish, quite unlike the limp sourish versions; if I am not wrong, it’s because of difference in quality of the vinegar used. The Sambal was another delight: fragrant bits of shallots and other “things” that disappear into thin air in your mouth leaving a sense of warmth and satisfaction.

Oh dear… and the dinner hasn’t started yet.


Dinner started with an ominous cold starter of cold prawn and duck breast with a BBQ sauce derivative. I didn’t enjoy the dry duck breast, but when I offered my prawn, it was quickly snapped up.

What I did notice about the prawn was that the serving involved some sort of Crustacean Origami designed by Möbius and Escher on an acid trip. Groovy.


The nice thing about intimate dinners with friends is that we bring out interesting wines to tantalize our palates. There is the famous saying “In Vino Veritas”, this could not be more true (har!) when it comes to pouring out the wine; you can tell that we foodies are very obsessive.

And once we break on through to the other side, we become Gourmands.


There was an unofficial wine theme of the number of years we’ve known each other, as such, we had fantastic wines that night including the Chateau Durfort-Vivens 1999 (second wine of Chateau Margaux), a very big Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru Les Fichots 2003, a fantastic Domaine de Chevalier 1997 and the very fine La Dame de Montrose 2000.

The wine of the evening was definitely the magnum of Chateau Musar 1997. I would say that this is the finest red wine to come from the Middle East; with a nose of old leather that gave way to dark preserved cherries, it was almost like drinking a very fine port.

As you let the rich creaminess glide down your throat, reflect upon the fact that the vineyard is located in the Bekka Valley, so close to Beirut that they often suffer direct shelling during their not-so-civil war.

We were indeed privileged to have tasted this marvel.

The Finest Red Wine To Come From The Middle East

Food-wise, we had a very grassy-smelling (from the spring onions and ginger perhaps) steamed crab that was so peppery that one of the diners choked on the crab roe that he grabbed, despite my warning, from the plate. Personally, I have no sympathy for people who deem it necessary to snatch the choicest morsels for themselves.

The Stewed Chicken in Clam Sauce didn’t do much for me as my tastebuds are less oceanic-oriented than most people, but the huge bowl was cleaned up pretty quickly, so I guess others enjoyed it more.


I guess you can say the stewed chicken, like the popular Japanese burger chain, had something from the ocean as well as the mountain.

The Goose Web with Sea Cucumber in a thick oyster sauce-based stock, good by itself, was made even more delicious with a dip of English Mustard and Zhejiang Black Vinegar.


The Shark course caused an internal struggle with myself. Not the eating part, dear me, no. It was the photo-taking part. Years ago, when this blog was just starting out, I had an opportunity to taste Shark’s head at a seafood restaurant. I was advised against taking photos or even writing about it. My chief argument was that I had proof that we do not just cut off the fins of the shark and throw it back in the sea as some people would have you believe. No, we consume the entire shark, mainly because, well, there’s good eating in a shark.

The Shark’s Head at Wo Peng was chopped up into easy-to-handle, bite-sized pieces heaped with garlic. Shark is difficult to prepare as it is a very strong meat that contains a lot of ammonia which requires much soaking to get rid of. Unfortunately, heaps and heaps of garlic could not get rid of the slightly soapy mouthfeel and the immensely fishy taste. This we told in no uncertain terms to Chef Tam.


This is where we see the difference between a seasoned professional and a young upstart. Chef Tam was gracious in accepting the comments and you could see a fierce gleam in his eye as he nodded at our suggestions.

Immediately, he went off and cooked a different version of Shark’s Head, this time using a thick spicy sauce made from Sichuan peppercorns. It was much better. The Sichuan peppercorns imparted a lemony sweetness to the Shark’s Head while starch (or was it cream?) moderated the heat of the peppercorns.


I am impressed with the Chef’s willingness to show that he can improve on something and his ability to act on it immediately. A lot of cooks would have either fought back or stalked off in a sulk.

Of course, the favorite dish of the night was the Braised Pig Trotters Bee Hoon. This appeared to be a favorite of everyone in the table as everyone got animated talking about their experiences with other versions. This is usually done using the canned Braised Pig Trotters (from Ma Ling) which is no longer available in Singapore, apparently Chef Tam does his own braised Pig Trotters.


It was milder, not as salty as the canned version and what it lacked in depth of flavor and bite, it made up in tenderness and there’s a certain elegance in the taste as opposed to the in-your-face canned trotters that we’re used to. The bee hoon was slurpy and very satisfying. I helped myself to two bowls and would have had more if it wasn’t polished off quickly by my fellow makankakis. With a heavy accompaniment of Sambal, it was excellent.

As a test, we asked the Chef to do a sweet and sour pork ribs (“Ku Lu Yok”) and egg fried rice. Two seemingly simple dishes but this is where we can see the skills of Chef shine or sink. Unfortunately, Chef Tam ran out of pork ribs and we were too full (and tipsy) to taste the fried rice properly. 😛

Finally, dinner was rounded of with a large bowl of fried Snakehead fish skins served with a plain chive-filled broth as a dip. Delicious!


Wo Peng Eatery is an interesting restaurant that’s still finding its groove. There is a strange mix of small tze char ambience with large-restaurant-style service (expertly managed by May, a former captain of the Furama Palace) that is incongruous. However, Chef Tam has the experience to whip up old-school Cantonese cuisine as well as handle requests for more exotic dishes.

It has been mentioned by many that it can be intimidating to order at Wo Peng Eatery because there’s no clue to their specialties, but a quick consult with Chef Tam or May will set you right on a gastronomic evening. It would be interesting however, if Chef Tam could offer seasonal dishes apart from the usual menu. It’s a great place to hold family functions (seats 70) and other excuses to have a good meal and a good time, a la Diner Privé.

Even though it reminds me of a horrible artsy-fartsy movie, I like Wo Peng Eatery. So, on a scale of 8 to 10, I would rate Wo Peng Eatery: “Experientially Gratifying”.

Wo Peng Eatery is at 476 Macpherson Road. Tel. 6747-9892. Opens daily 11.30am-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm.

With Michelle Yim, I think

Posted on 18th May 2008 in Cantonese, Makankaki


There Are 9 Comments


chef jullian tam commented on May 21, 2008 at 10:21 pm

thanks for speaking all the good things about wo peng restaurant! cheers!


thehungrycow commented on May 23, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Ooo..already looking forward to next month’s makankakis dinner at wo peng!


Mama BoK commented on May 24, 2008 at 4:27 am

Interesting chef..! i’ve met less desirable chefs during my time.


Ivan commented on May 26, 2008 at 9:07 pm

@chef jullian tam: Not at all, the pleasure was all mine. Hope to see you again soon!


Karen Lim commented on June 26, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Try braised shark lips in KL – Tuck Kee.
The gelatinous feel of it with thick gravy of dried scallops and some crispy sotong is uberdelicious.
the other stuffs I have tried are their giant garoupa, black pepper ribs (not the usual tough – these are easy to eat), tofu, vegs…pretty good!


ivan commented on June 26, 2008 at 4:03 pm

@Karen Lim: Woah! Intriguing…


food.recentrunes.com | Finding Peace On Macpherson Road commented on January 14, 2009 at 1:38 am

[…] after an interesting first dinner there, the rest, you might say, is […]


Charles Loke commented on November 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm

There are not many true blue guys like Julian..
He is obviously and deservingly proud of his creations .
He is brilliant in coming out with his innovative cuisine.
He listens to customer and take every feedback seriously.



ivan commented on November 25, 2009 at 1:34 pm

I am glad you like him.

Post A Comment

The comments are closed.


Recent Comments

cincymetal.com: ?hhis is vital a? you would certainl? nnot want a pet dog entrance do?r to open...

Rexic: Would have agreed with you but then I saw Pontian wanton mee with nacho cheese...

ivan: Thanks! I just think it’s a tired argument that doesn’t make sense.

Bugger: Btw, kacang puul looks amazing!

Bugger: Hear! Hear! So called “authenticity” is a great hurdle to emergence of new...

MervC: I like they way they bring out the massive chunk of tuna, and the great knife skills,...

ivan: Yes you are. 🙂

MervC: Look like Hashida Sushi. Am i right?




Cha Xiu Bao

Chubby Hubby

Makansutra Forum

My Inner Fatty

Nibble & Scribble

NYT Diner’s Journal

Only Slightly Pretentious Food

Serious Eats

Tamarind and Thyme

The Girl Who Ate Everything

The Wong List


View Stats