Having been discharged from A&E without incident, DC decided that we needed a second opinion and he took me to Imperial Herbal Restaurant at Vivocity to see the sinseh. For $10, the Chinese physician told me that my body was weak and I needed to eat more red meat and green vegetables, and that I needed to drink tonic soup. Nothing that my mother couldn’t tell me.
Nonetheless, we got me some soup and I had the cordycep soup which was rather tasty. It was good soup done the right way and my inner Cantonese girl thoroughly approved the strong broth and pleasant herbal flavour.
Now what I liked even more was the herbal menthol tea that the doctor provided for my persistent dry cough. The menthol was so strong that my nose cleared immediately and I had to close my eyes to avoid the fumes. It soothed my throat nicely, like a cough drop in liquid form.
Imperial Herbal Restaurant
#03-08, Lobby G VivoCity
Tel: 6337 0491
Sis-in-law took the whole family to a coffee shop-style restaurant that supposedly had really good hamdan (salted egg) crabs. Since the focus of dinner was really the crab, we whizzed through the other dishes quickly. The cappuccino ribs scored full marks for imagination but didn’t do that well for taste. It was coffee ribs with cocoa powder and evaporated milk drizzled on top. The coffee part was nicely dark and bitter but the cocoa powder just didn’t do it for me.
The herbal chicken was supposed to be another signature dish but I felt that it wasn’t particularly special. Overcooked chicken with herbs: sure, it’s comfort food but I’m not going all the way out to that part of Bukit Timah for this dish.
They misnamed the fish. It should’ve been called assam curry fish instead of Thai-style fish. The taste was great as the fish was fresh, the curry spicy and the vegetables tender-crunchy. Bro insisted on taking this picture with the red snapper’s mouth gaping open. Too bad the camera couldn’t capture the steam and bubbles coming out of its mouth. It was horror-movie cool (that is, if you were a fish watching a horror movie).
Then came the piece de resistance! Now this is what I’d call a heart attack on a plate. As if the cholesterol in the crab isn’t enough, I don’t know how many (neither do I want to know how many) salted egg yolks were mashed up to make the savoury rich sauce. In fact, it was so rich that most of us gave up. Shockingly, no one fought over the last pieces, although Dad was very naughty and had some even though he had to go for a cholesterol test the next day. Only DC stuck it to the end, polishing up the last bits and impressing Mum on the way. All in all, it was very decent stuff though not quite as good as the first time I had crab done this way in KL. Still, barring going all the way up north, this definitely hits the spot.
The weather hasn’t been particularly good lately, so i thought I’d make some herbal chicken soup to top up the defences. This soup is incredibly simple to make and the flavours are clear and strong. If I could be bothered to, I’d put it in a slow cooker to double boil during the day so that I can return to a nice brew. Since I wasn’t very organised this time, I simmered it over a gentle flame for about an hour. This way, the chicken was still tender. I would probably have saved it for breakfast sandwich filling but the taste was so good that I keep picking at it over the next day or so and there was none left for mayonnaise and bread.
The American ginseng is meant to relieve heatiness and stress and the wolfberry supposedly is good for the eyes, it’s also great to balance out the bitterness of ginseng. You can easily buy the ingredients from any traditional Chinese medicine shop.
I’m not sure how it affects the medicinal value of the soup, but I like to poach some (regular) chicken fillets in the soup to enhance the flavour of the soup. Get a pot that is just big enough to fit the chicken and put in just enough water to cover it all. This way you get a lot of chicken and ginseng flavour. Try it, it’s fantastic.
4 chicken fillets
2 generous pinches of American ginseng slices
1 generous tbsp wolfberry
Bung all the ingredients in a suitable pot with lid and fill up with water till it just covers the chicken. Cover and simmer on low till it just starts bubbling. Poach the chicken fillets for about 10 minutes, then remove.
Simmer on low with bubbles just breaking the surface now and then for one hour.
There was a cleaning station at the entrance of one of the higher quality restaurants our relatives took us to. I was incredibly amused by the request to pasteurise my hands.
As I dispensed the happy juice, I was relieved that water at 70°C didn’t spurt out and bathe my hands for 5 minutes! Hee.
In other stories, I treated my uncles to dinner at Xiao Fei Yang (Little Fat Lamb) the night before we flew back home. This place specialises in hotpot and has a few flavours to choose from. We chose the herbal chicken and the mala flavours. True to usual form, we over ordered. Between the three of us, we had so much food that the restaurant had to provide a side table to cram everything in!
Here’s me and First Uncle before the food fest started. I guess at this point you’d want to know how it tasted. Of course it was good, if not why would I post it? I’m going to leave you to track down a branch when you next go to China!