Along the streets, the 169 year-old Chui Huay Lim Club looked isolated but inside the Teochew clan’s building, it was party time for rich old folks. Chui Huay Lim, meaning “drunken flower forest” or “ecstasy in flower forest”, was super crowded. Don’t expect a seat if you don’t make a reservation.
It was crowded for good reasons. Despite a few negative reviews I’ve read, all the dishes were tasty, none was bad. First time eating appetizer, pork trotter jelly ($10, above). Strange, cold, and rather tasteless, but The Ex, who had eaten it at several places, said this was one of the better ones. I prefered the fried liver roll ($10, below), another appetizer, rich and buttery.
You have to pre-order teochew specialty braised goose at least a day in advance (begins from $26 a portion, to a whole goose). It had a bite, which wasn’t a bad thing, and tasted umami in the zesty chilli sauce. The portion was small for $26, less than 10 slices atop a bed of braised tofu, but worth ordering for the novelty.
We nearly didn’t order the best dish of the night, but at the last minute, we swapped the prawns for teochew steamed pomfret (market price, ours cost $78.40) because the manager asked, “Just to check, you are not ordering the fish?” We are such suckers but there was no regret. It was fresh, steamed just right, and the salty-sour broth was refreshing, but was too huge for three of us.
If there were two items I wasn’t sure about, they were the conpoy and mee sua. The braised conpoy vegetables ($32, below) came highly recommended on many blogs. It had dry scallops, fa cai, cabbage, and oyster mushroom. A little bland and limp for me. The carb dish, fried seafood mee sua ($18), had wok hei but I wasn’t sure if 2 prawns, 2 scallops, and 2 cuttlefish were worth the price.
Chiobu, The Ex, and I were much too full for desserts, but we did prattle with the friendly Singaporean young waitress, who made us laugh. I said, “Wah, so big [portion].” She replied, “Plate big only.” She gave good service too: our plates and bowls were changed regularly. Teacups filled and refilled.
We spent $210 for three persons, or about $70 for one. Rather costly, but we over-ordered. There was food enough for four, and if there were four of us, it would be $50 each, which is more reasonable. This was a delicious meal, and hey! if it’s good enough for grannies and grandpapas, it’s good enough for me.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.