Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Shaker Lakers : East meets West

The stall is started by Gillian Pua, 43, a former technologist that used to be in the IT industry for more than 18 years. Her business partner is Michael Quinn, 42, an Irish national and a permanent resident in Singapore. He has been working in New York for more than 12 years and is married to a Singaporean. Both of them met at Marche at VivoCity. Michael was the Restaurant Manager then and Gillian was working there whilst in between jobs. They started talking about running a hawker stall for about 8 months before realizing it on 9 August 2019 after experimenting with the recipes. They decided on starting a hawker stall as it is an economical choice as compared to operating a cafe. The stall is based on the East meets West concept serving the Western and also the local dishes. They hope to create a new food concept using Asian flavors with Western cooking techniques. 

The main menu consists of Beef Burger ($7.50), Fish and Chips ($9) and Aglio Olio with Bacon and Mushroom ($7.50). There are also interesting choices like Lakers Chicken Merah with rice ($6.50), Hainanese Pork Chop with Rice and Egg ($6.30) and Sambal Prawn Linguine ($8). The prices are kept affordable and everything is made from scratch at the stall. 

I ordered Lakers Chicken Merah with rice for myself and Beef Burger for my dining companion. I was told to come back in 10 minutes for collection. 

Beef Burger consists of a thick patty with cheese, served together with tomato and lettuce, accompanied by potato wedges.  The barbeque sauce was served in a saucer and my dining companion assumed it was tomato sauce so he just left it alone. While eating his burger, he said, "The beef patty though thick and juicy but it did not have much taste." He only realized that saucer was barbeque sauce after he finished the burger, he said, "It should be tastier after added that in." 

He continued to say, "The best burger from a hawker stall is still those from Hammee's at Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre."

Lakers Chicken Merah is based on a Peranakan recipe from Gillian's family. It is a homely dish of simmering fried chicken in spicy tomato sauce. The sauce tasted more like the sambal chilli that is usually for the barbeque stingray and it was different from the usual Ayam Masak Merah. There was a subtle heat from the chillies but not much of sweet and sourish taste.

Interestingly, it was served with 2 pieces of ladyfinger coated in batter then deep-fried. The rice was slightly dry.

This is an interesting stall that is worth revisiting. There are other dishes listed under the "Chef Recommendation" on a standing whiteboard displayed in front of the stall. 

51 Yishun Avenue 11 #01-24 Yishun Park Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 768867
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Tuesdays to Fridays & Sundays) /
10.00 am to 9.00 (Saturdays) (Closed on Mondays)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Kim Kitchen Braised Duck : the owner is only 22 years old

Zip, 22, the owner, is running the stall with Jia Hui, 20, his girlfriend, and they actually look like 19 years old, much younger than their age. Marcus told me about this stall at Beo Crescent Food Centre, it is side by side with another duck rice stall. I said, "A friend told me about your stall. He said the stall is manned by a very young couple and I should come by to support." Zip looked up while cooking, looking very energetic and said, "Need to thank your friend then." He sounded high-spirited. 

I asked, "Did you bid for the stall?" He said, "We did not but took over from the previous owner." I said, "Is the rental high? should be around $2,000?" He nodded. I also asked, "How is the business so far?" He replied, "Still ok." I asked, "Who taught you how to cook?" He said, "My father did." Jia Hui giggled and said, "I came by to help out when there is a shortage of manpower initially but later on just continue to working here full-time." I asked, "You also serve Minced Pork Noodle? You are the first braised duck stall to serve this dish." He chuckled. 

I ordered Kway Chap and added Braised Duck for $7.50. When eating it, I find the taste to be quite familiar as it somewhat reminded me of the braised meat by Mr Lorbak. The overall taste was alright, though a little heavy on the use of five-spice powder and slightly saltish. This is not the best Kway Chap that I ever tasted but I could taste the passion behind it. I believe they would improve along the way if they persist. 

They are the youngest couple manning a hawker stall that I have ever met amongst the many others of different stalls. They reminded me of a saying in Chinese, which is 初生之犊不畏虎, this means "the newborn calf fears no tiger".  It is just so good to be young, to have plenty of time with a good amount of courage to keep trying and doing their part in preserving the hawker culture.  

Do drop by to support the young hawker if you happen to be in the vicinity for breakfast or lunch.

38A Beo Cresecent #01-82 Beo Cresecent Food Centre SINGAPORE 169982
Operating Hours: 6.00 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Thursdays)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Ah Hoe Mee Pok : their new outlet in Ang Mo Kio

Eric Chia, the founder, just started this new stall in a coffee shop at Ang Mo Kio Central on 7 October 2019. I got to know about this from their Facebook. This will be the other outlet apart from their main one located near the Ayer Rajah Food Centre in West Coast Drive. He started a joint venture with some friends in 1999 and with Ah Guan Mee Pok later on before setting up Ah Hoe Mee Pok as his own brand in 2012 in the same coffee shop at Block 501 West Coast Drive before moving to Block 710 Clementi West after the change in ownership of that coffee shop. He was there for about 5 months before moving back to the same coffee shop again.

He taught a few peoples that were interested in this business and they had set up their own stalls with a different name. Amongst them is Mr Naoji Kuribara, a Japanese man. He worked as an apprentice for 6 months before closing his Japanese stall and took over the noodle stall in January 2015 under the same brand name but rebranded to Li Yuan Mee Pok later.

I was there for lunch on their second operation day. I asked, "This stall is not franchised?" The chap at the stall replied, "No. Ah Hoe was here earlier and he just left, went back to the other stall at West Coast Drive." I could not decide what to eat. I said, "I want it with braised mushroom." He replied, "Then, you should take the No 2 on the menu." It stated as Special Mushroom Mee Pok for $6, $8 and $10. I replied, "I will go for the $8 portion." The female assistant suggested I should go for $10 so there will be more ingredients. Some of the items on the menu are not available.

I paid with a $10 note but was given $2.50 as a change. I waited for a while to collect it. I noticed that there was no braised mushroom added to my mee pok. There were only 3 pieces of shell scallops and a few pieces of slices of canned king top. It was served along with a bowl of their special soup.

The first impression of this bowl of noodles was the portion is small and not too filling as compared to what I was served over at Li Yuan Mee Pok. I tossed the mee pok lightly with the chilli and the sauce, the taste did not quite stand out though the mee pok was nicely cooked to the desired texture. I prefer the $5 portion of Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle from Li Yuan Mee Pok to this. A good bowl of mee pok does not need premium ingredients to enhance its taste.

The soup consists of 2 pieces of Teochew dumplings, sliced meat, and cabbage. 

The flavor of the soup was quite light as compared to the one by Li Yuan Mee Pok, I did not quite enjoy it. The Teochew dumplings were much nicer though, the filling was nicely seasoned and not over peppery, encased in smooth and elastic skin.

I am not likely to go back soon as the overall taste is not quite memorable. I actually wonder is this their usual standard? The portion was not too filling. 

Block 721 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 Food Loft Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 560721
Operating Hours: 6.00 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Big Prawn Noodle : a better Prawn Noodle in Ang Mo Kio

A friend on Facebook mentioned this particular stall in quite a remote part of Ang Mo Kio, serving prawn noodle in Ang Mo Kio. I went with my dining companion on a Monday for lunch. There were just another 2 customers in front of us at that time. Bryan, the owner, came from Tanjung Piandang, Malaysia. He started working in a mixed economic rice stall before starting this stall. 

We decided to order the smaller portion of Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle for $5, went for the dry and also the soup option. There is a larger portion for $6. For $5, each bowl is served with 3 pieces of halved average-sized prawn and 3 pieces of pork ribs then topped with fried shallots, served with bean sprouts and kang kong. The prawns tasted relatively fresh. The chill though looked fiery, it was not spicy as expected. 

My dining companion said, "It tasted as good as Joo Chiat Prawn Mee at Ayer Rajah Food Centre, more value for money too." This is definitely better than the once-popular Sumo Big Prawn at AMK 628 Food Centre. 

We went back the second time within a week. After trying the dry and the soup prawn mee, my dining companion said, "I actually prefer the dry one more." I enjoyed the soup one a bit more though. I would think the soup is pretty good, it has an intensified prawn flavor with a slightly sweet taste. It did not taste as good when I was there for the second time. 

This is easier one of the better Prawn Noodles in Ang Mo Kio. I took notice that the coffee shop is usually quiet even during lunchtime. 

Block 443 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 AMK 443 Eating House SINGAPORE 560443
Operating Hours: 6.00 am to 8.00 pm

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Ashes Burnnit : a new muslim-owned burger joint

Lee Syafiq, 26, the owner, started this burger joint on 16 September 2019, taken over the stall where Burgs by Project Warung used to be. He is the co-founder of Burgs by Project Warung, a local burger brand that he started 3 years ago with 2 partners. He used to work for Terra Tokyo Italian, one Michelin-starred restaurant and he met one of his partners there. Syafiq was there to take my order. I asked, "What do you recommend?" He replied, "Do you eat beef? if yes, you might want to try the Truffle Mushroom Burger. If not, the Best of Both World Burger to try everything."  I decided to order Fried Chicken Burger and the Best of Both World Burger. He asked, "Single or double patties?" I said, "Single for the Fried Chicken Burger and double for the Best of Both World Burger". 

While waiting to pay, I asked him, "Is this stall related to the previous one?" I continued to say, "I saw the announcement of the Facebook page of Burgs." He replied, "I am one of the co-founders of Burg. " He also said, "We ever tried to launch a different menu when running Burgs but it caused confusion to our customers. That is the reason we set up this stall to differentiate from them." He said, "We are different team but under the same owner." Nonetheless, a post was issued by Burgs by Project Warung on their Facebook page, claimed that they have ceased operation at Golden Mile Food Centre and they are not affiliated with the current stall. What exactly is going on? Theoretically, it was right to say that it is a different team but the same owner as he co-founded Burgs. 

A buzzer was given after paying up and it buzzed in just a while. Both burgers are served with fries. The Best of Both World Burger is $9.00 for the single patty and $11.50 for double patties. It consists of 2 handcrafted beef patties, smoked turkey bacon, parmesan mozzarella cheese that is added to the mac n cheese as described on their menu board. 

I felt the beef patties were a bit too dry and not as flavorful. It is a unique creation but it did not taste too special and not quite memorable. I did not like charcoal buns, the texture was not fluffy enough and a little too dry.

My dining companion said, "The texture of fries is crispy but it did not seem to have much taste. The mac n cheese also did not have much cheese taste." 

The Fried Chicken Burger is $5.90 for the single patty and $7.90 for the double patties. The burger consists of a piece of fried chicken as patty served with sriracha mayonnaise and lettuce. 

My dining companion said, 'It is the sauce that makes it special, other than it is just a normal Fried Chicken Burger that did not quite stand out."

There are other interesting burgers on the menu, like Ashes Smash Cheese Burger, Truffle Mushroom Burger, and Grilled Chicken Burger as well as the Froissant, icecream-filled croissant to try.

505 Beach Road #B1-24 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Friday, October 4, 2019

多记 驰名猪肠粉 芋头糕 : the popular breakfast choice

It was sold out when I was there for the first time, the last customer bought the last portion right before me at 10.30 am. It was also sold out when I was there for the second time at 10.05 am, the light of the signboard was already off. The third time, I managed to reach there at 9.30 am. I saw from afar that the light of signboard was on. I got excited as that was a good sign. I walked a little faster and there was just another customer in front. The third time is the charm and it is really third time lucky. This stall has been around since the 1970s. 

I joined in and queue, waited patiently. When it was my turn to order, I said, "$2 Chee Cheong Fun and $2 Yam Cake." The lady replied, "The Yam Cake has finished." And, I said, "$3 Chee Cheong Fun then. Eating here." She asked, "With everything?" I smiled and nodded. She handed me the disposable plate with my Chee Cheong Fun and a pair of disposable chopsticks. 

I could not wait and took a picture of the Chee Cheong Fun then sent it to my dining companion on Line. He replied, "Finally get to eat. Nice or not?" I replied, "Nice!" The rice flour rolls were cut into pieces using a scissor in a fast motion then served in a pool of sweet sauce then drizzled with chilli sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. They do not make those Chee Cheong Fun but got them from a supplier. Though factory-made, it was soft and did not taste like it. Such an old school taste is just so delightful and it left me feeling happy.

多记 驰名猪肠粉 芋头糕 
335 Smith Street #02-216 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 7.00 am till sold out (Closed on Mondays & Wednesdays)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Leong Yeow : the famous Waterloo Street Hainanse Chicken Rice

This chicken rice that has been around for more than 4 decades might not be listed in the Bib Gourmand and it might not be the best chicken rice but it is a personal favorite. It has been handed down from the mother to the son. And, I have been eating there for more than a decade. I was there often for lunch when I worked temporarily near there. Though I do not get to eat it often these days, I will still make an effort to drop by whenever I am in the vicinity.

I was excited when there was no queue at 11.40 pm on a weekday as the queue is usually long during lunch or even after lunch. The queue started to form when I finished and about to leave. The mother, who is likely to be in her 80s, was there. She took my order, I wanted the mixture of poached and roasted chicken with rice. She asked, "For 1 person?" I nodded my head. She said, "That will be $6." 

The poached and the roasted chicken are equally good though I prefer the latter a little more. The rice is grainy with a light fragrance of chicken stock and not too greasy. The chilli is spicy, not quite diluted with a slight garlicky taste. The portion is good and not "slightly insufficient for its price" as described in a certain blog.

This is, in my humble opinion, better than the other chicken rice that is listed in the Bib Gourmand. It is my comfort food. This is one of the affordable choices if you happen to be near City Hall MRT or Dhoby Ghaut MRT. 

Block 261 Waterloo Street SINGAPORE 180261
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 8.30 pm 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Weng Kiang Kee Porridge : comfort food

Charlie Chang, 58, a regular of Joe Pork Porridge took over the stall once it was vacated by bidding for it and started selling porridge too. Joe, the owner of Joe Pork Porridge retired and sold its business to a Chinese Pr but things just did not work out and it has already closed last year. Charlie has about 30 years of kitchen experiences, working in Ritz Carlton, Raffles Hotel, Crown Prince Hotel, Oriental Hotel, Fullerton Hotel and also working in Beijing and Miami, USA. He was the Executive Chef in the Grand Millennium Hotel in Beijing before returning to Singapore. He set up the stall with Philomena, his wife, and Stephen Sim, his partner, a supplier of produce and meats that source for ingredients for the stall. He is hoping to preserve the food culture despite having to endure the long hours and also demanding customers. 

I wanted to try his Premium Porridge ($5) and the Triple Egg Porridge ($3.50) at the same time. The pieces are kept low despite using premium ingredients. When ordering, I asked, "Can I order the Premium Porridge and added the triple egg to it?" His wife asked him and he suggested I should order the Triple Egg Porridge and added lean meat or minced pork balls. I decided to heed his suggestion and ordered Triple Egg Porridge with minced pork balls. I was given a number tag and asked to come back in about 25 minutes.

The Triple Egg Porridge is cooked using the premium Jasmine rice and it is served with century egg, salted egg, and poached egg. The salted egg is nicely flattened to look like a disc. To start, drizzled with a little soya sauce and a dash of white pepper as it is purposely underseasoned as some of the customers are those elderly folks and they usually want it less salty. 

The porridge was rich, smooth and the right thickness, it tasted towards the traditional Hainanese style porridge, its texture is slightly more grainy. Each bowl is cooked individually to achieve the right texture.

Go early if you are interested to try as they usually sold out before 1 pm. 

335 Smith Street #02-082 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Joo Chiat Prawn Mee : Lost & Found

This stall used to be at 15 Crane Road in Joo Chiat but closed in January 2015.  Madam Lee Xiu Chun, the owner, is running the stall with her son-in-law. Mr Lee Pi Duan, her father, started Beach Road Prawn Mee in the coffee shop opposite Blanco Court in 1936 after a friend from Xiamen, China shared the recipe and taught him in cooking it. Her was likely to be the first to serve this unique Singapore style hawker dish. He was also the one that taught the founder of 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles to cook the dish. Mr Lee Seng Hoon, her eldest brother took over the stall after her father passed away in 1956 before moving to Beach Road. He created the dry version of prawn mee and John Lee, his eldest son, started Beach Road Prawn Noodle House at East Coast Road. The same recipe is supposedly also used by the other family members, the Jalan Sultan Prawn Mee in Jalan Ayer by the son of her older sister and Blanco Court Prawn Mee in Jalan Kayu by the other sister. 

I ordered the medium portion of Pork Ribs Prawn Mee for $5 and opted for yellow noodles, the kway teow was already sold out and so the other option is bee hoon. The smallest portion is for $4 and the largest portion is for $6. There are also Pork Rib Pig's Tail Mee ($5/$6) and Pig's Tail Prawn Mee ($5/$6) on the menu.

My dining companion tossed the noodles and had his first mouthful followed by another then said, "It is nice. It would even be better if there are crispy lard added." I did not get to try when they were at their previous location so this would be my first time eating at this stall though I have tried the other prawn noodles that mentioned earlier. It was quite enjoyable, the level of spiciness was manageable and it complimented the nicely cooked yellow noodles well. The pork ribs were of the right texture, tender enough but not overly so. The prawns were of medium-sized and it tasted relatively fresh. It was topped with fried shallots. 

The soup tasted of a slight hint of prawn flavor, nicely flavored. 

This stall is a worthy option for lunch if you happen to be here. 

Block 503 West Coast Drive #01-35 Ayer Rajah Food Centre SINGAPORE 120503
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Quan Ji : Teochew noodle in Ang Mo Kio

Ivan and Chun Siang, both are 25 years old and they are the owners of this a month old noodle stall in Ang Mo Kio. They met at Singapore Polytechnic when doing a Diploma in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Ivan, took a year off from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to start this noodle stall with Chun Siang, a fresh graduate from NTU. The recipe is based on the grandfather of Ivan's wife that started selling the noodles in 1965. The original stall is still located at Bedok Interchange. 

Their signature noodle ($3.50/$4.50) is Minced Meat Fishball Noodle, it consists of noodles with minced meat, sliced meat, meatball, fishball and slices of fishcake. Vinegar is not commonly used in Teochew style noodles and it was omitted. The Mee Pok and Mee Kia were sold out when I was there for lunch so I decided to have Mee Tai Mak. I also ordered Laksa. I was given a number and it will be shouted out when it is ready for collection. We waited for about 15 minutes before it was ready.

The dry Mee Tai Mak was for my dining companion. He took a mouthful and asked, "Did you request for extra amount of chilli to be added? It is quite spicy." I did not request for extra chilli to be added. The chilli was surprisingly nice but it might be a bit too spicy for those that have little tolerance towards spiciness. 

The Laksa tasted just like any of those available at any hawker stalls that are serving this dish. The gravy was light and kind of diluted with little coconut taste, it did not taste too spicy.

It was served with prawns to replace the cockles together with other ingredients like slices of fishcake and tau pok. 

Apparently, the 2 young owners are not doing the cooking. It was cooked by their helper, an elderly lady that is hired to do the cooking. It reminded me of Douglas Ng of Fishball Story. It used to be good when he started his first stall at Golden Mile Food Centre but the standard dropped quite a bit when he started to hire cooks to man the stall. He went about franchising to expand the business but all these franchised stalls were only around for a while before closing down.

Block 260 Ang Mo Kio Street 21 SINGAPORE 560260
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Claypot & Cooked Food Kitchen : Cheap & Good Cantonese style cze char

This humble stall that does not even have a name is a hidden gem amongst the other popular food stalls at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Uncle Hong (洪哥), the owner cum chef, has about 40 years of culinary experiences. He was trained under Chef Tham Mui Kam, one of the legendary Four Heavenly Kings that specialized in Cantonese Cuisine before starting his stall at Silat and moving to Chinatown Complex Food Centre much later. He is still manning the stall with his wife. The menu is quite extensive and there are also a few dishes that are off the menu like Glutinous Rice Chicken (Lo Mai Kai). Most of the dishes are served in the claypot.

There were already some of the regular customers seated at the tables near to the stall waiting for their orders when I was there. I stood in front of the stall for a few minutes, the elderly auntie was busy getting those freshly out of the wok dishes to be served. I waited for a while before telling her that I want to order. I wanted to order Deep Fried Salt and Pepper Squid but was told it is not available. I tried ordering Salted Fish Minced Chicken ($7) and Prawn Paste Chicken ($8) with 2 bowls of rice ($0.50 each). I wanted to try their signature Claypot Pork Liver but did not order as my dining companion does not eat it. I left my table number with her.

While waiting, I went to order the glutinous rice from the stall right at the corner. The friendly uncle there asked me to take the late plate of yam cake as well. I brought it back to our table and told my dining companion to eat these while waiting. We waited for about 45 minutes before it was served to our table.

Salted Fish Minced Chicken ($7) was a pleasant surprise. Though this is a simple dish but was perfectly executed. You could actually taste bits of salted fish amongst the chicken, tofu, onions, green pepper, and chilli. It went really well with rice. The homely taste is quite memorable. Prawn Paste Chicken ($8) is my favorite dish to order at different cze char places. It was quite a big portion for $8 and chicken parts were used instead of the usual chicken wings. My dining companion tasted and said, "This is very good. I would think it is one of the better ones. Those chicken pieces were flavorful and deep-fried for the desired crispiness."

I was told that the uncle can be temperamental and might close the stall earlier depending on his mood. He is one of those pioneer hawkers left but not for much longer before he retires. He reminded me of the late Uncle Hai Zai (虾叔) of Mitzi (美食之家) and Master Tang that have already passed on. This should that kind of hawker stall that truly deserved to be awarded a Michelin-star. Again, for a self reason, I am hoping that Michelin will never find this stall.

I was surprised to see the stall has already opened at 10.30 am when I went back to try the Claypot Pig Liver and I ordered a bowl of rice to go with it. I pointed to the corner of the long table in front of the stall when I was asked for the table number. I went to get the iced coffee from the stall behind and went to wait at that table. I waited for less than 5 minutes before it was served.

Those slices of liver were of the right thickness and size, nicely stir-fried with ginger, spring onion, and garlic. The texture of liver was tender, not overly powdery and not gamey. It was served sizzling hot in the claypot, aromatic with a slight smokiness and the tenderness remained throughout the meal. The tasty gravy went well with the rice. It is cheap and good for just $8, the same dish is for $15 over at Keng Eng Kee Seafood, it is their signature dish too.

335 Smith Street #02-83 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 6.30 pm (Closed on Saturdays & Sundays)