There are many different kinds of Chinese cuisine in Singapore due to our varied ancestral roots from China and this could be quite confusing to some foreigners visiting Singapore. The most common Chinese cuisine you can find will be the Cantonese, Hokkein and Techeow cuisines. The less common ones are the Hainanese, Hakka and other minority dialects. We were craving for traditional Teochew cuisine when my friend suggest for us to visit Chin Lee which is one of the popular restaurants in Singapore for Teochew
Chin Lee is nestled at the void deck of one of the housing estates and has converted the walkway of the block to an outdoor seating area complete with shelter and ceiling fan for customers who prefer non-air-conditioned seats.
There are also indoor seats for customers who cannot do without the air-conditioning. Seats for both indoor and outdoor is quite limited so if you are visiting during peak periods like weekends, do make a reservation beforehand.
The menu features many famous Teochew dishes as well as many food review write-ups recommending certain key dishes.
One of the more popular signature dishes of a Teochew restaurant is this chilled pig trotters jelly. The pig trotters are braised in dark sauce and deboned before being placed in a jelly mixture and chilled till hardened. The taste is quite interesting as it has a soft and crunchy jelly texture but a savoury taste. The jelly can be eaten with pickled cucumber and pickled vegetables.
The next signature dish is this braised duck dish with beancurd. You can find this in many hawker centres and foodcourt but good ones have a strong sauce with deep flavours. Those really traditional Teochew restaurants are rumoured to use the same pot of sauce over years by adding new ingredients each time they braise a new batch of duck. With the constant braising and cooking and adding ingredients, the pot of sauce is sometimes known as the treasure pot of sauce of any Teochew restaurant. The duck here is succulent and the sauce is wonderfully flavourful.
Other dishes ordered included this homemade beancurd with minced meat which was quite simple in the way it is cooked but yet satisfying in terms of taste. This dish complemented white rice very well as the minced meat has a nice thick gravy with it complementing the more bland beancurd.
This dish might be familiar to customers eating street food as you can find this oyster egg omelette in many food stalls across Singapore. The one served here has huge oysters and very well pan-fried egg omelette so that you get that crispy crunchy texture from the egg which was extremely tasty
This next dish is not entirely Teochew as you can find the same dish in some Cantonese restaurant. This is basically deboned chicken meat minced with fish paste and fried with a layer of chicken skin. The end result is a springy flat piece of meat with crispy chicken skin complete with a slight taste of chicken oil.
The next dish is quite general as they are normal stir-fried dragon vegetables in a light sauce and the vegetables which were fresh and crunchy to the bite.
The stir fry long bean with dried shrimp and chilli was savoury with a slight fiery kick which was good with rice.
The highlight of the meal was definitely this traditional dessert called the yam paste. This is mashed and steamed yam paste with sweet and starchy sauce and topped with steamed pumpkin and gingko nuts. The dessert is sweet and smooth with a nice balance of the natural sweetness and fragrance of the yam as well as the pumpkin. This dessert can be quite filling as yam is generally very filling so usually people can only have one bowl but lovers of this dessert can have many bowls.
Overall, Chin Lee restaurants serve very authentic Teochew dishes and the service is also quite attentive. The serving of the dishes are also quite substantial and filling for big groups. I would recommend this restaurant to family gatherings especially with old folks who like Teochew cuisine
Address: Bedok North Rd, Block 115, Singapore 460115
Operating hours: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm and 6 pm to 10.30 pm