Have I already mentioned that I love my foodie friends?? Because oftentimes we get stuck in a rut of only eating at the same few restaurants, it's such a refreshing change-up to have our food-obsessed friends steer us to their family's favourite haunts. In fact, many of our current go-tos started off as recommendations from our friends.
Chui Xiang Kitchen is a cze char discovery courtesy of a colleague-turned-friend, who's quickly turning out to be some kind of savant with regards to unknown, underrated gems (he'd previously suggested the fantastic Gu Ma Jia). It's apparently been around for years, but as with Gu Ma Jia, I'd have never known it was there if he didn't tell me about it.
It's located along the same row of shophouse eateries as Casuarina Curry and Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, and in fact, Chui Xiang Kitchen is right next to the latter. Frankly, I'm stumped as to why Ban Leong Wah Hoe appears so much more popular than Chui Xiang Kitchen when the food at Chui Xiang is generally much better finessed.
Big big plus-point: it's near the club, so we usually hit this up after whacking a few balls at the range.
It's been a while since we had marmite pork ribs (this was one of our must-orders at Siang Hee which current location at Serangoon Garden is so frikkin' far to get to!!!), and it was great to find that Chui Xiang's Marmite Pork Ribs ($14 for small) were excellent. The ribs were tender and flavourful, the sweet-sticky marinade having seeped right into the bones. For sure a must-try.
Another must-try, the Teochew-style Cabbage Chicken ($18) was comfort food at finest. Stuffed with chestnuts, wolfberries, red dates, and white fungus, this was fall-off-the-bone tender and wonderfully nuanced. Better than Huat Kee's version, I feel.
Remember Ocean Curry Fish Head at Toa Payoh, before they sold it to the Chinese?? It was the gold standard of Chinese-style fish head curry. And now finally, I've found a worthwhile substitute at Chui Xiang. The swimmingly fresh Curry Fish Head ($28), creamy and choc-a-bloc with lady's fingers, brinjal, tomatoes, cabbage, and beancurd puffs, was rich, punchy and sumptuous.
The Hotplate Tofu ($12 for small) was simple, homespun fare. The seafood was sparkling fresh, sweet and cooked perfectly.
The 'Fu Rong' Omelette ($8 for small) generously laced with barbecued pork dice, shrimp and mushrooms was commendable.
The only dish that fell flat was the String Bean Minced Meat ($10 for small), it was lacking in 'wok hei' and a little too salty. They'd added too much preserved vegetables (mei cai) to the minced pork.
Also a must-try, the Seafood Hor Fan ($5 for small) was scrumptious and smoky with 'wok hei'. Ingredients were plentiful and the egg-drop gravy was absolutely glorious.
Chui Xiang Kitchen
126 Casuarina Road
Tel: 6458 4567
Opens daily from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch; 5pm to 10.30pm for dinner