Goldleaf New Taiwanese Porridge Restaurant


7th September 2013.
A few weeks ago, Liang Wei, Mu Yao and I were invited to Goldleaf New Taiwanese Porridge Restaurant for a lunch tasting. Being a history aficionado, I was drawn to the history of this old porridge restaurant. According to our host, Karen, the restaurant has a history that dates back to the 1970s and initially we thought it was at Oxley Rise as their only “photograph” was on an old name card.


Interested by its history, I decided to do a bit of research on my own, asking around about a porridge restaurant at Oxley Rise and doing a search on PICAS, hopefully I might find a shot of the restaurant. Looking at some old maps and observing some old photos, I realized that there was a mistake in the description on the name card. Cross-referencing with a recollection by a commenter named peter on Good Morning Yesterday, I located the scene depicted in the card at the junction of Oxley Road and Orchard Road facing Cavenagh Road, opposite is where the former Le Meridien Hotel now stands. 

Later Karen managed to find the old address of the shophouse:
185 Orchard Road
Singapore 0923


This confirmed that it was located along Orchard Road rather than previously mentioned Oxley Rise. This address now points to Emerald Hill side. I think this is because the shophouses, as you could see in the photo from PICAS, located along the Stamford Canal, previously known as Raffles River (according to Geraldene Lowe, a lady who lived at Oxley Road for the last 45 years and runs Geraldene’sTours) was demolished around the 1980s, one of the few buildings spared from the demolition is your Killiney Post Office.

The "Urban Renewal" taking place along the Stamford Canal in the 1980s. Source : PICAS

Now we found the location but with the name card alone, I couldn’t tell how it looked like and photos from PICAS showed more of the area around the present day Plaza Singapura. Fortunately, I spotted a photograph from the Opinionated Diner taken in the 1956 that matches the painting and the description of the shophouse. This discovery also showed that another restaurant named the Criterion was one of the previous occupants before Goldleaf Taiwanese Porridge took over.


From here, due to the lack of photographs, everything else is up to imagination. From the description by commenter on Good Morning Yesterday, he described the restaurant as having red doors that resembled imperial palace doors. Using that description and both the name card and the 1956 photograph, I came up with this. It is not 100% accurate but I hope Goldleaf Taiwanese Porridge Restaurant would be pleased to find that now it has something to show its roots back to the 1970s. So how does this lao zhao pai fare? Continue reading for the review by Liang Wei and Mu Yao!


Porridge is one of those foods in our culture that seem under-appreciated. Indeed, in the age of excess and instant gratification, having a homely meal of porridge and simple dishes is not quite as common as it used to be. Tucked away in the historic and beautiful Amoy Street is Goldleaf New Taiwanese Porridge Restaurant, which, really, has been around longer than its name suggests.


Xin Li, Mu Yao and I were invited to the tasting session where we sampled a range of dishes that went with our porridge (you can ask for rice, but hey, it is a porridge restaurant after all!). We were first served with an appetiser of braised beancurd, which had a nice savoury touch. I liked the strong flavour of the soy sauce that permeated the slivers of firm beancurd and the crunchy bits of cucumber.


Braised Beancurd Appetiser


Taiwanese-style sweet potato porridge

The Taiwanese-style sweet potato porridge was well-done with the cubes of sweet potato not being overcooked and the rice still retaining its plump shape in the bowl. We liked that the porridge was not stodgy and overwhelming like other congees, allowing us to taste the flavours of the accompanying dishes while being refreshed on the palate by the light-tasting porridge.

 

Chye poh neng (preserved radish omelette)

We agreed that the omelette was a hit-or-miss. The first time the omelette was prepared, it was slightly too greasy, while the second preparation turned out to be drier and less oily but lacking smoothness.

MY: In all instances, I have to say that the chye poh was sufficiently crunchy and the saltiness wasn't too sharp — a mark of good chye poh.


Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables

The braised pork belly was done pretty well with the fats melting in the mouth. The only thing that was lacking in the dish was the texture of the meat, which was not quite as melt-in-the-mouth and was slightly tough.

MY: It is a personal opinion of course, but I did feel that I appreciated this not being overtly fatty, and gelak as a result of that. So I was actually more than willing to forgive the slightly sinewy texture of the meat itself. 


Deep-fried Cod Fish with a Special Sauce

(This dish marked the first of many dishes with 'Special Sauce', which the restaurant did not want to divulge...) We loved the cod fish for its texture and how perfectly cooked it was - firm but yielding at the slightest bite. The sauce complimented the oily fish very well and the deep-fried shredded ginger provided a nice touch of spice and crunch to the dish. Xin Li was very impressed and could not help having more of it!


Steamed Minced Pork with Salted Egg Yolk (left) and Fresh Cockles in Special Sauce (right)

The steamed minced pork patty is a classic dish that accompanies porridge and Goldleaf's version was one of the best exemplars of it, with a well-chosen balance between lean and fatty meat flavoured sumptuously with the rich taste of the salted egg yolk and simple soy sauce seasoning. 

The fresh raw cockles made for an intriguing dish. The special sauce removed all hints of the briny flavour of the shellfish, which probably make its more palatable to people who find it hard to swallow raw shellfish. The accompanying dip gave the cockles a touch of spice, which enhanced the freshness of the cockles.


Stir-fried Swan Vegetables with Chinese Wolfberries

The stir-fried vegetables, simply sauteed with plump wolfberries, were crisp and sweet, delightfully flavoured with stock. It was a good dish to cleanse the palate of the grease from earlier dishes.


Ngoh Hiang (Traditional Shrimp Rolls)

The rolls had plenty of crunchy water chestnuts mixed into the dense but flavourful pork. Mu Yao thought that it was very well done too, although he disagreed with me and thought there was too little water chestnut in them. 

MY: I thought this had a nice sweetness to it and the skin of the Ngoh Hiang was crisp.


Deep-fried Fish in Special Sauce

The fish was quite nice to munch on because it was fried to perfection. However, while it might go well with beer, we thought that the sauce lacked sufficient flavour to complement the porridge or any other dish on the table. 


San Bei Ji ('Three Cups' Chicken with Basil; left) and a Duo of Salted Egg Yolk Prawn and Black Pepper Prawn (right)

The 'Three Cups' Chicken was flavourful and tender while the gravy was a delicious mix brimming with the fragrance of garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil that was superbly matched with the porridge. However, the prawns were fairly ordinary in spite of the updated mode of presentation. That said, the prawns were fresh and cooked to al dente perfection with all the juices still locked within the flesh. Interestingly, Goldleaf has also started to pair wines with some of the dishes and the white wine that we had with the prawns greatly enhanced the flavour of the crustaceans while also cleansing the palate.

MY: For the prawns, I thought that the Salted Egg Prawn was above average. The saltiness of the yolk was crumbly and not drenched in oil, which was what made this stand out. Normally, salted egg yolk sauces have the dubious tendency of being exceedingly oily while being savoury, but this was different — I was able to taste the sweet freshness and al dente texture of the prawns. 

The Mongolian (Black Pepper) Prawn was even better. Black pepper sauces usually have a tendency to have this monotonous tingle of that spice, numbing you to the other salty, savoury flavours of the sauce. But this one had a tinge of sweetness towards it, the dull spice of pepper didn't overwhelm one's taste buds so that we could enjoy the taste of the fresh prawns. 





Stir-fried Beansprouts with Salted Fish

We liked that the beansprouts did not have an earthy aftertaste or tasted overly salty. The sprouts were also cooked very well and retained a satisfying crunchiness. 


Volcano Tofu (Seafood Tofu with San Bei Chicken) 

While the seafood tofu was well-crafted in terms of the texture and done-ness of the "bowl", it tasted a little bit too seafood-ish for me, with strong flavours of prawn and a faint fishy taste. However, the san bei chicken was good, as reviewed above. 


Orh Nee (Yam Paste)

The yam paste also received mixed reviews from Mu Yao, the orh nee connoisseur. The first bowl of yam paste turned out too watery for Mu Yao's liking whereupon a second, slightly better one was served. Kudos to the staff for rectifying the problem! The orh nee here was made using vegetable oil due to health concerns, so foodies craving a taste of tradition will be disappointed at the lack of lard. However, the flavour did come quite close to the traditional version, so it's well worth a try.

MY: I have to say that the yam paste was not cloyingly sweet and oily, which is a definite plus for those who are health-conscious. The orn nee is admirably smooth despite the fact they used vegetable oil instead of lard. The resulting taste was still very smooth and evenly sweet.


Green Tea Pudding

The tea-flavoured puddings were introduced to cater to modern tastes and young children, as it was explained to us by Karen. We tried the red and green tea-flavoured puddings and unanimously decided that the latter was our favourite. The green tea pudding had an intense flavour of tea and did not come as astringent or 'siap' as we would usually put it. However, the red tea pudding appeared to Xin Li and Mu Yao to taste artificial.

All in all, the food at Goldleaf was very homely and would not have been out of place in any home. In fact, it would be particularly suited to large family gatherings where many dishes can be ordered for sharing. Although there were some hits and misses, we enjoyed the wholesome food tremendously. The courteous, attentive service was also particularly laudable! (Note that service charge is not levied here, which makes the standards of service that we saw here even more impressive!)

Many thanks to Rachel and Karen for their invitation to and hospitality at the food tasting session.

Goldleaf New Taiwanese Porridge Restaurant
110 Amoy Street
Singapore 069930


4 comments:

  1. Deep-fried Cod Fish with a Special Sauce? tts interesting. Normally I have it steamed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmmm not that strange actually, I thought it is quite a common way of cooking at home.

      Delete
    2. Is it! Mine is always steamed. Never taken one that is deep fried before. Good idea to try that one day! Thanks!

      Delete
    3. heh, I would prefer steam though, more healthy. Frying is faster and more convenient compared to steaming, at least for our kitchen at home.

      Delete

 

the moose & snowman

the soft toy. the soft toy.

makan corner

Follow Us on Facebook

Google+ Followers

Total Pageviews

Follow by Email