During our recent forays into Joo Chiat, my parents and I noticed an old eatery named Joo Heng, which spanned 2 shophouses and always had a steady stream of customers. We then vowed that it would be next on the list upon our return to Joo Chiat. And so there we were, at Joo Heng on a Sunday evening, at 1830hrs to be exact. The previous week we had wanted to try Joo Heng out, but was informed that the wait for the food would be about an hour, which was just insane. So this week we made it a point to reach early to beat the crowd. A rather friendly waitress (one of the family members I presume) took our orders of Fish Head, Sweet Potato Leaves fried with Garlic, Braised Tofu with Prawns and Fried Shark's Fin with Cabbage(Its lettuce by the way), all of which were recommended items on the menu.
The Braised Tofu with Prawns looked rather simple, but was quite well done. The Tofu was soft and quivery, yet not too soft that it became mushy. The accompanying gravy was very tasty, albeit a little too salty. Worth a special mention were the prawns, which looked more like baby lobsters given their enormous sizes. They were also fresh, sweet and crunchy - how a good prawn should be!
I personally am not a big fan of Sweet Potato leaves as I find them too sticky and mushy for my liking. However, the Sweet Potato Leaves fried with Garlic was all that bad. It was rather fragrant and wasn't too sticky. But I still don't really fancy it much, so enough said. This was the only dish that was left standing as all of us found it too starchy towards the end and we were all quite stuffed up.
The Fish Head was quite fresh, but I found the accompanying sauce a little too salty. Pork lard was added to enhance the flavours, but I steered clear of it, prefering my health over clogged arteries. As with the Sweet Potato leaves, I didn't really take to this dish as somehow or rather, I just don't like fish head, probably due to the "fresh water" taste. My parents found it above average and nothing more.
Fried Shark's Fin with Cabbage sounded like an interesting dish and it came highly recommended. Alas, the hype generated didn't live up to expectations. There were but a few strands of shark's fin (I could barely make them out), with the majority being scrambled eggs, bean sprouts and crab meat. Well, the dish was nicely fried though and the cabbage mellowed the strong egg taste, making it light on the palate.
Dinner for 3 pax stood at $69.50, which is not worth it. However, take away the Fried Shark's Fin with Cabbage and it becomes reasonable, with the bill standing at $39.50. Overall, I wouldn't say that the quality of food at Joo Heng is top notch, but it is definitely above average. Prices in general are reasonable too, which makes it a very attractive option to dine in. Now here comes the bombshell. All of us suspected that most, if not all, of the food had been fried in pork lard, giving rise to dishes that are very fragrant and tasty. Its merely hypothetical, so don't quote me on that.
Tofu with prawns
Sweet Potato Leaves fried with Garlic
Fried Shark's Fin
Fried Shark's Fin with Lettuce
Value for money:7/10 (with the exception of the Fried Shark's Fin)
Address: 360 Joo Chiat Road
Comments: Opens from 11am-2pm and 5pm-10pm. Closed on Mondays.