In order to celebrate my birthday, the completion of my course and as a section lunch, my boss took us to eat at a Teochew restaurant he was fond of.
The Swa Garden restaurant is a moderate restaurant tucked away in Macpherson, and is fairly casual as Chinese restaurants go, ie no napkins but paper serviettes, and no one minds if you talk about your dog's incontinence at the table. This may be part of the reason why the restaurant is so popular, as it was nearly full by lunchtime.
Service isn't anything to scream about, and you will usually have to fill your own teacup, but at least the food doesn't take ages to arrive.
What came along first was a plate of stir-fried vegetables and deep-fried squid, which in typical Teochew fashion was not heavy on sauce or spices, but tasty nonetheless. The squid came along with a bed of fried-till-crisp basil leaves, which I thought was an interesting touch.
I never knew the Teochew had their version of fried rice, but apparently they do. Either that or the restaurant took liberties with an old favourite. The addition of slices of fish actually adds another layer of flavour to the rice, and the rice itself is quite moist, not dry and chewy like fried rice tends to be.
This is apparently one of their specialties: braised goose with beancurd underneath. It was good, too, the goose was juicy and tender, even if it is bad for you and makes you fat.
We also had a serving of duck soup, which was basically duck boiled with things like pickles and tomatoes. I'm not sure I really like this, mainly because I'm not really a fan of sour soups like tom yam, and when you boil pickles and tomatoes you get an inevitable sourness permeating the otherwise clear sweetness of your stock.
What would a Chinese meal be without steamed fish? I don't know what fish this was, but there was plenty of flesh to go around. Now, I'm not an expert fish eater, so I don't know if it was overcooked or not, but to my untrained palate, it seemed fine to me.
According to my boss, what Swa Garden is particularly famous for is its fried kway teow. Unlike the normal Singaporean char kway teow, the Teochew version uses much less sauce, resulting in a drier version, with simple flavours like vegetables and radish dominating the dish. It's probably a bit of an acquired taste, as both my colleague and I found it a bit dry for our liking. I thought it was even a little rubbery.
Swa Garden Restaurant (Teochew)
540-542 Macpherson Road
Overall: A good place to go to if you're looking for affordable Teochew food