Plum Village: Old-School Hakka Restaurant |
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Plum Village: Old School Hakka Restaurant With Authentic Abacus Seeds, Yong Tau Foo And More

11th April 2024

Plum Village is a Hakka restaurant with 55 years of history

Whether you have Hakka blood or are just interested in experiencing different traditional Chinese cuisines, Plum Village should be on your radar. It’s owned by a 78-year-old Hakka, Lai Fak Nian, and boasts 55 years of heritage. Back in 1969, Mr Lai’s father first opened a humble Hakka restaurant in Toa Payoh. This legacy was continued in 1983 when Mr Lai took over the reins, shifting operations to Plum Village’s current location at Jalan Leban, Ang Mo Kio.

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Plum Village Braised Pork Belly Salt Baked Chicken
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Mr Lai reportedly went on expeditions to various provinces in China back in the ‘80s, to source recipes from Hakka communities. As a result, the restaurant’s Hakka staples like Braised Pork Belly With Preserved Vegetables (from $15++), Salt-Baked Chicken (from $20++), and Abacus Seeds (from $11++) are not only tasty, but 100% authentic and rooted in age-old tradition.

Plum Village Abacus Seeds
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For the uninitiated, abacus seeds are a classic Hakka delicacy comprising disc-shaped dumplings made of pounded yam and tapioca flour. These little cuties are meticulously hand-made, and have a delightfully bouncy chew. They’re stir-fried in oyster sauce with mushrooms and ground pork, creating a savoury flavour bomb. Because it’s time-consuming to prepare, abacus seeds are becoming increasingly rare in Singapore.

Plum Village Hakka Yong Tau Foo
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Another dish that is getting rather challenging to find is Hakka yong tau foo. The yong tau foo that you and I are probably most familiar with is the type that is stuffed with fish paste. For the Hakka version, minced meat is used instead. For Plum Village’s Hakka Stuffed Beancurd (from $8++), the hand-stuffed blocks are fried till there’s a golden crust on both the bean curd and pork mixture, and steamed till the glorious meat juices get extracted.

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Plum Village Pen Cai
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If you’re having a family meal, Plum Village’s Pen Cai ($138++, feeds five) is highly raved about. The claypot holds an abundance of goodies including pork trotters, chicken, fried beancurd skin rolls, and assorted Hakka yong tau foo ingredients such as beancurd, tau pok, and bitter gourd. At $268++, the premium option comes with prawns, scallops, fish maw, and cucumber. Each set is served with stir-fried Longevity Noodles. You and your companions are sure to be satiated, and you even get to keep the claypot!

Plum Village Restaurant
Image credit:
Gohht 13

The atmosphere of Plum Village is homely and super nostalgic. It’s like stepping into decades past, with a simple charm in the Chinese paintings and porcelain vase decor that reminds me of visiting my grandparents’ home. 

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Plum Village Jalan Leban
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Alex Chin

In an interview with Channel News Asia earlier this year, Mr Lai shared that he has plans to wind the business down in perhaps two or three more years. This is largely due to his elderly mum getting on in years, and he shares that there would be no point in running the restaurant when she’s no longer around. 

Whether you’ve yet to visit it for the first time or are a regular diner, it’d be wise to head down to Plum Village and savour their authentic Hakka delights while the restaurant is still in operation. When it shutters, it may not be as easy to find Hakka dishes that are steeped in such rich history and heritage.

For other Chinese cuisines, check out our guide to the best Teochew food places in Singapore, with options from hawker stalls to atas restaurants. You can also explore our list of best Chinese restaurants for some variety amidst your Din Tai Fung and Crystal Jade rotation.

Address: 16 Jalan Leban, Singapore 577554
Opening hours: Thurs-Tue 11am to 2:30pm, 5pm to 9pm
Tel: 6458 9005
Plum Village is not a halal-certified eatery.

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Feature image adapted from @thelosthakka, @thefoodhuntress, @bokettokeeps, Gohht 13.

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