Singapore - Sunday Family Lunch at Lao Beijing (老北京食堂), Tiong Bahru Plaza
Sunday family lunch at Lao Beijing, one of the Tung Lok Group's more successful brand. What we had:
- Starters were soy-braised tofu & jellyfish, plus thinly-sliced stewed pig's ears & tongue in aspic. Both were delicious.
- Double-boiled minced pigeon-meat soup. This is a trademark dish of the Tung Lok Group - I first tasted this dish over 2 decades ago at the Charming Garden in Novotel Orchid Hotel, Dunearn Road - the first restaurant run by the Tjioe family which then expanded to become the successful islandwide Tung Lok restaurant chain which we know today.Still one of the best Chinese soups in town.
- Xiao Long bao: give the ones here a miss - a bit too bland :-(
- La mian in a spicy minced pork soup. Not very good here - the version by Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao chain beats the hell out of the bland rendition here.
- The famous sweet-sour-flavored "squirrel-shaped Mandarin fish" (松鼠桂鱼) - beautifully-prepared here, and not too sweet as those I tried in Shanghai or Suzhou (authentic Mainland Chinese tastes do *not* suit Singaporeans). Loved this dish.
- Pan-fried & steamed meat buns. Good but not particularly memorable.
- Stir-fried long beans with minced pork & garlic. Standard rendition here.
- Stir-fried egg-white with fish, dried scallops & lump-fish roe. Very well-executed here, with firmer texture than those I'd tried elsewhere.
- Dessert: Double-boiled snow-frogs' glands with red dates & wolf-berries, and lemongrass-scented jelly.
I've always enjoyed my meals at the Tung Lok Group's stable of restaurants, and this lunch at Lao Beijing was no exception.
Lao Beijing (老北京食堂) @ Tiong Bahru Plaza
302 Tiong Bahru Road
#02-12 Tiong Bahru Plaza
Tel: +65 6376 4466
I was in China once and saw how/where they harvested these glands, The snow frogs lived in Northeast China and at a certain time of the year, these frogs crawled up the trees and died there (after spawning). The harvesters will come and pick the dehydrated, blackened frogs' carcasses off the trees, bring them back to the villages where the workers will remove the dried up "glands" from the dry carcasses.
Even a small portion of the dried stuff will expand a few dozen times its volume when put into a basin of water to rehydrate. I didn'tknow what else went in there as my wife and I both don't speak Mandarin and we couldn't understand what our guide was saying.
I usually go to the Lao Beijing branch in Novena Square. I find Tiong Bahru Plaza to be more cluttered and noisy, and will only go there in the past if I'm visiting Loy Sum Juan Cantonese restaurant, but it has moved back to Chinatown (now at Murray Street, where as it was in Pearl Centre before the Tiong Bahru location).
I sometimes also try Rajah Inn, which moved in here from Golden Mile Complex. Indonesian-influenced Asian food ;)