Pu Dong V.I.P.
Pu Dong Kitchen has done so well in the recent years they opened a V.I.P. room across the Kitchen. A personal butler is assigned to this spacious room with karaoke entertainment so a minimum spending is required in order to reserve it. My friends like the food here and so I was able to blog about this place again with some new dishes to showcase.
I have eaten at the Kitchen many times and been dining in this VIP room on several occasions (the foods are served from the same kitchen) but I can honestly say the last visit and tonight’s were the only time I truly enjoyed most of the food. My cousin Sharon, once told me she likes their food a lot, too. Did they change chef? Anyways, I hope to experience more good food from them from now on.
Crispy crunchy crackling skin and very little fats in between skin and meat. A suckling pig is a piglet that has not wean off suckling at its mother’s milk and is usually slaughtered between the ages of 2 to 6 weeks. It is traditionally roasted whole and prepared for very special occasions and Chinese gatherings.
This is a very pale looking almost white Sautéed Fresh River Shrimp (清炒野生河虾仁) dish but for this post, I deepened the contrast so we can see the shrimps. Seasoned with a light hand, the invigorating sweetness of the shrimps shone through. Kudos!
Dong Po Rou 东坡肉 (recipe below). The dish is named after the famed poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist and statesman of the Song Dynasty, Su Dongpo 蘇東坡, when he was banished to Hangzhou. It is rather ironic to find this iconic feature of Hangzhou (杭州) cuisine here. The meat is to be cut into 2 inch square dimension and consisting of half fats half meat (50-50 ratio) and therefore, pork belly is the choice meat. The extra fats meant extra flavour. The pork is then pan-fried first and slow braised in soy sauce (red-cooking) for around 3 hours or more to draw out the flavours of the dish. A good Dong Po Rou 东坡肉 is not greasy and is so tender one has to be careful when handling it. The meat breaks apart easily when pried with a pair of chopsticks and almost melts instantly on your tongue. Okay, I’m exaggerating but you get the idea… tender!
At Pu Dong Kitchen, it looked good and tasted even better! The hen eggs were smaller than usual so the portion sizing was good. This dish threatens to be the same as the Braised Pork Knuckles but it is not. The gelatinous skin and fat combination is to die for… they just melt in your mouth. And the meat required effortless chew.
Pu Dong Kitchen fries their fishes (all sorts, whole or steak) very well. Although the food looked oily, there was no hint of greasy gunk feel in my mouth when eating them. The vegetables retained their crunch but the fried rice was a little too hard for me. I loved the red bean filled pastry and had one pancake by myself I think… they keep refilling. Incidentally, Shanghainese cuisine 上海菜 used to be touted as the ugly red-headed stepchild of Chinese food. Well, this will not be my last visit to Pu Dong Kitchen. I’ve been converted!
Dong Po Rou 东坡肉 (my home-style version)
500g Lean Pork Belly, in a whole slab.
1 tablespoon oil.
2 stalks scallions, cut into 3 parts across the length.
2 pieces Star Anise.
2 pieces Shallots, sliced.
3 slices Old Ginger, peel skin first.
10 White Peppercorns.
1 Dried Chilli, optional (reconstituted in warm water and remove seeds).
1 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce.
2 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce.
2-3 tablespoons crushed yellow lump Rock Sugar.
3 tablespoons Shaoxing Wine.
Water, enough to cover the pork belly.
Hard-boiled Eggs, optional, (shells removed).
Bring a pot of water to the boil and put in the slab of pork belly.
Scale the meat for about 5 minutes.
Throw away the water and rinse the meat with fresh cool water.
Cut the meat into 2 inch cubes. Pat dry with paper towels.
Heat up a claypot or shallow stockpot with oil, stir-fry the ginger, scallions, star anise, shallots and peppercorns until aromatic.
Add in the 2 tablespoons of the crushed rock sugar and turn the heat down.
Let the sugar dissolve slowly adding a few tablespoons of water to prevent burning.
Using tongs or chopsticks, put in the cut pork pieces (skin side down) and let them cook in the syrup for 2 minutes.
Pour in enough water to cover the pork (and eggs) completely.
Add in the rest of the seasonings (and dried chilli, if using).
Turn up the heat to medium high and simmer for 5 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium-low so that the water is simmering gently.
Cover the pot and braise the pork for 30 minutes.
Turn pork over so that they are skin side up this time and continue braising for 1½ – 2 hours.
In Melbourne, the pork tenders faster than in Singapore, I don’t why.
If using hard-boiled eggs, you can drop them gently into the braising liquid in the beginning and remove them when they had taken on the colour and fragrance after an hour.
Do a skewer test on the meat – when the skewer can prick all the way through the skin and meat and comes out easily, the pork is tender.
If pork is already tender but the braising liquid is watery, remove pork and continue to cook the liquid until it becomes thick and syrupy.
Adjust final seasonings, the extra 1 tablespoon of rock sugar and light soy or salt to taste, if necessary.
This is a well balanced sweet and savoury stew. It should not be overpowering either way.
Put in the pork and mix well with the thick gravy (if you had to remove the pork earlier).
Serve warm with plain rice or steamed mantou (Chinese buns).
Note: Dong Po Rou are usually neatly bundled up with cooking twine to keep its shape but since I prepared them for home consumption, I do away with that. You may tied the meat with the cooking twine after cutting them into cubes. Cut away the strings before serving. Also, restaurants usually have a “mother sauce” and after scalding the meat, they pour the sauce over the meat and steam them instead of braising and thus require more hours to cook this dish into tender morsels. You can use white sugar if rock sugar is not available.
Happy cooking 🙂
Pu Dong Kitchen
Address: 271 Bukit Timah Road
Phone: 6732 8966
Hours: 11:00 am–2:30 pm, 5:30 pm–9:30 pm
Transit: Balmoral Plaza