Monday, November 3, 2014

Jing Hua Xiao Chi 京华小吃 : 25 years of home-style goodness

Oops...the skin of the Xiao Long Bao broke apart as I attempted to pick it up very cautiously, and the beautiful guts spilled out uncontrollably onto the parchment paper. This is both a good and bad sign; the good thing is that the skin is delicate and the bad sign is that I am too rowdy with this plump meaty babies.
Having been serving these Xiao long baos for 25 years, Jing Hua Xiao Chi started as a humble eatery in one of the refurbished shophouses along Neil road by native Singaporeans Mr & Mrs Han, who believed in serving home-style goodness cuisine. Currently in the hands of their son, Guo Guang, Jing Hua stays true to their original menu, which remained unchanged since Day One. 

According to Guo Guang, “Jing Hua is the legacy of the Han Famiy and represents years of hard work and passion. I hope to uphold the reputation of the restaurant and spread the word on our cuisine so that future generations can enjoy and experience the true tastes of Jing Hua."
These are not empty talk without substance. In fact, the Xiao Long Baos 小笼汤包 ($7++ for 7pcs) are near perfect--the ball of minced pork at the center, loose and yielding, as if itself in midmelt. My 2nd XLB landed in my spoon intact and buoyant, and I popped the entire thing comfortably in my mouth. There could be a little more of that liquefied pork gelatin but I'm just being greedy. 
Other dumplings variations include the steamed vegetarian dumplings 素饺子 ($7++ for 7 pieces), stuffed with taupok bits and crunchy turnips which even non-vegetarians will delight. The Seafood and Pork Dumplings 三鲜饺子 ($8++ for 10) had a slightly chewy feel but the ingredients tasted fresh and not too greasy.

I prefer the pan-fried version 三鲜锅贴 ($8++ for 10 pieces) which transformed the original chewy skin into delicate crunchy bites with tantalizing burnt aroma. This gives the pan-fried dumpling more character, as if it was a  golden pillow case 金枕头. Perfect if there were more chives. 
The mastery achievement goes beyond the dumplings to the noodles and the desserts. The Noodle with Minced Pork & Soya Bean Sauce 炸酱面 ($5++), is wonderfully alchemized by the minced pork and age-old calculus soya bean paste that Iess salty than other specimens. 
The Osmanthus soup with glutinous rice ball soup (桂花汤圆) ($3++) arrived hot and fragrant with warm floral inhalations. Hand-made with a spot-on dough-to-filling ratio, each tiny pop is rolled with a different flavour; lotus and walnut, black sesame, red bean and peanuts. 
Another must-try is the Crispy Red Bean Pancake 豆沙锅饼 ($10++) that is prepared freshly upon order. Expertly deep-fried till they are like crunchy fritters, the dark brown parcels oozes dense, sweet red bean paste with charred sesame aroma. 
After such a satisfying meal, I am convinced that the Han's decision to leave the menu unchanged was a right one. Consistent quality food that can stand the test of time. Sounds unbelievable in our modern age but here is a true story. 

Jing Hua Xiao Chi 京华小吃 
21 Neil Road
Singapore 088814
Tel: 62213060
Mon-Tue: 11.30am - 3pm, 5.30pm - 9.30pm
Thu-Sun: 11.30am - 3pm, 5.30pm - 9.30pm
(Closed on Wed)
Second outlet at Bugis Village
Special thanks to Ada and Bee

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