Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wo Peng at Macpherson - Makansutra Dinner March 2010

The Makansutra forum monthly dinners are a great way to discover and enjoy good cze-char restaurants. When I heard that the March dinner was going to be at Wo Peng, I knew it was going to be good.

Crispy Fish Skin Hong Kong style
Crispy Fish Skin Hong Kong style - deep-fried eel skin accompanied with a superior stock dip (see bowl behind). The crackling fish skin is addictive enough on its own, but when infused with the tasty stock (let it soak a couple of seconds), it's a completely new sensation. Muted crispiness with a burst of savoury soup.

Cold Japanese Cucumber with Century Egg
Cold Japanese Cucumber with Century Egg - this super-garlicky appetiser could be the best insurance against vampires, which may cause teenage girls to avoid this. It's quite salty, so mix it well with the cucumbers before eating.

Fried Prawns with Pepper & Salt
Fried Prawns with Pepper & Salt - big, juicy crystal prawns coated with crispy bits, chopped garlic, spring onions and chillies. More salt than pepper here, but no complaints.

Smoked Golden Snapper Fish
Smoked Golden Snapper Fish - incredibly rich and amazing smoked flavours! The smoky pungence comes through well but is not overpowering. The crisped exterior also lent texture to the tender flesh.

Smoked Golden Snapper with Sweet-Sour-Spicy Sauce
The fish is served with a very complementary sweet-sour spicy sauce, which I loved (it's spicy!). But you can also enjoy the fish on its own, to best savour the beautiful smoked flavours.

Blanched Live Clams in Superior Stock
Blanched Live Clams in Superior Stock - clams so very fresh and tasty, soaking in a beautifully light broth. The plenitude of onions, spring onions and chives lent sweet fragrance to the very comforting stock. I'm glad they added tanghoon (clear vermicelli) to soak up the goodness. I drank it all off my plate.

Braised Pig Trotter with Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce
Braised Pig Trotter with Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce - I was blown away by how tender and flavourful the meat was. The pieces hold their shape just long enough to make its way into your mouth, where it melts into divine succulence. I nearly wanted to order an extra portion to take home! Definitely one of the best pork trotters I've ever had.

Ivan, Cheryl and I were lucky to get a kitchen tour led by Andrew. That's chef Julian Tam on the left
At this point in time, one of the organisers Andrew took Ivan, Cheryl and I into the kitchen for a tour (ack, we missed out LeRoy who was in the other room!). I was honoured to meet Chef Julian Tam (far left), who has built up quite a reputation for superb culinary skills in Singapore and Guangzhou, China. He seems an affable, down-to-earth and soft-spoken man with no airs or pretensions.

It's a busy kitchen with non-stop action
It's a small space in the galley, as is typical of most Chinese kitchens, but efficient and fast-paced. I am always amazed at how humble little spaces can churn out such delicious things.

Grilled geese all a glistening!
Look at the charcoal-grilled geese just glistening and beckoning! We had to stop our caveman instincts from making us grab and chomp on these immediately. So, back to our seats as these birds (specially flown in from Taiwan) got sliced up and served.

Charcoal Grilled Goose
Charcoal-Grilled Goose - this is nothing short of a masterpiece. There were smoked flavours in this (especially the thigh areas) that made it taste like high-end ham. Interestingly, this goose comes with gravy - a well-spiced and savoury concoction that enhanced the smoky richness of the meat.

Stir-fried Vegetables with Lotus Root and Bamboo Pith
Stir-fried Vegetables with Lotus Root and Bamboo Pith - the vegetables were blanched just right, retaining that coveted crisp, crunchy texture. At first, I thought this was the most nondescript dish of the evening, but the superb taste of the gravy came through later. It was quite stunning and I wished there was more (or at least that more that coated the vegetables). The spongy bamboo pith was the most absorbent and soaked up the most gravy, making it extra tasty.

Fried Seafood Mee Sua
Fried Seafood Mee Sua - I think this delicate-tasting dish may have suffered waiting in the wings a little. By the time it was portioned out, it tasted a little cold and soggy. Loved the generous portions of crisp, large prawns though.

Panfried Red Bean Pancakes
Panfried Red Bean Pancakes - the flaky pastry here is a little thick and doughy, but the smooth red bean paste within makes it a satisfactory dessert nonetheless.

Wo Peng's is simple and no-frills, decorwise - we're all here for the food!
It's been said that Wo Peng has so many good offerings, it's hard to identify their "signature" dishes. Many of the dishes are also not on the menu, so feel free to ask if they can whip up a specific item. You could also ask them to tailor some dishes to your budget (and preferences), based on the day's freshest ingredients. Generally, the food will not disappoint. However, note that Wo Peng does not serve the typical "flavours-in-your-face" cze-char. Chef Julian is not heavy-handed with sauces and instead seeks a finer balance of flavours.

Decor here is modestly no-frills (hey, we're all here for the food). But it's certainly cosy and comfortable enough for dinners big or small. The restaurant now occupies two shophouse units. Look out for the brightly lit signboard. However, parking is infamously difficult along Macpherson Road, so take advantage of the free valet parking service in front of the restaurant.

Warmest appreciation to the Makansutra organising team, especially Andrew and Tony, for arranging these delicious dinners month after month.

476 Macpherson Road
Singapore 368191
Tel: 6747 9892 (reservations strongly recommended)
Open daily 11am - 3pm; 6pm - 10pm


  1. I am salivating - thanks to your gorgeous food pics and your mouthwatering descriptions! Good to know you had a nice evening out ... you deserve it. :)

  2. Thanks, Ju! Hey, hope to hear about your food tasting too!

  3. Ooh, I'm salivating too! Looks awesome, too bad I couldn't make it this time. Glad you could! :)

  4. Hey Julia, we can always revisit with the gang! Next dinner must come, OK? :)

  5. I haven't had my dinner yet and the Cold Japanese Cucumber with Century Egg is already whetting my appetite!

    I love this bit - "this super-garlicky appetiser could be the best insurance against vampires, which may cause teenage girls to avoid this" - LOL.

    Oh those Twilight teens... they have no idea what they are missing! :P

  6. LFB: Hehe. I just had to put that in for fun. Me, I cannot live without garlic. Who cares about dark, brooding, glittery vampires.

    But I'm also sure someone will soon correct me that the Twilight vampires are unaffected by garlic.

  7. All these food provoke instant hunger! They just look so delicious. Thanks very much for sharing these beautiful photos.

  8. Oh it looks so delicious! I wish I was there!

  9. chinese food is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Cheers to another great dinner! the east some more!! :D

  11. Hey Camemberu,

    i am planning a dinner at Wo Peng too!
    wanna order the same stuff u guys order too!

    MAy i know if there r special items that need lead time? and also the cost of the dinner ?


  12. another great place to check out for food. that duck looks so good i can almost smell/taste it!

  13. Thanks, MaryMoh, Alisa-Foodista, Kelly and HungryCow! :)

    Gimmeashoutout: The dinner cost S$40 per head, but this menu was specially negotiated by the Makansutra forum veterans, one of whom has known the chef for 16 years! It is a good idea to order your items in advance as some things do need lead time or run out very quickly. Call Wo Peng to find out which ones (probably the goose and smoked fish!)

    Cumi & Ciki: haha, come to town and we'll bring you there!

  14. OMG! did I see deep fried fish skin! this is my favourit, one bite start to heaven, so pure and refine taste! I must drop by Wo Peng when I am in town!

  15. i was there today. didn't really have a good time honestly.

    the price is reasonable, ie around 50 pax for roast goose, smoked fish, shark cartilage soup, lobster noodles, asparagus and scallops and fish skin, but i felt the cooking was very middling/avg.

    ingredients are pretty good, no doubt.

    but for eg: shark cartilage soup was too peppery, not milky enough.. asparagus had no wok hei and was lukewarm, smoked fish was quite one dimensional and dry.. and the lobster noodles were bordering on soggy, and the taste was again very one dimensional and boring. as for the goose, probably the only redeeming factor in the whole meal... but honestly not of a standard that can't be found elsewhere either, so..

    i really went with high expectations based on reviews by urself and a few others, but sad to say it's really very very average at best.

  16. Hey BBO, there are also fish skin chips at Ming Kee, just a few doors down. Also very good food there! Let us know when you are in town!

    Hi p. Sorry to hear you didn't fully enjoy yourself at Wo Peng. There are people who are not used to Wo Peng's cooking. The flavours there are not the typical cze-char style. Even for me, some dishes are nicer than others. I do agree the price is reasonable - sounds like quite a feast you had for $50/pax.

  17. Visited the Restaurant on 3 occasions. The food is yummylicious.
    for big group must try the " pern chye " I love the crab Bee Hoon. something to die for................


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