Add: 756 Upp Serangoon Rd, #01-15/16 Upper Serangoon Shopping Center
Opening Hours: 11am-230pm,530pm-1030pm
Being the teochews we are, my family is always on the hunt for authentic teochew restaurants in Singapore. Mum recently caught wind of Fragrant Garden, a simple eatery located within the dilapidated Upp Serangoon Shopping Center, and we have been visiting it pretty often ever since.
Some great renditions of famous teochew dishes like the orh-ni (yam paste) and pig’s trotters’ jelly can be found here. I was however not a big fan of their braised duck and cold crab.
Appetizers: Achar + Fish crackers
We typically ask servers to take away those pre-meal appetizers (so that we won’t be charged) but we don’t do it here. Thats because they make pretty good achar and their strips of fish crackers are to die for. Sometimes I wish there were more servings of it!
Teochew Cold Crab(潮州冻蟹）－ $28: I am a fan of anything crab-related! However, the cold crab here is a little pricey for such a small serving. The flesh wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked it to be, but the roe sure was satisfying. For those with cholesterol issues, go easy on it!
Pig Trotter’s Jelly (猪脚冻）- $10: My dad gets really amused when he sees me enjoying this dish. He claims: “not many young people like you can appreciate this” hur hur. And I can totally understand why. This dish is totally out of this world in terms of taste, texture, temperature, flavours… Apparently, this Teochew specialty of old was prepared by stewing the pig trotters long enough so that the collagen melts and forms a gelatin-meat mixture upon cooling. Gelatin powder is of course the way to go in modern times. That being said, this dish doesn’t taste as terrible as it looks. The contrast in which it is served over a bed of sliced green apples is pretty interesting too.
Deep fried prawn roll (虾枣) – $12: Just the right mixture of everything (prawns, water chestnuts, minced meat..) and the best part was that it was non greasy and the 腐皮 outer layer was thinly crisp.
Curry Fish Head － $28: Teochews are known for using fresh “qee” ingredients for their cooking. This dish is a great representation of that spirit! It is the freshest, tastiest curry fish head I have ever had. I know its not exactly reflective of teochew cuisine but hey, they do it really well here. The sauce is the ‘lemak’ kind which is thick and pasty in nature (my favourite) as opposed to the diluted assam kind.
Orh-Ni/Yam Paste (芋泥）- $4/serving: Any self-respecting teochews would recognize this gooey paste. Fragrant Garden’s rendition of it is one of the nicest/most interesting version on this island (in my limited food adventures with the parents). Its a riot of ingredients in there, mashed yam, ginko nuts, steamed pumpkins, chopped water chestnuts + a generous spoonful of fried shallots.Really yummy!
Service is great here too. The teochew boss is always up and about moving from table to table interacting with guests and gathering feedback about his food. Do try it if you are in the area one day.