Tony Johor Kaki Travels for Food · Heritage · Culture · History

Adventurous Culinary Traveler's Blog with 64 million+ reads 📧

Nanjing Chef Queen Xiao Chu Niang Huaiyang Restaurant • Tasty Introduction to China's State Banquet Cuisine of Choice 小厨娘淮扬菜 机场宾馆店

Huaiyang along with Yue (Guangdong), Sichuan, and Shandong are considered the top four cuisines of China. Huaiyang cuisine is the Chinese government's preferred choice when hosting foreign dignitaries at state banquets.

Xiao Chu Niang is a chain restaurant like the ubiquitous Nanjing Impressions brand serving Huaiyang cuisine. But, Xiao Chu Niang has simpler decor and when we were there less crowded than Nanjing Impressions. I like Xiao Chu Niang's food and the fact that it is easier to secure a table. However, Xiao Chu Niang's pricing is slightly higher than at Nanjing Impressions. 

We were served many dishes but I didn't couldn't try everything as I was just too full 😂😅

Jiangsu province does you char kway or you tiao very well, generally speaking. Xiao Chu Niang does it best among those that I have tried so far in Jiangsu.

It was served with a gently mala spicy stewed carp fish head 红炖有机鱼头煲. The fish flesh was fresh, soft, smooth and sweetish. There was no earthiness at all. (Actually, I have not tasted any earthy fish in Jiangsu even though they were all river fish.) 

When the you char kway was dipped in the soupy spicy savoury sauce, the crispy fried dough soaked up the flavours like a sponge. The crispy dough lost some crispness but still had a nice slight crisp texture. It felt and tasted like a good roti prata (canai) dipped in curry. 

Of course, in Nanjing, there will always be Nanjing salted duck 金陵老卤盐水鸭. Xiao Chu Niang does the Nanjing icon as good as any that I have tried so far in Nanjing. 

The duck meat was tender and had none of the fibrous chewiness we sometimes get in ducks. Its flavour was gently savoury layered with subtle ducky gaminess which I enjoyed. I like the fat and skin because it is juicy and flavourful. 

Nanjing roast duck 太祖金陵脆皮烤鸭. It is actually very nice! 

The thin golden brown skin was crisp with a slight savoury sweet flavour. The layers of meat and fat were juicy and tender. I like the combination of crisp, juicy and tender textures with layers of savouriness, sweetness and subtle duckiness. 

Actually, Nanjing roast duck is the precursor of the more famous Peking roast duck. This style of roast duck originated during the time when Nanjing was the old Ming dynasty capital. When emperor Zhu Di moved the capital to Beijing in 1420, the roast duck went along. When the Manchus (Qing dynasty) defeated the Ming dynasty in 1644, they changed the style of roasting and way of serving the Peking duck which we see today. 

Xiao Chu Niang's signature rice crust 原创腊味煎锅巴 with waxed pork belly and waxed pork sausage. 

The rice crust had a tender moist layer with a crispy chewy layer. It tasted savoury sweet with savoury umami flavours from the wax pork belly and wax sausage. Nice. The rice crust is actually excellent even on its own. Must order.

25秒芥味油爆罗氏虾 Oil fried river prawn. River prawns of Jiangsu have soft shells and sweet soft meat, so I like to just chew and eat the prawns whole, sans the head and tail. Actually, sometimes I ate the head as well 🤭 Love it.

占法焗荔浦芋头 Stewed pork belly with yam.

Rich savoury dish with flavour saturated yam slices and pork fat sweetness. 

Tofu is another thing Jiangsu generally does better than Singapore (by a wide margin, in my opinion 😬 ). I enjoyed these tofu cubes in an umami savoury sweet crab and shrimp sauce 石锅蟹粉虾仁豆腐. 

The tofu was silky soft, and had a distinct soy bean flavour with a slight pleasant woody "burnt" taste or smell from slight fermentation (this rendition had no "stinkiness").

Fried mung bean noodles with crab and shrimp 蟹肉虾籽焗粉丝. The mung bean noodles were fried with shrimp, crab meat and savoury sauces till all their flavours were absorbed into the strands. So, each strand was dry and loaded with savoury and umami flavours which were released with every bite.

Juicy shen chien bao 多汁生煎包. 

By the time I tried this, I was already very full 🤭 😅 The soup in the pan seared and steamed bun had already been absorbed by the relatively thick doughy skin. But, the sweetish skin with savoury sauce and toasty browned base was tasty. The sweet savoury minced pork filling was delicious too.

三色藜麦小土豆 fried potato nuggets with quinoa. Nice savoury sweet oil fried potato with a sweet gummy tacky coat studded with quinoa. Delicious. 

清炒当季时蔬 stir fried seasonal greens. One of the tenets of Huaiyang cuisine is to make good use of seasonal produce. This is the 不时不食 "avoid food not in season" principle espoused by Confucius. This leafy vegetable was served at most of the restaurants we visited during our seven days, six cities tour of Jiangsu in May 2024. 

江南臻味腌笃鲜 a rich savoury umami soup with complex layers from salt preserved pork, soft tofu, dried tofu and fresh vegetables (gourds). 

桂花拉糕 I skipped this sweet oismanthus dessert as I was too full and adding this looked like too much carbs for me in a single meal 🤭

Xiao Chu Niang has other signature Huaiyang dishes like lion head, julienned tofu, "squirrel" fish, etc which I would love to come back to try.

Jiangsu, home of Huaiyang cuisine is really a foodie's paradise which is still relatively unexplored by Singaporeans, Malaysians and other foreigners. I look forward to be back to try more.


Restaurant name: Chef Queen 小厨娘

Address: 2RC2+25F, 541 Longpan Middle Rd, Qinhuai District, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, 210001 |  南京市秦淮区龙蟠中路451号2-3F 

Tel: 025 8320 5677

Hours: Lunch | Dinner

Join 77K Johor Kaki Followers

Written by Tony Boey on 22 May 2024

Acknowledgement: This meal was hosted by Jiangsu Tourism

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments submitted with genuine identities are published