The best Teochew restaurants in Singapore, according to restaurateur David Yip

Everyone in Singapore has their own fiercely-held opinions on the best restaurants here, but with David Yip's lengthy career in F&B as chef, restaurateur and journalist, we're inclined to trust his suggestions—especially when it comes to Chinese food. For Teochew cuisine in particular, Yip points towards its penchant for “freshness and quality of ingredients, especially in seafood”, as well as “deceptively simple methods” including “steaming, poaching, and braising”. The result delivers food that gives an “impression of delicateness”, with the inherent flavours of core ingredients kept intact and brought out. Where, then, do we find such cuisine? We asked Yip for his recommendations around Singapore for you to add to your gastronomic itinerary.

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1 Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine

RR #1621
ION Orchard 03-05, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801

“Whenever my friends and I are in Orchard Road, this is one of our favourite restaurants for Teochew food. The Teochew are renowned masters of the soy braising sauce, and here one finds a wide selection of dishes submerged in it, slowly braising until the wondrous flavour of the liquid permeates every fibre of meat. The pig skin terrine and hae chor (crispy prawn roll) have become de rigueur. Among my favourites too are the braised duck, pig intestine, pork knuckle and goose web.

My friends love the braised sea cucumber and abalone—indulgences I could only afford on paydays. My happy option, instead, is steamed seafood, such as pomfret.

While I feel that the consistency of cooking does fluctuate, on average the restaurant’s quality is still superior to most of its competitors.”

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2 Chao Shan Cuisine

17 Phillip Street #01-01/02 Grand Building, Singapore 048695

This is one restaurant that rewards ‘knowing the boss’. Ah Liang, as he is known, likes to surprise his ‘friends’ with dishes off-the-menu as his mood, or ingredients-in-hand, or ‘familiarity with the face’ sway him.

Ah Liang travels regularly to Shantou, a prefecture-level city on the eastern coast of Guangdong, and this feeds into the discernible authenticity of the Teochew food he presents. Because while many of these dishes are hard to come by in Singapore, they are prevalent in Shantou.

Among the must-do’s are the braised goose and braised chestnut chicken. The fried chai-poh kway teow is another, packed with wok-hei. But the ultimate treat has to be the suckling pig. Roasted upon order over charcoal, its ultra-crispy paper-thin skin and luscious underlying meat cements Ah Liang’s version as one of the best in Singapore.

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3 San Shu Gong Private Dining 三叔公私房菜

135 Geylang Rd, #01-01, Singapore 389226

San Shu Gong Private Dining first came into the spotlight as a private kitchen. Today a full-service restaurant, it offers superbly made Teochew food. Founder, Chef Roy, worked in a number of leading Cantonese restaurants in Singapore before striking out on his own during the Covid pandemic. He sought to elevate Teochew cuisine, and began by sourcing premium ingredients from China such as aged ‘chai poh’ and dried sole fish from Chaoshan. His labours are clearly seen in his renditions of ‘standard’ Teochew dishes such as fried oyster omelette and fried chai poh kway teow, whose renewed quality put them head and shoulders above the offerings of other restaurants.

Chef Roy has also given new life to the forgotten. Although canonical, the marinated raw crab in light soy sauce is rare in Teochew restaurants in Singapore. On this menu, it is very popular, with a marinating sauce that is well-balanced and -executed, bringing out the subtle flavours of the crab.

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4 Sin Chao Gardens 新潮園

297 River Valley Rd, Singapore 238338

Located at the entrance to Teo Yeong Huai Guan (Teochew Association), this restaurant seems to be ‘under the radar’ of people I know. Veteran chef, Mr. Chia Hock Kim, who manages the restaurant, has cooked Teochew food since a teenager. It is earnest food, meant in the warmest, most enriching terms—like eating at a friend’s home at a table of simple dishes that leave a lasting impression.

Dishes such as the fried chye poh omelette, crispy fried Puning tofu, and braised duck—all equally comforting. Lovers of Teochew muay (porridge) will find much to celebrate in their wide repertoire of dishes, including braised salted vegetable and steamed squid. I particularly loved the fried chye poh (preserved radish) kway teow. The chye poh was not overly salty, with the kai lan giving a nice crunch to kway teow packed with wok hei.

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5 Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant

556 MacPherson Rd, Singapore 368231

This restaurant was my go-to for Teochew food in the 80s. Its original address was the Ellenborough Market beside the Singapore river, and as it relocated several times over the past 4 decades, its quality of cooking rose and fell like a rollercoaster.

I rediscovered it, ensconced in a coffeeshop, at the beginning of this year and have since revisited it on occasion. The hae chor (crispy prawn roll) and fried oyster omelette still win my heart.

The braised fish head with bitter gourd was cooked to near-perfection with the right amount of preserved black beans. Take a peek at the mini-chiller in front of the stall, with its larder of seafood to select. I always say that when it comes to steamed seafood, you can never go wrong with a Teochew chef. This eatery has earned a well-deserved place in my book.

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