Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Chye Lye Ah Ma Mee Sua : a hearty choice

The stall is started by Mr Ong Chye Lye and he has another noodle stall at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre serving Lor Mee and Prawn Mee since 2016. This stall is likely to have the longest queue in this food centre. There was a queue as early as 11 am and I joined it. I waited for about 10 minutes before ordering. I ordered the mee sua ($4) added $1 for extra ingredients. The auntie that took my order asked, "Do you also want to add mee sua for $0.50?" I did not want it. There are also Ma Ma Sheng Mian ($4.50) and Mee Tai Mu Soup ($2.80) on the menu. Each bowl is cooked upon order.

It was a bowl of hearty mee sua served with ingredients like meatballs, sliced pork, thick slices of liver, stewed mushrooms, prawns and a poached egg. It was topped with finely sliced then fried ginger, spring onion and coriander with a dash of Chinese wine to enhance its flavor and fragrance. Those large meatballs were quite tasty but the liver was a little powdery. The texture of mee sua was just right and it did not turn soggy even after soaked in the soup for a while. It actually tasted like a confinement dish and I did not taste any MSG in it.

I have tried the Kidney Mee Sua at Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup which was also as good though are quite different in taste. 

This is a homely dish that every Ah Ma (grandma) would be likely to cook at home, it is simple and satisfying as well as a healthier alternative for lunch and dinner.

676 Woodlands Drive 71 #02-21 Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 730676
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 3.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 8.30 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Beef Up : Halal-certified Taiwanese food

This stall is started by Jeremy, Ronald, and Rohaizzatd using a recipe from Jeremy's mother who is a Taiwanese. This is probably the only halal-certified Taiwanese food in Singapore. It is located at Grains & Hops Food Court Bistro in the industrial area of Toa Payoh North. I ordered the Beef Noodle ($6.50/$8.00) and I was asked to choose between the 2 different types of handmade noodles, the thinner type and the broader type like those noodles at the ban mian stalls. I also ordered Chicken Cutlet Rice Set ($7.00) and Chicken Bits ($3.00). I was asked to choose between Black Pepper, Seaweed and Plum which I opted for Seaweed. I am not adventurous enough to try their Braised Chicken Lu Rou Fan, which is different from the traditional Lu Rou Fan that is using the pork belly.

I was not informed that I will have to look out for the number on LED panel and match it against the number on the receipt for collection. I actually waited at the counter for a bit before realizing it. I waited for close to 25 minutes before the Beef Noodle was ready. I was told to come back later for the Chicken Cutlet Bento and the Chicken Bits. I waited for another 10 minutes or so and it is still not ready. I chatted with another customer that has also waited quite long for her order. There was only 2 of them manning the stall, one was doing the cooking and the other was attending to the customers. 

Those beef chunks were a bit too lean thus it did not taste as soft as I liked it. My dining companion used to work in Taiwan and he felt that the Beef Noodle has a certain resemblance to what he used to eat there. He said, "It is quite nice. It would be even nicer if the beef is slightly fattier." 

The Chicken Cutlet Rice Set was quite disappointing. The chicken cutlet tasted quite bland. My dining companion, said, "I would expect them to sprinkle some chilli powder like how it usually served the chicken cutlet in Taiwan." He also said, "They are using the normal rice and not the more expensive pearl rice." It was served with pieces of carrot and cucumber together with preserved radish that did not have much taste. 

The Chicken Bits have already turned cold when it was served. It tasted equally bland as I could not taste the seaweed seasoning that it was supposed to have.

I do not think I liked it enough to come back again soon.

Block 978 Toa Payoh North #02-01 SINGAPORE 319001
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Traditional Famous Prawn Mee : Lor Mee

I used to eat this with my late Grandpa at one of these usual makan places near Teck Ghee Court Market & Food Centre. I could not quite believe how time has flown and he has been gone for 7 years. Grandpa always ordered their Prawn Mee as he did not like the Lor Mee. This is one of the few places that are still around. I have not been eating here regularly ever since the passing of my dearest Grandpa. I could not even remember when was the last time. 

There was just another person in front of me when I was there for lunch, the queue was much longer when it reached 12 pm. It used to have 2 sizes to choose but there is only left with a single selection at $4 and I added $1 for extra ingredients like the braised egg, braised meat, and fried fish nuggets. When it was placed on my tray, the nice chap that took my order pointed at one of the bottles of dark sauce, said, "This is the vinegar." I was wearing a headphone then and he still made an effort to inform me. 

The braised sauce though flavorful but was a little runny, it was enhanced by adding the vinegar, minced garlic, chilli paste, and red cut chilli. The flat yellow noodles were nicely cooked to the right texture. 

This might not be the best Lor Mee but the familiar taste is so alluring. I was missing my Grandpa terribly when eating this alone and there is still a lingering emptiness since his passing.

Block 338 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 #01-1639 SINGAPORE 560338
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 2.00 pm

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Carrot Cubes : by a new generation hawker

Claire Huang, the owner of this recently opened stall in a coffee shop at Ang Mo Kio, serving 4 different types of carrot cake. There are the choices of traditional White Carrot Cake ($3/$4), Black Carrot Cake ($3/$4), Hottie Carrot Cake ($4/$5), and Bacon & Cube carrot cake ($5/$6). The Hottie Carrot Cake is served with Thai chilli and the Bacon & Cube is the fusion version with the addition of bacon cubes. I am not adventurous enough to try either and so I stick with the regular black carrot cake. Claire took my order with a welcoming smile. There was just another customer in front of me even though it was the lunch hour. 

Claire's father is a supplier of handmade carrot cakes to the other stalls for more than 20 years. It is those big metal trays of carrot cake that you often see in some carrot cake stalls. 

I waited for just a while for it to be ready. When I handed it to me, Claire said, "Be careful, it is hot." I usually like to have my black carrot cake with coffee so I ordered one to go along. I was excited to taste it but the first bite was slightly disappointing. The homemade black sauce is a bit too sweet to my liking. I could taste the saltiness but it did not come from the preserved radish (chai poh) which I could not taste much of it. The texture of the carrot cake was soft though. It did not turn out to be "very good" as mentioned by a prominent blogger. My Facebook friend tried the white carrot cake, he felt that the flavor and saltiness were fairly light and he would prefer those pieces of carrot cake covered in egg with more minced garlic and chai poh added. 

Claire is still new in the trade and to give it more time, she will make the improvement. We should support the younger hawker and it is definitely encouraging to see a new generation hawker striving to do her best to preserve the hawker culture. 

Block 339 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 FoodPark Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 560339
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 5.30 pm (Daily)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup : kidney mee sua

I have heard about their signature Kidney Mee Sua but have not been in that part of Singapore to try it. I was near there recently and managed to drop by for lunch. It is located within walking distance from Kembangan MRT. I was there for an early lunch and was told to go over to the shop next to it to order. There was a lady at the counter beside the menu board, busily taking orders.

I have already made up my mind to try their highly raved Kidney Mee Sua. The lady that was taking my order asked, "Do you want it with just the kidney?" I replied, "I want it with liver too." I was asked to take a seat as it will be served to the table later. While waiting, I ordered a Luo Han Guo Herbal Drink for $2.00. The mee sua was brought over by a man and the same lady came by a little while later to collect $5.50 as payment. 

It consists of a substantial portion of mee sua with ingredients like the kidney, liver and also pieces of lean meat. The mee sua was not mushy even after soaked in the soup for a while. The soup was light with a slight herbal taste. The kidney and liver were cooked just right too. I actually enjoyed this simple yet comfort dish. Their signature Black Chicken is another must-try dish and I would have ordered it if I was not eating alone. 

This is a popular place for supper as they operate till 4 am daily. 

467 Changi Road SINGAPORE 419887
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 4.00 am (Daily)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Blanco Court Fried Fish Noodles : the original stall from Blanco Court?

There used to be a stall serving fried fish soup at the Blanco Court that was demolished in 1997. Blanco Court used to be at the junction of Ophir Road and North Bridge Road where the Raffles Hospital is situated. There were some famous stalls there selling Kway Chap, Wanton Mee, Prawn Mee and more there,  a particular stall with the same stall name was one of the popular stalls there with a long queue. This stall used to be at the coffee shop just a few steps away before moving to this shop along Beach Road.

The queue started forming when I was there at about 11.30 pm. I ordered the smallest serving of Mixed Soup at $7 and there is also a larger portion at $10. There are also Steamed Fish Soup ($6/$10), Fried Fish Soup ($6/$10) and Fish Head Soup ($6/$10). There are also side dishes like Prawn Egg ($7), Fried Spinach ($7), Prawn Roll ($10), Fried Chicken Wing ($10), Deep-fried Batang Fish ($10) and Black Bean Fish Head Bitter Gourd ($15). You are expected to order at the counter and paying up as it is self-service then wait for your order there.

It was served with Sayur Manis, commonly known as mani cai and bits of the deep-fried egg together with the fried fish and sliced fish. Those fish tasted relatively fresh but were in small pieces, the portion was not quite substantial and the price is a little on the high side too. I am not certain this is the same stall from Blanco Court as it did not taste quite the same from what I remembered. 

325 Beach Road SINGAPORE 199566
Operating Hours: 9.30 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Potong Curry Rice . Porridge . Fish Head

There was still a queue even after 2 pm and I decided to join in. When it was my turn to order, I opted to have fried pork chop, curry chicken and stir-fried shark fish for $5.50. The choices were nothing fanciful, the taste was simple yet satisfying that reminded me of home.

Though not like the best tasting curry rice that I have tasted, I find comfort in it. 

Block 210 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 #01-58 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Food Centre SINGAPORE 310210

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Madam Leong 板面 : Hakka-style Ban Mian

Vivian Leong, 43, started her stall in October 2015 in a coffee shop at Holland Close, serving Hakka-style ban mian. Ban Mian is a common noodle dish consisting of handmade noodles, served dry or in soup. She is a single mother with a teenage daughter. And, she decided to turn her passion for cooking into reality and making a living out of it, this has given her hope. Life has never been a bed of roses for her and at a certain point, she even contemplated the thought of ending her own life when she was left feeling depressed and abandoned after an unwanted divorce in 2012. She was jobless and penniless then but the pleading of her daughter brought her to her senses. She started working as a Kitchen Assistant before eventually opened her own stall after she met a kind owner of a coffee shop that offered her a stall with no deposit. She has recently moved her stall to Amoy Street Food Centre about 2 weeks ago.

I was greeted by the smiley Vivian. She actually looks much younger than her age. She asked, "What do you want to eat?" Her bubbliness was quite infectious. I pointed to the picture of the  Dry Chilli Ban Mian with a "Must Try" printed on it and said, "This. Can I add braised pork to it?" She said, "Can but not worth it." I asked, "Why?" She replied, "You have to pay an extra $2." I decided to order it. When she just started, there were only the soup and the dry ban mian but there are Mee Hoon Kueh (dry/soup) ($4/$5), Dry Chilli Ban Mian ($4.5/$5.50), Ban Mian ($4/$5), Braised Pork with Black Fungus ($5/$6) and Tom Yum Chicken Ban Mian ($5/$6) on the menu now.

While she was cooking, I asked, "Why did you move from Holland Close to here? The coffee shop is quite quiet, right? I used to stay around there." I also asked, "The business is much better here?" She smiled and said, "Much better. The queue is really long during lunch." I asked, "Why did you decide to start a stall in that coffee shop?" She said, "I used to stay at that block." I asked, "Where did you move to?" She answered, "I moved to Clementi." I said, "Why you did not move the stall there? That food centre is always crowded." She replied, "The rental is not cheap." I was surprised and asked, "I thought the rental would be equally expensive in this food centre. The rental should be more than $3,000?" she nodded. I said, "It is not easy to be a hawker, right?" She smiled and replied, "I am used to it and that is why I am always happy every day." I told her, "You have added me on Facebook lately." She asked, "Oh, What is your name? I have added a few friends recently." When she served the ban mian, she said, "Hope you enjoy it. Thank you, Cecilia"

Vivian is originated from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and moved to Singapore after she got married. Her ban mian is towards the Malaysia style and is different from the others here. She did not even serve it with an egg when she just started and will only add it in upon request as it is not common for ban mian to serve with egg in Malaysia. She is using a traditional recipe that passed down her mother. She is hoping to share it by cooking for her customers. The noodles are made fresh daily with no MSG or preservatives added.

She is still cooking with love and passion. When you do it with your heart, it just tasted different. Each bowl of lovingly cooked ban mian consists of a few pieces of braised meat, mushrooms, minced meat with a poached egg then garnished with dried shallots and ikan bilis, tossed with the dark soya sauce and the homemade sambal belachan. It has a home-cooked taste and the ingredients tasted fresh, the noodles were cooked well to the right firmness and springiness. It was served along with the special homemade sambal belachan.

Go support and try her ban mian if you happen to be in this food centre. 

7 Maxwell Road #02-109 Amoy Street Food Centre SINGAPORE 069111
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tong Tai Hainanese Scissors Curry Rice : homely feel

I was there for a late lunch and most of the dishes have already finished and even so, there was still a short queue, a few customers in front of me and another few customers right after. I went with whatever choices that were left. I opted for the fried pork chop, braised pork and also, the braised cabbage for just $4.00. The whole plate of rice was nicely drenched in curry gravy, exactly how I liked it. 

The braised pork was nicely cooked to desired softness. The thinly sliced breaded pork chop still retained a slight crisp and tasted tender. The braised cabbage was soft but not mushy. The curry sauce was a combination of 2 different types of sauces, it was rather thick and flavorful. It might not look like it but it was actually quite appetizing. All the dishes have a homely feel.

17 Upper Boon Keng Road #01-31 Upper Boon Keng Food Centre SINGAPORE 380017

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Hai Kee Seafood : comfort food

This was one of the stalls with a long queue during lunch on a weekday. Most of these customers were likely to be the office workers working nearby. Though the queue was quite long, it moved rather quickly. I did not wait for too long to order the 2 Combination Soup ($4.00) that listed as item number 6 on their signboard and I wanted it with rice ($0.50). I was asked to try this stall by a friend after I posted a review on another stall serving seafood soup at Eunos Crescent Food Centre. 

Most of the tables were taken up during lunch. As I was alone, I had to carry the tray and walked to the other end of the food centre to find a table. 

The 2 Combination Soup consists of sliced fish together with the fried ones and a generous amount of lettuce. The clear soup was lightly flavored and those slices of fish tasted relatively fresh, it went well with rice. I would likely eat it again when I am in the vicinity. 

Block 210 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 #01-18 Lorong 8 Toa Payoh Food Centre SINGAPORE 310210

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Hoy Yong Seafood Restaurant : one of the best Cze Cha places

This stall is manned by Chef Hoy Yong in his 60s and he is the disciple of one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Singapore, these were the titles given to 4 young talented chefs back in the 1970s by a local Chinese Culinary Institution. This stall has made it to the Top 50 World Street Food Masters list by Makansutra in June 2017. It is located in a coffee shop called Hup Koon Restaurant in Clementi Avenue 2, directly opposite the food centre. There are 3 must-try dishes on the menu, Fried Duck Roll, Pig Stomach Soup and Braised Pork Ribs. Some of the other dishes are uniquely created and you would not be able to find it elsewhere. 

Fried Hor Fun, is a common street food easily available at every cze cha stall. Even so, it is getting really difficult to find a plate of good hor fun these days. Their Egg Fried Hor Fun is strongly recommended and supposedly one of the best in Singapore. The Hor Fun here consists of nicely charred soft flat rice noodles soaked in thick gravy and served with ingredients like vegetable, prawns, sotong, slices of lean meat with a lot of beaten egg. I could actually smell the wok fragrance when my friend stirred it a little before scooping a portion of it. This is definitely one of the better Egg Fried Hor Fun that I have eaten unlike most of the others that have thin and not as flavorful gravy with almost tasteless flat rice noodles.

The deep-fried Duck Roll ($10) is quite an interesting eat. I wanted to order a larger portion but the friendly Auntie that was taking my order, asked, "For how many people?" I replied, "Just 4." She said, "Just 1 portion will do, it is more than enough." The duck was first deboned, leaving the skin on then pound it thinner before steaming it. It was then used it to roll up with minced pork, prawn, coriander, carrot and mushroom, dip it in the tempura batter before deep-frying it. My friends that tasted it for the first time, actually wowed by its flavor and texture, the exterior was crispy and still moist within. 

Braised Pork Ribs served in a pool of braised sauce accompanied by a few stalks of choy sum. I did not find it particularly impressive but my friends enjoyed it. The meat was tender and quite flavorful, the sauce was quite tasty, too.

Golden Bean Skin Roll tasted like the fried prawn roll from most of the dim sum stalls, it was served along with a saucer of mayonnaise. This was another enjoyable dish. 

French Bean with Dried Shrimp is another dish that we liked. We wanted to order the Bittergourd with Salted Egg but I was told it is not available on that day. The deep-fried french beans were served with a generous amount of dried shrimp with red-cut chilli. My friend tasted it and he said, "This is a good choice as it tasted really nice."

Mongolian Tofu came with a few pieces of beancurd beneath the pile of ingredients consisting bell pepper, basil leaves, diced chicken, onion, mushroom, and roasted peanuts. This is also one of the recommended dishes that we tried. It is indicated as a spicy dish on their menu but the level of spiciness was actually quite mild. We agreed that the sauce actually tasted like the curry sauce. My friend said, "The beancurd is really soft."

Pig Stomach Soup is a homely dish that my late Grandpa used to cook quite often and this particular dish reminded me of him. The auntie actually left it out and we waited but it did not serve. I went back to her and added it. The soup did not taste as peppery as expected. Other than a few big pieces of pig stomach, it also consists of chicken feet, canned whole mushroom, and fish maw with wolfberries. 

The waiting time could be really long if you come during their peak period. The prices here are very affordable as I paid only $86 for the all the dishes ordered. This is definitely one of the better cze cha places in Singapore.

Block 352 Clementi Avenue 2 #01-153 SINGAPORE 1200352
Operating Hours: 5.30 pm to 10.30 pm (Daily)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Mei Mei Roast : the alternative to Kay Lee Roast Meat

Madam Lee Kui In, 56, better known by her nickname, Mei Mei (妹妹), which means younger sister, is the younger sister of the founder of famous Kay Lee Roast Meat that sold their recipe for $4 million to Aztech Group in 2014. She used to work for Kay Lee Roast Meat for a good 15 years before starting this stall with her husband at the canteen in an industrial building more than a decade ago, serving old style Cantonese roast meats. 

I was there on the last day of 2018 for lunch. There was a regular customer came by to take away and another customer ordered half a roasted duck and $10 worth of roasted meat with 2 plates of rice. As it is not difficult to tell from their uniforms that these regular customers are wearing that they are mostly the mechanics working in the machine shops nearby. While ordering, I caught sight of an Apollo oven right behind the stall. I ordered a single serving of a roasted duck, roast pork and char siew ($7.00) with a plate of rice ($0.50). The friendly assistant asked, "Any soup?" and I went with a Lotus Root Soup ($4).

The Char Siew tasted like those from Kay Lee Roast Meat though not quite the same, it was nicely charred, not as dark in color, also not as sweet and sticky. It was actually quite good but my dining companion said, "After eating the Char Siew from Roast Paradise, most of the others just seemed so mediocre."

The duck came with a thin layer of skin, the meat did not have gamey taste and tasted quite flavorful. The roast pork had a good proportion of fat and lean meat, it tasted moist and with a slightly crisp skin.

The Lotus Root Soup consists of slices of lotus root, pork ribs with rice beans.

This was my first time came across these beans and actually wondered what are these. My dining companion said, "It looks like rice but tasted like beans." I posted the picture online and was told these are the rice beans, the Chinese name is 赤小豆, it supposed to have certain nutritional aspects. 

This stall is a good alternative to the Kay Lee Roast Meat as their standard is going south after setting up the central kitchen and opening of more outlets. I remember talking to KF Seetoh about their declining standard after the acquisition by Aztech Group and he said, "They should just stick to do what they are best in doing."

Block 3014 Ubi Road 1 #01-308 SINGAPORE 408702
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 5.00 pm (Mon to Fri) / 11.00 am to 3.00 pm (Sun & Public Holiday)