November 2, 2016
Don’t you always wish for a comforting bowl of porridge on a cold rainy night? Well… Gu Zao Ren might just be the place to fulfill your cravings!
Gu Zao Ren Seafood Taiwan Porridge is a household brand that has been in operation in Singapore since 1972, when they first opened as a hawker stall at Lau Pat Sat. It was only in the 1990s that they moved to ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre where their first outlet is located.
They have expanded into their second outlet along Changi Road since 2001, and offer a wider variety of items on their menu to choose from.
Best part of all, they are open all the way till 2am, so you can visit them for supper as well!
Pasted around the walls of the restaurant are numerous awards that Gu Zao Ren Seafood Taiwan Porridge has been awarded through the years, a clear sign that we could expect good things from the dishes served here.
The restaurant has a no-fuss interior with enough tables to accommodate groups of various sizes, both inside where it is air-conditioned or outside to enjoy the natural breeze.
There is this feeling of warmth and comfort when dining in a family-run restaurant. Up till today the restaurant still prepares most of the dishes by hand, such as splitting the you-tiao (dough sticks) into half and filling it with a sotong paste before deep frying.
This is definitely a rare find in many restaurants today when many dishes are pre-made in factories.
Every dishe served here is cooked-to-order by the well-trained chefs who are still using recipes handed down by the founder Mr Hong.
Choose from a variety of dishes on their menu, with some of their more popular local dishes such as Chai-Poh (Preserved Radish) Omelette, Shrimp Paste Chicken Wing, Preserved Salted Vegetables with Pork, Frog Legs with Ginger & Spring Onion – which we’ll be reviewing later on.
What better way to savour those dishes than with Taiwanese sweet potato porridge. Best part of all, the porridge portions come with unlimited refill at a price of only $1 per person!
We were elated when we saw local favorite Shrimp Paste Chicken Wings ($8 – Small) on the menu. Paired with a spicy chilli sauce that is made in-house, the chicken wings are lightly battered and extremely fragrant, thanks to the prawn paste marinade giving it that slight umami kick.
Biting into the wings revealed juicy flesh that we gladly devoured in seconds.
To cater to a younger dining crowd, the restaurant offers Salted Egg Ribs ($10 – Small) on their menu. We liked how the salted egg sauce is not too grainy and coats each rib evenly. The ribs are well cooked, not too tough and easy to bite into. Definitely a must-order dish on the menu.
No Taiwanese Porridge experience can be complete without ordering fish right? Well Gu Zao Ren doesn’t disappoint with its Deep Fried Pomfret with Black Bean Sauce ($18 – Medium). Usually we would prefer a fish like pomfret to be steamed but I was equally pleased by this deep fried version.
As pomfret has a milder sweeter tasting meat, pairing it with the black bean sauce gives it that slight saltiness to balance it out. We loved the leeks and chillis that are added to give the dish a nice crunch as well.
To balance out the heavier flavours of the other dishes, we went with the Fried Spinach with White Bait ($8 – Small) which had a slight pleasant garlicky taste that went really well with the spinach. The white bait was a nice addition to this dish as its gives a bit more texture to the vegetables.
Ah the Chai-Poh Omelette ($5 – Small) is a classic for any porridge experience. The small sized omelette probably only feeds two though.
Tearing the fluffy omelette revealed a soft, bright yellow eggy centre filled with generous amounts of preserved radish that have been mixed in with the egg before frying.
The preserved radish gives the omelette a slight salty twist when biting into it. Our only wish was for the Chai-Poh to be more fragrant perhaps by frying it for a little longer.
One of the more popular items on the menu, Pork Liver in Claypot ($8 – Medium) was a great accompaniment to the porridge. The flavours of the dark braising sauce are infused into the soft slices of liver, with the garnish of Chinese spring onions accentuating the meaty flavours.
Add it into your porridge and taste the difference immediately. The clever addition of ginger really helps to remove some of the porky taste in the dish.
Porridge with fresh, raw cockles you say? Well don’t be fooled by its gooey appearance, it actually tastes really good with porridge and is a classic loved by the older generation. Served with a simple marinate, this is a hit and miss depending on your preference for raw foods.
Our meal at Gu Zao Ren Seafood Taiwan Porridge was really enjoyable. Located at an obscure spot along Changi Road, its a underrated restaurant lost through the passage of time. Do check them out if you’re craving for a comforting and hot bowl of porridge at really affordable zhi char prices.
With 100 over dishes to choose from Gu Zao Ren is a spot we wouldn’t mind visiting again just to try all the other dishes.
Expected damage: $15 – $20
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Gu Zao Ren Taiwan Seafood Porridge.