I was complaining to a chum about the recent spate of blah meals when I was directed to Gu Ma Jia; it's where his extended family, all live-to-eat type of foodies, gather for big Sunday dinners. TBH, I'd never have known about this place, tucked away at Tai Thong Crescent, if he didn't tell me about it. For that matter, I didn't even know where Tai Thong was. heh.
Notwithstanding how ulu I'd thought Tai Thong was (it really isn't; it's easily accessible off the CTE-PIE), or how the Hubs, the half-Korean half-Peranakan, full-ACS boy, keeps mangling up the restaurant's Chinese name, we made our way there one week-day night for an early early dinner.
My chum has good taste; everything we ordered was a standout. Masterful cooking with robust flavours, the food at Gu Ma Jia was so damn good we returned a few days later to takeaway some of their dishes. The only problem: they seem to have an irresistible urge to put coriander leaves in every.single.thing...arghhh (and urghhh)...despite clear instructions to hold off all "yan sui, yin xu, xiang cai, qing cong, coriander leaves, parsley, spring onions". I'd even pointed to a picture of the herb on the menu. I don't think I could have been any more explicit, or been any more thorough in belabouring the instructions.
Soft and slightly springy, the Hotplate Thai Style Sotong ($22 one-size), slicked in a tangy spicy sauce, was perfectly cooked. A delectable twist to the typical sambal sotong.
A variation to the Thai sotong, the Siam Style Hotplate Prawn ($20) was delicious as well (we were sucking the sauce off the shells), save for the troublesome need to peel the shells off the shrimp.
An absolute must-try, the Gu Ma Jia XO Prawn Noodle ($30 one-size) was crazy good. Flush with a rich broth sweetened by prawn stock, it was spiked with XO sauce for a punchy heat. The kangkong lent crunch while the prawns were sweet and fresh.
A signature here, the Assam Fish Head ($28) was awesome. The fish was incredibly fresh, and the thin gravy was the perfect balance of the tart, sweet, and spicy, in no small part due to the stewed pineapple. While it lent piquancy, it also imbued the gravy with a biting sweetness that made this exceptional. Hands down, best assam fish head I've ever had in my life.
The Claypot Wine Chicken ($15 for small), redolent with ginger and sesame oil, was heady and balanced. I loved the textural contrast of the julienned black fungus to the succulent chicken.
The Yam Ring with XO Scallops ($38 one-size) overflowing with a vegetable hodgepodge of sugar snap peas, carrots, purple cabbage and lotus chips, shone in its simplicity. Another cannot miss here.
The Claypot Seafood Beancurd ($16) was generously laden with fish chunks, shrimp, squid, carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage. Slices of ginger and a good dose of chili imparted a subtle heat to the silky oyster sauce gravy.
The Egg Sauce Bee Hoon ($6) was the only blah dish. It passed muster, but in light of the rest of the remarkable dishes, paled in comparison.
Gu Ma Jia Private Kitchen
45 Tai Thong Crescent
Tel: 6285 2023
Open weekdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch; 5.30pm to 10pm for dinner;
weekends from 11am to 10pm