Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre used to be my hangout during my primary and secondary school days. This is where I got my computer games in floppy disc and computer repaired. Back then, it was the only shopping mall in the Hougang and Serangoon areas. There were no Nex, Kovan Heartland Mall, Hougang Mall and City Square Mall. The mall remains stuck in time, in its early 80s, rundown and deserted, except for Fragrant Garden (馨香园) on level one that still attracts a regular crowd for its Teochew dishes.
Combo Roll 4/5
Together with a few foodie friends, we dropped by Fragrant Garden on a weekday evening to have dinner. The whole place still looks the same during my secondary school's day. The entire mall is deserted except for the dinner crowd at Fragrant Garden. We started with the Combo Roll ($12/$20) which consists of prawn roll and liver roll. My attention is drawn to the liver roll, which is hardly available in the restaurants' menu nowadays. The offal gives it a creamy interior encased in a crispy exterior wrapped with beancurd skin.
Oyster Omelette Teochew Style 4.2/5
I have tried the oyster omelette from Chui Huay Lim Teochew Restaurant and its the gooey version. Over at Fragrant Garden, the Oyster Omelette Teochew Style ($14/$20) is very close to our local hawker version. It is fried to crispy on the exterior, retaining a slight gooeyness inside with plump and juicy oysters.
Steamed Pomfret in Teochew Style 4.5/5
Steamed Pomfret in Teochew Style (Seasonal Price) is a staple Teochew dish which does not come cheap. A size like this would probably cost around $95. You would perhaps like to confirm the price right at the beginning just to avoid any unhappiness during payment. Steamed to perfection, the pomfret was moist and complemented by the sourish gravy.
Braised Duck in Teochew Style 4.2/5
Another dish I enjoyed a lot in the Braised Duck in Teochew Style ($15/$20). I like the layer of fat under the skin, giving it a delightful ratio to the tender meat. Hidden underneath the pile of sliced braised duck, is a bed of silky Pu Ning Tofu.
Fragrant's Stuffed Sea Cucumber 4/5
If you are a fan of sea cucumber, you will appreciate the Fragrant's Stuffed Sea Cucumber ($60 onwards). The sea cucumber is well braised to a soft and bouncy texture. The stuffed meat mixture elevates the main ingredient, giving it a multi-textural enjoyment. Pre-order is required for this dish.
Braised Vegetable with Scallop in Teochew Style 4.5/5
For the vegetable dish, we went for the Braised Vegetable with Scallop in Teochew Style ($12). I am a sucker for cabbage, especially when it is braised under "nua nua" (very soft), absorbing the flavoursome broth.
Fried Kway Tiao with Chai Poh 4/5
Another staple Teochew dish is the Fried Kway Tiao with Chai Poh ($5/$8/$12). Another well-executed dish packed with smokiness. I only wish there are more dice vegetables for that crunchy bite in each mouthful of the fragrant noodle.
Yam Paste 4/5
Of course, how can we not end our dinner with the traditional Yam Paste ($4/$20/$30)? The version at Fragrant Garden comes with gingko nuts, pumpkin and shallot. Decently good but not the best I have tried.
Fragrant Garden prides itself for offering authentic and cheap Teochew cuisine. It is true to a certain extent as most of the dishes are reasonably priced. However, they are also expensive items such as the sea cucumber, steamed pomfret, cold crab etc. Hence you need to know what to order and not influenced by the pushy service staffs that will try to recommend you the expensive dishes. I have come across reviews about their lousy service but putting that aside, the food here is delicious.
Fragrant Garden (馨香园)
Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre
756 Upper Serangoon Road
Tel: +65 62897301
Nearest MRT: Serangoon (CC Line, NE Line), Kovan (NE Line)
Tue-Sun: 1130am - 230pm, 530pm - 10pm
1) Alight at Serangoon MRT station. Take Exit H. Walk to bus stop at Serangoon Bus Interchange (Stop ID 66009). Take bus number 101, 107, 136 or 153. Alight 2 stops later. Cross the road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 8 minutes. [Map]
2) Alight at Serangoon MRT station. Take Exit E. Walk to bus stop at Serangoon MRT station (Stop ID 66351). Take bus number 81 or 82. Alight 3 stops later. Cross the road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 10 minutes. [Map]
3) Alight at Kovan MRT station. Take Exit C. Walk to bus stop at Kovan MRT station (Stop ID 63039). Take bus number 80, 81, 82, 101, 107, 136 or 153. Alight 2 stops later. Walk to destination. Journey time about 8 minutes. [Map]