Reflections on Wo Peng, Macpherson Road


The first time the Makankaki group had dinner at Wo Peng, it was such a resounding success that people are still talking about it. Stuff of legend included the famous braised pork trotter with pumpkin and the steamed crab with glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf.

This is why there was a good response for the second makankaki dinner there. And even though I’ve tasted the menu before, I still signed up, mainly because I would be sitting in good company and also, you can really never get enough of a good thing.

TTC gave a short incisive summary of what he thought about Wo Peng and Chef Julian’s cuisine which set me reflecting upon my many dinners there, especially when throughout dinner people kept asking what were my views about Wo Peng besides “I see that it’s a good thing, now shut up and let me eat”.


Blanched Live Clams in Superior Stock with Cellophane noodles – Brilliant!

A good point TTC brought up was the usual tze char fare which we are used to in Singapore has its roots in Malaysia (most tze char cooks here are Malaysian) which uses heavy sauces which imparts a good rustic flavor. Chef Julian’s fare features lighter sauces which give the food a more refined taste and lets the main ingredient shine through. This is different from being heavy-handed or light-touched with sauces.

Take for example, the blanched live clams; while I may be biased because I love shellfish, but the clams were excellent. The stock was lightly sweetened with white onions, given a subtle pepperiness with spring onions and brought alive with a touch of ginger and Chinese wine, all of which served to give a background to the sweetness of the live clams. The brilliant touch, I feel, was the addition of Tang Hoon which absorbed the remnants of the sauce and made a wonderful finish for the dish.


Charcoal Grilled Goose

Chef Julian recently installed a smoker and introduced his charcoal grilled goose to us at a recent birthday dinner. Sweet, fat and deliciously smokey without being dry. I think of the goose often.

This segues into TTC’s next point where while all the dishes were good, there were none that could stand out as being the signature dish. There’s not a single dish where one can say “if you go to Wo Peng, you must try this signature dish!”

I totally agree with this and I find it awkward to tell people that a lot of times, I order off-menu or Chef Julian would use us as a sounding-board for his latest experiment like his charcoal grilled goose, which I am told is now on the menu.


Smoked Golden Snapper Fish

Granted, a signature dish makes for easy marketing but really, is a signature dish de rigueur, especially when everything is good? Is a restaurant with a few good signature dishes superior to generally good restaurant that doesn’t?

Which restaurant would you rather go to?
One with a few good signature dishes but generally mediocre food.
One with no signature dishes but generally good food.
I don’t care about quality, I just want cheap.
I just go where I fancy and then bitch about it on the Interweb.
The one which my partner decides.
Vegetarians. free polls

During the dinner, Chef Julian came out for a meet-and-greet and whispered to me, “You must try the Snapper tonight”. I would say the Smoked Golden Snapper was easily the best dish of the evening if I weren’t so faithful to the smoked goose.

When smoking food, there is a fine line between the desired smokey sweetness and pungent acrid bitterness and I can only describe the fish as “smoke-kissed”. Slightly crisp skin wrapped around sweet sweet flaky flesh. Even the Germans at my table were raving about it. Smoked-kissed indeed.


Panfried Red Bean Pancakes

To me, Wo Peng embodies the consistency and familiarity with a touch of freshness that I like in a restaurant. I am usually guaranteed a good quality meal at a reasonable price and the people (like May and Julian) welcome me like a friend, not a customer and there’s always something special of the day.

In the end, when asked by a visitor to Singapore on places to eat, there are only a handful of restaurants that I would mention and invariably, Wo Peng would be on the list. Try the charcoal-grilled goose and the smoked snapper; not their signature dish but I like them very much.

* * *

For an alternate perspective of the second makankaki dinner at Wo Peng, here’s Camemberu’s account.

Wo Peng is at 476 Macpherson Road, Singapore 368191, Tel: 6747 9892 (reservations recommended), Open daily 11am – 3pm; 6pm – 10pm.

Chef Julian Tam

Chef Julian Tam – I can usually take good portraits of Chefs if I’m allowed into the kitchen


The Golden Cock Smoker


La vache et le fromage


Skin tone


Cut up


What is the Matrix – evil greenish cast


Paparazzi or is it Terrazzo?




Posted on 25th Mar 2010 in Cantonese, Makankaki


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[…] for the Bee Hoon and no one would miss it if you didn’t add the clams. We’ve had very good clam noodles in superior stock where we could taste the sweetness of the clams, and this wasn’t […]

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