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Ownselfmakechef #aPORKalypse: Lard is lyfe

Dining at Shen's is a gastronomical affair, you never leave hungry and it's almost a cardinal sin to leave without feeling like you busted your diet plans for the month - note, the amount of food served. The aPORKalypse menu is not her most audacious, she beams with pride as she recalls her Wok and Barrel days and she has done a couple of remembering Wok and Barrel days with a ridiculous 14 course menu with 3 courses of dessert. I raised my white flag at these 10 courses.

Here's my chowdown of the most over dosed meal I've ever had - overdosed on lard that is.


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Lard Chang Puteh (crispy pork belly croutons glazed with soy caramel, with peanuts and ikan bilis) is our welcome snack, pork belly fried with sambal and the condiments of nasi lemak, except the fried egg. I wish this were at least warm, or at best piping hot but I guess with the different timings of a 7pm reservation, I should have arrived earlier.

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More for the hungry but we were told to pace ourselves.

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Bacon, peanut and garlic min jiang kueh certainly set the tone for the rest of the meal - I love my peanut min jiang kuehs to death. That pillowy soft spongy pancake filled with more peanut than batter, that, is my ideal MJK. This was more of a bacon and cheese griddle concept with savoury and sweet notes. I liked it enough actually.

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Savoury Kueh Tutu with Green Peppercorns Curry Minced Pork

Paying homage to street snacks version 2 is this kueh tutu gone savoury with salted egg yolk and a side of pork mince. I loved the concept yet the execution was lacking. Madam Tan's Kueh Tutus are high on the pedestal with her fluffy flour cakes once again stuffed with a sweet peanut filling.

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Shen Tan's are stiff like hardened flour and upon cracking open reveals a dry salted egg filling and texturally it was just odd for me though the flavours work. A pretty conflicting course for me.

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Her Uni Pork Rice Bowl was one course I waited so long for. Those glistening slices of fatty char siew made me drool at the mere thought. I love my KL char siew to death, that melt in the mouth fatty layer and caramelized layer browned with sugar and...tucking into slices of lard never tasted so good. Anyway that was what I had in mind.

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My colourful bowl with scallops, ikura, uni and of course the famous fat char siew.

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All fat and I have no qualms IF and only if my char siew dreams came flying through. Nada. It was chewy, sinewy and a very stiff jellied piece of lard. Okay. Yes. I gave up after trying to chew more than I can swallow, literally.

While char siew failed me, the rest of the rice bowl was yummy.

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Pork Rendang with Scallion Pancakes fried in Lard

Spring Onion Pancake fried in lard and pork rendang did cause a ripple effect of delayed satisfaction. I loved the pancake, just like the taiwanese street hawkers do them. I was not sold on the rendang however.

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Knuckle Down: Pork Hock roulade with glutinous rice, mushrooms, prawns

This overdue CNY delicacy made a reprise in the form of a dry pork hock roulade and whilst I loved the achar, I then discovered it was storebought. I wasn't impressed with the clashing flavours somehow.

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5 Spice Coffee Rub Pork Confit, served with pineapple and cucumber

A Wok and Barrel classic updated and once again, I fell in love with the pineapple and cucumber salsa. Very refreshing and I still did not get what the pork confit was about. Perhaps it was just me but having pork presented in different rubs and flavours, either I got lost or they were just too underwhelming.


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Twice cooked Durian Tempoyak Kurobuta Pork Ribs with Emerald Noodles

Now, durian had better make things fly for me. Pigs had to fly. So durian was rubbed into the ribs and first slow cooked then pan fried. The shallots made things even more confusing because it was pungent, soft, savoury, crispy and with basil leaf became a mess of flavours.

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Best of the dish had to be the noodles, though I wished they had more bite.


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Alas, the hog we waited all meal for. The last shot at flying pigs kinda satisfaction.

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Laksa Suckling Pig with Lard Sambal and Sweet Corn Fritters

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I didn't get to the crispy pig's skin nor the tail that my neighbour did. All I could taste was the suckling pig meat which really tasted like the hock and confit. Bewildering combination of sambal yet the corn fritters were lovely.

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Bacon Ice-cream Sandwich

Sweet potato lard bread with gula melaka butterscotch ice cream and grated coconut, served with candied bacon. Alot went on and still went on till the last course.

The lard bread was hard and perhaps intended to create some contrast between the crunchy bacon, soft icecream and you get the drift. So nope, not even dessert worked for me after the min jiang kueh.

There are components I liked and loved and clearly parts that I ended up being very confused over. I love my pork and this OD on pork could have just sent me avoiding it for awhile. Don't get me wrong, Shen is talented and has a following both locally and overseas to prove it - I'm just one of those who tried and satisfied my curiosity in her private dinner.

For the curious, her meals go at $99 per head. For 10 courses, it does work out to an affordable $9.90 a course and she allows takeaway of portions you cannot stomach. So plus point there?

A foodie born to eat, shop and travel. Forced to work.

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