Hillman Restaurant may not be household names, but it has gained quite a following for its paper-wrapped chicken and claypot dishes. Hillman was invited to participate in the inaugural Asian Salon Culinaire (analogous to today’s World Gourmet Challenge), where it earned itself a gold medal for their boneless chicken dish.
Eight Treasures Duck
Hillman Restaurant can be difficult to spot from Kitchener Road, though its food quality makes up for any initial appearance of age and weariness. Since 1963, they’ve specialized in Cantonese claypot dishes and won several accolades like winning gold at their first Asian Salon Culinaire (a precursor to today’s World Gourmet Challenge).
Eight Treasures Duck features a whole bird stuffed to overflowing voluptuaryness with lup cheong, glutinous rice, lean pork and other delectable goodies, then slowly steamed until the goodness melts in your mouth. An irresistibly satisfying blend of umami flavors and textures, this dish is always popular at celebratory gatherings.
Sylvia Tan of Home Cookery Tips shares her recipe of success: to wash the duck thoroughly and dry its skin using paper towel before rubbing the skin with dark soy sauce and five spice powder. Next, rub inside of cavity as well. Finally, fill cavity with lap cheong, glutinous rice and minced chicken before sealing with fat choy to create seal for steaming for one hour with additional water being added as necessary to achieve the perfect dark black hue on its skin and tender meat texture. For added authenticity she suggests cooking it over traditional charcoal flame instead of conventional stove for maximum flavorful results!
Hillman 99 was previously known as Manhill Restaurant on Pasir Panjang Road near Haw Par Villa? Although seemingly unassuming at first, this heritage eatery offers up delicious cuisine – their specialty being claypot dishes for which the restaurant was first founded by Mr Wong Lin Ooh who won gold medal at Asian Salon Culinaire (equivalent of Food and Hotel Asia’s World Gourmet Challenge in 1978).
Although not as widely-recognized as some restaurants in Singapore, the food here is nonetheless still excellent. Their pork ribs are tender, juicy and perfectly marinated while their broth contains rich flavours with subtle sweet notes from pork. Their specialty dish is paper-wrapped chicken which is marinated before steameding to seal in moisture for succulent and aromatic meat that’s sure to please.
At Happy Beancurd Restaurant, their signature silky beancurd is prepared using fresh soybeans to ensure a velvety texture. Served on homemade tofu topped with minced pork and scallions for a deliciously savoury and aromatic experience that pairs perfectly with rice. Other signature dishes worth trying include their Pot Sea Cucumber with Seafood ($14/22/30), which features springy slices of sea cucumber mixed in with greens and seafood for an aromatic yet sweet and fresh treat.
Hong Kong Claypot may be hard to spot from Franklin Avenue due to its hidden attic location; but once inside, this restaurant feels like a staple that has been operating for more than 40 years. Established by a migrant worker and run as a family-run establishment by their owner since 1973. Offering Cantonese claypot dishes alongside family style tables equipped with Lazy Susans for sharing purposes – Hong Kong Claypot stands as an institution.
Beginning our dining experience was an exquisite hot casserole of braised mixed vegetables with glass noodles, mushrooms, black fungus and dried shrimp ($82). This rich MSG-free broth allowed soft vegetables to absorb it fully while the long simmering process enhanced umami flavors of dried seafood and expanded their umami profiles.
As our main course, we ordered Roasted Pork with Sea Cucumber Claypot Rice (wa bao ji fan). The crispy and tender steamed pork was perfectly complimented by its tangy marinade; while the rice had both crisp bottoms and moist sides; although some additional spice might help balance out its richness. In addition, we tried out Happy Beancurd: an eccentric deep-fried silken tofu dish covered with minced meat gravy – and found it very enjoyable indeed!
Paper Wrapped Chicken
Paper Wrapped Chicken (Chee Pow Kai) is an innovative Chinese cuisine dish often seen at banquets. Marinated chicken is wrapped in paper before deep frying to seal in all its moisture while keeping all its marination flavors inside, creating a juicy treat which makes for great appetizers or snacks! Despite what may look like dark and unappetising packaging, its contents remain aromatic and succulent!
Marinating chicken usually involves light soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese wine, sesame oil and salt; then chicken slices are left in this marinade for two days before they’re sealed up in paper parchments and deep-fried. Although this process can be laborious, every piece of meat receives enough marinade so it remains juicy and succulent when deep-fried.
Union Farm Eating House of Singapore is widely known for their delicious Chee Pow Kai dish, popular among former students at Singapore Institute of Management. You’ll recall this popular hangout spot as they enjoyed delicious Paper Wrapped Chicken along with other delectable options like claypot dishes and yuzu-infused seafood noodles – at reasonable prices, too!