Chin Lee’s investors negotiated something few other immigrants were able to: recognition of their right to freely and openly travel. Heather Ruth Lee details these negotiations in her forthcoming book from University of Chicago Press entitled “Gastrodiplomacy.”
Restaurant offers traditional Teochew cuisine. This venue is especially beloved among elders and perfect for group gatherings and family occasions. Specialty dishes at this establishment include their irresistibly delicious oyster omelette and Orh Nee (a velvety smooth yam paste made with pumpkin and ginkgo nuts).
Xian Dan Xia Qiu Stir-fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk
Few dishes call out for being eaten with one’s fingers and licked clean; this decadent seafood dish certainly fits this description. With its tempting mix of sweet, salty, and savoury flavours – making this an irresistible appetizer at any Chinese New Year meal and sure to bring many diners good fortune throughout 2018.
Salted duck egg yolks are an increasingly popular component in Asian cuisine. After being covered with salt for months, these rich and velvety yolks are then mashed and added to various dishes – creating an irresistibly creamy texture which stands out against its salty counterpart. Once stir fried with butter, spices and wine to produce fragrant sauce that coats deep fried prawns perfectly!
Similarly, the prawns were also lightly seasoned to allow the sweetness of salted egg yolks to come through. This Teochew recipe is truly delectable; I was delighted when my visit took me here for lunch on a void deck of a housing estate with outdoor seating which allows guests to take in fresh air during dining time. When I visited, the restaurant was packed full of older patrons which indicated its authenticity; indeed it has quickly become popular among Singapore’s Teochew community and I can understand why.
Teochew Yam Paste & Pumpkin served with Gingko Nut
Chin Lee Restaurant has been providing customers with authentic Teochew cuisine for over 45 years and can be found on Bedok North Road at BLK 115 near Bedok Reservoir MRT station. Although the exterior looks modern, inside retains an old-school charm reminiscent of its customers: mostly elderly regulars frequent this establishment.
They offer an expansive menu with a great selection of dishes. Must-try items at their restaurant include the Xian Dan Xia Qiu Stir-fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk ($20 for small orders, $40 for large), Ka Pei Pai Gu Coffee Pork Ribs (15 small, $30 large orders), and their signature homemade prawn balls filled with prawn paste and minced pork wrapped in beancurd skin ($16).
We had their Orh Luak on Oppeh Leaf which was soft and fluffy with plenty of fresh oyster omelette filling – not too oily and packed with flavour! One of the best Orh Luak we had experienced so far!
Their yam paste with pumpkin and gingko nuts was equally outstanding, unlike some eateries which use overly-sweetened versions of it. Instead, stewed pumpkin gave this creamy dish an appealing fruity aroma; we enjoyed every spoonful!
Chao Zhou Zheng Yu Teochew Steamed Fish
Teochews are well known for their expert handling of seafood. From soups that combine multiple flavours into one savory base sauce, to stir-fried dishes showcasing every aspect of marine cuisine, their cuisine masterfully extracts maximum enjoyment from seafood.
This dish showcases their mastery of seafood cuisine. They use red tilapia fish balls which are firm yet spongy to absorb lots of the tasty condiments such as soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine and ginger for optimal results while still leaving behind any of its original aroma.
Steamed fish is consistently excellent at this Teochew restaurant, featuring exceptionally moist meat that remains full of umami flavour. Braised goose is another must-try, featuring tender yet flavorful meat and tender bones; other main courses such as chong fun noodles and chestnut pancake are average or overcooked; service here is excellent; however it can get busy during weekend dinnertime hours.
Hong Shao Hai Can Dong Gu Braised Sea Cucumber & Mushroom
Sea cucumber is an indispensable dish at any Chinese New Year table, symbolizing luck and prosperity while offering important nutritional benefits like calcium, magnesium, riboflavin and protein. Braising creates an irresistibly satisfying umami flavor; adding depth with shiitake mushrooms while oyster sauce adds depth of flavour ties everything together, finishing off this classic Chinese New Year meal perfectly! Chinese cabbage brings sweetness.
Chin Lee Restaurant was first opened in Singapore in 1973 and remains popular today with both newcomers and longtime regulars alike. Now run by chef Eric Chua who took over from his father when they passed it on, this zi char restaurant retains that familiar homey atmosphere found within HDB flat blocks but features spacious interior dining areas for comforting zi char dining experiences reminiscent of zi char zi char restaurants on ground floors of HDB flat blocks despite serving popular dishes like chye poh kway teow, oyster omelette, Hey Chor plus more traditional fare such as orh nee and suckling pig.
Chin Lee customers come from all around New York’s east side for their delicious meals at this restaurant, one of few to receive merchant status which allows for travel freely without worrying about restrictive laws designed to prevent Chinese immigrants from immigrating in the early 20th century. Heather Ruth Lee, assistant professor of history at NYU Shanghai and expert on Chinese exclusion/inclusion processes/Ascent of Chinese Restaurants. In her forthcoming book entitled Gastrodiplomacy: Chinese Exclusion & The Ascence of Chinese Restaurants in New York City”.