Unit 297 on River Valley Road is now occupied by Sin Chao Gardens, a totally distinct Chinese restaurant, completely different from its previous “hipster” tenants of Five and Dime and Fat Lulu. Teochew Porridge is what the restaurant, Sin Chao Gardens, offers. Among the foodies of Teochew Porridge fans, Sin Chao Garden is very well recognized. Managed by Mr. Chia Hock Kim, he has been cooking Teochew food ever since he was a teenager. Amongst his many business ventures, he had previously run Joo Chiat Teochew Porridge and Soon Teck porridge.
There is no shopping center nearby, not even the MRT station. It’s just a small 2-storey shopping building situated along River Valley Road. The walls are lined with photos of celebrities who have come to eat and it’s old-school, traditional vibe makes for a truly authentic vibe and feel. It’s a clean and bright environment, perfect to have Teochew food. It’s a little more put together compared to other teochew porridge places and there are some car park lots available at the back which is convenient because of how it is quite hard to reach by public transport. The second floors have larger tables if you’re in a bigger group.
What is so alluring about Teochew porridge is the robust flavours of the dishes, juxtaposed with the piping hot plain congee. Teochew porridge is simply cooked rice grains swimming in a soupy broth (maybe flavored or plain) and eaten with a variety of side dishes, similar to nasi padang. For many of us, Teochew porridge is an iconic Teochew meal and a food of comfort. It’s a taste of childhood and consists of rice porridge and side dishes of your choosing, such as eggs, fish and a number of meat dishes. It is cooked until it’s congee-like, fluffy but not thick and sticky. As such, the scent of the rice is preserved by Teochew rice porridge, yet it is easy to swallow and digest.
I have personally been to this small restaurant several times and enjoyed their braised items very much. The dishes are tasty and delectable at reasonable prices. It’s interior and decor may not be as glamorous, but let the food speak for itself. At every Teochew Porridge outlet, an array of dishes are offered. 7 main categories of dishes are served at Sin Chao Gardens, namely vegetables, meat, seafood, fish, braised dishes, side dishes and omelettes. Since these are popular Teochew dishes that any Teow Chew would suggest, cold crab, braised pork belly and Cai Po Omelette are definitely some of the items you don’t want to miss when visiting the eatery.
The crabs are large, packed with roes, and the meat filled to the shell. The meat was sweet and depending on if you’d like it or not, you can dip the meat into sweet red chilli that is provided if you request.
Braised Duck with Tau Pok
The duck slices were robust, tender with a slight hint of smokiness and the tau kwa simply melts in your mouth.
Braised Pork Belly
One of the softest, melt-in-your-mouth meats ever. It’s braised and tender to each bite. The tender meat braised in dark soya sauce was redolent with the subtle hint of aromatics such as star anise and cinnamon.
The Braised Platter of Beef, Egg, Intestine and Skin is also available if you want to get a taste of several braised items. The taste, while mild, was not only well-balanced with the golden ratio of spices, but the fragrance was well-absorbed in each slice.
Cai Po Omelette
Sin Chao Garden’s specialty is this Chinese-style preserved turnip (preserved/salted radish) omelette. childhood favourite often cooked by mums. It goes so well with the porridge and the ingredients are minimal (just preserved turnip, eggs and garlic) yet so delicious.
Fried Oyster Egg
With a generous amount of fresh oyster, this omelette is lovely, fluffy and moist. If you like either egg or oyster, it’s a must order if you’re visiting Sin Chao Gardens.
The steaming sauce for the pomfret is evidence of its authenticity, with a few slices of pork fat tucked at the bottom of the fish. Mr Chia sources his Pomfrets from Surabaya region which is widely considered the best in the region.
End your meal with a sweet classic of Teochew dishes, Yam Paste. With lots of gingko nuts and scallions, Sin Chao Gardens offers the healthier version of yam paste which is less oily and less sweet. It’s a Teochew classic so make sure to order this when you’re there for an authentic end to the meal.
Sin Chao Gardens has 4 set meals to choose between, suitable for 2 to 6 people. It is a mixture of 4 dishes and you can opt for spicy or non-spicy dishes. You may want to go there with your family or friends as Sin Chao Gardens serves its dishes in a banquet format, great for social dining where you can enjoy authentic Teochew food amongst the company of friends and family.
Although Covid has made it difficult to eat in groups of more than 5, Sin Chao Gardens also have sets for a bigger group should you wish to make a delivery option. There are 3 set meals for 6 to 10 people. Every set meal comes with six selected dishes. The first set called “Lucky Set” caters for between 6 and 8 people, while the “Healthy Family Set” and “Riches and Prosperity Set” are good to feed between 8 to 10 people.
Delivery and Takeaway Orders
A takeaway and delivery option is also provided by Sin Chao Gardens and you can call and place your orders at 63690328. When you call to place your order, you may need to ask about their distribution locations. Simply visit its Facebook page at https:/www.facebook.com/sinchaogardens/ to see the menu. In that album, there are 9 photos and it consists of the complete menu as well as the set menus for meals.