Monday, November 19, 2007

Zhou’s Kitchen

C says:

Taking over what used to be Paddy Fields Thai Restaurant at the Copperdome building outside Anchorpoint, this new offering from the Tung Lok Group boasts home-style Chinese food in a casual dining setting. “Zhou” is the Chinese surname of Andrew Tjioe, the owner of the Tung Lok Group, and apparently the new eatery serves simple Chinese fare that his family used to cook and eat at home.

I like the stripped-down look and feel of this place – a welcome departure from the increasingly posh and ID-ed interiors of other Tung Lok restaurants. The inside of the restaurant still resembles a quaint little colonial bungalow, so a few tables are tucked away in each ‘room’, resulting in a very cosy, homely atmosphere.

The menu has a wide range of dishes, from one-dish items like congee, noodles, hor fun and fried rice, to sharing-type dishes that are a cross between zi cha and restaurant fare. They have dim sum but only for lunch and high tea. I could eat practically everything on the menu, and surprisingly A wasn’t too far behind. Apart from the fresh fish and seafood options, and the Deep Fried Coriander Balls (who the HELL will order those?!), most of the menu suited his tastes, which is certainly saying a lot. They even have his two favourite Chinese dishes – Sweet and Sour Pork, and Lemon Chicken!

Any place that serves a big basket of keropok as an ‘appetiser’ is a winner in my book. Forget achar or peanuts, keropok is the way to go. This one was fish keropok – very light and addictive, and made even more so by the accompanying chilli dip.

The steamed pork neck with eggplant and preserved vegetables (mui choy) blended all the ingredients together very well. The fatty meat from the pork neck and the eggplant are both quite rich, but because the whole dish was steamed, the lightness of the gravy offset the heavier textures of the ingredients.

Coffee pork ribs are quite common in zi cha restaurants nowadays, but I’ve never had them with such a distinctive coffee aroma before. Normally they’re just pai guat wong masquerading as coffee pork ribs, but this time I got a whiff of the coffee the moment the dish arrived. The sauce had a definite coffee flavour, but it wasn’t bitter or overbearing, just slightly sweet, sticky and fragrant. The pork was also incredibly tender.

The Village Rice, which is something like claypot rice but served in porcelain, is very good value. The bowl looks pretty small, but it’s amazing how much rice they pack into it. A $6 bowl yielded about 5 rice bowl portions. Flavour-wise, it’s a little bland on its own because it doesn’t have the charred flavour of actual claypot rice, but the light and delicate flavour goes very well with the rest of the dishes.

We tried their red bean pancake for dessert, which was very light and crispy and not at all oily. Still, something was missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It somehow didn’t have the oomph of old-school red bean pancake. Maybe it’s trying to be too healthy, because in addition to the lack of oil, it wasn’t all that sweet either.

The service was excellent. We were there pretty late – around 9 pm, and their last order is at 10. We felt really bad being the last ones there from about 9.30, but not once were we made to feel uncomfortable or rushed, and we were even told to take our time.

This isn’t the most accessible of places, but I hope word gets round and they build up a good customer base. I guess once Anchorpoint’s facelift is complete, they’ll have a more steady stream of customers. This is one of the most pleasant Tung Lok restaurants I’ve been to, and I’m definitely coming back for more.

A says:

Not bad but I think it’s really overpriced. Portions are tiny.

Zhou’s Kitchen
The Copperdome, Anchorpoint
368 Alexandra Road
Tel: 6473-1123
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm.
Weekends and public holidays: high tea from 2.30 to 5pm

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