Taste of Taiwan – Actor Chen Shucheng Opens a Hawker Stall!
Chen Shucheng (陈澍城), veteran Mediacorp artiste, has partnered award-winning Chef Austen Ong once again in his second culinary venture — The Chinese Kitchen: Taste of Taiwan. The duo’s pioneer endeavour, The Chinese Kitchen, has seen much success on Cavan Road. I was excited to see what Chef Austen is bringing to the local hawker scene, since he’s especially known for his creativity in his dishes.
Looking at the Taste of Taiwan’s menu, it was apparent that I was not going to encounter classic Taiwanese food. The Lu Rou Fan caught my attention immediately, and I noticed the word “miso” right next to it. Curious, I asked,“Chef, why did you use miso?” Chef Austen explained that the traditional Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan is too sweet for the local palate as it uses dark soya sauce. Chef decided to use miso as it makes the dish savoury, but not too sweet. Chef brings his experience in Nanyang cuisine into the preparation and execution of the dishes at Taste of Taiwan — he hopes to bring something unique to the table.
Let’s bring in the dishes. The plating at Taste of Taiwan was a tad Japanese, with the lu rou fan looking like a donburi, and it was also a tad Korean, with a number of “side dishes” accompanying the mains.
Miso Lu Rou Fan ($4.50)
True enough, the miso lent a saltiness to the braised meat and rice. The meat, which was spiked with 5-spice powder, was fragrant and tasted great with short-grain pearl rice. My only gripe was the fattiness of the meat — it was a tad too lean.
Passionfruit Sweet and Sour Pork, Pearl Rice ($6.80)
The pork, which is coated in a light batter, is deep-fried, and tossed in a pan with a passion fruit sauce concocted by Chef Austen. The pork is then placed in a pool of plain-looking brown sauce which caught us by surprise with its sharpness and tartness. Each portion is cooked on order.
Pan-seared Beef Sirloin, OJ Pineapple Sauce, Pearl Rice ($9.80)
Have you ever tried pan-seared beef sirloin slices with an orange juice and pineapple sauce? It was no surprise that the sauce is going to be bright and acidic. Interestingly, a spicy kick followed after the sweetness and sourness. Regrettably, the beef slices were slightly overdone and were too chewy.
Grilled Salmon Fish Fillet, Mild Spicy Coriander Sauce, Pearl Rice ($9.80)
The zesty and spicy coriander sauce did its best to salvage the salmon which I felt was overcooked. The texture of the salmon left more to be desired, but this could easy be rectified. I guess they need some time to iron out the kinks in their operations at the moment.
From the refreshing sauces to the execution of the dishes, Chef Austen’s creativity was evident in each and every dish. He even tries to balance the set meals — heavy dishes come without the Lu Rou Fan, and lighter dishes such as the okra are complemented by fattier ingredients.
Singaporeans are known to always look for novelty in their meals. To meet this demand, the duo has plans to launch a new dish every three months. I’m excited to see what they come up with next!
The Chinese Kitchen: Taste of Taiwan
Address: Block 711 S11 Coffeeshop Stall 12, Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, Singapore 560711
Opening Hours: Open Daily, Sunday to Thursday 11am – 9pm, Friday to Saturday 11am – 9.30pm
Note: This is an invited tasting.
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