Updated: Oct 6
SINGAPORE: With no possibility to travel and working from home, I have been binging on 阿星探店Chinese Food Tour and 雪鱼探店China Food Travel. The YouTubers got me interested in other Chinese Cuisine, and 东北菜 Northeastern Chinese Cuisine stood out.
I gathered my friends, and off we went on our makan adventure. We didn't know where to go, so we depended on Google search for a restaurant with a 4-star rating. This is how we discovered 东北小厨. After speaking to my Japanese friend, I found out anecdotally that this a popular spot with local Japanese and Koreans.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a place you expect superb service or get IG-Worthly dishes. This is a rustic little restaurant with waitresses who want to get things done quickly. Undivided attention is not their strength. Seeing how busy the place was, I think it is justifiable. Their menu is in Chinese and sometimes wrongly translated English. Those who might have a problem understanding it don't need to fret as there are pictures. Obviously, they do cater for tourists back in the good old days before the pandemic.
You have to order the grill, especially the lamb skewers. If you can only get one thing from this restaurant, this is it. Fortunately, I can have as much as I want. We started with some of the grilled items. Each of them is coated in dried seasoning; nice smoky chilli and cumin filled our anticipating nostrils.
烤羊肉 - Grilled Lamb skewer
烤鸡胗 - Grilled Chicken Gizzard skewer
烤鸡心 - Grilled Chicken Heart skewer
烤猪皮 - Grilled Pork Skin Skewer
For true starters, we wanted to try some authentic dishes of Northeastern Chinese origin, avoiding the usual Singapore Chinese fare. The 拉皮 (Potato noodles) surprised me the most. It is numbing, sourish and spicy, a combination that whets your appetite.
川北拉皮 - Potato Noodles
山药木耳 - Chinese yam & Black Fungus
青椒皮蛋 - Pepper and Century Egg
No one can resist pork belly, especially braised pork belly served in a warm white fluffy bun. 扣肉包 (Kong Bak Bao) is very common in Chinese Restaurants. I had to order this to see what is the difference from our usual take. In this restaurant, it is slightly on the sweeter side. The pork is not in slices which we are commonly used to. It is cut in big chunks. The fat to meat ratio is almost 1:1. You need to be prepared to be well greased after eating it. You will become a well-oiled machine...Pun intended...LOL
私房红烧肉 - Braised Pork Belly (with steam buns)
To turn this into a balanced diet, we have to get some vegetables and non-meat dishes. The grilled leek is seasoned with the same seasoning used in the meat grill. No one in the group liked it because onion/leek is not their thing. However, it is heaven for me. :P The bun is definitely brushed with fats from the grilled meat. The grill toasted buns were very addictive. Finally, the garlic is just little bulbs of salty, garlicky goodness. There shall be no kissing after the meal for sure.
烤韭菜 - Grilled leek
烤小馒头 - Grilled Bun
烤大蒜 - Grilled Garlic
For dessert, we had 拔丝地瓜 (Candied Sweet Potato). Again, it is a common dish. You have to eat it fast before it hardens. Dip the sweet potatoes coated with hot caramelised sugar into cold water, and you will get strands of sugar string. It is messy. You will get sugar covering your face, fingers and might even be caught in your hair. BUT...it was fun to eat.
It is beyond me why it took me so long to try Northeastern Chinese food. Coming here with friends to have some grills with a nice cold beer, enjoy the night filled with laughter. What else can one ask for in life?
Highly recommend this place.
Address: 12 Upper Cross St, Singapore 058329