Saturday, August 30, 2008

Loy Sum Juan, Singapore

One of our favourites, our family have been coming to Loy Sum Juan for nearly 20 years. Famous for its prawn paste chicken...har cheong kai, and Cantonese dishes, Loy Sum Juan is the gold standard to compare fried chicken.

My first taste of their iconic har cheong kai was way back in 1990, when the restaurant was still in Outram Park. And I have been coming with my family since they moved to Tiong Bahru Plaza...initially under the management of the older gentleman...always impecably dressed in a suit. After his passing, the restaurant is now managed by his son who is the chef and his daughter who keeps the business humming. They have kept the tradition going, and I have not found any compromise to taste.

The classic chicken was in top always is. I sense a taste of tau joo in the belacan and prawn paste in the thin, almost non-existant batter. This provided a fragrant, piquent character to the dish. Full of flavour. I don't know what else is used, but the chicken is extremely crispy, and very tender and moist inside. I can only think of deep frying in a very large pot of very, very hot fat. Magic!

Super delicious, this dish keeps me coming back year after year. The chilli sauce for this fried chicken is also specially prepared by the restaurant for this dish. Somewhat similar to chilli used in Chicken Rice, but more diluted, it kept the chicken great company, complimenting in both taste and mouthfeel. With each mouthful the explosion within the mouth of the tender, rich, fat chicken, the crispy skin, and the spicy sour taste of the chilli is wonderful.

The restaurant is also famous for the steamed Song fish, but today we didn't order that. Perhaps another day another blog Instead, we opted for pork ribs, and done with coffee sauce.

Glistening in the dark, beguilling sauce, the pork ribs were slightly tough, very fat, but tasty.

The sauce was a bit sweeter than I would have liked, and altough I could not detect the blend of coffee used, and it blended nicely with the pork. The sliced, roasted almonds are also a nice touch, and provide some crunch.

We also ordered a soup prepared with 3 types of egg - century egg, salted duck egg, and chicken egg made the stock very rich, and tasty. Whole garlic was used for flavouring, and interestingly had a powdery feel, leading me to believe it has been brewing for a while in the soup...certainly not the typical garlic which will tend do be crunchy, and pungent in taste when bitten into. Typically cooked with kau kee, we opted for spinach, as I prefer the vegetable.

To round up the meal, we also had soft japanese egg tofu in a hot plate. A cast iron plate was heated, and when it reached cooking temperature, it was greased, and beaten egg was poured over...allowing it to cook under the heat of the plate. A light sauce of minced pork, prawns and spices was then poured over the cooking egg. And finally the tofu added.

Loy Sum Juan
302 Tiong Bahru Road
#06-03/04 Tiong Bahru Plaza

p.s. I am also trying out shooting with only one lens...the 100mm macro lens - an old lens I usually use to shoot watch pictures, rather than the usual 17-40mm I usually use for food. The restaurant was rather dark (for the camera), and I had to push the ISO to 1600 before I can get reasonable hand held shots with a 100mm lens with an aperture of f/4. At 100mm, the depth of field is smaller than with a wider lens. Will try a small tripod, and/or a flash next time and shoot with a smaller aperture to get deeper depth of field.
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