Having a Cze Char dinner right along the alleys of a dark Geylang lane might not be the most exciting of thoughts, but when it comes to having good food in such a nostalgic ambience of recent past, it makes the dinner all the more memorable. JB Ah Meng Cze Char is not a Cze Char restaurant located in Johor Bahru, but duly called as such as the chefs at the Cze Char eatery all whip up JB inspired dishes.
24 food enthusiasts and bloggers gathered together the previous Saturday for a good ol’ feast under the stars (sheltered by a large awning), amidst a slightly tilted road that left the table slanted to an angle and with water split on the table sneakily sliding towards my angle. By 7pm, most of the tables at the Cze Char restaurant were filled up with diners who were quite curious as many of us took out cameras to snap pictures of the dish en masse before beginning the meal.
My table dining mates striking a pose before the start of dinner. I always thought it traditional to take pictures after, but as the tables were now clean…
For something light, tasty, crispy and addictive, all of us started off with the Deep Fried Fish Skin (Medium $13). I think its quite a nice touch to have a small serving papaya salad on the top to give a little wholesome crunch with bright tangy flavours complementing the savoury slightly salted fish skin.
For a main, up next was the Stewed Chicken with Liangfen (Large $15). Liangfen is also known as starch jelly and it is usually served chilled with a savoury sauce in summer. Popular in China, JB Ah Meng adaptation of the ingredient with stewed chicken allowed the starch jelly to absorb in the umami rich hearty flavours of the broth. It might have been a little tough though to find the starch jelly that night as I think some of it were broken up into thin pieces. Imagine sesame oil chicken with a slightly toned down broth which goes excellently with white rice.
Fried Fish Head (Medium $18) was up next on the menu. A very home styled dish, the sauce which roughly coats the chopped pieces of deep fried fish head was a little salty and spicy, making each piece of the fish quite addictive once the pepper hotness kicks in.
J.B. San Lou Meehoon (Large $10) probably will not win for presentation, but when it comes to flavours, each serving of noodle packed a solid punch in salty spicy flavours with a breath of smokiness left behind. I was tempted for seconds, and thirds!
The Vegetable with Golden Mushroom (Medium $12) was rather good on a whole. I loved the very smooth home made tofu, but I thought the sauce a little too starchy though flavoursome.
Having the Brinjal Potato with Chilli (Large $15) made the whole table discuss about their adverse reactions to certain foods (mostly veggies). And a good mix and match here didn’t agree very well with the more “unique” vegetables like brinjal or ladies fingers with their slightly slimy texture and extra-ordinary taste. Mine, well its the green capsicums you see staring at me up there. But other than that, the dish had more potatoes than brinjal which I thought the balance a little out of proportion.
I’d say this would be my favourite for the night. Deep Fried Fermented Bean with Belly Pork (Large $12) is just like the traditional pork chop except that its made with belly pork who’s fats are not to be misjudged. Even though further deep fried for all the more sinful goodness, the pork chop is also well coated with fermented bean paste which opened up new savoury lasting flavours from each piece. A single crispy bite, yet with the smooth malleable slightly sinewy fats, plus the pecuilar flavour from the fermented bean paste. Mmm. Heaven.
The White Pepper Crabs (3pcs $24) were pepperishly hot, but ok. A little small though.
Lotus Root Chips with Sugar Peas (Large $15) were lotus root chips with sugar peas. Hardly a dish that can go wrong in its combination and presentation. Natural flavours all the best here with a good stir fry of toasted garlic.
The final dish for the night, Salted Egg Prawn Ball (Large $24). It might be easy to pass off this dish as another Salted Egg Prawn creation, but the unique aspect comes in the use of corn coated with the salted egg and deep fried together.
This addition gives an added crunch and leaves each serving insufficient to sate the crave for the sweet, the savoury, and the crunchy. Oh and the prawns were good too, though a little small.
A good foodie dinner and gathering with durians to end with. Though some of the dishes were a little lackluster in flavour or presentation, JB Ah Meng makes up for it with its just traditional home cooked dinner fare where the dishes are great when sharing with everyone.
And even when it comes to durians, we are taking photos.
We were probably all laughing because of some random joke about durians dropping on people legs.
And a shot just for luck, the Red Prawn even if it was just ho hum.
Looking forward to the next meet up!
Fellow food bloggers guilty of the feast Miss Tam Chiak (Da Jie!), Cuisine Paradise, Lobsterpaints, The Hungry Cow, Foodoshoot, SG Food on Foot, Jessie Food Trip, I Luv My Scooter. And of course all those food enthusiasts regardless of age who joined us. Lets give a big burp!
|JB Ah Meng
No. 2 Geylang Lor 23
Opens from :
Tel: 6741 2418