When Tanyu came to Singapore a few years back, it took the Singapore palate by storm and queues formed outside their restaurants during all the peak hours. Back in 2022, we are peppered with grilled fish restaurants everywhere with speciality grilled fish stalls even infiltrating our local hawker centres. With the popularity of grilled fish, more restaurants brought in popular China dishes like Sichuan boiled fish and boiled sauerkraut fish
Personally, I have not tried boiled sauerkraut fish when my friend suggested going to Tai Er. She was raving about how popular and delicious the food was but the restaurant only accepts dine in with no takeaway options. So we managed to book a timeslot and made our way all the way to Jewel the moment restrictions allowed dine-in pax of 5 people last year
With 300 stores across China and 12 million fans, it is no wonder the restaurant has snaking queues on Aug 20th 2021, the first day it opened in Jewel. The main star of the restaurant, their Sauerkaut fish has 3 different sizes; SGD 48 for 2 pax, 68 for 3 to 4 pax and SGD 88 for bigger parties. You can also add servings of tofu, enoki mushroom, asparagus and vermicelli at SGD 3 each. The menu also features cold starters, hot snacks, noodles, vegetables and speciality dishes like boiled beef slices in chilli oil
The restaurant itself is not very big with mostly booth seating for approximately 50 diners. The decor is modern and brightly lit
We ordered the flower fruit tea which was made at the self-service station. The tea was in small sachets and contained dried preserved peel and hibiscus sabdariffa flowers. Diners can choose to put more than one sachet for a stronger tea flavour. The tea complemented the meal extremely well as the sourish notes helped to wash down the oil of the dishes
Just like HDL, Tai Er has many hidden amenities for diners to take or use like the phone charging cables, disposable toothpicks and wet wipes all conveniently stashed away in a drawer at every table. The plates and bowl also feature a cool black and white design which signifies the Tai Er identity
For starters, we had the abalone and shrimp in spicy sauce which was SGD 12 per serving. They were served with little bamboo skewers and in my opinion a pretty small serving for that price point. The shrimp and abalone were tiny but well marinated and coated with the chilli oil giving them a flavourful taste
You can tell from the gloss on the prawn this dish is at a mid spicy level and a tad too spicy for me. The prawns were springy and crunchy despite the size
The abalone served was sliced very thinly so I personally feel that the spice overpowered the taste of the shellfish. It could have been any shellfish since the distinct abalone flavour was lost
Our next starter was the steamed chicken in spicy sauce which is lovingly known as “口水鸡“ translating to saliva chicken. The reason why the dish is named saliva chicken is due to the numbness you feel in your mouth after eating this dish which could cause your saliva to drip unknowingly. For SGD 10, I find the serving pretty minute as well especially when chicken shreds were served instead of the usual chicken chunks like in our restaurants. In terms of taste, the flavours were impactfully spicy but not overbearing enough for you to reach for drinks immediately.
The next item we had was the little crispy pork which was my 2nd favourite dish we had during that meal. The pork strips were fried to crispy golden brown and every bite has a nice crisp followed by the umami flavour of the dry spice powder coating. If I had to be picky, the dish was just a tad salty
The highlight of the meal definitely has to be the sauerkraut fish and when it was served we were pleased with how aesthetically pleasing the dish looked. The pretty chrysanthemum flowers littered on top of the dish provided a strong contrast in colour with the red dried chilli and green peppercorn
The star of this dish is no doubt the sauerkraut vegetables which was pickled perfectly giving the tinge of sourness to balance off the salty bite of the vegetables. It is no wonder the restaurant’s slogan is ” Our sauerkraut is even better than fish”. With only the sauerkraut, I can possibly finish up 3 bowls of rice. Adding points to the dish, the fish slices were smooth and melted in your mouth with little or no fishy taste. The light punch from the peppercorns optimised the flavours of the dish as it cuts the greasiness yet complements the sourness of the dish.
Overall, I absolutely adore the sauerkraut fish of Tai Er and have tried other restaurants serving the same dish but they have all paled in comparison. If they were not located at Jewel and at a more central location, I would have visited them multiple times. Some of the other dishes can be quite a missed but based on just the sauerkraut dish, I would definitely visit them again. Do note that most of the dishes are relatively oilier than other cuisines as Sichuan cuisine is known for using loads of chilli oil. Those who do not like greasy food might not like this dish as much
Address: 80 Airport Boulevard, #03-208 Jewel Changi Airport 3F208, 819666
Opening hours: 11.30 am to 2pm and 5 pm to 9 pm on weekdays, 11.30 am to 9 pm on weekends