I was invited to a tasting at 9 Goubuli 狗不理 Restaurant at Marina Bay Sands Shoppes in Singapore.
The quirky, attention grabbing name Goubuli 狗不理 comes from the legend of Gouzi 狗子; 狗子 or "Little Doggy" is a common affectionate nickname in Chinese communities.
As was common in old China, village boy 狗子 began work as a child apprentice with a bun maker in Tianjin 天津 city. 狗子's buns became so famous that he was overwhelmed by customers all the time. 狗子 was so busy that he had no time to greet or engage his customers in banter. Hence, he became known as 狗不理 which translates literally as "Little Doggy doesn't talk".
The first Goubuli 狗不理 restaurant opened in Tianjin in 1858. There are now over 100 restaurants in China and overseas under the restaurant chain that bears the Goubuli 狗不理 name.
9 Goubuli 狗不理 at Marina Bay Sands is the chain's first Singapore outlet. The number at the front (in this case, 9) is a numeric identifier to differentiate between the numerous Goubuli 狗不理 branches.
9 Goubuli 狗不理 is well appointed, in contemporary Chinese style. Lighting is warm but bright in the usual Chinese restaurant way.
There are a couple of private rooms.
Chefs from Tianjin demonstrate the technique of making Goubuli buns 狗不理包子.
Chef Wang (right photo) is from Tianjin. She is the seventh generation Baozi Master Chef with 30 years of bun making under her belt. Chef Wang is now the Goubuli head trainer imparting her skills to baozi 包子 chefs at Goubuli restaurants in China and around the world.
We tasted a combination of signature Goubuli 狗不理 steamed buns.
The pork and vegetable bun (SGD2.60++ per piece).
The style of Goubuli buns is unique. The skin is thick, felt a little damp and pasty but lacked fluffiness or bounce. The fillings were moist but not drippy or soupy. Flavouring of the fillings was light handed.
Wagyu beef bun (SGD3.50++ per piece).
The buns were filled with juicy, coarsely chopped, savoury sweet, beefy A3/A4 (standard to good grade) wagyu beef.
Vegetable bun (SGD1.90++ per piece).
We next had an appetiser combination with tasting portions of wood ear fungus, Szechuan style chicken and pork terrine.
Vinegar marinated wood ear mushroom fungus (SGD8++).
The nice flavourful, soft crunch makes this wood ear fungus an excellent appetiser.
Chinese style pork terrine.
Skin and roughly chopped bits of pork barely held together by jellied fat and collagen.
Soft with layers of savouriness.
Saliva Chicken 口水雞.
So named because of it's ability to make people salivate.
The name is actually quite apt. No exaggeration at all.
The poached chicken meat was tender. It was flavoured with a savoury, spicy, and aromatic sauce. Yet behind all that layers of flavour and slightly tongue numbing sauce, we were still able to discern the natural chicken taste.
Saliva chicken, indeed.
Braised fish maw in superior broth (SGD18++ per serving).
This smooth, rich broth was well received by all of us. We like the layered savouriness from the combination of chicken and duck stock. Carrots added natural sweetness. The gelatin from the fish maw gave the broth a full, round body.
The result is a savoury sweet full bodied broth.
The large piece of fish maw had that unique slippery smooth, bouncy jelly-like texture.
This is a must order signature dish, if you are at 9 Goubuli 狗不理.
Szechuan style poached fish slices.
Chunky slices of white flesh fish in tongue numbing chili oil, peppery aromatic spices and sesame seeds.
Fried diced chicken with Chinese red peppers.
Small pieces of tender chicken with crispy batter tossed in a savoury spicy slightly numbing sauce with peanuts and dried chili peppers.
Lobster with stir fried dry noodles.
In house hand pulled wheat noodles in the famed Lanzhou city style. The noodles were thick and dense, with slightly chewy bite. The sauce was savoury.
The boiled lobster was bathed in a type of savoury sweet "superior" type gravy.
Fresh lobsters and superior broth is always a winner.
Chocolate banana filo spring roll with dark chocolate (SGD14++).
Sweet soft chocolaty filling in crispy wrap paired with coconut ice cream.
9 Goubuli 狗不理 is a higher end Chinese restaurant with an extensive, wide ranging menu. It is part of a large chain restaurant anchored on the Goubuli bun 狗不理包子 brand/ legend.
Please note that this is an invited food tasting.
Restaurant name: 9 Goubuli 狗不理 Restaurant
Address: B2-02, Canal Level The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
GPS: 1.283497, 103.860237
Hours: Daily 11am to 11pm
Date visited: 30 Mar 2015
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