Saturday, August 18, 2018

食香阁 Shi Xiang Ge : La Mian & Shaved Noodle

Mr Liu Yi Zhong that started this stall used to be working with Crystal Jade as La Mian Director. He has a total of 28 years of experiences in making la mian, including the 10 years in China before moving to Singapore in 2000. This stall is located in a coffee shop above Bishan Bus Interchange. It is specialized in Shanxi cuisine, serving dishes like Beef La Mian ($5), Minced Meat La Mian ($5), Hot & Spicy Intestine Shaved Noodle ($5), Poached Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce ($5), Pork & Vegetable Dumplings ($5), Meat Bun ($3.50) etc. The noodles and dumplings are all handmade at the stall.

There was a long queue when we were there for lunch on a Sunday. We ordered the Beef Shaved Noodle, Minced Meat La Mian and also the Pork & Vegetable Dumplings.  My dining companion has the Beef Shaved Noodle. He took a sip of the soup followed by a mouthful of the noodles and said, "好吃". He continued to say, "The soup was lightly flavored and the small chunks of beef are quite tender. I wish there are more though. It is quite a big bowl and definitely value for money."

The shaved noodle is known as 刀削面 in Chinese, it means knife-sliced noodles. There was a man behind the stall, holding a big piece of dough with his left hand, supporting using its shoulder and using his right hand to hold a knife and repeatedly shaving pieces of noodles out of that dough. The texture of noodles was just right, not lumpy nor clumpy and not too thick. It is served with a mixture of nicely cooked meat and tendons, garnished with coriander. The soup base is made using beef bones and meat. 

The Minced Meat La Mian is known as 杂酱拉面 in Chinese on their signboard, the La Mian is referred to hand-pulled noodles. This is another popular dish that most of their customers are ordering. It is served with a handful of minced meat with pieces of beancurd then garnished with shredded cucumber. What left an impression is not the taste but the texture of the noodles, it was springy and bouncy and is amongst the best that I have eaten. 

We agreed that the Pork & Vegetable Dumplings were just average. The poached dumplings tasted a little bland and uninteresting, its filling was mainly minced meat with a bit of vegetable. The Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce might be a better option and it seems to a much more popular choice as most customers order that. 

I would definitely come back for their Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce and I might even try the Hot & Spicy Intestine Shaved Noodle if I am feeling adventurous. 

Block 514 Bishan Street 13 Bishan Bus Interchange Level 2 SINGAPORE 570514
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

祥仔虾面 : by a Gen Y hawker

Eu Siang, 30, started this stall at a coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 in March before moving to the current location. His family used to run a stall in a food centre at Hougang Avenue 7 and he used to help out there. He used to be a specialist with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) before starting the stall. 

The menu includes basic Prawn Mee ($3), Big Prawn Noodle ($6), Prawn Noodle with Clams ($5), Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs ($5), Pork Noodle with Pig Tail ($5), Jumbo Big Noodle ($8.80), Pork Ribs Noodle ($4), Pig Tail Noodle ($4) and Jumbo Prawn Soup ($6/$8/$12). I decided to go with the Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs. The broth for their Prawn Noodle is simmered for at least 2 hours using a secret recipe that has been handed down, part of the ingredients are prawn shells and pork bones.

While waiting for my order to be ready, I asked, "Why did you move from the coffee shop at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 to here? I got to know about it from your Facebook that you moved to here." He said, "This coffee shop is owned by a friend. We decided to set up the stalls together. The Famous Zhou and Ah Lee Curry are run by my friends."

It was ready in a bit. He handed the bowl of noodles to me with a smile. I helped myself with the dried chilli powder and the cut chillies at the counter. It consists of a good portion of yellow noodles with 3 peeled prawns and a few pieces of pork ribs with blanched bean sprouts and kang kong. The noodles were cooked well to the desired texture and it was tasty when tossed well with the chilli though the spiciness was quite mild. The texture of pork ribs was soft and not too chewy. The soup was flavorful, with a subtle prawn flavor and a hint of natural sweetness.

Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 SINGAPORE 560421
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Monday, August 13, 2018

茂盛潮洲糜 . 饭 : cheap and good

It was rather quiet during dinner in this food centre and almost 80% of the stalls were already closed for the day. This stall was amongst those that were opened, it is located right at the corner of the first row and there were other customers waiting to order. As it was an early dinner, some of their dishes were not ready yet. 

I decided to go with steamed fishcake, sliced meat with ginger, braised brinjal, and Stingray with salted vegetable together with 2 bowls of porridge and a bowl of rice for only $10.50. This is definitely cheap. It is self-service, the Uncle arranged everything neatly on a big tray for me.

Our favorite dish has to be the sliced meat with ginger. My dining companion said, "It has an old-school taste".

The steamed fishcake was another comforting choice, it tasted good when eaten with the fermented bean sauce and chilli that served along. 

The stingray with salted vegetable has got a rather strong fermented bean taste which my dining companion did not like. I enjoyed it though, it tasted like a similar dish that my dearest Grandpa used to cook for me. The braised brinjal is another homely dish that my Grandpa used to cook. 

There was a queue forming when we were about to leave. I applaud their efforts in keeping the prices affordable, this stall is worth supporting. 

茂盛潮洲糜 . 饭
Block 105 Hougang Avenue 1 #02-02 Hainanese VillageFood Centre SINGAPORE 530105

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Penang Authentic Delicacies : Penang Fried Kway Teow in banana leaf

I came across a picture posted by an FB friend not too long ago. It showed the Penang Fried Kway Teow wrapping in banana leaf in the shape of a cone, it is by a new stall in Golden Mile Food Centre. I was not particularly looking for this stall but wanted to eat Hainanese Curry Rice and it just happened this stall is just next to it. I changed my mind at that point in time and decided to try the Ah Gong Penang Fried Kway Teow. There are the $3 and the $5 portion which I decided to go with the big portion. They do serve Penang White Curry ($3/$4.50), Fried Mee Tai Mak ($3/$5) and also Fried Mee Sua ($3/$5). The lady that took my order, said, "Go, take a seat."

I asked, "Why did you choose to wrap it in the banana leaf? Is this a practice over in Penang? The lady replied, "This method and the recipe are passed down from our Ah Gong (Grandpa). He served it in this way to better preserve its aromatic flavor." Then, I asked, "Are you from Penang? "She said, "No. Not me. My husband is from Penang though."

It was ready in less than 5 minutes as I was the only customer at that time. The lady handed it to me and said, "Thank you." I have traveled to Penang quite a few times but never come across such a method in presenting the Fried Kway Teow there. I slowly unwrapped it by moving the 2 toothpicks that were used to hold the banana leaf together. I was greeted with a nice smoky flavor. The thin flat rice noodles were stir-fried with prawns, clams, roasted meat, Chinese sausage, fish cake and a handful of bean sprouts for a textural contrast. They actually made an effort to peel the prawns leaving only the head and tail part.

It definitely requires the right ingredients coupled with the correct techniques to stir-fry a plate of fried kway teow at high heat for a charred taste. And, this might not be the best that I have tasted but it was actually better than most of the others in Singapore. It was savory, moist and drier in texture, not oily too. I requested to have an extra amount of chill added for a spicier flavor.

505 Beach Road #01-111 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Famous Zhou 粥出名 : a porridge stall in Ang Mo Kio

This porridge stall is set up by Chew Chor Meng (周初明) and Dennis Chew (周崇庆), this is their new venture after setting up 3 outlets of 888 Mookata at Hougang, Bishan and Bukit Batok, serving Thai-style barbecue steamboat in the coffee shop. This stall is named "The Famous Zhou" and the "Zhou" here is 周, their surname, it also means 粥 in Chinese. It is 粥出名 in Chinese, sounded like 周初明 and it also means the famous porridge. The Taiwanese chef Huang Ching Biao is behind the recipes of their porridges. It is their friend, an ex-engineer that is doing the cooking together with a Malaysian cook at the stall. There are 8 different types of porridge on their menu starting from $3.50 to $12.80, adding an egg is $0.50 and $0.80 cents for extra you tiao (fried dough fritters). 

I was there at about 12.30 pm on a Sunday and I did not see a queue at that time. Chew Chor Meng was there though, sitting at a table near the stall. I wanted the Happy Belly Chok, a fish porridge at $5 but was told they rn out of fish. I decided to go with A Smart Scholar Chok at $4, a mixed pork porridge, added an egg and you tiao. I was given a buzzer after paying, it buzzed in about 8 minutes. When I stood up and walking towards the stall, the friendly auntie was holding the bowl of porridge and looking around for me. I handed her the buzzer to her when she passed that bowl of porridge to me. The light of their signboard went off at this time, indicating they have already sold out. I must be really lucky to order the last few bowls of the porridge.

The texture of this Cantonese style porridge was rather smooth but a little too runny. It consists of pork slices and liver but there is no intestine in it. Those slices of liver were a bit too thin and it ended up overcooked thus a little tough. And, some you tiao was crispy and the other was soggy. 

They will need more time to work at improving its standard. 

Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 Tian Tian Lai Food Place SINGAPORE 560421
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays) 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Jing Ji Fishball Noodle : a 3 decades old noodle stall

This was one of those stalls that I featured when writing for Makansutra. This stall has been around for more than 30 years, it started as a pushcart in the vicinity before moving into the food centre. It has been handed down by Mr Toh that started it to his 2 daughters.

The older Madam Toh is 59 years old, she is the one taking the orders and serving it when it is ready. The younger Madam Toh is 56 years old and she is doing the cooking. Their Uncle used to run a noodle stall just a couple of stalls away, he was also taught by Mr Toh using a similar recipe but that stall has already closed down.

There was a queue of about 8 people when I was there at about 11.15 pm. When it was about my turn, I was told that they have already run out of fishball. I decided to go with mee pok at $3 and added $1 for additional ingredients. I requested to have an extra amount of chilli to go with the mee pok. When waiting for my order, I overheard Madam Toh talking to the customer behind me, "You did not come for a while." There was another customer right behind me asking whether would there be anymore mee pok left when it is her turn to order. She is likely to be one of the regular customers as Madam Toh seemed to remember how she likes her order to be done. I was told that most of their customers are the regulars staying in the vicinity and they usually come as a family. 

The mee pok was cooked just right, firm and still springy. It did not taste too spicy with that extra amount of chilli added, a hint of the vinegar and lightly flavored by lard. It was served along with a bowl of soup consisting of slices of pork liver and fishcake as well as meatballs. The meatballs have an ideal consistency and texture. Those slices of pork liver were lovely, it was tender and soft in the right thickness and size. I got the last few bowls of the noodles before they sold out at 11.30 pm.

Their secret to their survivability is none other than using the freshest ingredients. The elder Mr Toh used to go marketing personally to source for it, he was doing that even when he was in his 80s. Such old-school taste can be so memorable. I was told that their children have no plan in taking over their stall at this moment. Enjoy it while it lasts. 

590 Upper Thomson Road #01-04 Sembawang Hills Food Centre SINGAPORE 574419
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Hup Lee : Mee Siam, memories of growing up

This stall is located in the second coffee shop at Block 347 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, near to my late Grandpa's place. It has been there for the longest time. It is manned by a few aunties and sometimes, they tend to speak with me in Hokkien, a dialect that I grew up with. I did not get to speak it often these days after the passing of my grandparents. It brought forth a certain familiarity and heartwarming feeling.

They serve Mee Siam, Mee Rebus, Lontong as well as Nasi Lemak. I usually go for their Mee Siam at $3. It is towards the Nonya style Mee Siam, different from the Malay and Indian style. It is less sweet and not as spicy with a hint of sourishness. 

The pre-fried bee hoon is served with a handful of blanched bean sprouts, a boiled egg then topped with dried shrimps together with sambal chilli, calamansi lime, and chopped chive. To start, squeeze the lime then mixed it well. 

This might not be the best Mee Siam but this is comfort food that I grew up with. 

Block 347 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 560347
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 1.00 pm

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thai Fusion Wanton Mee in Ang Mo Kio

Yeo Tian Haw, the owner, is at the tender age of 21 years old, he started this stall with Zi Jian, his friend from childhood and both of them are of the same age. They have fallen in love with the Wanton Mee during their trip to Thailand and that prompted them to start this stall. There was a short queue when I was there on a Sunday around 1 pm. I decided to go with their signature Thai Wanton Noodle and I opted for the $4.50 portion, there is also the choices of $3.50 and $5.50 portion. I wanted to order their Fried Chicken Wing ($1.40 per piece) too but was told it is not ready yet. The Wanton Soup ($3 /$5 / $7) is also not available. 

I helped myself with the dried chilli powder placed at the counter. When the noodle was ready, I was asked, "Do you want the chilli?". I pointed to the saucer on my tray and said, "I already took some." He said, "It is a different type of chilli." He scooped some onto another saucer and handed it to me. 

Their Wanton Mee does not come with the usual char siew but slices of stir-fried garlic pork and with only fried wantons, the portion of noodles was substantial. It did not taste like the typical Thai style Wanton Mee, it is different from Soi 19 Thai Wanton Mee at another part of Ang Mo Kio. It seemed to be quite dry but when looked closely, there was a pool of sauce underneath the noodles. I tossed it well and took a mouthful before adding in the dried chilli powder and mixed well, it actually tasted nicer with it. The handmade wantons are made daily, it consists of well-seasoned minced pork and it was deep-fried to the desired crispiness. The other chilli complemented the fried wanton rather well, a little spicy but quite addictive. 

My dining companion said, "It reminded me of those noodles served by Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee. There is a certain similarity." He continued to say, "Those slices of pork were quite tasty too. Overall, it is quite nice." 

I actually prefer the other Thai style Wanton Mee that I mentioned earlier. 

Block 340 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 Deli Kopi Store SINGAPORE 560340
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Zheng Xing Fried Kway Teow Mee : not worth the long wait

There were a few people gathered in front of this stall when I was there. I was curious and decided to try their Fried Kway Teow Mee. There is the $3 as well as $4 portion and I went ahead with the larger portion. I was given a number tag after ordering. It was 1 pm then and I was told to come back at about 1.25 pm. The lady said, "Your order should be ready by then."  I went back at about 1.25 pm and it was not ready yet. I waited for another couple of minutes before receiving it. I was expecting it to be of a certain standard after waiting for so long. 

My first mouthful did not manage to amaze me. It was not bad but not mind-blowingly good. It was just a mass of kway teow and mee stir-fried with ingredients like Chinese sausage, egg, cockles and a handful of cockles. The color was much lighter than most Fried Kway Teow. The dark sweet sauce is clearly omitted as it did not have the usual sweetness. It is also not as savory as the Penang Fried Kway Teow. I requested to have less chilli added but it still tasted quite spicy. 

Block 35 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 #01-35 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Food Centre SINGAPORE 310035
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Sundays & Mondays0

Friday, July 27, 2018

Sin Sin Prawn Crackers : the fried bee hoon is must-order

This was one of the stalls that got a queue during lunch on a Friday. I joined in the queue and waited for a few minutes to order. I could not quite decide what to order as there is an extensive range of items for selection. I picked a prawn cracker, a prawn fritter, a ngor hiang, a spring roll and a prawn roll, together with a plate of fried bee hoon for $5.50. 

My dining companion said, "The ngor hiang tasted really fresh. It is quite soft and you could taste the five spice powder in it." He also said, "The prawn roll tasted a bit like the Hei Zho, it is nice." The rest of the items tasted equally fresh as well.

The fried bee hoon at the very first look did not seem to be appetizing as its color was rather pale. I was amazed at how fragrant it tastes when I had my first mouthful and I could not stop eating after that. Though Fried bee hoon is just a simple dish, it is difficult to cook it this well. It is so good that I could just eat the fried bee hoon by itself. This is definitely one of the better ones that I have eaten. 

Block 210 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 #01-46 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Food Centre SINGAPORE 310210
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Bee Kee Wanton Noodles : traditional flavor is still the best

This stall is in the coffee shop at Lorong Lew Lian, off Upper Serangoon Road and they started in March 2014. Their menu includes Original Wanton Noodle, Braised Pork Soft Bone Noodle (dry / soup), Braised Pork Soft Bone Rice and also side dishes like Fried Wantons, Wantons in Chilli Vinegar Sauce and Wanton Soup. There is a signage indicating "Truffle Wanton Noodle", which is their specialty at $6 per plate. There are 2 other stalls at Amoy Street Food Centre and Market Street Interim Food Centre. 

The stall was manned by an auntie with a younger man that does the cooking when I was there. I decided to go with their Original Wanton Noodle and added a portion of the braised pork soft bone for $5.00. When it was ready, I asked, "This one is without truffle oil, right?" The auntie replied, "No. We would not put it in if there is no request." I am never a fan of those truffle fries, the truffle oil actually reminded me of those engine oil which I did not like. I did not dare to go with the truffle oil version as I am afraid I might just leave it unfinished and walk away. And, it seems by adding truffle oil to just anything is a good reason to justify a higher price.

The noodles are different, it is slightly thinner than the usual mee kia with a springier texture and is without that alkaline flavor. It did not clump together even after leaving it for a while. The char siew is made using leaner meat so it is slightly drier. The braised pork soft bone was nicely done to the desired texture though not as flavorful as expected to be.

I have always thought the traditional flavor is still the best and that is the reason I do not usually go for the fusion dishes. I am an old soul and those are just not for me.

Block 2 Lorong Lew Lian Food Park SINGAPORE 048940
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Monday) / 7.00 am to 8.00 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Rumah Baba Fred : homey Nonya dishes

This Peranakan cafe is located along Changi Road run by a passionate husband and wife team. It is quite small with limited seating capacity indoor and outdoor. It is cozy and welcoming, just like eating at a friend's house. 

I ordered a bundle of Nonya Kueh Chang on their Facebook and went to collect it on a Saturday. I waited in front of their counter, behind another customer. Baba Fred was serving that customer and his wife greeted me. She asked, "Collecting your chang?" I nodded then said, "I am having lunch too." She placed a piece of banana leaf on a plate then scooped some rice on it. I pointed to the Beef Rendang and the Curry Vegetable followed by a piece of Ngor Hiang. I also ordered a glass of Lemon Grass to go along. She said, "You go take a seat first, I will heat up the Ngor Hiang and bring it to you together with the Lemon Grass drink." I went to take a seat outside the shop. She brought the Ngor Hiang over first. She said, "If you could not finish the Ngor Hiang, I can pack them for you to take away." Baba Fred sent the Lemon Grass drink later. He asked, "You are collecting your chang too? It is under what name?" I mentioned it. His wife came over later with the Lemon Grass drink and also a bag of Nonya Kueh Chang. She counted them to make sure it is 10 pieces. She also presented a receipt that stated the amount to pay for the lunch. 

There were another 2 customers seated at the table beside me. The wife walked past with their orders. She smiled and said, "You managed to finish the Ngor Hiang." I replied, "It tasted different from others." She said, "We freshly made them with quite a few ingredients." I said, "It is very nice." These classic Nonya dishes were so comforting. 

Their Nonya Kueh Chang is only available upon advance order. It has already fully booked for the month of August. It is still prepared in the traditional method, the rice is first steamed then putting it with the filling to be wrapped in those bamboo leaves then steamed again. The intense blue color in the rice is derived from the Blue Pea. Each piece consists of a generous amount of filling, it is soft and moist. It is, in my humble opinion, better than those that I used to order from Kim Choo Kueh Chang.

116 Changi Road #01-01 WIS@Changi SINGAPORE 419718
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm (Saturday & Sunday)