Wan He Lou : Lobster Porridge

Helmed by Chef Lau who is the brainchild behind the award winning lobster porridge at 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wan He Lou serves up wallet-friendly Chinese cuisine within comfortable air-conditioned environment. After opening for about a month, the team has created new dishes that seek to capture local tastes.

Of course, the all time signature dish was the Lobster Porridge(Good for 2 pax-$29.90). Though the lobster meat was isolated from the porridge,  the yellow broth enhanced with lobster roe had hints of freshness from the sea. It does lack a bit of peppery kick, but on the very least it did not taste full of MSG. 

Speaking of the Teochew-style porridge, each grain was distinct and easy on the bite. In any case should you find that this looks somewhat familiar, it is whipped up by the same chef behind The Orange Lobster at Orchard Central.

The Pan fried Garoupa Slices with pomelo sauce, mangoes and dragon fruit ($19.90) is a lighter and more refreshing twist of the usual sweet and sour garoupa, but the batter was slightly too doughy.

The Signature Chicken (about 6 pieces for $12.90) are deboned chicken wings filled with home made stuffing mixed with some carrots. Slicked with a sweet sauce, the meat was slightly dry and perhaps overcooked that resulted in a bitter charred taste.

Similarly, the Kurobuta Pork with Garlic Shoots ($14.90) was a pity because the deep frying did not bring out the tenderness of this premium cut. The lashings of mildly-spiced brown sauce with some acidity of the sliced apples did help to cut the greasiness.

A safe dish that is difficult to go wrong is this Crispy Seafood delight ($10.90), a well-seasoned seafood cake wrapped in crepe skin. Which fried food would disagree with mayonnaise?

The Crispy Lotus in Salted Egg Yolk ($10.90), with doses of chilli padi made a very good dish to go along with rice, or even a snack if you have high tolerance of salt. The extra bits of aromatic curry leaves were a bonus.

My favourite dish was the Stir Fry French Beans $8.90. It might be a common dish in many restaurants but to skills and experience are required to execute it well. What made this dish stood out was the super fragrant dried shrimps, garlic nibs and chilli padi. And...it actually had milky scents that reminded me of cereal prawn!

Beancurd in Crabmeat and Yellow Gravy ($10.90)
The chef made extra effort to make the beancurd from scratch but further pan-frying might produce more interesting textures to pair with the thickened yellow stock gravy, crab meat and wolf-berries.

The Prawn in Hawthorn sauce ($15.90) was quite similar to the Kurobuta Pork and the hawthorn flavour was elusive. It tasted more like a sweet tomato sauce and perhaps this seafood needs some reworking to break through a uniform sweetness in some dishes here

Try the Vegetable Juice $2.50, a mixture of chye sim, pineapple and sour plum with no sugar added, for a sweet-saltish treat.
Not all dishes may be perfect but this place is certainly promising enough for a casual gathering with family or friends. Apart from the Lobster porridge, the Crispy Lotus in Salted Egg Yolk and the Stir fried French beans are dishes not to be missed. 

Understandably, the restaurant is still at its experimental stage. Given more time, I'm sure the experienced chefs will be able to neat out the minor details and deliver consistent Chinese fare.

*This place does not charge for service or GST. All dishes here are nett price.

Wan He Lou
65 Maude Road (Walking distance from Lavender MRT /Farrer Park MRT)
Tel: 6294-8057
Lunch 11am-2.30pm
Dinner 5pm-10.30pm

[Special thanks to Streetdirectory and Wan He Lou for the invite]