Question: If you have a friend visiting Singapore for the first time and would like to try some local home-cooked food, where would you bring him?
Well, for me, I could certainly whip up a few dishes or get my mom to do that but that would mean too much of a trouble. Just think of the preparation and washing up! In any case, perhaps, our culinary standard may not be up to the mark and eating out is the better option. So, we can try the hawker centres or some fancy restaurants but allow me to introduce a casual Chinese restaurant that serves delicious home-cooked food that would bring smiles to your guests.
Located at Sennett Estate and within walking distance from Potong Pasir MRT station, Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家）aims to provide her customers with a variety of delectable home-cooked food made from the freshest ingredients hand-picked by Gu Ma, the owner, and her culinary team. Gu Ma herself has more than a decade of cooking experience selling her signature chicken rice and wanton noodles before setting up Gu Ma Jia and there is nothing more joyous than sharing delicious home-cooked food with her customers and getting them to enjoy family bonds over meals together. Any home-cook will definitely agree to that.
The restaurant isn’t big on interior design if you are concerned about the ambience. I can see why. The main focus is the food and the company you are dining with. We had the privilege to be invited for a dinner at Gu Ma Jia and were treated to her signature dishes.
The Assam Fish Head ($28) is one dish that I would certainly order, not just for a visitor, but for my family since it is not something that we would consume on any other day. The spicy and sour Assam blend gravy is surprisingly light on the tongues and I can certainly attest that the fish is fresh. I think my mom would love this. 😉
Kyoto Pork Ribs ($20) and Yuan Yang Kai Lan ($10/$15/$20) are two of my personal favourite. The pork ribs are flavourful and tender the way I like it. This is a MUST-ORDER. For the Kai Lan, I like how the leaves are deep fried to perfection and that the stems are cooked just right, with the crunchiness effect. Even the hubs who is not a vegetable-lover, likes it.
Another one on my favourite list is the Clay Pot Chicken with Ginger and Sesame Oil ($15/$22/$28). This appeals to me because the combination of ginger and sesame oil will definitely not go wrong and also it reminds me of home – Mom uses this combination to cook her chicken too. Did I mention that the chicken is really, really tender?
The other two vegetable dishes are 8 Treasures Vegetables ($12/$18/$24) and Crispy Bean-Jal ($12/$18). The 8 vegetables that make up the former dish are lotus, black fugus, carrot, celery, vegetarian abalone, lingzhi mushroom, cashew nuts and snap peas. Sounds very healthy eh? The Crispy Bean-Jal is made up of fried brinjal and French beans and it’s my first time having brinjal prepared in this way. Quite a clever twist to the usual way of making this dish, at least to me. 😉
The Hot Plate BBQ Sotong ($18) made an initial good impression on me because of the tangy sauce which can be a good complement to the rice. It is spicy at the right notch and not overly sourish. The squid was cooked just well but I feel it lacks the bbq-effect which is my preference. If you don’t mind that, this is a rather tasteful dish!
You will have to order crabs if your friend is visiting, no? I will and that evening, we were treated to White Pepper Crab and Buttered Salted Egg Yolk Crab (@ seasonal price). I’ve had my share of pepper crabs and I’m thankful that the ones served at Gu Ma Jia are meaty and succulent. It is also not too pepper-ish which is great for those who are not into spicy food. However, I’m more attracted to the Butter Salted Egg Yolk Crab, a version that I don’t really get to eat often. Even the hubs who is not a crab-lover went for a few rounds! IMHO, this is another dish I will definitely order.
Dining at Gu Ma Jia feels like an intimate family affair. The warm and hospitable Gu Ma and her daughter welcomed us and made us feel at home. When the former realised that there were young kids among us, she quickly made the kiddos delicious fish porridge. I’m not sure if the porridge is in the menu but I would order it for myself because it is wholesomely good! Faith wasn’t feeling well that evening but she definitely enjoyed her meal!
Nakayla and Faith, with Gu Ma and her daughter.
We had an awfully good time just catching up with one another and everyone felt so at ease. You almost feel you are at home. I guess that is how Gu Ma wants for her customers to feel when they dine at this restaurant.
Do pop by this humble restaurant if you miss and crave some authentic home-cooked food. Perhaps, for the coming Chinese New Year, you might want to consider Gu Ma Jia as they are holding some promotions.
Disclaimer: My family was invited to Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家) for a food tasting session. No other compensations were given. Opinions stated are mine. Do note that taste buds differ from persons to persons. 😉