Sunday, November 23, 2014

Singapore Food Blog - The Asian Kitchen's Lu Gang Xiao Zhen 鹿港小镇

Location: Bugis, Central Business District (CBD), Singapore

Updated: This business is permanently closed.

Note: This post is written base on the dining experience in Bugis+ branch. Experience may vary from that of other outlets.

The Asian Kitchen's name is rather peculiar as its name English and Mandarin name does not match each other. Its Mandarin name is 鹿港小镇 (Lu Gang Xiao Zhen), potentially named after a small township in Taiwan though the reason why is beyond my guess. Apart from a peculiar name, I do find its dishes memorable, worthy of a recommendation from me.

I usually patronize the branch in Bugis+, personally because the restaurant is located on the highest floor of the mall and has a high ceiling. Despite its relative lack of deco the high ceiling and ample distance between tables gave a spacious feel to the place.

Herbal Crispy Duck (药材烧鸭) (small - SGD12.70) is one of our favorite dish in The Asian Kitchen . Its crispy skin and succulent flesh soaked up the sauce it bathed in, bringing forth the flavor with every bite and chew.

The Asian Kitchen's main offer is various types of roast duck, each seasoned differently to provide an assortment of tastes suiting different diners. It is possible to the roast duck to be served with original sauce (原味烧鸭), herbal sauce (药材烧鸭), sour plum sauce (梅子烧鸭) or the tongue-numbing spicy mala sauce (麻辣烧鸭). From its slightly crispy skin to the marinated succulent flesh, the whole dish summoned forth appetite from the depths of our growling tummy, demanding each piece to be consumed down to the bones.

We had tried both the original and herbal variant and unanimously voted for the latter for its rich Chinese herbal sauce. Since there were just two of us, we usually chose the smaller dish, but a family flocking to the table will need a large portion to satisfy their voracious appetite for more of this delicious roast.

But of course, roast duck only occupied a page of its menu and we would not be satisfied with only a dish on our table. The Asian Kitchen's menu is filled with various Chinese dishes from various regions, making it a difficult choice. A variety of soups, vegetables, seafood and meat dishes gave us plenty of choices to pick from. Although not all of them satisfied our taste buds, we do have our favorites among them.

Seafood Tofu Soup (海鲜豆腐汤) (SGD8.90) is by far our most popular pick whenever we return for a meal. Filled with the namesake cubes of tofu and slices of seafood, this fare is a subtly sweet mixture, made thicker and creamier by swirling egg whites.

Sometimes we do get slightly bored out with repeat orders of our favorite soup, which is when we turned to our other favorite, Ah Ma Spinach Soup (阿妈芫菜苗汤) (SGD8.50). A nutritious fare with spinach boiled with wolfberries, slices of pork and egg, the last of which clung to the strands of spinach while infusing its taste into the liquid. It would not be difficult to ask kids to consume this bowl worthy of Popeye!

Although my wife do not enjoy this, I do find Summer Soup (夏天开味汤) (SGD7.20) unique. Its mixture of sour and spicy may not sit well with everyone, but it does help increase my appetite. The layer of oil on the top could repel health seeking diners though.

For my favorite meat dish, I recommend Rock Salt Pork Ribs (椒盐排骨) (SGD11.50). Despite its name, it is not a salty dish. Sprinkled over the chunky pork ribs are chopped garlic and rock salt coupled with chili bits. Even though I recommend this dish for meat lover, it is not the best of its kind which I had tasted before. The flesh is tender but the fried exterior is not crispy, lending a flabby texture.

The dark pot of Chicken Mushroom Pot (鸡煲锅) (SGD9.90) is just so-so in my opinion. The main taste comes from the dark sticky sauce covering the stewed chicken, but the pot is too dry for my liking although the chicken is well cooked and the mushrooms are large and chewy. I would have prefer to have enough leftover sauce prepared from sesame oil at the bottom of the pot for me to dip the chicken into and to scoop up to my rice.

'Tasty' Fish Slices (抽油王切鱼片) (SGD9.50) is just tasty and falls under another of my favorite. Dipped in diluted soy sauce, the white flesh soaked up the taste and places it into your mouth but not overwhelming the fish's sweet taste.

Who wouldn't love eggs? I know I love them. Reunion Omelette (家喜煎蛋) (SGD7.90) help me beat my cravings for a dish of egg by delivering an omelette with Chinese sausages embedded within. Talk about the 2 best loved food in a dish!

T. A. K. Treasure Pot (茶馆滑豆腐) (SGD7.90) would make even kids love vegetable meals! A cooked pot of mushrooms, green beans and, most importantly, egg tofu, lend the dish a colorful complexion, soaked in a semi-viscous sauce of unparalleled taste of vegetable sweetness.

Village Tofu (家乡豆腐) (SGD6.20) looks better on picture than it tasted, but this is another dish where my wife's opinion differed from mine. The exterior is solid and holds the soft tofu in place and is infused with the taste of soy. Being tofu, it is naturally lacking in strong flavor, which is where the peanut crumbles and sauce comes into the picture. My wife loved the sauce but I personally find this dish too bland for my taste.

Garlic Dou Miao (蒜泥豆苗) (SGD9.90) is tasty in its simplicity. With dou miao stir fried with slices of garlic, the dish just couldn't perform any worse although I prefer if the dish is wet with sauce.

With just the two of us, we generally spend close to SGD30 for a meal with 2 - 3 choices of dish and an occasional drink. For a meal in a restaurant and in a mall, that is not too pricey, and since we have a few preferred dishes made by The Asian Kitchen, we are still their returning customer.

Their dishes could do with some major overhaul to offer new choices and, most importantly, an improve in taste. They have potential in a lot of their listed dishes but we only found a few to our liking. Since there are quite a number of untested choices left in the menu, we may try our luck in subsequent visits to increase our list of preferred dishes.

Environment:         An oriental restaurant in city center
Suitable for:            for family or friends, or just for usual dining
Food score:
Food:        4.0/5.0
Service:    4.0/5.0
Value:       4.0/5.0
Ambient:  2.0/5.0

Operating hours:   10.00 a.m. - 10.00 p.m.
Directions:                Disembark at Bugis MRT station and exit to street level at Bugis Junction. Cross the road to get to Bugis + and head to the 4th floor.

Website:                     The Asian Kitchen official website
Contact:                     +65 - 6884 5507 (phone) (Bugis + branch)
E-mail:                        -
Address:                     201 Victoria Street, #04-07, Bugis +, Singapore 188067.

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