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Yanqing Shanghai Kitchen, Bukit Timah, Singapore

l
Limster May 24, 2006 08:10 AM

A newish homestyle Shanghainese place with competent but not spectacular cooking. Authenticity nit-pickers will have a few things to harp on.

A pleasant combination of textures in the kaofu, dense wheat gluten puffs with soft stemmy lily bubs and blunt peanuts. Star anise and other dark spices are handled well, but I think the dish could be sweeter, per the Shanghainese penchant for sweetness in their savoury dishes.

Smoked fish turned out to be battered and deep fried. Excellent execution though, crisp light and thin-shelled batter, moist fish. I'd order this again.

Dragonwell shrimp, a specialty from Hangzhou, needed more dragonwell flavour, but otherwise the plump shrimp were impeccably cooked and seasoned. A bed of pea shoots.

Grandma's style lionhead meatballs were a pleasant surprise. Stuffed inside the pork meatballs (finer mincing on the meat would be better, but that's a quibble) was a salted duck yolk, enriching the traditional meatballs with a salty crumbly yolk centre to contrast the meat. Good dark sweet sauce, also on a bed of pea shoots.

A stir-fry of Shanghainese rice cakes with jade green soy beans and soft preserved mustard greens was pleasant, the rice cakes tender and chewy, cut into rectangular blocks rather than the usual oval cross sections. I would have preferred a slightly drier rendition and the rice cakes had a subtly strange aftertaste, but those are minor criticisms. I appreciated the sliced red chilli as a garnish and small bite of heat, but the response won't be as enthusiastic in Shanghai.

Mochi filled with whipped cream and bright fruitty mango puree was rich and satisfying, the mochi skins soft and chewy, even if they weren't the best of their kind.

Pleasant and competent overall, but the kitchen seemingly could go an extra mile here and there. For example, noticed that the soy beans, vegetable and bean curd skin (xue cai mao dou bai ye) dish simply had flat ribbons of the bean curd skin, rather having them knotted, a more traditional presentation that enhances the texture when one bites into the dense knot.

I wasn't disappointed or anything, but even for homey renditions of this cuisine I think there's better versions elsewhere.