Sunday, May 21, 2017

BURGS by Project Warung : quality burgers at affordable prices @ Golden Mile Food Centre

BURGS is by Project Warung Pte Ltd, a Muslim-owned company created by Ridz Uan, Lee Syafiq and M Shah Indra, the 3 young chefs who want to change the halal culinary scene in Singapore. This is their first outlet located in the basement of Golden Mile Food Centre, it has just opened about a week ago on 13 May 2017. They aim to serve quality gourmet burgers at affordable prices to accommodate the growing needs of quality halal burgers. 

When I was there, the shutter was down with a notice on it to inform of their adjusted opening hours as they were away for their Friday prayer. I was happy to see their shutter up after 2 pm and I was told apologetically that they will only be ready at 2.30 pm and they even further explained that they went for their prayer earlier. This will be their opening time on every Friday. I went back at 2.30 pm to place my orders. There are quite a few choices on their menu. For beef burgers, there are the Marinara Burger ($4.90), The Classic ($4.50), Mushroom Burger ($5.50), Burg's Breakfast Burger ($6.50) and Burg's Cheese Burger ($5.90). If you prefer the chicken burger, there are Teriyaki Chicken Burger ($5.50), Country Fried Chicken Burger ($5.00) and Burg's 'Seoul' Fried Chicken Burger ($4.50). There are also choices for the fish burger which includes Fish & Chips Burger ($4.50) and Nacho Fish & Chips Burger ($4.90). All the burgers are served with fries or upgrade to onion rings for an additional $1.00. There are also options for sides and add-ons on their menu. 

I went with Mushroom Burger ($5.50) and Country Fried Chicken Burger ($5.00). I wanted to change the fries to onion rings but I was told that it would not be available for the rest of the month as they could not get those quality onions for onion rings. Then, I was asked, "Do you want any side to go along?" I decided to get half a dozen of fried chicken wings for $4.90. I asked for a recommendation when come to choosing the flavour. Lee Syafiq that took my order, said, "I will recommend Honey Soy flavour for the fried chicken wings." The other option is the Korean style. I paid a total of $15.40 and was given a pager to collect the food later. 

When I was taking the picture of their menu, I was asked by M Shah Indra, "How did you get to find out about us?" I replied, "The stalls that I wanted to eat happened to be closed, I was just walking around and spotted your stall. I actually waited for your stall to open."

When collecting the food, I asked, "You buns look special. Do you custom made them?" Ridz Uan answered, "They are from an artisan bakery." They actually have their logo printed on those buns. They mentioned on their Facebook page that only the best ingredients are used for their burgers. 

The Mushroom Burger ($5.50) consists of an American cheese topped beef patty that was well-grilled to medium doneness and served on the artisan buns. It was garnished with a handful of caramelised onions together with a pile of crispy oyster mushroom that added a textural contrast and with nacho cheese sauce. The unique combination is a classic on its own. It was served with a good portion of hand-cut fries. 

The Country Fried Chicken Burger ($5.00) consists of spiced marinated chicken thigh, homemade coleslaw, a sunny-side-up egg and Sriracha Mayo. The fried chicken was nicely fried to the desired crispiness, though a slightly saltish but the homemade coleslaw brought upon a refreshing twist. The texture was further enhanced by the runny egg yolk and it has a slight hint of spiciness from the Sriracha Mayo. And, with the aforementioned ingredients as its toppings, it is one of their special burgers that is not available elsewhere. 

The half a dozen of Honey Soy Fried Chicken Wings ($4.90) was served slightly drizzled with the honey soy sauce then garnished with sesame seeds and chopped spring onions. Those parts that did not coat with the sauce was slightly bland as the chicken itself did not have much flavour. It was nicely fried and it still crispy even after leaving it for a while. 

Lee Syafiq came over to ask, "How was the food?". I said, "I prefer the Mushroom Burger more and the buns are really nice." My dining companion commented, "The fried chicken for the Country Fried Chicken Burger was slightly saltish." He acknowledged and replied, "The chicken patty might be slightly over marinated for today." He handed a copy of their name card and said, "Do check out our Facebook and Instagram."

And, right here, you are getting much better quality burgers at about the same prices with those burgers that are available at the fast food joints. So, which is a better choice? You choose.

505 Beach Road Golden Mile Food Centre #B1-24 SINGAPORE 199583
 Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm / 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm (Monday to Thursday) /
2.30 pm to 9.00 pm (Friday)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jin Chen Coffee Stall : 30 years of hawker business

This traditional old-school hawker stall has been around for more than 30 years. It is a really long time. All things in life change quickly in this rapidly changing environment and it will take more than just the willingness of heart for sustaining and surviving it through the years.  Interestingly, they are quite active on Facebook with the usual updates and sharing.

Darren Tay, 40, better known as Ah Boy, is running the stall with his mother.  The stall started in 1986 as a Vegetarian stall run by his mother, he was already started helping out at the stall then. They converted it to a drink stall in 2008. This is the all-time favourite drink stall of their many regular customers, not just in the food centre but also in Raffles Place. They also offer delivery service within Raffles Place. They serve traditional coffee and tea, canned drinks, homemade drinks, toast bread and bun, soft-boiled eggs, desserts and snacks like Chee Cheong Fun and chwee kueh as well. They are also selling ready packed traditional coffee powder at $5.80 for  250 grammes. 

Their coffee has the right proportional of coffee powder, sugar and condensed milk to give it just the right creaminess and sweetness and even so, after adding ice cubes to make iced coffee. Everything about this stall is just so down-to-earth. Apparently, traditional coffee is not just traditional coffee but it is also a part of our hawker culture and heritage. 

50 Market Street #02-30 Market Street Food Centre SINGAPORE 048940
Operating Hours: 6.30 am to 7.30 pm (Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Aw's Signature Minced Pork Noodles : by a passionate Gen-Y Hawker

It was a rainy morning when I came by this food centre in the quiet estate of Tanglin Halt, near to Commonwealth MRT station. It is about 5 minutes' walk away and you will first come across Tanglin Halt Food Centre, a smaller one near to those old shop houses. This stall is at Commonwealth Drive Food Centre across the road, this food centre is an iconic building in this heritage estate. I used to be attending Blessed Sacrament Church nearby and always hung out with friends and drinking Teh Halia, a ginger tea, in this food centre.

I was there at about 11.30 am and I was their only customer at that time. The owner was seated at the table right beside his stall and his baby was in a baby chair just beside. He stood up when he saw me. I said, "Signature Noodle, eating here.". He asked, "Do you want mee pok or mee kia?" I replied, "Mee pok, extra chilli please." While waiting, I asked, "Can I add braised pork? It looks quite nice." He replied while cooking, "Thank you. You can. That's an extra $2." His wife came back and he said to her, "Signature Noodle with braised pork." Then, she looked at me and said, "The total is $7." I continued waiting for my order to be ready after done with the payment.

Under the "About" on their Facebook Page, it stated, "A Gen-Yper wishing to serve the public with cheap food." This next generation owner is passionate enough to want to make a difference in the hawker trade. 

The menu includes the different types of noodles, like Signature Noodle ($5/$8), Minced Pork Noodle ($3/$5), Handmade Fishball Noodle ($3/$5) and Shredded Chicken Hor fun ($3/$5).

If you like varieties then Signature Noodle is a good choice as it consists of ingredients like prawns, quail egg, meatball, sliced abalone, fish maw, fish dumpling and mushrooms. The noodles were cooked nicely to the right texture with no alkaline taste detected. Though I requested to have an extra amount of chilli to be added but its level of spiciness was still pretty mild. Apparently, the sauce seemingly did not have a distinctive taste thus, overall, it did not taste too memorable. 

It changed my opinion when I took a bite of that braised pork. It was perfectly braised to the right flavour and texture. When done right, such a simple dish could be the best thing that you ever eat. The braised pork is cooked based on a recipe that has passed down from his granny. I will be happy to just order the bigger portion of Braised Pork Noodle at $6, perhaps added with an extra portion of braised pork for another $2 next time.

It is heartening to see the young hawkers wanting to do their part in preserving our hawker heritage. This is particularly crucial as most of the pioneer hawkers are retiring and without the younger ones coming in, the hawker trade is at risk of dying out and might just be gone some day. 

Block 1A Commonwealth Drive #01-08 Commonwealth Drive Food Centre SINGAPORE 141001
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 2.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Mon to Thu) / 
7.30 am to 3.00 pm (Fri & Sat) (Closed on Sundays)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lim's Fried Oyster : the 4-decades old Fried Oyster

Mr and Mrs Lim, the owners, have been selling Fried Oyster in this food centre since 1977, took over the stall from Mr Lim's father. Mr Lim, the 2nd generation hawker, has been helping his father since the 60s from a pushcart along Sam Leong Road.

There is an old-school feel about this fried oyster, something nostalgic about it that made it stood out amongst the others. Mr Lim has skillfully fried it perfectly to achieve the desired texture of having the slight crisp on the surface but still moist within. I really enjoyed it and this has to be one of the best that I have ever eaten. Another favourite is from Hock Kee Fried Oyster at Serangoon Garden Food Centre.

They also offer a wetter and softer version of fried oyster and is often eaten with a spoon, this is particularly popular amongst the elderly customers as it is so soft and it does not require much chewy. It is a less common version that does not often come across in Singapore. Hock Kee Fried Oyster that I mentioned earlier does it too. They also serve Oyster Omelette that has more eggs added to it. 

Mr Lim is still making the batter with 2 different types of house-made chilli to go with the fried oyster. He added the first type to the fried oyster while cooking it and the other is a dipping sauce. Their oysters came from Korea, it is much bigger in size as compared to those from the other stalls. They garnish with coriander leaves before serving it. 

166 Jalan Besar #01-32 Berseh Food Centre SINGAPORE 208877
Operating Hours: 6.00 pm to 12.00 am (Daily)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ah Ho Teochew Kway Teow Mee : a Taste of the Yesteryear

This stall has been around for 4 decades in a small coffee shop at the junction of Verdun Road and Sam Leong Road, serving Teochew style noodles. Mr Liang, the elderly owner in his 70s, is not cooking when I was there, it was cooked by an Auntie while a younger girl was taking the orders. The noodles are priced in between $3 to $5 and the fish dumpling soup is at $4, this is so much cheaper and better tasting than most of the others out there. There was no queue during lunch on a Saturday but with a constant flow of customers while I was there.

It is served with ingredients like slices of lean pork and fish cake, braised mushroom, fishball, minced pork, fish dumpling and dried sole fish, which is also known as tee por.

Their secret ingredient is nonetheless the house-made aromatic chilli, it is made with pork lard and buah keluak, dried chillies and dried shrimp (hak bee), though flavourful but not overly spicy and extremely addictive, it complemented the noodles well. The dried sole fish and crispy pork lards have added crunch as well as the extra flavour.

It was added with well-braised and flavorful sliced mushroom to bring forth the flavours. 

The taste of those fishballs was generic and likely to be factory-made. 

The fish dumplings have a slightly gooey texture and a little slippery with seasoned fish and meat paste wrapped in slightly thick but resilient skin, it is the classic Teochew-style fish dumpling that you do not usually get these days. The pork-based soup was lightly flavoured, without a hint of MSG together with bits of minced pork and fried garlic.

It is a simple pleasure to enjoy such a bowl of noodles but how much longer would such a taste of the yesteryear be around?

12 Verdun Road, Kim San Lee Coffee Shop, SINGAPORE 207278
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

No Name Fish Soup : comforting Sliced Fish Mee Sua

This Fish Soup stall has no name and it used to be a Teochew porridge stall but it was too laborious for the owners so the owners decided to serve Fish Soup instead. Their simple menu include Fish Slice Soup ($4/$5), Fish Head Soup ($5), Fish Porridge ($4/$5), Fish Thick Bee Hoon ($4/$5), Fish Mee Sua ($4/$5), Fish Poh Chai Mee ($4/$5) and white rice is served at 0.50 cents per bowl. 

I was there during lunch, though no queue but there was a constant flow of customers. There was only another customer right in front of me. I went with a $5 portion sliced fish mee sua, it was served in a deeper bowl with a slightly larger portion of mee sua and more slices of fish as compared to the $4 portion. While waiting, I helped myself to their 2 different types of chilli and they do have the fermented bean sauce too, a typical Teochew style of enjoying the sliced fish soup.

I brought it to the table that I used to seat with my late Grandpa for our lunch and coffee sessions. It has been 5 years but it was just like yesterday when he passed on and it brought back lots of fond memories with him whenever I dine here. Our usual noodle stall is no longer around though. 

The soup did not have much taste but those slices of fish tasted relatively fresh, eat it fast before the sua mee turned gooey. Though simple, it is comforting particularly on a rainy day.

Block 341 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 #01-13 Teck Ghee Court Food Centre SINGAPORE 560341
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 2.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Your Nasi Lemak : a Nasi Lemak specialty shop at Sembawang

It started by Fabian Seet, together with the other 2 co-founders, these 3 hoteliers including an executive chef shared the equal passion for nasi lemak and they created Your Nasi Lemak, a Singapore brand. It all started with one of them being a nasi lemak fanatic and his inspiration is for foodies from all over the world to enjoy and savour the best nasi lemak which truly representing Singapore. Their recipe is originated from Macik Som, their Advisor Chef, it is a family recipe that has handed down from generation to generation and together with their Executive Chef, they have perfected the recipe as mentioned on their Facebook page. They are using the traditional cooking methods with carefully selected ingredients for their nasi lemak. It opened on 11 April 2017 at one of those shophouses along Sembawang Road and is just beside Sembawang Shopping Centre.

This is an unassuming neighbourhood eatery, unpretentious and simply furnished. Their menu consists of nasi lemak sets and these sets come with options including fried chicken wing, kuning fish, fish fillet, pong pong otah, fried tempura vegetables, sambal cuttlefish and beef rendang differently, from $5.80 to $6.80. Most of their sets are serving with a sunny-side-up egg, cucumber, ikan bilis with peanuts and sambal chilli. There is also a weekday special during lunch and drinks like Kopi, Teh, Lime Juice, Bandung and Barley are available at just $1 for every $5.80 set ordered.

I wanted to order the Fried Sotong set but was not available and so, I decided to go with the Beef Rendang set ($6.80) and Otah Sundae ($5.80) with an additional piece of chicken wing ($1.60) added together with a canned drink ($1.50). The Beef Rendang set came first, it consists of a generous portion of beef rendang with the usual components.

The aromatic rice was infused with the fragrance of coconut milk and pandan leaves, its texture was fluffy and loose. The ingredients all tasted fresh but I would like the egg yolk to be a little runny. The peanuts and ikan bilis were rather crunchy and the sambal chilli has a slight sweetness with a mild spiciness that lingers on but it would be good if it is less wet. The beef rendang was tender and with just the right amount of spiciness.

The chicken wing was a pleasant surprise, it was coated with a layer of crispy batter that gives it an extra crunch but still juicy beneath, with a subtle turmeric flavour. 

The Otah Sundae, their signature dish is listed as a must-try on their menu. It came 15 minutes later and while waiting, the female service staff came over to inform that it would take a little while longer though she did not say why it was so, a reasonable guess would be the Pong Pong Otah was likely to be freshly made. It came when my dining companion was done with his Beef Rendang Nasi Lemak. 

It consists of a piece of Pong Pong Otah rested on a pile of coconut rice and topped with another coconut rice ball then drizzled with sambal chilli and coconut milk. The Pong Pong Otah was packed with flavours from galangal and lemongrass together with small chunks of fresh fish embedded within, it tasted different from the usual version of otah as it omits the usual spicy paste. It needs a little getting used to and there was also a lack of texture. Perhaps they should have a spicy and non-spicy version of Pong Pong Otah. It was served along with slices of cucumber and peanuts by the side. This is no doubt an innovative creation, though seemed a little gimmicky but also lacking in value as compared to other sets. 

This is pure comfort food at affordable prices in a cosy ambience with friendly service. Do support this Singapore brand if you happen to be in the vicinity, even though there is a famous Chong Pang Nasi Lemak just nearby but this one is worth a try too. 

596B Sembawang Road SINGAPORE 048545
Operating Hours:11.30 am to 9.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Mr Prawnie : Fried Hokkien Big Prawn Mee

Mr Pang Biau Juan, 39, the owner of this Fried Hokkien Mee stall which started in October 2016 in a coffee shop directly opposite Ang Mo Kio MRT station. He started his first chicken rice stall at the tender age of 22 but closed it down a year later due to misspending that led to massive debts. He ended up working for other hawker stalls. He started again at 27 years old and he opened 8 stalls bearing the name Heng Leong Hainanese Chicken Rice but he closed all the stalls when he was 31. He then returned to work at other Chicken Rice stalls and he partnered a hawker at 32 to run a Fried Hokkien Mee and Fried Kway Teow Stall but they split due to some disagreements. He became a runner for loan sharks to settle his debts, he was caught for unlicensed money lending and ended up in jail for 21 months. After his release, he worked different types of jobs before starting Mr Prawnie in October 2016, serving Fried Hokkien Mee. The prices start at $5 for a single serving to $26 for a combo platter with lobster, crayfish and big prawns for 4 pax. He is one of the recipients of $10,000 grant from the Tiger Street Food Support Fund. 

The portion was quite substantial serving with 2 pieces of medium-sized prawns, clams and squids, together with a portion of their house-made sambal chilli by the side. The texture was moist, a little gooey and flavorful, with a slight hint of wok flavour. It was served with a handful of fried pork lards and together with the sambal chilli that brought forth its flavour, though the level of spiciness is quite mild. 

Though not the best Fried Hokkien Mee but it is good enough to satisfy a craving.

Block 721 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 SINGAPORE 560721
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Corner Burger : Wagyu Beef & Cheese Burger in coffee shop

Silas Lim, 29, started this food stall last October with Desmond Yong, his business partner and Ophelia Lim, his girlfriend and also his business partner. He has worked eight years in marketing for a restaurant and then as a bartender at Tippling Club and Smoke & Mirrors followed by head bartender at Ding Dong. The stall is located in Brunners Coffeeshop at the corner of Jago Lane along East Coast Road, this is one of the remaining coffee shops in this area, there used to be another one at the junction of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road but has closed down. They have also founded another stall by the name of Kampung Bowl right next to their current stall in the same coffee shop, serving homely Asian-style rice bowls.

Silas has grown to love burgers during his exchange program in Oregon, America when he was doing an arts degree at NUS. He felt it is difficult to find a good and affordable burger in Singapore thus he decided to start this stall to serve great burgers that he would eat it himself at reasonable prices. He is also one of the recipients of $10,000 grant from the Tiger Street Food Support Fund and he shared part of it with his neighbours at the coffee shop and the rest in equipment. He decided to become a hawker as he is hoping to bring forth a positive change though running a hawker stall is challenging but he perceives this as a starting point. His late grandmother is the inspiration behind this stall as he used to cook and experiment recipes with her at home, most of his recipes are influenced by her cooking.

There are 6 types of burgers on the menu and the most popular has to be their signature Wagyu Beef & Cheese Burger ($13), there are also "Nan Ru" Tonkatsu Burger ($8), Black Pepper Chicken Burger ($7.00), Breakfast Burger ($7), Luncheon Meat & Egg Burger ($6.00) and Canteen Burger ($4.00). Other than burgers, the menu includes Tiger Beer Fish & Chips ($8.00), Pork Chop ($8.00), Chicken Chop ($7.00) and Fries ($3.00). The burgers are served along with thick-cut fries. 

The Wagyu Beef & Cheese Burger ($13) consisting a well-seasoned and firm patty that is made of Australian wagyu chuck and sirloin. It served together with melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato sandwiched in between lightly toasted artisan buns from Enjoue Bakery, an artisan styled bakery at Joo Chiat. The enamelware bowl that it came with brought forth a wave of nostalgia. The patty was nicely charred to give it a slight crisp and still tasted juicy. Those fries were lightly salted and it did not turn soggy even after left it for a while.

Apparently, I did not like their "Nan Ru" Tonkatsu Burger ($8) as much. The pork collar fillets were marinated in the 'nan ru' (fermented tofu) first then breaded and deep-fried, the texture was a bit too hard for my liking and the 'nan' ru' flavor was a little overpowering as well. 

I am looking forward to trying the Breakfast Burger ($7) which consists of harsh brown, luncheon meat, bacon with egg and I will order something from Kampung Bowl when I return.  

228 East Coast Road SINGAPORE 428925
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 2.30 pm / 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cuppage Beef Noodle : so forgettable

I was there near lunch, the food court was unexpectedly quiet and most of the stalls there has no queue. After walking around, I decided to go with the beef noodle. I only wanted sliced meat with beef balls and it costs $6.50. Though slightly pricier, but this is well-expected when dining in an air-conditioned food court particularly in the central part of Singapore. The portion was quite substantial though just that did not expect those slices of beef were really small and thin that I could hardly taste it. The braising sauce was groovy, rather thick and quite tasty, the bowl of soup that served along was quite flavorful, too. The beef balls in the soup tasted like those of the machine-made and were not too memorable, it was served with salted vegetables. 

I was recently at Bull Market Noodle Bar in Lucky Plaza, they serve the same set with a drink for the same price and it came with bigger pieces of beef, which is more value for money.

Apparently, I am not even sure this is one of the original beef noodle stalls that used to be from Cuppage Centre. It claimed that they have been around for 15 years as indicated on a poster displayed at their stall. There are 2 of the other stalls that were from there too, one of them is Hai Nan Xing Zhou Beef Noodle at Kim Keat Palm Food Centre at Toa Payoh Lorong 7 and the other is Hong Kee Beef Noodle that is at Amoy Street Food Centre, both are of equally good standard. How many Beef Noodle stalls were there at Cuppage Centre?

Toa Payoh Hwa Heng Beef Noodles is another noteworthy beef noodle at Bendemeer Food Centre, it usually has a queue and the waiting time is at least 15 minutes or even longer, but it is worth queuing. 

313 Orchard Road #05-01 Food Republic 313@Somerset SINGAPORE 238895
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)