December 05, 2013
Hokkein Classics @ Gim Tim Restaurant 锦珍酒楼, Ang Mo Kio
I belong to the Hokkein dialect group. Can understand Hokkein, can't really speak Hokkein, but certainly know how to eat Hokkein food lol! Last week saw me making my way over to Gim Tim 锦珍酒楼, one of the restaurants in Singapore that has been carrying on the legacy of Hokkein cuisine since the establishment of its humble outlet at the residential block of Ang Mo Kio since 1975. I was there for some traditional Hokkein delights by Chef Lai Yong Meng who has over 20 years of experience.
One of the most famous Hokkein dish has to be the Braised Pork Belly Bun 扣肉包. A slice of dark sinfulness sandwiched between white, soft bun, the rendition at Gim Tim gets more than a passing approval as we relished in the flavorful pork belly's tender, melting fatness which has been braised in savory sauce for hours.
The Fish Maw Soup 福建鱼鳔 reminds me of shark fin's soup without the shark's fin. Though flavorful and brimming with slivers of ingredients, the starchiness of the soup rested a tad too heavily on the tummy.
My favorite dish of the evening undoubtedly went to the Prawn Roll 虾枣. Nothing fancy, just simple deep-fried goodness packed with fresh minced prawns and crunchy bits of water chestnuts, but a definite must-order classic!
I love my greens and is delighted to see the next dish, a colorful medley of Stir-fried Fresh Scallops with Macadamia Nuts 夏果帶子, shimeji mushrooms and assorted vegetables. But it might have stayed in the wok longer than it should, for the scallops came across as rather rubbery in texture.
The sauce for Homemade Beancurd with Melon 胜瓜自制豆腐 was too gooey, otherwise, the smooth beancurd is a winner in all sense.
The plate of Sea Cucumber Duck 海参鸭 is braised till the duck meat was fall-off-the bone tender, very tooth-friendly and suitable for all generations.
On the other hand, the Tapioca Kueh with Spicy Shrimp 大茨粉条 was extremely chewy! A very old traditional Hokkein dish which is seldom seen in most restaurants, it looked like chai tow kway 菜头粿 at first glance and tasted a bit like mee tai bak 老鼠粉. The strips of tapioca cake is sautéed in a slightly spicy black sauce with beansprouts, mushrooms and topped with fragrant fried shallots.
Very tasty and appetite whetting, the more I ate it, the more I love it! Certainly a notable signature dish of Gim Tim which slowly grows on you.
Dessert was the Young Coconut Pudding 椰子布丁. Its texture was light and smooth like beancurd, lifted with the lovely perfume of coconut, topped with fresh fruits and a thin layer of mango puree. The whole combination was utterly refreshing and enjoyable. The next best thing after finishing the pudding was to scrap the inner of the coconut and enjoy its juicy flesh! I was so glad I have the whole portion to myself and not have to share (sometimes it's okay to be selfish lol!). We also requested for Yam Paste 芋泥 which is more Teochew than Hokkein, but nonetheless pleasing.
Gim Tim did undergo a refurbishment, giving the premises a brighter look though it still largely retains an old-school feel. Diners are predominately families and regulars, and this restaurant in the heartlands gets really crowded during weekends so reservations are recommended. There are a couple of set menus at special prices for year end dinners and the upcoming Chinese New Year which might be suitable for you and your family if you're looking for quality, affordable food.
Thanks to Gim Tim Restaurant for their hospitality.
Gim Tim Restaurant 锦珍酒楼
Address: Blk 157, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, #01-546, Singapore 560157
Contact: +65 64597766
Mon-Fri Lunch 11.30am-2.30pm / Dinner 6-10.30pm
Sat, Sun & PH Lunch 11am-2.30pm / Dinner 6-10.30pm