Here is Part II of the Gourmet Food Trail with Ah Lun.
The bus brought us rather quickly to Tiong Bahru Plaza. We went to the Lao Beijing branch located at Tiong Bahru Plaza.
Part II - Lao Beijing
The first thing we saw when we sat down was the menu!
There were so many dishes! We just had a 6 course lunch and here's another 7 courses on the menu.
That's not counting another surprise dish that might also be served here!
Here's Chef Ma Wei Qi from Lao Beijing. He's renowned for his execution of Northern Chinese dishes! Some of you who have "certain credit cards" might have attended his master class too :-)
Here's the crowd again. We were all seated according to the table number on the sticker tag that we had to wear. Some people had to shift around because of the table number on the tags. It's a good place to meet other people interested in food! The people on my table changed. That means I got to make new friends again!
Double boiled Chicken Soup
The soup was very flavourful and tasty. I found it a bit too generous with salt. :-)
They say chicken soup soothes the soul. It might be true after all. After having it, I felt better after the rush from one place to another. Just that I still find it a bit salty. :-)
Steamed Fish Head with Pickled Chilli
This dish might look really really spicy, but looks can be deceiving. As it's pickled chilli, it's not that spicy. It was a really fragrant dish. The pickled chilli mixture plus other fragrant oil (probably onion and bit of sesame) that they pour over it makes it smells really good. Fresh fish was coated with the pickled chilli paste and steamed. It sounds so simple right?
I am a fish eater, so I was happily eating it. After everyone took a small piece of it, I realised most people on the table did not take the second serving. Oh... they don't like fish with bones! I like picking fish from the bones, so I ate more of it.
Beijing-style Fried Shredded Pork and Leek with Chef's special sauce
This we were told is a very Beijing dish. They use tofu skin to wrap the stir fried shredded pork and leek. It's different from the usual wraps made from flour or wheat. It has a very nice mouth-feel to it.
I like this dish because of the sauce that was used to cook the pork strips. It was so tender that I initially thought it tasted like beef. Probably also because of the colour :-)
Our table got a bit lazy so someone asked the service staff if they could wrap for us. They did and below is what they did! It was quite a pleasure eating this, especially when we did not have to do anything but move our jaws.
Another round of competition! We were such a naughty crowd. The whole time at Lao Beijing, Xiao Peng was teasing the boy in the middle. Those who went knows the reason, but it's for people there only. Not nice to disclose it here :-)
I wonder if it's because he is wearing a shirt that's the same colour as Wanbao's logo?
Country-style Braised Dried Beancurd in Claypot
A very country dish. Dried beancurd that's I think has been pan fried and then braised with lots of leek and chilli. It's for tofu lovers. It's been some time since I had dried beancurd. We have been eating soft tofu too much! Eating this version of tofu is a nice change.
My partner in crime for the food tour.
Together with me was Aussie Pete another blogger that attended the Food Trail. He was being interviewed by the co-host Xiao Peng. He also had to make popiah! I am so glad I did not have to do anything. ;-)
Surprise surprise! There was participants who came because it was their birthday!
These 3 guys celebrated their birthdays. It was the actual birthday day for the boy in the Lianhe Wanbao colour. :-)
Chef Ma was in a very joyous mood last Saturday!
He decided to sing some opera for us too! I hope the omy folks recorded it! If they did you can probably watch it at the omy.sg site :-)
Fried Assorted Mushrooms with Spinach
This dish has been created for mushroom lovers. Oh... how I love the mushrooms!
The greens was a bit bitter, but the mushrooms was absolutely gorgeous!
How many kinds of mushrooms can you spot?
Demo time and the surprise dish! Popiah making time! Chef Ma demonstrated how to make popiah!
DIY Popiah Session
We got to do it ourselves too on our table. The condiments for popiah.
The soft skin for us to roll our popiah.
The most important ingredients for popiah, and everyone though this was really well executed here. It was the right consistency and we ate it on its own too when the skins ran out!
Ah Lun after the demonstration told us more about Singapore style popiah. He said that there are very few people in Singapore who knows how to wrap popiah properly. He has done his research and gone around all these years finding out.
I did not know the proper way to fold popiah, do you? Well, here's how to do it.
The sweet sauce is not to be spread in the middle of the skin. (That's a sign that the person who makes that popiah don't know about popiah!) The proper traditional way is to put it on top. The purpose of the sauce other than giving the popiah a slightly sweet taste is to act as 'glue'. So you spread it on the top.
The vegetable are usually dry, and you use it as a base to fill up other things.
You can either put the condiments first below or put the condiments on top. I chose to put it below because it is easier for me. :-)
Next I top up with the braised radish and tofu mix. You got to give the radish and tofu mixture a slight squeeze to get rid of the excess liquid. You don't want a soggy limp popiah.
We were told the traditional way is to boil pork bones and cook the radish etc in it. Nowadays many hawkers 'cheat' by using ikan bilis stock or worst still use ikan bilis cubes! If you have eaten the real stuff, you can taste the difference.
You then roll it up! Look, my first try and it comes out kind of nice right?
I took a bit and see how nice it looks inside?
We were told traditionally, a spoonful or so of the excess sauce will be poured into the popiah as you eat it. It's for those who loves it wet. Ah Lun really knows a lot about food. There were lots of stories that he told us. Attend his food trails if you want to know more! :-)
I stare, you stare!
Another game, this time a staring game. Two strangers were picked to stare at each other. The person who burst out laughing first loses. These two can really stare without laughing. The man's wife seated down was laughing non stop though!
They were so good that both were declared winners after even an extension of time! LOL.
Pan fried Shrimp, Pork, Cabbage Guotie
The Guotie at Lao Beijing. Some say it's a must try here.
I am not a fan of guotie, so I can't really appreciate it.
It does look very good right? Crispy on the bottom and smooth and silky on the top.
Steamed Juicy Meat Buns - Xiao Long Bao
Fans of XLB, their version here is not bad too!
Empress Dowager's Dessert - Soybean Cake
The name of this dessert it Empress Dowager's Dessert. How interesting eh?
It's glutinous rice cake and red bean paste layered and rolled up. The final layer is then rolled with soybean powder. It's quite unique and taste rather good too.
By the time we finish this, we were all totally stuffed! In 6 hours, we were entertained and we were eating and eating. If you would like to find out more or register for one of these sessions, click here to find out more.
It was a really enjoyable time to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. If I can find time, I would want to sign up for the later sessions, not only because of the food, but to hear stories from Ah Lun himself! There's a reason he is called 'the legend'!
Lao Beijing 老北京食堂
Tiong Bahru Plaza #02-12
302 Tiong Bahru Road
Tel : +65 6376 4466