Choon Hoy Parlor: Singapore soul food and the family recipes for success

, Choon Hoy Parlor: Singapore soul food and the family recipes for success

When a chef names his restaurant after his mum, you know it’s going to be full of heart and heritage. 

That’s what Choon Hoy Parlor (CHP) is about, a restaurant opened by chef Dylan Ong of casual Franco-Asian restaurant The Masses and formerly Saveur.

Located at where The Masses used to be (this restaurant has moved to Capitol Singapore), Choon Hoy Parlor bears the name of Ong’s mum in acknowledgment of her towering presence in his life. 

, Choon Hoy Parlor: Singapore soul food and the family recipes for success
The retro-chic interior

Ong’s family ran a kway chap hawker stall but when his father was taken ill, his mum ran the stall by herself while he became his father’s sole caregiver. The burden soon became too heavy for Mrs Ong, and she gave up the stall to take on three jobs – helping at a breakfast hawker stall in the mornings, afternoons at another, and when evening came, she washed and cleaned the hawker centre.

Ong’s mother was his role model and inspiration in life, and it was from her that he learned kindness, grace, hard work, commitment, tenacity, prudence and responsibility.

From the heart
The 54-seater restaurant welcomes diners with a retro-chic theme that any grandma would approve. Think foldable chrome-framed chairs, laminate-top tables, Chinese porcelain, 1960s-inspired commercial posters, and even a kopitiam mirror inscribed with Chinese characters. Mandarin and Chinese-dialect retro music fills the air.  

The menu at CHP focuses on what is close to Ong’s heart – heirloom and heritage recipes that tug at the heartstrings of diners. While rooted in tradition, each multi-cultural dish is recreated through a contemporary lens to appeal to diners of today. They might be triggering, in a good way, as you get to taste childhood memories and long-forgotten family reunions. 

, Choon Hoy Parlor: Singapore soul food and the family recipes for success
From left: Renee Tang, Dylan Ong, and Benji Chew

Central to the concept are two female chefs, Benji Chew and Renee Tang (of Jelebu Dry Laksa fame). Working together with Ong, they bring “Singapore Soul Food” to the young and old. And like the dishes at The Masses, the food remains accessible at good-value prices. 

Full of flavour
Among the family heirloom recipes is the CHP Signature Braised Duck Served In Tau Kwa Pau Style ($69). These pockets of fried bean curd are stuffed with a roughly chopped mix of fried fish cake, cucumber, braised egg and fried yam, and served with a Teochew braised sauce.

, Choon Hoy Parlor: Singapore soul food and the family recipes for success

The CHP Signature Teow Chew Pork Leg Trotter Jelly ($8.90) is a signature dish in tribute to his dad and his hawker upbringing. Traditionally comprising the low-valued parts of the animal, the restaurant’s version includes hind trotter meat, skin and pig ears for added crunch. 

Even chefs Chew and Tang have contributed their heirloom recipes. Tang recreates the Braised Dua Cai in memory of her Teochoew grandmother who only cooked this dish once a year. Mustard leaf stems – typically used for preservation and not cooking – are first charred, then braised with dried shrimps, mushrooms and scallop stock for an umami akin to abalone stock. The addition of pork belly and sea cucumber then yields a gelatinous mouthfeel without the use of starch.

, Choon Hoy Parlor: Singapore soul food and the family recipes for success
Our Rojak, Our Own Way

Chew uses her parents’ rojak recipe in Our Rojak, Our Own Way, but presents the dish in a completely new way through modern techniques, retaining core ingredients while enhancing the original flavours. 

Heritage dishes that have seeped into our nation’s collective memory and classic hawker fare are also featured prominently in the menu. A familiar dish is the Signature Hainanese Kampong Chicken with Scallion and Ginger Sauce ($15.90 half / $28.90 whole). The poached kampong free-range chicken must be ordered along with the Triple L rice, a calorific indulgence of cooked short grain rice mixed with premium soy sauce and pork lard, and topped with crispy pieces of fried lard.

Mini Fried Pomfret with Plum Taucheong Dip
Mini Fried Pomfret with Plum Taucheong Dip

A nod to Teochew cuisine is the Mini Fried Pomfret with Plum Taucheong Dip ($8.90 for five pieces). The baby pomfrets are fried to such a crisp that the entire fish, bones and all, can be eaten. Other dishes include the Signature Salad: Ulam ($15.90), a traditional salad comprising vegetables, herbs and fruits that’s eaten with sambal and other dipping sauces; and Signature White Pepper Pig’s Stomach Collagen Soup ($25.90 for three to four persons), a comforting dish made richer and sweeter by incorporating chicken stock, chicken feet, winter melon and goji berries. 

CHP X Jelebu Signature Dry Laksa V2.0
CHP X Jelebu Signature Dry Laksa V2.0

For fans of Tang’s Jelebu Dry Laska, the CHP X Jelebu Signature Dry Laksa V2.0 ($18.90 for three persons) is a must-try. This version is her comeback signature dish, following the closure of Jelebu Dry Laksa at Vivocity. It uses two different types of beehoon – laksa bee hoon and fish head vermicelli bee hoon – which are wok-fried with laksa rempah, fish cake and taupok, and topped with par-cooked cockles.

Do leave space for dessert. We guarantee the Signature Durian Chendol ($13.90), Tri-Layered Nian Gao ($11.90) and Yuzu Citron Chng Tng ($10.90) will leave you craving for more. 

Diners can choose to order a la carte, or the communal menu (for minimum three persons at $49.90 per person). Lunch sets are available at $18.90 and $24.90 per person.

Choon Hoy Parlor is at 85 Beach Road, #01-02 Singapore 189694.