Choon Hoy Parlor: New “Singapore Soul Food” Restaurant Celebrating a Mother’s Love and Local Cuisine

When was the last time you made a show of a grand gesture to honour your mum? It’s true that in the end, the thought is what counts. But when I heard the story behind the latest “Singapore Soul Food” restaurant, Choon Hoy Parlor by Chef Dylan Ong, I truly believe this blows every other gesture out of the water.

Growing up, Dylan faced challenging circumstances, but his mum, Mrs Ong Choon Hoy, was always there to weather the storm for him. From running a kway chap hawker stall as a one-woman show to taking on three jobs to support the family, Mrs Ong is Dylan’s role model, and he is making sure to acknowledge this fact through the new restaurant.

With the restaurant bearing his mother’s name, Choon Hoy Parlor (CHP), is Dylan’s love letter to his mother. The restaurant’s goal to produce heirloom, heritage, and hawker fare brings Dylan’s professional life full circle. If a taste of motherly love, hawker fare, and grand heritage all in one restaurant sounds like your thing, then allow me to introduce everything Choon Hoy Parlor’s menu has to offer!

Family Heirloom Recipes

To fulfil his mission of producing heart-touching heirloom and heritage dishes (hence why Dylan calls it “Singapore Soul Food”), Dylan recruited female chefs Benji Chew and Renée Tang to bring both reimagined and faithful heirloom recipes from each chef’s family to the table. Despite the dishes’ roots in heritage, the multicultural and personal flavours include a contemporary twist, as Dylan also wishes to bring multiple generations together.

Choon Hoy Parlor: Dylan, Benji, Renee
The dream chef team — Chef Renée Tang (left), Chef Dylan Ong (centre), and Chef Benji Chew (right)

Starting it off, we have Dylan’s family heirloom recipes! For the Signature Braised Duck Served In Tau Kwa Pau Style (S$69), you’ll almost always see this dish at Dylan’s family gatherings and celebrations as it is made by Mrs Ong herself. The succulent duck meat is paired with tau kwa paus, which are fried bean curd pockets stuffed with roughly chopped and mixed fried fish cake, cucumber, braised egg, and fried egg before being served with a Teochew braised sauce.

This dish is a disappearing hawker item, which is why the Choon Hoy Parlor team is determined to revive this dying classic. So should you be unfamiliar with this dish or want your older loved ones to relive an old culinary memory, the Signature Braised Duck Served In Tau Kwa Pau Style is the best choice.

Another look (or taste) into Dylan’s past is the CHP Signature Teow Chew Pork Leg Trotter Jelly (S$8.90). At Dylan’s family’s kway chap hawker stall, his father would use spare or leftover meat to make pork leg trotter jelly, which was sold in limited quantities. This delicious memory has now materialised into a CHP signature dish to pay tribute to his dad and, once again, his hawker upbringing.

Originating from China’s Shantou Province and brought here by Teochews of that region, the dish is a unique piece of the local Teochew food culture. It traditionally comprises low-valued animal parts, but CHP has also included the hind trotter meat, skin, and pig ears for more crunchy goodness!

Finally, in Dylan’s arsenal of family heirloom recipes, we have a homely dish most of us might know and love. Dylan’s mum made great soups, and the comforting recipe for ABC Soup (S$8.90) is one of his favourites. To elevate the soup’s flavour, CHP made the dish more premium by adding onions and pork ribs in addition to the usual corn, tomatoes, and carrots for extra sweetness.

Chef Renée also has a story to tell about her family heirloom recipe. For the CHP Signature Braised Dua Cai (S$16.90), Renée’s Teochew grandmother only cooked this dish once a year for a Chinese New Year feast that fed 50 family members and relatives. Renée has never tasted anything that came close to this dish, and being the only family member of her generation to inherit the recipe makes the dish all the more special.

Mustard leaf stems are first charred before being braised with dried shrimp, mushrooms, and scallop stock, which creates an umami flavour akin to that of abalone stock. With pork belly and sea cucumber added, you get a wonderful gelatinous mouthfeel while eating this dish.

Offering an overseas dish we Singaporeans know and love is Benji with her family heirloom recipe CHP Our Rojak, Our Own Way (S$8.90). Stemming from the chef’s childhood in Ipoh, this dish resulted from Benji’s parents selling rojak instead of their original Zi Char stall as they wanted a more manageable business when they got older. While Benji is proud of the recipe, she has also recreated it using modern techniques that still contain the core ingredients whilst enhancing them to present this rojak in a new light.

Choon Hoy Parlor: Rojak
Feast your eyes on the stunning presentation of CHP Our Rojak, Our Own Way

In traditional rojak, the mixed vegetable and fruit salad is commonly dressed with a sweet and sour sauce. CHP Our Rojak, Our Own Way twists this tradition by turning the rojak sauce into ice cream and serving it with seasonal vegetables and fruits like jambu, star fruit, jicama, and Japanese cucumber. Finished with century egg, you tiao, and crushed peanuts, this special interpretation of rojak will certainly change how you see and eat rojak once you’ve tried it yourself!

Heritage Recipes

Hainanese chicken rice is undoubtedly one of the dishes Singapore is best known for, and CHP is here to serve up their delicious version of this Singaporean staple. CHP Signature Hainanese Kampong Chicken with Scallion and Ginger Sauce (S$15.90 for half or S$28.90 for whole) features a fresh kampong free-range chicken poached to retain its natural moisture. Plated with sliced cucumbers, a light house-blended soy sauce, and an aromatic sauce of chopped scallion and ginger, you’ll taste the best of Singapore’s hawker fare in this dish.

Choon Hoy Parlor: Kampong Chicken
CHP has an excellent version of Hainanese chicken rice, which is undoubtedly one of Singapore’s representative dishes

If you want to go all out on indulgence, you can opt for the Triple L rice — A Lil Lard, A Lil, Soy, A Lil Love Rice. The rice is a personal recipe of Chef Dylan, and it is the way he enjoyed his rice growing up. At CHP, cooked short-grain rice is mixed with premium soy sauce and pork lard before more crispy fried lard is added on top. I’m sure rice is life for many of us, and if that’s the case for you, I guarantee CHP’s fragrant rice will not disappoint. It’s so good, and you can eat it on its own!

For a dive into delightful seafood, try CHP’s Teochew Steamed Fish (Catch of the day) (market price). If you’re of Teochew heritage, you’d know steamed fish is one of the faces of Teochew cuisine. CHP’s version uses the Fish of the Day, served with a typical Teochew sauce with a light, salty, and tart taste. It is steamed with salted mustard greens and sliced tofu before finishing with pork lard and some pork lard oil. For the most fragrant steamed fish possible, spring onions and cilantro are also quickly passed through hot oil.

CHP prides itself on their vibrant multicultural offerings, and the dish Coin Prata, Masala Lamb, Mint Yoghurt (3 pieces for S$12.90), is one of them. Inspired by Singaore’s favourite Indian must-tries at hawker centres, this dish features a crispy and fluffy coin prata topped with rich gravy and tender braised lamb meat of the masala. To top it off, mint yoghurt is added to cut through the richness and give the dish some freshness. 

Recreated Heritage Recipes

As mentioned, CHP also serves innovation through their recreated heritage recipes. Teochews have a deep emphasis on seafood owing to their origins in the coastal Chaoshan region. Hence, the Mini Fried Pomfret with Plum Taucheong Dip (5 pieces for S$8.90 or 10 pieces for S$15.90) perfectly represents this fact.

Choon Hoy Parlor: Baby Pomfret
Nothing but crispy perfection

Using Malaysian baby pomfrets, they are lightly battered and fried to such golden crispiness that the entire fish, including the bones, can be eaten. This frying technique also ensures that the fish’s tenderness, natural sweetness, and other original flavours are maintained. A dip made with two key Teochew condiments, mainly taucheong and plum sauce, is served alongside the fish. This is CHP’s version of a sweet-and-sour sauce that is sure to leave you wanting more!

Chef Renée has another story in the CHP Signature White Pepper Pig’s Stomach Collagen Soup (S$25.90 for 3 to 4 pax)! Inspired by her late grandmother’s winter melon soup, fond memories of her family’s pork distribution business, and their love for pork innards, Renée recreated the dish by adding chicken stock and chicken feet into the soup for a richer mouthfeel and sweeter, cleaner flavour. The winter melon and goji berries are then included to further enhance the sweetness as well as provide the soup with additional savouriness.

Choon Hoy Parlor: Pig Stomach Soup
One sip of the CHP Signature White Pepper Pig’s Stomach Collagen Soup, and I’m sure you’ll be reminded of your own grandmother too

By now, you can tell Chef Renée’s grandmother’s memory is in her dishes at CHP. The Yam and Pumpkin Fritter Wrapped in Kataifi (3 pieces for S$8.90 or 6 pieces for S$15.90) is no exception. Her grandmother used to make cut-up yams mixed with peanuts and Chinese celery as a snack, coating these ingredients in flour and deep-frying them to deliciousness. 

Working with Chef Benji, the simple snack has transformed into a sweet-savoury ‘dim sum’ with a crispy and crunchy exterior encasing a soft, luscious core. This can only be achieved by enrobing pumpkin puree with yam paste, mixing it with silverfish and peanuts, and wrapping it with kataifi pastry. Then, the dish is deep-fried and crowned with fresh Chinese celery.

And if you’re familiar with Chef Renée’s culinary journey, I’ll be the bearer of good news as this next dish will be a unique throwback to her closed restaurant, Jelebu Dry Laksa! Titled CHP X Jelebu Signature Dry Laksa V2.0 (S$18.90 for 3 pax), Renée uses her secret rempah, taugay, fresh cockles, fish cake, and taupok to make a comeback signature dish. 

Choon Hoy Parlor: Dry Laksa
Spice up your life with CHP X Jelebu Signature Dry Laksa V2.0!

This rich cuisine is combined with chao-tah (meaning ‘burnt’ in Hokkien) beehoon, which consists of 2 types of beehoon—laksa beehoon and fish head vermicelli beehoon—as they provide different textures and mouthfeel. The noodles are wok-fried with the taugay, laksa rempah, fish cake, and taupok, before being generously sprinkled with par-cooked cockles. I can already imagine the delightful wok hei that will emanate from this dish!

As for Chef Benji herself, she’s whipped up a signature dish entitled CHP Signature Salad: Ulam (S$15.90). Ulam is a traditional salad dish of vegetables, herbs, and fruits the chef had grown up on. Often consumed with sambal and other dipping sauces, Benji prepares the dish using fresh and crunchy paku fern, white corn, jambu, jicama, lady’s finger, Japanese cucumber, papaya blossom, and selom leaf. Then, sambal belachan and a ginger flower emulsion are served with the salad, which makes for a sweet, herbaceous, and minty flavour bomb.

Another of Chef Benji’s creations is the CHP Signature 16 Hrs Bone-In Coffee Angus Short Rib (S$69 for 700 to 800g). Multiple travels to Vietnam sowed the seeds for the construction of this dish, as she specifically fell in love with the local marinated pork dishes there. Adding her love for coffee, this dish celebrates the foods Benji loves. 

One should possess patience when it comes to making this dish. US Choice beef short rib bone is marinated in spicy Vietnamese marinade and red rice yeast before being sous vide for 12 hours! The rib is then grilled over binchotan, coated with Chef Benji’s coffee umami glaze, and topped with fried garlic. Perfect for sharing, those who love this unique combination of Vietnamese cuisine and coffee can give this dish a shot!

Chef Dylan too, has a recreation up his sleeve! A respectful borrowing from Thailand’s food culture, the CHP Signature Salted Egg Yolk Souffle Egg (S$16.90) takes inspiration from the Thai omelette, Khai Jiaw. At home, Dylan poured hours into developing a worthy version of Khai Jiaw he believed we would love, resulting in a savoury egg ‘souffle’. 

By frying, whipping, and baking the eggs, the eggs are done three ways in one! The three techniques can be found in the light, fluffy omelette, crunchy egg floss top, and the surprise salted egg yolk that overflows within the omelette once revealed by breaking into the dish. 

Choon Hoy Parlor: Omelette Souffle
Who knew it was possible to have three ways to cook an egg in one dish?

A dining experience at Choon Hoy Parlor wouldn’t be complete without dessert! That’s why Chef Benji has interpreted the popular ‘cooling’ dessert chng tng you can find at any hawker centre to give you a nice cool-off after such a hearty meal. 

In the Yuzu Citron Chng Tng (S$10.90), Benji adds Korean yuzu citron for a floral fragrance and a jelly-like gum karaya that will remind you of the texture and mouthfeel of a bird’s nest. Additionally, red dates, goji berries, white fungus, and sea coconut can be found in this dessert for a light and refreshing end to your meal.

Choon Hoy Parlor: Yuzu Chng Tng
Cool off with the Yuzu Citron Chng Tng

If you’re simply feeling slightly peckish, Tri-Layered Nian Gao (S$11.90) is just as good of a sweet dish to have as the chng tng. The sweet rice cake nian gao is made with glutinous rice and taro, which gives it a chewy consistency. It’s sandwiched between yam and purple sweet potato before being dipped in sesame-filled batter and deep-fried to golden brown. The rice cake also comes with a scoop of Osmanthus Oolong ice cream, so you can picture it as an alternative Asian version of waffles and ice cream!

And for the ultimate culmination of local flavours, you have to try the CHP Signature Durian Chendol (S$13.90)! The CHP recreation of this popular local dessert has a gula melaka-flavoured sponge base, handmade pandan jelly, kidney beans, and rich coconut ice cream on top. The cherry on top, or rather durian, is a D24 durian puree, finished with an espuma of corn, and garnished with a charred Japanese corn slice. 

Through Choon Hoy Parlor, Chef Dylan presents a restaurant that gloriously pays tribute to his mum and customers. Rightfully dubbed “Singapore Soul Food”, CHP is a celebration of Singapore’s multicultural roots and familial stories, through their heirloom and heritage recipes, and hawker classics to tug at your heartstrings and tantalise the tastebuds of many generations.

If you’d like to bring your loved ones together for local cuisine made with contemporary flair, make your booking on Choon Hoy Parlor’s reservation page today! You can also check their main website for more information.

Choon Hoy Parlor

📍Location: 85 Beach Rd, #01-02, Singapore 189694

  • Diners can choose to order a la carte or the communal menu (for a minimum of 3 pax at S$49.90 per person).
  • Lunch sets (三菜一汤) are available at S$18.90 and S$24.90 per person.

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Saturday, 12pm to 3pm (Lunch) and 5.30pm to 9.30pm (Last order)
  • Sunday, 12pm to 3pm (Lunch) and 5.30pm to 9pm (Last order)

Visuals courtesy of Choon Hoy Parlor.

Glenda Chong

Down to yap about anything related to K-Pop and pop culture anytime, anywhere.

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