Rich cuisine with no compromises on the taste factor
By Cheah Ui-Hoon, 12 September 2005
The Business Times
JOO Chiat might be a little off the beaten track for those working in the city, but if time and a craving for rich, flavourful, classical Cantonese food permit, a visit to Canton Wok is worth the trek out of the CBD area for lunch or a casual business dinner.
Piece de resistance: Chef Kang's steamed crab with glutinous rice had soaked up the juices of the crab steamed over it, like an enhanced lo mai fan with special sauce
The restaurant, which had humble zi char roots in Havelock Road and then Serangoon Central, is now situated at a lovely old Peranakan bungalow on Joo Chiat Road. You won't miss it - it has a big billboard-sized picture of the intense-looking Chef Kang in front of the house. There's a big compound for cars, so no parking worries there, especially with an attendant at hand.
We dropped by on Friday night and the place was well-patronised, so if you have a party of five or more, reservations are recommended. We picked a few dishes from the chef's specialty list, while the waitress also gave some good recommendations.
The bacon-wrapped prawns in salad sauce ($12) for instance, was a delicious appetiser, although one has the feeling that that's just a fancier name for deep fried prawns in salad cream. The prawns are deep-fried in lard, coated with sweet, creamy sauce, and sprinkled generously with toasted almond slices.
For our table of four, the portion looked small at first, but turned out to be just right, with other dishes. We slurped up the double-boiled goodness of the soup of the day ($8 per person), a herbal soup sweetened naturally with pear and Chinese almonds.
While we had a hankering for the steamed cod fish head, also a specialty, apparently the restaurant hasn't been able to get the fish heads it wanted, so this dish has not been available for a couple of weeks now.
We sampled the beancurd with scallop and mushrooms ($12) instead, which had a soft, handmade goodness to it. The piece de resistance would have to be the steamed crab with glutinous rice ($30), topped generously with garlic, which was served in a bamboo basket steamer. The brownish glutinous rice, mixed well with bits of Chinese sausage and mushrooms and dried prawns, had soaked up the juices of the whole crab steamed over it, so it was like an enhanced lo mai fan with special sauce.
Another seafood dish we enjoyed was the lobster ee fu noodles ($30), which was almost like a Chinese version of carbonara - with its buttery richness and linguini-like ee fu noodles. It was slightly too salty, however.
On the whole, Chef Ang Song Kang's cuisine is pretty rich, with no compromises on the taste factor. He's gearing up to launch a new menu in a couple of weeks, besides preparing for an international chef's competition in France. Which means that if you want to try some of these specialties, you should probably make tracks to the restaurant soon. Otherwise, just wait for the new menu, should be as unique as the one he has now.
Canton Wok by Chef Kang
382 Joo Chiat Road
Tel: 6285 6919 / 6348 6919