I noticed New Kim Tuong walking through Chinatown and thought it might be interesting because of it’s got a Vietnamese name even though it was clearly a Chinese restaurant. I thought it might be Chinese people from Vietnam like Bo Ky and New Chao Chow that serve some Teochow (Chiu Chow / Chao Zhou) dishes.
I went home, did some research on yelp and menupages and low and behold it does have a few Teochew dishes, but what was more interesting was this post on yelp that mentioned they serve chai tow kway (菜頭粿 / cai tou guo). Chai tow kway is translated to “carrot cake” in Singapore, so I decided I had to try this place as soon as possible (more on this dish later in the post).
The restaurant is a typical low end Chinatown restaurant with zero ambiance. The place seems to have a pretty bustling take-out business with locals who seem to be pretty friendly with the staff. The service was quick and the servers are quite nice. It is also exceptionally cheap ($3.50 for a bowl of noodle soup)
On to the food:
They gave us complimentary bowls of a pork bone soup with barley in it. It was actually quite good, clean flavor, not too salty and with reasonably good flavor. 7.25/10
Minced Beef Congee (Rice Porridge):
This was interesting. The consistency wasn’t like normal Cantonese-style congee as it wasn’t nearly as thick rather the consistency was in between Cantonese-style congee and Teochew-style congee which is very watery, so much so that you can still make out the grains of rice. It was pretty decent although not amazing. The you tiao (fried crueller) was pretty standard, but good. 6.75/10
“Pi Pa” Duck:
This is a type of roast duck called pi pa ya (琵琶鸭). Pi pa is actually a type of Chinese musical instrument. It’s called this because it’s a pressed roast duck, so it’s sort of flat like the instrument. I’m not sure whether it’s Cantonese or Teochew because I’ve only had it a few times. It is listed in english as “pi pa duck” on the menu. The meat was tender, juicy and had good flavor and the skin was nice and crispy. They gave you a red vinegar chili sauce that was quite good and helped cut the fat. It was pretty good if you like fattier meats although I prefer the duck at New Chao Chow or Bo Ky. 7.25/10
Chou Chiu Style Noodle Soup:
This was a typical Teochew noodle soup with rice noodles, cha siu (roast pork), sliced chicken, fish balls, beef balls, cabbage and scallions. The soup was just okay, it wasn’t too salty, but it lacked complexity. The condiments all tasted fine, but none were particularly outstanding. Overall, I thought it was okay, but you can get a much better bowl at New Chao Chow or Bo Ky. 6.25/10
Fried Rice Flour Cake (Qian Dan Gao):
Chai tow kway is extremely hard to find outside Singapore, Malaysia and Chao Zhou (although I’ve never been to Chao Zhou). Even though it is translated to “carrot cake”, it actually has no carrots in it. It’s cakes made of rice flour and minced radish similar to Cantonese lo bak go (蘿蔔糕 / luo bo gao) that you get at dim sum except that instead of big rectangle squares its cut into much smaller pieces that are pan fried with a sweet minced preserved radish, egg, garlic, dried shrimp, fish sauce and spring onions are sprinkled on top. Although at New Kim Tuong they do serve it as rectangles instead of smaller pieces. It’s a very popular dish at hawker centers in Singapore. The radish cakes were perfectly crispy on the outside, perfectly minced and soft on the inside. The condiments went really well with it and I particularly like the sweet minced preserved radish. It was a pretty good rendition although I would prefer if they cut it into smaller pieces. I also wish they had a good chili sauce like at Bo Ky or New Chao Chow as that would definitely kick it up a notch. I definitely recommend trying this dish out as it’s very hard to find. 7.75/10
Overall, this is definitely an interesting place and while some of the dishes were just okay, it’s definitely worth trying for the carrot cake.
83 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002