July 29, 2013

Le Chasseur ~ The Chicken Claypot Rice and Pork Knuckle Is Awesome!

We agreed that we do not want to eat rice when thinking of a place for dinner in the Clarke Quay area, but when my friend mentioned that he has never tried the Chicken Claypot Rice at Le Chasseur before, all no-carbs diet plans are thrown out and we found ourselves at this restaurant located at New Bridge Road, just across the road from The Central.

Le Chasseur means "The Hunter" in French, but chef-owner Andy Lim serves up entirely Chinese zhi char cuisine. He ran a restaurant of the same name while living in Mauritius and decided to continue the tradition by using back the same name when he returned to Singapore.

"The Chicken Claypot Rice and Tau Suan is really 'tok gong' (awesome) one! You must must must try!", I told my friend excitedly as we waited for our table in the humble, no-frills restaurant. Crowds who are attracted to these two signature items at Le Chasseur never seemed to cease, so do call them to make a reservation before coming over. If you decide to walk in last minute like us, the best thing to do might be like what we did: put on our brightest smile, turn on all our charms and be nice to the service staff. (We got our table in less than 10 minutes :p )

There is no menu here, available items are simply indicted on a functional order chit. But... look at the food pictures prominently displayed on the wall! Enough to make you salivate, enough to make you order and over-order lol.

Even before our order of Chicken Claypot Rice (small-$11/Large-$20) is served, we were already intoxicated by the unmistakable scent of the smokey charcoal aroma coming from the surrounding tables. It was a whiff so heavenly, whetting our appetite up before our own pot of claypot rice is finally placed in front of us. Definitely worth the 20 minutes wait, as the rice is cooked from scratched in the claypot over charcoal fire, the only way capable of imparting such a lovely distinct flavor to each rice grain. 

To the initiated, the claypot rice may look uninteresting and plain by its presentation, but wait till you tasted it! A quick round of mixing ensured the medley of ingredients buried beneath the rice are gloriously revealed. Chunks of tender well-marinated chicken, shiitake mushrooms, lup cheong (preserved chinese sausages), salted fish, green vegetable and rice flavored with delish dark sauce and fragrant fried shallots all came so beautifully together in this piping hot pot of wholesome goodness. A definite must-try!

Another factor which makes Le Chasseur's chicken claypot rice outstanding is their use of good quality basmatic rice which gives a fluffy texture, but never to the mushy extent. And who doesn't love scrapping the sides and bottom of the pot for those charred rice bits? Expertly burnt to the right note of crispiness, the crust is always one of the highlights.

We Chinese believed in the importance of balance of yin (cool) and yang (heat), a concept to regulate our body state of hot and cold energy through the consumption of food based on their predominantly yin or yang properties. So, to counter the heatiness of the charred rice bits, we ordered a bowl of Bittergourd Soup ($6). Bittergourd has always been known for being cooling and... bitter, a taste deemed unappealing but it's not as intolerable as people thought. This soup is much loved by us for its mellowed down bitterness, with just a subtle hint which is at a very acceptable level. It left us feeling very light and healthy.

My friend love pork knuckles so we ordered one as well. It was my first time eating Crispy Pork Knuckles ($32) here at Le Chasseur and definitely not the last! Huge in size, crispy crackling skin, meat well permeated with flavors and pork stench banished to afar, the pork knuckle is mind-blowing delicious! Any grease is surprisingly imperceptible, despite being deep fried for three times to ensure crispiness. The dip made of chopped cucumber, onion, starfruit and light soya sauce is a most brilliant accompaniment, adding a zesty touch and elevating the taste of pork knuckle to a different dimension.

We couldn't finished the pork knuckle as we over-ordered too much food, so I did a takeaway of the leftovers and made porridge with it the next day. It's lip-smacking delish of course :p (Read: PinkyPiggu's Pork Knuckle Porridge ~ Recipe Included!)

What rounded up our choices that evening was Prawn and Meat Omelette ($7) and Celery with Lily Bulb ($7), two unpretentious dishes which has a very homely feel to it. As a zhi char restaurant, Le Chasseur also serves up a variety of ala-carte dishes like perennial favorites Coffee Pork Ribs ($16), Prawn Paste Chicken ($6) and Butter Oatmeal Prawns ($6/100g). I heard rave reviews about their Duck with Salted Vegetable Soup ($16) and Barbequed Live Prawns ($9.60) too and made a mental note to try these during my next visit.

Full as we were, I was still very looking forward to the Tau Suan with You Tiao ($3.40). The previous visit when I had this dessert was very memorable, with a unique fragrance which is somewhat lacking this time round. Nevertheless, this rendition still surpasses all the other tau suan I've ever had before. The split mung beans are superbly executed with the right bite, being neither too hard nor too soft. Much to my delight, the amount of beans is still as generously proportioned, swimming in a syrup which is very well-textured and not overly sweet. The doughsticks would have been the perfect match to the tau suan if they were a tad crispier that evening.

In case you haven't heard, Le Chasseur's last day of operations at the current location will be on August 9, 2013, to make way for the building of a new hotel which followed after the en-bloc sale. Sigh, here's another #sgmemory gone. Well, we take heart that new ones will soon be created at their new premises in Eunos starting August 19, 2013. I was told by the boss that the new premises will be much bigger and can accommodate more customers at one time. Will the food standard remain consistent? Will it still command a crowd? We'd find out soon...

Le Chasseur
Address (Old): 31 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059393 (until August 9, 2013)
Address (New): Blk 27, Eunos Road 2, Singapore 409387 (starting August 19, 2013)
Contact: +65 63377677 / +65 91440322 / +65 90183820
Opening Hours: 11am - 11pm Daily

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