Thursday, December 15, 2005

Review: Village Wok Restaurants

My father was so heartened by his virgin effort at foodblogging, he's decided he'll give it another go. Now this is what I like to see - the start of a family tradition.

The number of new eateries opening in Singapore is mind-boggling but for those who eat to live and live to eat,it's heartening news.

Village Wok

Village Wok is one of these; although it is not entirely new. It had a presence for some 6 years in Geylang but has chosen to move to a hipper place in Far East Square at 80-82 Telok Ayer Street. The younger generation has taken over with the passing of time and this present place is run by the daughter of the original owner. One look at her and you can see the changing of the times.

Shi De Fu

The restaurant bills itself as Singapore's only old Canton Village cuisine, partly because it retains some of the old recipes and sauces of times past.

Special Menu

10 of us had the pleasure of dining there with an exclusive, specially-prepared menu. The owner was around to ensure that everything was in place and you'd be surprised at the new image of an old Chinese restaurant. The low-cut mini dress will probably make the 10 guys go back, if not for the food, then at least to say hello to the owner again. [Ed: PG site means no pictures of low-cut mini dresses. Use your imagination]

Four Seasons Appetiser

We started with a Four Seasons Appetiser which was in itself half a meal and a great introduction for the 2 Australian visitors who were dining with us. It was a combination of Village BBQ pork and Roast Crispy Pork with their signature mustard, together with Harvest of the Four Seasons, which included gingko nuts, capsicum to add colour and holy cow, Kueh Pai Tee! The next 5 minutes were spent explaining to the overseas visitors just what in the world was in front of them. Interesting and filling.

Cold Crab

Cold Crab with a special vinegrette sauce was next, and this is "an absolute favourite, with a special vinegrette sauce not tasted anywhere else" (the restaurant's words, not mine). Unfortunately the crab was shedding its shell and the meat in the pincers had shrivelled, or at least, that was the explanation given.

Crispy Lamb Belly

Crispy Lamb Belly with special mint sauce, a dish exclusive to the restaurant and unique with the mint sauce, followed. The Kwai-los (read: Cantonese term for Caucasians - not meant to be derogatory) lapped this up as it was something they were very familiar with, though unusual to say the least. You would not be able to recognise it as lamb if not told beforehand, because it's really deep fried.

Fried Brinjal with Crispy Squid

"Unusual" went a bit further when the Fried Brinjal with Crispy Squid in BXO sauce was served next. Fried brinjal in a restaurant? Perhaps in the neighbourhood zhi char stall but even so, it's still not common to be served eggplant or aubergine, but then again, this is old Canton village cuisine. The restaurant claims this dish has converted many non-brinjal lovers. I wasn't.

Steamed Pating Fish

The only spring water-bred Pating fish in Singapore, reared in the restaurant's own spring-water fish farm, steamed Yong Chow style, is probably the signature dish and should not be missed. The fish was fresh and was served with a large amount of condiments. Good stuff.

Smoked Village Chicken

A multiple award-winning smoked Village Chicken was next and the meat was moist and tender. Again the overseas visitors made a beeline for this recognisible offering, but to be fair, the chicken meat did retain much of its juiciness.

Oyster Noodles

Rounding off the meal was another multiple award-winning dish (don't know who's giving the awards), Village Fresh Oyster Noodles. As the name suggests - village noodles. Need I say more?

I was not the host, so I did not know how much the dinner cost. But since everybody was an uncle to the young lady-owner perhaps there was a senior citizen discount. After all, almost everyone knew the father. Incidentally, the restaurant boasts that it has food that is so close to the heart that you'll want to go back again and again, and the good thing is that it will not break the bank.

The downside is that you'd better know the area very well as the fact that it is actually along Telok Ayer street and Far East Square only adds to the confusion. It will help if you are dropped along the main road and the driver finds parking in one of the office blocks. There are no private rooms but the young lady has cleverly used a screen to wall off the front area to give some privacy. The bottom line? Certainly worth one visit if not again and again.

Village Wok Restaurants (Village Wok)
80-82 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01
(In Far East Square, opposite China Square. Next to the multi-storey carpark in Capital Square)
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30pm - 9.30pm

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