Cze Char with a difference! How interesting. When I was first recommended by a good friend to this place, I had wanted to go sample the offerings...but before I even had a chance, I was invited by a PR Agency to do a tasting there. A Cze Char place with a PR Consultant? Even more intriguing!!
But it was not quite as it seems. The folks who engaged Ate Consulting as the PR Agency was not the cze char stall, but Unilever Food Solutions. But why Unilever? Well, they make and produce all kinds of interesting stuff...including some quite ingenious ingredients used to create cze char and of course restaurant food...at coffee shops to restaurants in 5 star hotels.
For this review, they wanted to highlight the professional ingredients used to produce two of the dishes offered by Kien Seng. A stall which have been offering cze char style food for almost 40 years...first in Yio Chu Kang Stadium and now tucked in the industrial Ang Mo Kio.
First off, the Tom Yam Potato Flakes Prawns.
Very interesting. The prawns are coated with a very light cereal like batter...which is actually made from Knorr mashed potato flakes. These are supplied by Unilever. The taste is excellent. Very good. The prawns were very fresh, cruchy, very sweet, and the outer coating was beautiful...very light, a wonderful aroma reminiscent of potato chips. Magnificent.
The other Unilever ingredient - the Italiana Herb Paste...used on pork ribs
I found this a bit less gorgeous as the first. The pork was quite good, but I feel the chinese wok style cooking was a bit at odds with the Italian herb sauce. It did taste good, testament to the skill of the cook and the ingredients used, but I found it a bit lacking in harmony between the pork and sauce. My lunch companions felt otherwise. One of them, a Canadian living in Singapore, thought it was marvellous. So I guess there is no accounting for taste.
We had an Indonesian style Prawns in Claypot next
Very nice. The curry was rich but with a distinct taste. This was confirmed when the Kien Seng owner told us that she did not use coconut milk, but rather Carnation evaporated milk in the curry. The spices used in the curry was very authentic Indonesian Chinese style. And the prawns were nicely fresh and sweet.
A herbal chicken in soup was next
I found this superb. The soup has a wonderful aroma, and quite a thick viscousity..not starchy viscous, but thicker consistency than watery soup. The soup was savoury, with a heavy herbal flavour which I absolutely adore. Very, very good. I did not eat the chicken meat, but a small sample I tried told me it was very tender, still moist and very tasty.
A pork collar dish next
Pork collar, in nam yu sauce, stir fried till crisp outside...but tender inside. Pork collar tend to be a bit fat...but the dish was not greasy, though the fat within the meat provided the flavours, it did not give a greasy mouthfeel. Goes well with the pickled pumpkin it was served in. One of my favourite dishes.
Next up, Sambal Sweet Potato Leaves
Another very good dish. The sweet potato leaves were very nicely done...the leaves were young and very fresh. The cooking exhibited superb control of the fire, and the sambal used was superb. Truly a great dish!
A hot plate of oysters in egg was next
Also superb! The oysters were very fresh, fat, juicy...and cooked just so. The eggs on the hot plate served well as a platform to showcase these oysters to good stead. Nice, rich dish.
We also sampled the Nyonya Style Steamed Fish Head
A rather authentic nyonya style sauce. Again sans coconut milk, but with a rather healthier evaporated milk. The fish was steamed, and was very fresh. I ate the gelatinous parts, which tend to have some unwarranted flavours if the fish was not ultra fresh. This head had no unwanted flavours...fresh, fresh. Very nice meaty head.
And finally for dessert, Ohr Nee
Magnificent. The yam paste was ground by hand...so had a wonderful, slightly gritty consistency which I so love. And the flavours were superb. The lady boss told us this was the only dish she used coconut milk...as the flavour could not be authentic otherwise. A wise choice. Bautiful.
Very nice food at this little cze char place. Very highly recommended. Also, I did not get to sample it, but I was told they are also super famous for their roast suckling pig. So, definitely a revisit to sample that is in order!
Thanks to Joachim at Ate Consulting and the fine folks at Unilever and Kien Seng for hosting.
Kian Seng Seafood Restaurant
4013 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1
Kian Seng Seafood Restaurant