Explore the birthplace of Hokkien culinary culture
Singaporeans are no strangers to Fujian cuisine. Fujian (or Hokkien) dishes like bak kut teh, wu xiang (or ngoh hiang) and oyster omelettes make up much of our local hawker repertoire. These foods have become so familiar to us, but they are merely a sliver of the expansive cuisine from Southeastern China.
The most authentic form of the cuisine and its dishes can be found in Xiamen, the heart of Hokkien culture. Here, the land is fertile and there are plenty of great fishing spots. These fresh sources of food meet arduous hours of braising and stewing -- two key techniques in the Hokkien culinary canon.
So where does one start their culinary adventure? Here are our recommendations.
Haoqingxiang Restaurant (夏商好清香) - Xiamen Culture & Art Center Branch
(Image credit: 51Xiancheng)
This classy restaurant has been a popular dining spot amongst both travellers and locals. Since its opening in 1940, Haoqingxiang has been dedicated to Southern Fujian fare -- think along the lines of zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings typically eaten during Dragon Boat Festival), spring onion rolls with sugar, and flaky taro buns. However, large communal dishes are still what this restaurant does best. The Dragon and Phoenix Kungfu Tea, a teapot of broth made from snake and chicken, is Haoqingzxiang’s most famous dish. A visit here wouldn’t be complete without ordering the traditional Buddha Jump Over The Wall seafood stew and wu xiang rolls for sharing too.
Shuyou is one of the most well-respected and successful restaurants in Xiamen, and there are several branches to be found all over the city. Despite this, each one is dedicated to the freshest seafood found from Xiamen’s ports nearby. Diners can expect fresh lobster, abalone and crab available almost every day. Shuyou is also one of the best places to try Xiamen’s iconic sea worm jelly, a collagen-packed delicacy made from marine worms. If you happen to drop by during China’s hairy crab season, the restaurant is also known for bringing in some of the best catches at good prices.
A trip to the famous Nanputou Temple is warranted whenever you’re in Xiamen. Even if you don’t intend to sightsee or walk away with a little spiritual wisdom, the temple’s restaurant offers another reason to visit too. The space offers only vegetarian dishes, with poetic names inspired by traditional recipes from home and royal kitchens. The restaurant’s most legendary dish, for instance, is the Half-Moon Shenjiang, a rich broth of angelica root and bamboo shoots that is accompanied by half a shiitake mushroom floating gently over it.
Monday to Sunday: 11:00am - 2:00pm
Monday to Sunday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm
Address: 515 Siming Nan Road, Siming District, Xiamen
Ocean-Observation Hall (观海餐厅)
(Image credit: Lujiang Hotel)
The iconic Lujiang Harbourview Hotel is possibly one of the best hotels in town for its gorgeous views of the waterfront and Gulangyu. It is also home to the Ocean-Observation Hall, a multi-concept restaurant that has hosted (and wowed) many dignitaries and celebrities with its fresh approach to Fujianese dishes. The oyster omelette, packed with small but flavourful oysters, is one of the specialities here. The restaurant also has dim sum and modern Chinese desserts, making it a great place for an indulgent afternoon brunch. The restaurant bar’s sleek interiors are also perfect for after-dark drinks too.
Xiamen restaurants aren’t all just about traditional Fujianese cuisine. New places, like Yan Xu, are interpreting the cuisine in contemporary ways too. While the menu sees many traditional dishes, Yan Xu prepares them in unique ways. Expect theatrics like dry ice and surprise treasure boxes of small bites on the dining table. The restaurant borrows heavily from Western culinary techniques as well; spicy kungpao chicken is transformed into one-bite tartlets and traditional clay-pot rice dishes are reimagined as Spanish paellas.
(Image credit: Baidu)
Monday to Sunday: 11:00am - 2:30pm
Monday to Sunday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm
Address: 2F Block A Xin Jing Center, 21 Jiahe Rd, Siming District, Xiamen