Ever had a splitting headache agreeing on where to bring your parents and/or grandparents for that family gathering?
Think no further because Swatow Garden Seafood Restaurant is a place to satisfy your cravings for quality Chinese cuisine.
A hidden gem tucked away inside Serangoon Gardens Country Club, Swatow offers a wide variety of traditional Teochew delicacies and innovative Cantonese dim sum prepared by passionate chefs hailing from Shantou and Hong Kong — the origins of the chefs mean authenticity in their food and flavour.
The main dining hall is widely spaced out with ample natural lighting and the private dining rooms have their own karaoke systems. Swatow is pretty much a one-stop restaurant that caters to every family event we can think of.
Our gastronomical journey kicked off with the Fried Carrot Cake with X.O Sauce ($6.80).
Bits of Chinese sausages (lap cheong) within the fragrant carrot cake gave every bite texture and enhanced it with a tinge of sweetness. Evenly coated with X.O sauce, the taste of a usually dull fried carrot cake has definitely been given that extra oomph!
Speaking of adding a twist to classic dim sum dishes, fans of Liu Sha Bao should look out for this affordable Custard and Egg Yolk Bun (2pcs for $3.20). The bun itself is enriched with pandan flavour, hence the pastel lime colour.
Expect pipping hot molten salted egg custard to ooze out upon the first bite (that’s if you don’t take too long with your photos).
What we had next wasn’t hard to guess. Teochew steamed Siew Mai (3 pcs for $4.50). Unlike the yellow siew mai that we all are familiar with, this green-skinned variant uses spinach extract to get its unique colour.
On its own, this is could use less salt. However, the saltiness was balanced out when dipped in the recommended black vinegar. Initially I wasn’t quite used to the flavour, but I guess it’s the original Teochew taste that works really well with vinegar.
If you are looking for a soup that mirrors the home-cooked flavour to warm your body and soul, this Pig Stomach and Chicken Soup ($8) would be your perfect choice. A peppery and opaque pork bone broth that’s slowly simmered for at least a day, this soup is perfect for rainy days and helps to clear up a congested nose.
Served with a generous portion of thinly sliced pig’s stomach and pieces of chicken, this affordable and tasty soup pairs well with rice for a simple meal. The stomach’s not too chewy and is easy to bite.
Being a soup aficionado, this hearty soup impressed me in all possible ways.
Unlike the common rendition of this Teochew dish, Swatow’s Chilled Jellied Pork Knuckle ($8, left) and Teochew Chilled Sliced Braised Pig’s Head ($8, right) promises to be the first of its kind in Singapore; being much darker, denser and more flavourful than the rest.
Using a secret recipe stock that’s been cooked for over six hours and traditional preparation methods, the dishes retain the true essence of Teochew cuisine. Known to be very rare in the Chinese food scene, those two are usually dipped in plum sauce to complement the intense, nutty flavour.
The last of the braised dish series is the classic Teochew Braised Duck Meat with Bean curd ($15, middle), which tastes refreshing when doused in a sauce of garlic white vinegar.
I am guessing the addition of vinegar into almost every dish is a very Teochew thing to do, but 90% of the time, it actually works!
Do note these dishes were presented in a tasting portion, and the actual portions are much larger.
Speaking of Teochew vinegar, here’s a little secret for you — an off-menu item that is perfect with vinegar, Golden Crispy Noodle ($18), hand-made with duck eggs and thoughtfully shaped in the shape of a heart is perfect for any family festivities to show your love to your parents.
The noodles are boiled and subsequently fried, hence the varying textures. Crisp on the outside and springy inside the ring of yellow chives (jiu huang), it gives you an option of pairing with sugar or you guessed it, vinegar.
I love the tartness that vinegar adds to the crispy portion of the noodles, perfect with a crunch of the subtly aromatic yellow chives. A very addictive dish that will remind you of a certain packet noodle snack you had in your kiddy years.
Last but not least, how can we leave an established Teochew restaurant without trying the classic Crystal Bao (Sweet or Savoury, 3pcs for $4.50)?
Both types are wrapped in a translucent mochi-like skin and while sweet comes in a delightful blend of red bean paste, the savoury version’s fillings are similar to what you’d find in a popiah roll. The extreme thinness of the skin ensures a perfect wrap to filling ratio that’s hard to come by these days.
These babies are hard to find in Singapore, so don’t miss out on trying this old-school dish; your grandma will thank you for this find.
Overall, the combination of serving pocket-friendly Dim Sum and traditional Teochew dishes offers the best of both worlds for families that will enjoy a myriad of distinct flavours.
Quaintly located in Serangoon, Swatow Garden Seafood Restaurant is a great place for that long awaited family session with your older folks who will also enjoy some quality nostalgic flavours. For the younger kids, it would be a great opportunity to introduce them to the truly authentic Teochew Cuisine that their parents grew up with. Otherwise, there’s always the Liu Sha Bao for the kiddos and the “kids-at-heart”.
Expected damage: $25 – $35 per person
Specially for our readers at SETHLUI.com, flash this blog post and get a jar of Salted Egg Crispy Fish Skin ($16.80) and Return Voucher for FREE!
*Minimum spending of $80 for food only before GST and only to be used on next visit
*Promotion valid till 31st August 2017
**This post was brought to you in partnership with Swatow Garden