Zi Char - Gu Ma Jia

December 08, 2019 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Zi Char - Gu Ma Jia
45 Tai Thong Crescent

https://gumajia.com.sg/


Butter & Salted Egg Yolk Crab (SGD $7.50 per 100g, $56.25 per 750g)



Hearty & Homely Dishes

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 7
Ambience & Setting: 6
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 8
Value for Money: 6
Spent about SGD $35 per person.


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Established in November 2009, Gu Ma Jia translates to 'Auntie's House', and is a casual restaurant that serves up delicious home style Singaporean Chinese Zi Char dishes. Founder Madam Chan Mei Yan believes in using fresh ingredients, sourced daily from the market, and prepares her dishes with less oil, and without processed foodstuffs or preservatives.

Ambience at Gu Ma Jia is cozy, lively, and homely, akin to dining at a relative's house. The small seating area is closely packed with modern functional furniture, and because it's usually crowded at meal times, tends to have a bustling atmosphere. There is a light lingering smell of cooking in the air on the first floor, but this isn't evident on the second floor.

Service at Gu Ma Jia is friendly and down-to-earth. The friendly staff tend to chat with customers, and they display good product knowledge on their extensive menu. Blatant self-promotion of their signature dishes, catering and delivery services, and accolades abound, proudly tacky, like a parent displaying their child's achievements. I note staff are quick at fulfilling orders, and at cleaning up.

Food at Gu Ma Jia is focused on Singaporean Chinese Zi Char dishes, made with fresh ingredients, without any preservatives or processed foodstuffs. Dishes are tasty and bold in flavour, served in large and hearty communal sharing portions. For individuals, they offer thoughtfully crafted 'bento' set meals. Prices are higher than elsewhere because of the quality and effort, budget about SGD $35 per person for a meal here.


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Gu Ma Jia Logo Signage
Gu Ma Jia Logo Signage


Gu Ma Jia Exterior
Gu Ma Jia Exterior


Gu Ma Jia Interior
Gu Ma Jia Interior



A straightfoward Buck Wheat Green Tea (SGD $2), served warm, with calming earthy flavour.

Buck Wheat Green Tea
Buck Wheat Green Tea (SGD $2)



The Roasted Salted Peanuts (SGD $2) here are crunchy with a light nutty salty flavour, making them fairly addictive. You'll just keep reaching for more.

Roasted Salted Peanuts
Roasted Salted Peanuts (SGD $2)



We loved the home made Gu Ma Signature Bean Curd (SGD $16), which has a crisp, battered exterior which crunches gently to reveal the soft, dense, wobbly chewy interior. The tofu beancurd seems to have been coated in a yam / taro and spice batter mix, as it has a lovely earthy nutty savoury spice flavour. Delicious on its own, better when paired with the spicy chili dipping sauce on the side. Good!

Gu Ma Signature Bean Curd (SGD $16)


Gu Ma Signature Bean Curd
Gu Ma Signature Bean Curd



The Oyster Omelette (SGD $12) features a nice sized egg omelette, with fluffy soft crisp texture and a delicate eggy sweet savoury flavour. The center is piled high with plump juicy oysters that burst with briny salty sweet flavour. Overall, a decent rendition.

Oyster Omelette (SGD $12)


Oyster Omelette
Oyster Omelette



The Home Made Prawn Roll (SGD $8) feature large juicy rounds of minced pork and prawns / shrimp, which crunch lightly and coat the palate in meaty sweet savoury salty spice flavour. Served with a sticky sweet dipping sauce. Good!

Home Made Prawn Roll (SGD $8)


Home Made Prawn Roll
Home Made Prawn Roll



The straightforward Broccoli With Garlic (SGD $16) features stir-fried florets of broccoli with minced garlic, which have a tender crunchy texture with beautifully earthy vegetal sweet flavour. Nicely aromatic, a decent side dish. Worth ordering!

Broccoli With Garlic (SGD $16)


Broccoli With Garlic
Broccoli With Garlic



Aptly named, for the Kai-Lan 2 Styles (SGD $18) does feature kai-lan / Chinese kale / Chinese broccoli prepared in 2 different styles. The usual blanched version has a crunchy juicy texture, with lovely vegetal sweet flavour. The uncommon fried version uses only the leaves, and has a crisp crunchy texture, with delicate vegetal salty savoury flavour. This pairs well with white rice. Worth ordering!

Kai-Lan 2 Styles (SGD $18)


Kai-Lan 2 Styles
Kai-Lan 2 Styles



Loved the Crispy Bean-Jal (SGD $12), because of the contrast of textures and flavours. The long soft string beans have a light vegetal sweet flavour, while the crunchy pieces of fried eggplant / aubergine / brinjal are salty sweet in taste. Bits of minced garlic lend a soft herbal spice sharpness to the dish. I like the cute word play of the name of this dish. Good!

Crispy Bean-Jal (SGD $12)


Crispy Bean-Jal
Crispy Bean-Jal



Couldn't decide to get a meat or vegetable dish, so we went for both with the Kai-Lan With Beef (SGD $18). This has large fresh crunchy juicy stalks of kai-lan / Chinese kale / Chinese broccoli with lovely vegetal sweet flavour, topped with tender chewy slices of beef tossed with crunchy carrots, in a rich ginger and spring onion gravy, giving it a deep meaty savoury herbal spice flavour. Truely the best of both worlds. Good!

Kai-Lan With Beef (SGD $18)


Kai-Lan With Beef
Kai-Lan With Beef



The Claypot Wine Chicken With Ginger & Sesame Oil (SGD $15) was served in a claypot, but portioned out at the side for us. Filled with chunks of tender boneless chicken meat which is sweet savoury, and crunchy black fungus / cloud ear fungus with a vegetal earthy sweet flavour. The broth is the star, with shreds of ginger, sesame oil, Shaoxing rice wine, and spring onions, giving it a lovely boozy herbal sweet savoury flavour. Less oily than expected, making it fairly drinkable. Good!

Claypot Wine Chicken With Ginger & Sesame Oil (SGD $15)


Claypot Wine Chicken With Ginger & Sesame Oil
Claypot Wine Chicken With Ginger & Sesame Oil



The Kyoto Pork Ribs (SGD $20) is a signature dish, popular among regulars. Large chunks of bone-in pork ribs are marinated in a piquant sweet and sour gravy, wrapped in aluminum foil, and flambé with sake / rice wine tableside. When unwrapped, the intense aroma of meat and booze entices the palate. The pork ribs are tender and super juicy, with bold meaty savoury sweet sour flavour. While this can be messy to eat, as the thick and luscious gravy drips off the meat, it's so satisfying. Highly recommended!

Kyoto Pork Ribs (SGD $20)


Kyoto Pork Ribs
Kyoto Pork Ribs


Kyoto Pork Ribs



The luxurious Home Made Yam Ring With Pork Ribs King (SGD $30) features a large circular deep-fried yam / taro ring, with a crisp crunch to the exterior, and a soft moist tender interior. The yam / taro is bursting with bold earthy sweet salty flavour. Generously stacked with large morsels of bone-in pork ribs, whose sweet and savoury glaze just drips off when lifted. The pork meat has a firm juicy bite, and the sauce lends a bold taste. Good!

Home Made Yam Ring With Pork Ribs King (SGD $30)


Home Made Yam Ring With Pork Ribs King
Home Made Yam Ring With Pork Ribs King



The Cereal Squid (SGD $18) features fresh, medium sized chunks of squid, coated in cereal oatmeal, and tossed with curry leaves. Bite in, and you get the beautiful non-greasy crunch of the oatmeal, followed by the bouncy tender chew of the squid. Nice savoury salty spice flavours, can almost be eaten like a bar snack. Good!

Cereal Squid (SGD $18)


Cereal Squid
Cereal Squid



The Assam Squid (SGD $18) features fresh bouncy squid with clean sweet savoury flavour, along with tender juicy vegetables and fruits (eggplant / aubergine / brinjal, lady's fingers / okra, tomato, pineapple) having vegetal sweet flavours. All this is coated in the house signature assam gravy, which is rich, thick, and robust in sharp sour sweet spicy flavour. The sting is potent but brief, and actually entices you to go back for more. Highly recommended!

Assam Squid (SGD $18)


Assam Squid
Assam Squid



The Butter & Salted Egg Yolk Crab (SGD $7.50 per 100g, $56.25 per 750g) uses a large, fresh Sri Lankan crab, with tender succulent crab meat. The butter and salted egg yolk gravy is thick and rich, lending bold salty savoury milky flavour to the natural sweet savoury notes of the crab. Messy but satisfying. Served with Fried Mantou Bread (SGD $Complimentary), which has a crisp exterior, a spongy soft interior, and a bready savoury sweet flavour. Sufficient at sponging up all the delicious gravy. Good!

Butter & Salted Egg Yolk Crab (SGD $7.50 per 100g, $56.25 per 750g)


Butter & Salted Egg Yolk Crab
Butter & Salted Egg Yolk Crab


Fried Mantou Bread (SGD $Complimentary)


Fried Mantou Bread
Fried Mantou Bread



Feel conflicted about the Ubin Lala Clam Bee Hoon (SGD $18). It features thin silky rice vermicelli noodles tossed with eggs, fresh Singaporean clams, spring onions, and shallots in a thick, gloopy clam broth. While I like the eggy savoury sweet briny flavours of this dish, the numerous cracked clam shells within were both distracting and dangerous, with some chips being tiny, escaping notice until you bite on it. Would have preferred they cook the clams separately from the dish, then plated it over for a more pleasant experience. Could be improved.

Ubin Lala Clam Bee Hoon (SGD $18)


Ubin Lala Clam Bee Hoon
Ubin Lala Clam Bee Hoon


Ubin Lala Clam Bee Hoon



As named, the Gu Ma Fried Rice (SGD $12) is a homely, comforting staple of a dish. The fried rice has a decent chew to texture, although I notice some sticky clumps. Garnished with fresh deshelled shrimp, eggs, diced broccoli stems, diced char siew pork loin, carrots, and pork floss. These ingredients lend a juicy chewy crunch to texture. The overall flavour is smoky savoury eggy sweet salty, with the wispy pork floss being the most prominent taste on the palate next to the fried rice. Worth ordering!

Gu Ma Fried Rice (SGD $12)


Gu Ma Fried Rice
Gu Ma Fried Rice



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