Food bloggers call Pu Dong Kitchen (“Pu Dong”) their worst kept secret.
By virtue of its buried location at a basement unit of Balmoral Plaza, a venue known more for its tuition centres and oddly enough KTV lounges, Pu Dong Kitchen was indeed a low profile Shanghainese eatery.
But it’s no longer a secret. Not till you’ve sunken your teeth into those thick tiles of unctuously marbled pork belly ($30) braised in a dark and dense brew with four servings of petite boiled chicken eggs. Now, this is not one of those well-rendered braised pork that will fall apart at the prod of a fork. But, with those delicious chunks of meat slathered in an intensely savoury dark sauce, it certainly ranks amongst one of Singapore’s best. Yes, even better than mom’s.
And then there is the other star dish, the lion’s head ($20), yet another ‘must have’ at Pu Dong. Expect gargantuan minced pork balls served in a clay pot with slices of sliced napa cabbage basking in a fragrant pool of soya sauce; good on its own and better with a bowl of steaming hot rice.
But what’s a good Shanghainese meal without those classic Shanghainese snacks? Like us, you’ll be enamoured with Pu Dong’s stellar rendition of xiao long bao (steamed soup dumpling) and guo tie (pan fried dumplings), both priced at $6 each. The guo tie, in particular, were exceptionally juicy morsels bursting with steaming hot pork jus.
Yes, Pu Dong seems to have nailed the porky dishes, but what about the rest? Our order of sliced egg toufu with spring onion-flecked century eggs ($6) was positively mediocre, as was the salted vegetable with wobbly flour sheets and edamame-like beans($18). They were not bad, just forgettable.
And if you are not in the mood for pork, fret not. The chilled drunken chicken ($22) in hua diao jiu (Chinese wine) is a white-meat alternative bathed in a piquant wine broth that warms the heart as soon as it refreshes your palate. Mind you, the chicken meat may be slightly tough but the spell-binding hua diao jiu broth more than makes up for the chew.
It would have been lovely to end the meal with choice desserts. Alas, half of the four listed desserts, priced between $2 to $4 each, were not available during our visit and none that we sampled made the mark: not the glutinous rice dumplings in rice wine residue-flecked Chinese wine (which tasted like a by product of rice wine); nor the black sesame paste glutinous rice ball in a shockingly bland hot water bath.
271 Bukit Timah Road, #B1-02 Balmoral Plaza (67328966)
As published in InSing.com: