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Wan He Lou Chinese Restaurant 萬合樓 – Tantalizing Lobster Porridge
The popular lobster porridge was the main reason for our visit to Wan He Lou Chinese Restaurant. Chef Lau – the creator of this signature dish – came up with it in the least expected way during a regular diving trip with his friends to Desaru.
An avid diver, Chef Lau was contemplating how to enjoy his fresh lobster catch off shore of a remote island. With nothing much he could work with, aside from some rice he managed to get from the locals, he decided to make porridge using seawater and his freshly caught lobsters! The fresh sea flavours of the lobster worked so well with the porridge that Chef Lau continued to experiment and refine the dish after he returned home. And that is how Wan He Lou’s signature dish was born.
Wan He Lou occupies one of the shophouses in Jalan Besar area, an air conditioned restaurant with a simple, homely and comforting setting.
Lobster porridge $29.90 onwards depending on the lobster size
So obviously, you shouldn’t miss out on the porridge when you’re here. The porridge is cooked in a Teochew style with whole rice grains swimming in a pool of flavourful broth, the rich golden soup enhanced with lobster roe and a sprinkling of fresh spring onions, the crimson red lobster buried in the rice grains. Ginger, curry leaves, butter oil and chili gave the dish a further boost in flavour. Like the traditional Teochew porridge, the lobster porridge was not gooey but watery, the first sip of the soup was packed with seafood sweetness and a tinge of saltiness to bring out the subtle flavour of the lobster. The essence of the lobster was completely integrated into the soup and every grain of rice. What that also means though, is that what with all the best all gone into the broth, the lobster meat was rather bland.
Still, it was such a simple but fragrant bowl of porridge that it made me yearn for more. So it’s no wonder that this same bowl of porridge had won the top prize at a culinary event which was part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Besides the all-time popular lobster porridge, there are many other delectable dishes created by the culinary ingenuity of Chef Lau that we couldn’t miss out on.
Green Dragon vegetable in dried shrimps $9.90 and $17.90
We’ve tried this in Taiwan, but it’s definitely not a common vegetable available here. Instead of going with the standard dried shrimps on the menu, we specially requested swopping the shrimps to sambal just to satisfy my two kids’ chili craving. A compromise to the taste? Not really, we love the simple crunchiness of these veggies, the sambal chili actually gave another different dimension to the taste and we didn’t mind asking for a repeat order.
By the way, Green Dragon is a direct translation from the locals and till now we are not sure what’s the right name of this vegetable. We only know it belongs to the chive family and is grown in Cameron Highlands. We love this vegetable and if anyone knows where can we buy this in Singapore, please let us know!
Crispy lotus root with salted eggs $11.90 and $ 19.90
Supposed to be crispy, but the crispiness was lost by the time it was served. Maybe it was cooked in advance and by the time it reached us, humidity had already got to it. The lotus root was sliced as thin as paper and coated with mashed salted eggs and curry leaves. An innovative creation, the tantalizing taste was only marred by the loss of crispiness.
Yellow gravy crab meat tofu $13.90 and $19.90
The top layer of the tofu was dyed with green vegetable juice for a more aesthetically pleasing presentation. It was soaked in a pool of yellow gravy made up of fresh shredded crab meat and salted eggs. The adults liked it but our two teens found the crab meat gravy a little fishy.
Sliver fish fried rice $6.90 and $11.90
My son is a typical rice barrel with a craving for anything carbohydrate – rice or noodle is a must have for all our outings. This dish definitely got his stamp of approval and he finished it down to the last grain of rice.
Pan Fried Kurobuta Pork $14.90 (S) $26.90 (M)
Kurobuta pork is the most highly prized pork in Japan, original from England Berkshire, famous for its sweet, rich flavour with tenderly texture and high level of juiciness. The Pan fried Kurobuta pork was heavenly luscious and a dish highly recommended when you dine here.
Vegetable juice $3.50
Do try their vegetable juice here, blended with green veggies and pineapple juice, the right ratio of which ensures you don’t taste the not too pleasant “raw” veggie taste. From an order of one glass to three glasses at the end, it was a refreshing juice that we highly recommend.
Overall, Wan He Lou offers good Chinese cuisine at an affordable price. The lobster porridge, crispy lotus with salted eggs, Green Dragron fried with dried shrimp or sambal and vegetable juice are not to be missed. At Wan He Lou, it’s not just the food that is praiseworthy, it’s also the innovation found in many of the dishes that keep us coming back.
Wan He Lou Chinese Restaurant
Add: 65 Maude Road, Singapore 208347
Tel: +65 6294 8057
Monday – Sunday Lunch: 11am to 2:30pm Dinner: 5am to 10:30pm