Older generations of Singaporeans may probably remember the Goldleaf Restaurant, which has a tradition of cooking porridge like Grandma’s.
Having pioneered the concept of a restaurant that specialises in porridge served with tasty Taiwanese dishes – back in 1971, Goldleaf Restaurant this year celebrates their 45th anniversary in Singapore. Then, the restaurant had been located along Orchard Road and was famous of its signature dishes such as mei cai kou rou and pan-fried codfish, and had attracted celebrities such as Theresa Tseng.
Restaurant now located at Amoy Street
But now, after having gone through a series of relocations, the Goldleaf Restaurant is now located in a quiet area at Amoy Street.
Added Aunty Rose Ho, 66, the founder of the Goldleaf Restaurant, “We closed down and relocated due to government requirements, as the authorities needed to use the land. When we first shifted to our current location though, it was very quiet, but at least it’s now slowly building up with more shops and eateries.”I had been recently invited to a food tasting session at Goldleaf Restaurant – where my group of five friends and I, had the opportunity to try out their famous porridge as well as some of their signature dishes.
Here are my comments on the dishes.
Sweet Potato Porridge ($2.00 for unlimited servings)
A small bowl of plain porridge comprising of a generous chunk of sweet potato, this is Goldleaf Restaurant’s signature item. Customers can choose to order porridge or rice to eat together with their dishes, but according to Aunty Ho, most of them choose the porridge instead. For my party of six friends and I, all of us immediately plumped for the porridge option too.
Explained the founder, “Our porridge is smooth and not grainy because of the special way that we cook it.”
And when I lifted a spoonful of the porridge to my mouth, I found the temperature to be just right, and the texture was very smooth. The sweet potato inside was also cooked till very soft and didn’t need much chewing at all. It brought out a tinge of sweetness in the porridge, and the flavour was great when paired with the restaurant’s other special dishes.
Added one of my dining companions, Foo Mei Ling, 37, who works in finance, “The porridge was one of my favourite dishes – it was very smooth and velvety and served at the right temperature.”
In fact, some of my other friends loved the porridge so much, that they had three bowls of it!
Goldleaf Braised Pork with preserved veggies ($16.00)
As stated on the menu, the braised pork takes many hours of preparation to bring out the rich flavours and so is a must-try at Goldleaf Restaurant. Added Aunty Ho, “And we use many types of herbs to cook this pork, to make it so tasty.”
When I had tried this dish for myself, the delicious flavour had hit me immediately.
The pork had been braised till it tasted extremely soft and tender, so little chewing is needed. And the preserved veggies that accompanied the pork, were also cooked till they were soft, with the salty flavours coming from the veggies combining very well with the sweet caramelised flavours of the braised pork.
And the rich flavour from the braised pork, perfectly complemented the porridge.
Added Pang On Tik, 45, an e-buyer, “This dish was the one that I liked the best. The pork for me was not oily and the thickness of the meat was just nice. The preserved veggies tasted delicious too.”
Steamed pork patty with salted egg yolk ($10.00)
Steamed daily, this dish is one of the house favourites. Added Aunty Ho, “And the pork and eggs must be selected carefully when you are buying them.”
When I tried this dish, I found the minced meat to be full of flavour, soft and delicious, and the salted egg yolk complemented the taste perfectly. In fact this was a dish that I felt I could not stop eating. Though it may be a tad on the salty side, it is is great for balancing together with the porridge, which compliments it very well.
Added Chen Guo Qing, 33 and working in shipping, “This was my favourite dish – the meat was very tasty and well-flavoured.”
Signature Cod with Speciality Sauce ($12.00)
Fried to perfection, this cod fish is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Then it is topped with the restaurant’s signature sauce and garnished with ginger and coriander before serving.
Said Aunty Ho, “This is one of our signature and most popular dishes.”
When I tried this, I knew why this is popular. The fish is really fried till it was golden-brown (not burnt) but leaving the inside still juicy. And yet the meat did not crumble when you are cutting it. I also thought that the thick “speciality” sauce balances out the natural flavour of the fish and complements it well.
Crispy Tambun Fish with Sesame ($10.00)
Bringing back memories of the “good old days”, the Tambun fish used in this dish, are deep-fried until even the bones are crispy. Containing plenty of calcium, this is described as a wholesome dish – on the restaurant menu.
Said Aunty Ho, “Plenty of work goes into preparing this dish, which takes almost half a day. We also make sure that the fish we use is fresh. In the past, we could even catch it from the kelong.”
This dish left quite a positive impact on me. Upon biting into a piece of fish, the fragrant crunch together with the rich and slightly spicy flavours hit me immediately. And the crunchy note goes extremely well together with the smooth and velvety porridge, thus creating a varying contrast of textures inside the mouth.
Goldleaf Prawn Rolls ($8.00/$12.00)
A truly traditional dish, this item comprises of seven decades of flavour and according to the Goldleaf Restaurant, they are the only ones who make this dish in its true form.
In this dish, the prawns have been wrapped in slightly salted bean curd sheets and subsequently deep-fried till they are crispy on the outside, yet warm and moist on the inside.
Said Aunty Ho, “This is the traditional prawn roll, which I learnt to make from my father 50 years ago. There is a lot of work that goes into preparing it, and it’s an art in terms of the selection of the prawns and the pork, too.”
This had been another item that I really enjoyed thoroughly. The flavours of the prawns and the pork combined together nicely – without either one overpowering the other. It was yummy and not too dense and filling, and at the same time, the water chestnuts had added a scrumptious crunch to these prawn rolls.
Added my dinner companion Lee Siu Siu, 43 and working in finance, “This was one of my favourite dishes – it was hot from the stove and you can feel the crunchy water chestnuts inside – it reminded me of my mum’s home-made cooking.”
Er Cai – Taiwanese Lettuce ($10.00/$16.00)
A seasonal vegetable, this had been stir-fried with garlic to bring out the best natural flavours in the vegetable.
This Taiwanese lettuce was crispy yet smooth, and tasted very refreshing. When paired with the porridge, I thought that the textures contrasted together nicely.
Added Siu Siu, “This was one of my favourites. The veggies were crunchy, healthy and tasty, and a perfect match with the smooth, refreshing porridge.”
Chye Poh Omelette ($10.00)
With preserved radish added, this omelette is a simple, yet complicated dish to prepare to perfection – and Goldleaf Restaurant has certainly passed the test with flying colours.
Said Aunty Ho, “For the chye poh, you must take your time to prepare it properly, otherwise the flavours will not be the same.”
I was completely blown away by this deceptively simple-looking dish – and when it was brought out, it formed a perfectly round shape. When I tasted some, I found the omelette to be soft and fragrant, almost melting in my mouth. And the flavour of the chye poh itself, wasn’t very strong, though it had a nice taste to it. The dish contained just the right level of saltiness to be satisfying without overpowering my taste buds.
On Tik, however, had commented that there could have been more chye poh used in the dish – to bring out more of the radish flavour.
Seafood Beancurd bars ($8.00)
These “golden bars”, as the menu describes the beancurd, are served together with a specially formulated condiment sauce.
Said Aunty Ho, “We use a mixture of sea prawns and sotong paste to bring out the flavours of this dish.”
These beancurd bars are crispy on the outside and warm and moist on the inside. It is also quite light so it does not stuff you up – and you can therefore tuck into other equally delicious dishes. As a whole, I thought that the combination of textures goes very well together with the smoothness of the porridge.
In addition, the special home-made sauce that the seafood beancurd bars had been served together with, was slightly sweet and spicy at the same time, and when dipped into this, the flavours simply exploded inside my mouth.
Mei Ling loved the sauce. She said, “This was one of my favourite dishes too – the beancurd was sweet and salty, and goes very well with the sauce.”
The deserts at Goldleaf Restaurant are healthy according to Aunty Ho because they minimise the usage of sugar and other ingredients which are known to have a ‘bad’ reputation.
She explained, “Our deserts are not too sweet – because people are getting more health conscious these days so we try to prepare healthy yet delicious food.”
My friends and I tried three different desserts from Goldleaf Restaurant. These were as follows.
Herbal Jelly ($4.50)
I found this dish to be surprisingly pleasant and refreshing. The texture of the jelly was extremely smooth and it does not fill you up – thus making it good to end a meal on a positive note. The herbal flavour is present, but it is surprisingly not overpowering and not as strong as I had expected it.
Longan Tofu ($4.00)
Made with longans and containing a couple of pieces of longans hidden at the bottom of the serving bowl, this too was a very refreshing dessert that I surprisingly enjoyed. The flavour was slightly fruity and very pleasant and the texture too, was very smooth.
This was also Siu Siu’s favourite dessert. She said, “The longan tofu was very refreshing and light – it wasn’t too sweet either.”
Yam Paste with Ginko Nuts ($5.00)
A typical Asian customary Teochew dessert available at many Chinese eateries, I thought that the version at Goldleaf Restaurant was one of the better renditions of this dish. The paste was extremely smooth and the amount of sweetness was just right for me. It is also not rich too, as there is no coconut milk used in the preparation.
Following the meal, my friends and I all came to the consensus that the food was simple, delicious and satisfying, and at the same time, had brought back feelings of nostalgia from the ‘good old days.’
Personally, the food at Goldleaf Restaurant is just like Grandma’s very nostalgic cooking. The restaurant’s decorations further enhanced this feeling – with photographs of their bestselling dishes and a large picture of the exterior of the shop in the 1970s, at the entrance.
Agreed Justin Wee, 29, a Passenger Service ambassador, “The food reminded me of my grandma’s cooking – it was very homely.”
However, Siu Siu had felt that an improvement could be made though – that even more flavour could be incorporated into the food. She said, “Basically I was ok with the food and I thought it was quite yummy, but our taste buds may not represent that of the general Singapore population – there are many young people and foreign immigrants living in Singapore now, who may prefer their food to be richer and more tasty.”
On Tik had also commented that the size of the portions may have been just a little small, but the flavours had been delicious. But for Siu Siu, Mei Ling and me though, the portion sizes of the dishes had been just right for us.
This is a restaurant that all the six of us, mutually agreed that we would love to come back and visit again, for a meal.
Ongoing Promotions @ Goldleaf Restaurant
Goldleaf Restaurant is currently having the following promotions.
Get 1 signature dish at $0.45 for every $50 spent
45% return voucher for your next visit if you spend above $70
Set menu at $45 comprising:
- Braised pork with preserved mustard greens
- Chye po egg
- Steamed pork with salted egg/fish
- French beans
- Prawn Rolls
- Taiwanese lettuce
- Three-cup chicken
Add-on dishes at $8 each: minced pork with olive, seafood beancurd bars, cockles.
This promotion is ongoing from now till 16 April 2016.
Location and Opening Hours
Goldleaf (Taiwan) Restaurant
103 Amoy Street #01-00, Singapore 069923
(2 minutes from Telok Ayer MRT, 7 minutes from Tanjong Pagar or Raffles MRT)
Opening Hours: Daily, Lunch 11.30am-3.00pm, Dinner 6.00pm-11.00pm.