Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Simon Road Fried Oyster : Lost & Found

This stall has been around for more than 30 years, they started in this coffee shop at the corner of Simon Road before moving to the coffee shop next to it when this coffee shop was undergoing renovation. Mr Lim Seng Hong that started this famous hawker stall has passed away during the Chinese New Year in 2017. Mr Lim Poh Pin, 46, his son, has taken over the stall and he restarted it at the same coffee shop where they first started. He did not get to cook much when his father was still around though he has been helping out since he was 18 years old. His father insisted on doing the cooking himself and leaving him to serve the customers.

Mr Lim looked up while cooking when I was there to order. He said, "Order here and paid first, it will be served to your table." I decided to go with the $8 portion, there are also the $6 and $10 available. He has also included Fried Kway Teow for $4 and $5 as well as Fried Carrot Cake for $3, $4 and $5 on the menu.

It tasted quite familiar, the eggs and starch were evenly crisp and the oysters were quite fresh but missing the smoky flavor. It was not bad, though not quite on par with the standard of his father yet, it is definitely getting there. Nonetheless, it is still amongst one of the better ones around. 

When walking past him when leaving the coffee shop, I said, "好吃 ." He smiled.

941 Upper Serangoon Road SINGAPORE 534709
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

王老五 Chicken King at Jalan Batu Food Centre

While waiting to order at Belirub, we walked around and looking for something else to eat first at this quiet food centre in Mountbatten. And, we took notice of this stall as it has a catching stall name. The meaning of 王老五 in English is "Bachelor", which means "a man who is not and has never married" and that followed by "Chicken King" right after. They must be of a certain standard to have that kind of confidence to declare themselves as "Chicken King". The stall is located at the corner of the first row and this seemed to be a popular stall as most tables around there have ordered from them. They are supposed to be famous for their chicken rice though there are also duck, char siew and sio bak on their menu. There was another customer in front of me at that time. I decided to go with a quarter of the roasted chicken with rice and old cucumber pork ribs soup. And, I paid $13.50 in total. 

The old cucumber pork ribs soup was intensely flavored and rather comforting. It is of pretty good value for just $3.50 with generous pieces of old cucumber and pork ribs in it. This is something that is worth going back for.

The quarter chicken was in quite a big portion but the taste somehow just did not manage to leave an impression. Though the stall name is Chicken King, its taste is still far to be stood out amongst the other chicken rice stalls to be called the king.

The rice was nicely cooked to a grainy texture, not too greasy and rather flavorful. The chilli did not taste too memorable so much so that I have forgotten how it actually tastes. This stall is worth the try if you happen to be here and is looking for a filling lunch.

4A Jalan Batu #01-28 Jalan Batu Food Centre SINGAPORE 432004
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hock Lam Street Popular Beef Kway Teow

This beef kway teow originated from Hock Lam Street and it has a long history. It has indicated on their signboard that they have been around since 1921. They are still using the century-old recipe to serve the Teochew style beef kway teow. It is still a well-known name after all these years though they were at a few different places before resurfacing at this food centre.

I asked, "So, this is the original beef kway teow from the Hock Lam Street?" The auntie replied, "This is the one." I added, "How about the other stall at Far East Square?" She said, "My niece used to run that outlet but it has closed down last year." She continued to say, "She learned from us too." I asked, "Who is that elderly Uncle that was pictured at this stall?" She replied, "He is my husband."

After considering those choices, I said, "I only want sliced beef and meatballs." She asked, "What type of noodles? $5 or the $6?" and she continued, "The $6 will come with more ingredients." There are chilli and chincalok available for self-service at the counter. I asked, "Should I add the chincalok to the chilli sauce?" She answered, "Most people do that but some prefer to have it separately."

It consists of a good portion of thick bee hoon with slices of beef and meatballs, garnished with chopped coriander and grounded peanuts. It did not have salted vegetables though. Those sliced beef were too thinly sliced and those meatballs were just average tasting. The gravy was not as thick and starchy. Somehow, I did not like it as much. 

51 Old Airport Road #01-22 Old Airport Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 390051
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Belirub : the Cordon Bleu hawker

Vincent Terence Tan, 58, the owner, his stall was featured in the latest series of "Buzzing Hawker" just recently under the mentorship of chef Petrina Loh from Morsels. He was a Software Engineer stationed in Houston, Texas before deciding to spend USD $100,000 to pursue a degree at the Le Cordon Bleu at the age of 40. He started working as a chef in some hotels when he came back from the States in 2008. And he started this hawker stall thereafter but this journey has been a hard dream so far. 

I was there at about 2.15 pm on a Sunday and there was a short queue at the stall. Vincent was there all alone. He has to handle everything, from taking orders, answering queries, cooking and serving it. He used to sell in between 15 to 20 plates for an average day before participating in the "Buzzing Hawker" programme. And, he did not earn enough to pay for the operating costs and he eventually run out of funds.

He greeted me with a smile when he finally noticed me. I said, "Hi, Vincent."  I pointed to the picture of Chincalok Wooster Grilled Chicken on the signboard and said, "I like to order this and also the Maryland Chicken." He said, "I am quite busy now. Would you mind to come back a little later?" I asked, "What time should I come back then?" He replied, "Maybe 20 minutes or maybe 30 minutes would be better." He was quite soft spoken and I did not quite get what he said. I went back close to 3.00 pm and there were still some customers waiting for their orders. When he saw me seated at the table in front of his stall, he said, "Next will be your orders, the last ones." He off the light of his signboard right after that.

I asked, "Closing for the day?" He said, "I am very tired now." I asked, "The business is getting better?" Vincent replied, "Just slightly." He sighed a little. He said, "Now, I have to prepare 2 different types of coleslaw. I already have my type of coleslaw but I have to prepare a different one for the new recipe." I asked, "Would you be able to substitute it with your type of coleslaw?" He replied, "No. I don't think so." And, I asked, "Would they actually check on you?" He said, "Quite likely".

I pointed to the vacant stall directly opposite his stall and said, "Your direct competitor, The Spaghetti Shop, has already closed now?" He nodded and said, "I have been doing it for 5 years." I replied, "I have not heard about your stall so far. This is a quiet food centre in an equally quiet estate." He said, "Most of the customers are regulars and they are the ones that keep this stall going." While waiting for the orders to be ready, I counted the used plates that were placed in a plastic container beside his stall, there were about 20 plates in there. When I collected my orders, I said, "All the best." He smiled and said, "Thank you."

My dining companion ordered the Maryland Chicken, it consists 2 pieces of deep-fried breaded chicken cutlets, served with fries and a vegetable side that was supposed to be served hot but it was at room temperature. He said, "It tasted just like the usual chicken cutlets that are available at most Western food stalls." He enjoyed those chunks of carrots and bits of sweet corn with pieces of cauliflower drenched in a sauce. He said, "It tasted just like those cream soups and it is nice."

Chincalok Wooster Grilled Chicken is done using the new recipe created by chef Petrina Loh. The chicken is marinated in chincalok and Kea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce together with onion, garlic, and olive oil. The marinade is also used as the sauce to serve along with the chicken chop. In this instance, I could hardly taste the chincalok in it. The chicken chop did not have much flavor and the skin was torn a little, with a slightly burnt taste. I urged my dining companion to try and he shared the same opinion. We also thought that the chicken was quite a small piece thus not too fulling.

Turmeric is used as part of the seasoning for the coleslaw which I did not like it as much. Those turmeric infused shredded cabbages were not as crunchy and a little overpowering in taste. I just took a bite and left the rest unfinished. My dining companion felt that those baked potatoes were quite nice.

He is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef and he has the abilities to execute these dishes well but somehow it just did happen this time. He is a really nice chap nonetheless and he deserved a chance to do well at this stall. I might just go back after the hype dies down.

4A Jalan Batu #01-12 Jalan Batu Food Centre SINGAPORE 432004
Operating Hours: 11.45 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Roast Paradise in Ang Mo Kio

This is the other outlet of Roast Paradise that started at Old Airport Road Food Centre. This stall is located in a coffee shop just a stone's throw away from the Ang Mo Kio MRT Station and directly opposite Cheng San Market & Food Centre. It is at the same coffee shop with the Soon Kee Boneless Braised Duck that moved from the already demolished Long House along Thomson Road. 

Unlike their stall at Old Airport Road, the queue is usually much shorter here. I was there on a Sunday, the light of their signboard was turned off and I thought they have already closed but it came on about 15 minutes later. I asked, "Are you serving now?" The young chap manning the register replied, "We are opened." I decided to go with the Char Siew & Sio Bak Rice for $4.00. He asked, "Do you want gravy over your rice?" I nodded. 

I shared it with my dining companion, he said, "The sio bak is still not too impressive." We felt the same when we tasted it for the first time at their other outlet. The pork though well-marinated but the skin was a bit soggy, not as crispy as I liked it to be. The char siew was still good though, it was chopped into thick slices, slightly charred and nicely caramelized to give it a slight sweetness. It is still one of the better ones around. 

It was served along with a bowl of tasty soup that has bits of meat and pieces of cabbage in it.

531 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 SINGAPORE 560531
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Zhong Crayfish Seafood Soup at Ang Mo Kio Central

Henry Tay, 38, the owner of this stall serving mainly the Crayfish Seafood Soup at the coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio central, directly facing the MRT station. His stall was featured in the recent episode of Buzzing Hawker. Henry has about 20 years of cooking experiences. He worked in a Western restaurant after his national service before starting his hawker stall. He created his own recipe for the seafood soup using 8 different types of ingredients before Chef Michael Lau, his mentor chef adjusted it by adding flower crabs as part of the ingredients for making the soup. I was there close to 2 pm for a late lunch. There was another customer right in front of me, waiting for her order to be ready. I waited for a few minutes to order. This was before the particular episode that featured the stall was aired on TV. 

The menu includes Seafood Soup ($4.00/$6.00), Fish Soup ($4.00/$6.00), Fish Head Soup ($5.00) and Tom Yum Seafood Soup ($4.50). Other than rice, the other choices are fresh mee sua, thick bee hoon, porridge, bee hoon, ban mian and mee kia for $0.50. I decided to go with the large portion of Seafood soup and opted to have it with the fresh mee sua for $0.50. 

It consists of a substantial portion of mee sua with fresh tasting ingredients like the sliced fish, prawns, handmade meatballs, tofu, sliced tomato, vegetable and a piece of dried beancurd skin.  It was garnished with fried garlic and chopped coriander. The soup was much lighter as compared to the famous Yan Ji Seafood Soup at Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre with a hint of natural sweetness. The fresh mee sua is different than the usual mee sua, it was slightly thicker and not as mushy which I liked. 

It was rather comforting though not the tastiest choice. 

Block 721 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 #01-2823 SINGAPORE 560721
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Gin Sen : authentic Thai noodles

Tanya, 36 started this stall with Candy, 36, both of them came from Thailand but moving to Singapore after marriage. Gin Sen" means "eating noodle" in the Thai language, a rather common word used amongst friends and families in Thailand which symbolizes a form of bonding over food. Tanya and Cindy decided that the best way to spread their love for Thai food is to share it with the locals by cooking it themselves.  Though their main focus is to preserve the original Thai recipes, the adjustment is made to further suit the taste buds of locals. Their signature dishes include Thai Bak Mee ($4/$5), Tom Yum Bak Mee ($4/$5), Thai Beef Soup Noodle ($5/$7), Thai Claypot Basil Beef Rice ($6.50), Thai Green Mango Salad ($5), Thai Fish Cakes ($5) and Thai Fried Mid Wings ($5).

Tanya was there when I went for lunch on a Saturday. She greeted me with a warm smile and started to introduce some of their signature dishes. I pointed to the Thai beef Soup Noodle on the menu board and said, "This." I was contemplating between ordering this and the Thai Bak Mee earlier. She pointed to the different types of the noodles on the menu board and asked, "What types of noodles do you want?" I asked, "What do you recommend?" And, she said, "Most of the customers would go for egg noodles or flat rice noodles but for a more authentic taste, I will recommend glass noodles." I also ordered Thai Fried Mid Wings at $5.00. I paid a total of $10.50 for both.

While waiting, I asked, "Where is your friend?" She smiled and replied, "We are working on shifts and she will be here later."

The Thai Beef Noodle was ready first. There are some condiments for self-service but I did not go for any. I waited for another few minutes for the Thai Fried Mid Wings to be ready. Tanya actually asked where do I sit and when she knew that I would not be sitting near the stall, she suggested that I might want to come back later to collect it.

Thai Beef Soup Noodle is quite similar to our local soup version of Beef Noodle but the broth was lighter flavor with a tinge of peppery taste. It came with beef balls and a few chunks of beef. The soup was served lukewarm, it would be better if it was served hot. 

Thai Fried Chicken Mid Wings consists of 8 pieces of battered chicken wings. Those middle wings were cut in half then coated with a light batter and deep-fried to the perfect texture, it was served along with sweet Thai chilli. 

51 Old Airport Road #01-65 Old Airport Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 390051
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm / 5.30 pm to 9.00 pm (Mon to Fri) /
10.00 am to 8.00 pm (Sat & Sun)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wonderfull Nasi Lemak : it is a goodbye

It was announced on their Facebook page that they are closing down for good and their last day will be on 26 February 2018. It mentioned that they will be taking an indefinite hiatus from making wonderful nasi lemak. It must be a difficult decision to end such a journey, from the burnt rice to undercooked chicken and to massive 200 pax orders as well as appearing on TV and various publications.

The stall is manned by Lois Er, 26 and Eunice, her younger sister with a recipe from their dad. I decided to visit them for the first and also the last time before they are gone. I said, "I heard that you are closing down for good?" then I continued to say, "Life of hawker must be pretty hard." Lois nodded her head and smiled. She said, "You saw our post on the Facebook?" I nodded. 

She asked, "You actually come all the way here?" I answered, "I wanted to try but did not get to do so. I did not expect the stall at Yishun Park Hawker Centre to be closed down so soon, that place is much nearer to where I stay." And, I continued, "I wanted to know how wonderful is your Nasi Lemak." Then, I asked, "Is it true that you actually burnt the rice and undercooked the chicken as you stated on your Facebook post?" Lois chuckled then replied, "It actually happened." And, she did not share the reason for closing down. 

I ordered the Set D, which consists of a chicken drumstick with an egg, ikan belis and peanuts for $4.20. Eunice asked, "Do you want it with the sunny-side-up egg or the omelette? which I answered, "Omelette please." The chilli and coconut infused rice are the most important components of a good Nasi Lemak and both were actually good. The chilli has a good balance of sweetness and spiciness. The rice is cooked to the right texture with a tint of coconut flavor. The chicken drumstick though not freshly fried but it was still slightly crispy and tender within, quite tasty as well.

Eunice handed me my plate of nasi lemak and I said, "All the best." I was the only customer at that time and there were another to get a piece of otah when I was about to walk off. I do hope that this is not the end of their journey of a hawker. If you happen to be at the food centre for lunch on 26 February, go order this wonderful Nasi Lemak for the last time and bid goodbye to them. 

51 Old Airport Road #01-96 Old Airport Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 390051
Operating Hours: 8.30 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Fridays)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sheng Ji Soya Sauce Chicken Rice / Noodle

This is amongst those stalls that has a consistent queue in this food centre. It was so even after 2 pm on a Saturday. Most of these customers ordered the Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle and some have it with rice. Their Soya Sauce Chicken must be good since it is their signature item and they even stated it on their signboard. The stall is manned by an elderly couple. It was sold out at 2 pm when I re-visited on a Sunday. 

For just $3, I was given a chicken wing with some breast meat together with a good portion of noodles and some green. The chilli was added to the side. The noodles were cooked nicely to the perfect texture, slightly springy and not too soft. To start, tossed it lightly to mix the noodles with the braised sauce underneath as well as the chilli. The level of spiciness for the chilli was quite mild. 

The Soya Sauce Chicken was not the best that I have eaten but if to compare to that Michelin starred Soya Suace Chicken, I would think this is better. It was quite flavorful and rather tender. I did not like it as much but my dining companion thought it was quite good. 

69 Geylang Bahru #01-13 Geylang Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 330069
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hock Choon Laksa . Lor Mee at Eunos Crescent Food Centre

There was a short queue when I reached there just before lunch. You do not usually get to see queue at this quiet food centre, there was also a queue at a Yong Tau Foo at another row. There are only 2 items on their menu, Laksa, and Lor Mee respectively at just $3. It seemed Lor Mee is slightly more popular as most of their customers ordered it.

When it was my turn to order, I said, "Can I order it with extra ingredients?" The lady in there nodded. It was served in the oval-shaped bowl rather than the usual round ones, it is priced at $4. When it was ready, the lady handed the bowl to the Uncle, he passed it to me and collected the payment. There were sambal chilli, minced garlic, red-cut chilli and a bottle of vinegar available for self-service. I added everything except the vinegar. 

Tables were slowly taken up when it passed 12 pm but it was still easy to find a table. I mixed it lightly before eating it. I was given more pieces of the nicely fried fish nuggets for that extra $1 together with half a piece of braised egg, handmade meatballs and some pieces of braised pork belly that were drenched in the savory gravy.

Block 4A Eunos Crescent #01-25 Eunos Crescent Food Centre SINGAPORE 
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hui Wei Chilli Ban Mian at Geylang Bahru Food Centre

This was one of the stalls that with a queue when I visited on a Sunday for lunch. This is one of the stalls originally from this food centre before the renovation and they moved to Toa Payoh for a while before moving back to here again. The options on the menu include Fuzhou Fishball Noodle ($3.50/$5.00), Meatball Handmade Noodle ($3.50/$5.00), Abalone Clam La Mian ($5.00/$7.00), Seafood Tom Yum La Mian ($4.50/$6.00), Mee Hoon Kueh ($4.00/$6.00), Signature Chilli Ban Mian ($4.00/$6.00), Signature Soup ($12.00) and more. 

I remember eating Chilli Ban Mian when I was in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia and so I decided to go with the smaller portion of their Signature Ban Mian. A substantial portion of ban mian was served with meatballs, braised minced meat, poached egg accompanied with ikan belis, fried shallots, and lard. I tossed it lightly to mix the nicely cooked noodles with the dark sauce and chilli. And, the spiciness of the chilli is not to be underestimated and so, go easy with it.

Block 69 Geylang Bahru #01-58 Geylang Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 330069
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Fully Good Food : Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs

Poh Chee Eng, 28, the owner, was a former civil servant and he is a first-time hawker. He used to help out at his parents' stall at Chong Boon Food Centre in Ang Mo Kio before starting this stall at the newly opened hawker centre. He wants to continue the legacy of his family's recipes through this stall. He is under the "hawker-preneurship" programme by NTUC Foodfare, which aimed to attract and nurture new-generation hawkers by lowering their start-up costs with guidance provided. He started preparation as early as 2 am and left the stall as late as 8.30 pm.

There was just another customer in front of me when I was there for an early lunch. Their menu includes Prawn Noodle ($2.80), Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs ($4.50), Pork Ribs Noodle ($3.50) and Mee Rebus ($2.80). I decided to go with Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs. While waiting for it to be ready, I helped myself with those red-cut chillies. 

It is served with a good portion of yellow noodles with kang kong, 2 pieces of pork ribs and 4 pieces of small prawns, garnished with a stalk of coriander. I tossed the noodles a little but it did not have much sauce underneath thus it was slightly dry. Though I asked for an extra amount of chilli to be added, it was not as spicy as I expected it to be. Those pork ribs were lovely though, its texture was desirable falling-apart. Overall, it might not be the one of the best Prawn Mee now as there are still opportunities for enhancement. 

110 Pasir Ris Central #01-14 Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 519641