One of those highly recommended places I’ve delayed visiting, no thanks to Covid! But never too late, I suppose! And like Rambo with a vengeance, I visited twice within 2 weeks, just so I could savor and tick off more items on the menu.
Contrary to what I expected, there were few patrons the Thursday evening we dined at Daniu. Like most people who shun empty restaurants, my dining companions were a little skeptic seeing the poor turnout. I was still very hopeful and saw the lack of a crowd an advantage. The chef could spend more time and showed more love to his cooking! Also, I’ve heard such great things about the place, I wasn’t gonna let a near empty room influence my judgment. And so, the truth unfolds with Jacky Cheung crooning his lungs out in the background of the no frills but comfortably spacious restaurant!
We started with the mandatory Braise Goose. Mandatory because goose is hard to come by in Singapore; and a good goose is even harder! So in my quest to find the best goose, I have to order it whenever available. Daniu’s Braised Goose was Impressive. Flavor was subtle yet deep. A tinge of natural sweetness within the savory. The meat was very moist and very tender. The skin was beautifully glossy brown with very little fats. Cut into thin slices, and eaten with a tangy vinegary dip, the meat breaks down in the mouth in juiciness. The braising sauce was so tasty, we had to order some rice to pour over! One of the best goose I’ve had in a long while. A question did pop up while we polished the dish clean…; could it have been duck (cheaper) and not goose? Honestly, unless I saw them both alive, it could be tricky identifying the two cooked birds!
I did have a chance to try Daniu‘s Braised Duck (on a second visit) and the cheaper cousin ain’t too shabby. It certainly gave the goose a run for its money. The duck checked every box, from tenderness to fragrance. It had a more distinct ducky flavor and a little less sweetness. All of which, negligible if you didn’t have both side by side for comparison. Thus, by all means , go for duck if you preferred. It will satisfy your palate without a doubt!
Roasted Pigeon, another bird I haven’t had in an even longer time! What an enjoyment picking every precious sliver of meat from this perfectly roasted lean bird that’s low in fat and high in protein. There’s really very little meat on this tiny bird, but every bit is firm and sweet. It isn’t melt-in-the-mouth kinda tender, but that signature slight bite is what makes it so delicious. The skin, though golden brown, wasn’t exactly crispy, but it was seasoned well and the lack of a crunchy skin wasn’t missed too much! As with roast chicken, I like a little dab of roasted salt with my pigeon for extra savoriness. We had one bird ($22) to share but I could easily and happily devour one on my own!
Out of curiosity, we ordered the Sea Snail in Claypot with Baked Salt, just because we have not tried it cooked this way. Unfortunately, it looked and sounded better than it tasted! There was little flavor in the rather rubbery snail. The boiled version may have worked out better.
Thankfully, the disappointment was salvaged by an Oyster Omelette which was OUT OF THIS WORLD! Fresh fat briny oysters encased in an omelette that had the ultimate balance of soft gluey-ness and crisp, it was a party in the mouth! Savory level was perfect! Full-on wok hei, further enhanced by the fish sauce dip, instead of the usual chili sauce. It was another #oneofthebest moments!
For the obligatory vegetable dish, we chose the Claypot Pork Ribs with Bittergourd. Bittergourd is an acquired taste and though I know many people who loathe the pungent bitter taste, I also know a whole lotta them who adore it! I, for one, am a big fan. Daniu doesn’t overcook the bittergourd chunks here. They retained a bit of crunchiness, softening only slightly with the residual heat from the hot Claypot. The pork ribs were fork tender! A lot of chopped garlic goes into the cooking, lifting the rich porky flavor. The brown garlicky sauce went nicely with the rest of the rice we had left.
On my second visit, we tried the Cabbage with Tofu. The simple dish arrived bubbling hot in a Claypot. Big chunks of Chinese cabbage were cooked nice and soft, the signature sweetness released into the sauce which the tofu puffs readily soak up. If we didn’t have porridge coming, an order of rice with this would be ideal.
I always like my Baby Squid deep fried to a crisp; but this time, seeing how fresh they looked, I ordered them steamed with garlic. They rained garlic on the baby squids, yielding a sweet, earthy sauce we literally drank off our spoons. The squids were cooked just done, so, not the teeniest bit chewy. For sotong fans, this Squid Game is on!
In the chiller where a variety of fresh catches are displayed, I spotted some Mini Pomfrets. There’s no other way to cook this. Deep fried to a crunch so perfect, we were able to eat every bone and fin and the entire head in sheer joy! Topped off with a mountain of crispy garlic chips for even more flavor and punch. These mini pomfrets don’t come by very often.. so make it a point to order some if available!
Moving on to Oysters Porridge. This too, came bubbling in a huge Claypot; and with a generous amount of big fat oysters swimming within the savory rice porridge. The oysters remained firm and juicy from the controlled heat of the claypot. Every single one was fresh and naturally sweet. The lightly seasoned broth warmed our tummies like a fuzzy hug! I’d recommend a dash of white pepper for a little lift. It’s the kind of food you’d dream of on a rainy evening!
But, no time to dream, as we got busy with some double shell Cold Crab. These roe-filled crustaceans are first steamed, then chilled cold, before serving. The meaty crab was very sweet. The meat was firm. And the roe was creamy. This traditional Teochew crab is a must try!
To wrap up the meal, we ordered the classic Teochew Fried Kway Teow. Technically, stir fried flat rice noodles with Kale and preserved radish. The fiery heat from the wok was reflected in the smokey noodles. The kale leaves were gently charred. Extra flavor in the form of decadent crispy pork lard cubes in between bites was rare but much enjoyed. Sadly, there was barely any sightings of preserved radish And if there were, I would have liked to have a lot more of it. The Preserved Radish, or Chye Poh as we know it, salts the dish in a wonderful way which salt can’t do.
Dessert was between Crystal Yam or Ooorrrhhh Née. We went for the former, which is harder to come by. It is tedious getting the perfect sugar crystal coating on every single taro stick. And the chef did a really good job. I only wished the taro was fluffier. You must have a sweet tooth for this; for that matter, for Orh Nee too! Teochew desserts are super sweet!
It may have been quiet the evening I was at Daniu, but over lunch hour another day, the restaurant was packed to its brim. With the reopening and relaxation of gathering rules in Singapore, I foresee, without a doubt, that Daniu will experience very busy days coming up. It was also with much pleasure meeting young Owner-Chef Daniel. He was friendly, humble and hospitable. And unquestionably a good teacher as his assistant chef’s cooking was up to par as well. The simple restaurant has reached a spot in my favorite Teochew Restaurants list. From the superb cooking, to the friendly service, reasonable pricing, comfortable setting, down to the top 100 Mando-pop playlist in the background! It will be at the tip of my tongue every time I am to recommend a place for Teochew Cuisine.
Daniu is located along the busy shophouse-lined Kampong Bahru Road with ample parking in the back. Call to book or be disappointed!
Daniu Teochew Seafood Restaurant @ 61 Kampong Bahru Road Singapore 169368 Phone: +65 6677 6725
Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post.