Tracing Back My Roots: Heng Hua Delicacies

Tracing Back My Roots: Heng Hua Delicacies

The Heng Hua dialect group seems forgotten in the current era, from its language to the unique cuisine. Join me on a journey as I look for traditional Heng Hua cuisine to get a taste of food from my dialect group before its all lost ...
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Stepped into Xing Hua at Suntec City Mall without much expectations considering we weren’t very hungry and it just wasn’t what we were craving for — just needed to settle for dinner around the area before it turns late and all the shops start to close, and they were one of the few places that did not have a queue when we went past it. Being more of a Chinese restaurant that specialises in Heng Hua cuisine, expect a menu that is almost akin to Heng Hua-meets-tzechar restaurant here — there are quite a number of dishes served which are typically found in similar establishments serving up Heng Hua fare, but also quite a large selection of dishes that one also would be able to find in typical tzechar stalls in coffeeshops as well. They do also carry a small selection of dim sum as well; guess that would work for those looking for something small to share around the table.

We really weren’t carrying a high expectation for the food here but was pretty glad how the whole dinner turned out with the items we ordered. The Xing Hua Bee Hoon was actually pretty well-executed; here, the stock that it was cooked in was completely reduced and absorbed into the bee hoon — there’s a slight hint of savouriness from the stock in the rice vermicelli, while the rice vermicelli was springy and soft. While it comes with the standard elements such as prawns, clams, sliced beancurd, sliced pork etc., we were actually pretty intrigued by how they have included baby scallops with this one; also found their variant coming with a generous portion of greens — provided for a slightly more wholesome feel with the freshness of the seafood that made it a little different from similar dishes we had in other establishments. Another dish we were pretty impressed with was the Putian Stir Fried Yam; yet another must-order dish for us at any Heng Hua establishment — while the yam here is thickly cut thus requiring more effort to chew through, we like how they got the contrast of the sweetness of the glistening syrup against the earthy yam just right, which we found to be pretty addictive on its own.

As one who is of a Heng Hua descent (who isn’t quite acquainted with the foods and culture of the dialect group since it was quite lost in the previous generation in my case), it is pretty heartening to see the popularisation of Heng Hua cuisine over the past couple of years. Whilst it is still pretty much a niche that is more difficult to find when compared to restaurants featuring Teochew/Hokkien/Cantonese/Sichuan cuisine, it is much easier to find an establishment serving pretty much well-executed Heng Hua cuisine these days as compared to in the past. Xing Hua, whilst being more of a commercial establishment, is one that serves up pretty good Heng Hua fare; one that I would certainly not mind having again whilst in an area with an outlet around — would probably also try out some of the other dishes that they have to offer which are typically available elsewhere to see where they stand in terms of the more tzechar-esque items that they serve up!

2 Likes

The appearance seems to fool you at the start — we were a little thrown off by the cubed appearance thinking what had we got ourselves into. Thankfully, everything got mashed up into a paste the moment we mixed everything in the bowl up. A pretty good bowl of Yam Paste that's thick and smooth especially when it's mixed up with the oil. Its also not too sweet, while pulling off the earthiness of the yam pretty well — ended the meal on a good note.

5 Likes

Similar to the local Oyster Omelette but with a slight difference. Unlike the local version, this rendition has the starch mixed into the middle along with chopped up oysters — this works exceptionally well for the folks who usually leaves out the oysters in the usual Oyster Omelette for the texture and flavours are more manageable. What I love about this one even more is how it goes amazingly well with the chili on the side — the chili itself feels like a hybrid of Sambal Belachan and Hainanese Chicken Rice Chili; zingy with a raw, spicy punch. Would probably find myself craving for this again.

3 Likes

My favourite dish to order in any Heng Hwa eatery — the ones come in rather sizable cubes that comes with a more substantial bite. Coated with a layer of honey, it was harmonious combination of sweetness and earthiness with the soft yam fillings within. They seemed to focus more on the sweetness here rather than the yam however, but it was still pretty delicious nonetheless.

5 Likes

These were easy to love; crisp exterior with meat filling that wasn't too tightly packed so it's easy to chew through, while coming with chestnuts within for a crunch. It's worth noting that the prawn balls here do not carry a strong meaty stench and it's actually pretty easy to eat — dip them into the malty dip on the side for an extra dimension of sweetness.

4 Likes

Yet another one of those comforting and light Heng Hwa noodle dishes that is soothing on a cold day. Despite the light flavours of the soup, there was an evident sweetness coming from the cabbage that it was cooked with; comes with other elements like clams, greens, strips of pork and mushrooms. The noodles are delightfully chewy and slurpy here too, which makes it pretty comforting to have.

2 Likes

Really enjoyed the umami flavour that was going on with the Bee Hoon here. The Bee Hoon managed to absorb the flavours of the stock and other condiments such as the kelp, cabbage and strips of pork — light in flavour but still manage to pack a punch.

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Quite excited to find this Pu Tian (Heng Hwa) stall within Kopitiam at Hougang Mall but this was rather disappointing. Felt like a rather shortcut version for the Beehoon seemed to be simply cooked in the broth rather than being soaked into the broth and then fried thereafter, hence lacking flavour within the strands of noodles. Also, the broth itself seemed a little missing if meaty flavour, and noticed no traces of pork used here too. Prawns were a tad slimy, and the clams weren't impressive either.

4 Likes

Unlike the cubed pieces that is usually served, the ones here come elongated and in chunks, and in generous amounts. The sweetness here seemed a tad different, as though it's a combination of Thai-style chili and Honey and the yam sticks seemed sweetened beneath the batter too. It's crispy, and every stick makes you want to reach out for another. And when nothing is left, you might even go down to the onions and leftover sauce. It's that good!

8 Likes

One of the most iconic "Hing Hua" dishes apart from Lor Mee and Mee Sua which are also available here. Isn't really the best around but still a very good attempt because you could still taste how the broth was being absorbed in the beehoon; a wee bit savoury. There is a generous amount of pork slices, and the crispy seaweed adds a very interesting flavour to the beehoon.

Bee Hoon was pretty tasty, and it came with mushrooms, fresh and crunchy greens and pork slices that came with a large amount of chewy fat. Dad even gave it a stamp of approval as he claimed it to be pretty authentic!

4 Likes

Tasted really similar to Hae Zhor, full with pork, shrimp and chestnuts for a crunch, though they had added small chili to give it a slight spicy kick. Came with sweet sauce that is similar to that served with Chee Cheong Fun; gives it that savoury-sweet goodness for those who fancies this unique combination of flavours!

1 Like

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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