Along the charming streets of Frankel Avenue lies SHAO 燒, an eatery serving modern Teochew cuisine with an ingenious twist.
It is difficult to miss SHAO, it is adorned with gorgeous verdant foliage spilling from the ceiling of the storefront.
The interior follows the same vein of quaint and a mix of modern furniture that will make you feel right at home.
When it comes to Teochew cuisine, it is very much like the decor of SHAO: simple and unassuming.
We had the chance to meet the owner and head chef Jack Ding, who proudly hails from the Chaozhou prefecture. Through our meal, we gained insight as to how he cleverly blends Teochew cuisine with other popular cuisines to create his signature dishes.
First up was the Signature BBQ Crab (S$45 – S$55). Traditionally, Teochew-style crab is steamed and served cold to fully appreciate the sweetness and freshness of the meat.
Seasoned with only freshly ground black pepper, sea salt and unagi sauce, Chef Ding does not stray far from the classic. This way, the crab retains its natural flavour and is further enhanced by the charring of the unagi sauce.
I greedily (#sorrynotsorry) got my hands on the crab and cracked opened the shell, and swooned at the sight before me. Not only was the snowy white meat gleaming but the crab was filled to the brim with creamy crab roe. Now, for crab lovers everywhere we know this a moment of absolute bliss.
The Signature BBQ Crab is certainly a winner for me — fresh and succulent, each chunk of flesh was fragrant and luscious. A refreshing change from our heavily seasoned chilli crab and black pepper crab.
Chef Ding also assured me that he carefully sources his crabs from Sri Lanka such that the crabs are always in the process of moulting ensuring these crustaceans are never without the umami roe.
Next, we were served a somewhat secret off-menu item, Sudong Sausage (S$22). I say ‘somewhat’ because Chef Ding always recommends it to his patrons and they always come back to him requesting for seconds; kind of an open secret if you will.
The Taiwanese-inspired sausage is made with squid ink and filled with springy morsels of squid. Chopsticks in hand, I was slightly hesitant at first, but what greeted me was bouncy, savoury goodness, and I was sold.
All I could think about was how well it would go with an ice-cold pint. Suffice to say the plate was polished off in no time.
Following all that glorious seafood is the Salt and Pepper Prawns With Yam Fries (S$18). The prawns were crispy and golden, seasoned aggressively with chives, chilli and garlic.
The yam fries still had a bite to them and was a good accompaniment to the prawns. Each curl of prawn was piquant and while I loved the crunch, they were nothing to shout about.
Taking a break from seafood, Chef Ding paid another homage to his Teochew roots with the Braised Chicken in Teochew Style with Basil (S$18).
The chicken meat was plump and steeped in the Teochew sauce, the basil provided a hint of freshness, making it a wholesome dish to have.
To end off the meal, we were served a classic Teochew dish, Drunken Cockles (S$16), which is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Drunken Cockles, aka ‘Blood Cockles’, and rightly named so because of its bright crimson flesh. The cockles were soaked in sesame oil, coriander and topped with fresh chopped garlic, onions and chilli.
Emboldened by my Sudong Sausage endeavour, I bravely scooped up a loaded cockle. I was surprised to discover the sweetness of the cockle nicely balanced with the garlicky concoction, which made quite a toothsome mouthful. However, I still think it is an acquired taste one has to get used to.
SHAO’s unique way of incorporating different cultures is perhaps a testament to how the culinary world is never one that is static and one that is ever evolving and developing.
If you ever find yourself craving for comforting modern Teochew cuisine amid our saturated hipster food scene, SHAO is the place to be.
Expected Damage: S$12 – S$60 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
117 Frankel Avenue, Singapore 458232
117 Frankel Avenue, Singapore 458232