Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Don Signature Crab : affordable Crab Bee Hoon Soup

Don Lim, started this stall at a coffee shop in Toa Payoh serving Crab Bee Hoon Soup and Chilli Crab as their signature dishes. Other dishes include Crab Laksa, Prawn Laksa, Black Pepper Crab Bee Hoon and more. Most dishes are priced at $25, $30, $40 and $50, depending on the size of the crab. He was the owner of the famous Don Your Personal Pie Club before he sold it away in November 2015.

I was with a friend to try the western food stall in the same coffee shop and took notice that most of the customers there ordered Crab Bee Hoon from this stall. When ordering, I was asked, "For how many people?" I said, "Just two of us." The Uncle that was taking my order replied, "I would suggest that you go for the $30 portion." I said, "We just had dinner so might be too much for us." And, Uncle said, "Then just go for the smallest portion."

It was served to our table in about 10 minutes. There was a small crab with some vegetables and thick bee hoon in the claypot. Now, I understand why did the Uncle suggest that I should go for a larger portion if it is to be shared as this is just enough for a person. 

We tasted the soup first and both of us agreed it was not as good as we expected it to be as we compared to what we had at Mellben's. It was mildly flavored with ginger, dang gui and Chinese cooking wine added to enhance it. 

The prices are definitely cheaper as compared to the same dish at other Cze Cha places, it is affordable but not that cheap to be called unbelievable prices though. 

Block 206 Toa Payoh North 1 #01-1197 SINGAPORE 310206
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.30 pm (Daily)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Xing Xing Soya Sauce Noodle : one of the best in Ang Mo Kio

This was, in fact, my third visit. I came to take away during the first 2 times. Mr Tay, the owner, kind of remember me as I chatted with him the last time. This stall is located at the coffee shop near to the Mayflower Food Centre where the popular Hong Kong Street Zhen Ji is located.

I said, "Your Soya Sauce Chicken is very nice, it is even nicer than that Michelin Soya Sauce Chicken." Uncle replied, "Oh, I know him." I continued to say, "That Soya Sauce Chicken is not the best but it is cheap." Uncle said, "Yeah, it is only $2 and so many elderly folks queue for it." I replied, "But now, not quite possible as the queue is very long." Uncle also said, "I used to own a stall at Philip Street as there is always a long queue." He even took out his phone and showed the picture of a stall by the name of Gourmet Corner. 

I asked, "Do you open on Monday?" Uncle replied, "Yeah. We are closed on Tuesday." I said, "Most of the stalls usually closed on Monday". He said, "That is the reason why we choose to close on Tuesday." I asked Uncle, "Besides, your Soya Sauce Chicken, which is the best in your opinion?" Uncle chuckled and he did not answer.

This time, I decided to have the Chicken Drumstick Noodle ($4) with Dumpling Soup ($5). While waiting, one of his regular customers came by and she asked, "Boss, no roasted pork for today ah?" Uncle replied, "Not for Monday" and that customer walked off.

While preparing, Uncle asked again, "Which part do you want?" I replied, "I want the drumstick.". While deboning the drumstick, he added extra meat from the chicken breast. He also added a fried wanton. I said, "Today, got fried wanton?" He said, "For you to try." I did not ask for extra chilli this time but I think he remembers that I did ask for it the previous time. He scooped a pile of chilli into the bowl and asked, "Enough?" and I nodded my head. It was then mixed with some braised sauce before he tossed the noodles in it. He added some crispy lard bits the previous times but it was missing this time. He asked me to come back 5 minutes later to collect the Dumpling Soup but he brought it to my table when it was ready.

The soya sauce chicken though flavourful but not as sweet as some that I had eaten, its texture was smooth and soft. The egg noodles were cooked well to the right texture with the desired springiness.

While eating, he came by to ask, "How is the dumpling?" I said, "Very big, and nice too." He replied, "I added a lot of ingredients, including the prawns". He said, "Try the fried wanton. I used the same filling in it." There was a total of 5 pieces of dumplings served in a lightly flavored soup. I asked Uncle, "Those dumplings are handmade by you?" He said, "Everything is handmade here."

This is one of the better Soya Sauce Chicken in Ang Mo Kio and you should try it if you happen to be in the vicinity.

Block 158 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-590 SINGAPORE 560158
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Friday, August 18, 2017

吃 Western : hawker-style Western food

It was a rainy evening when I came by this coffee shop to try this western food stall for the first time. I came across their Facebook page and was amazed by the number of 5-stars reviews given, there was a total of 47 such reviews, and that prompted me to visit it. This stall is helmed by 3 experienced chefs with more than 2 decades of experiences working in top-class restaurants and hotels as mentioned on their Facebook page. Their aim is to provide quality western meals at affordable prices, their menu is range from fusion creations to classic homely dishes. They have been around since 15 February 2016. They named the stall as "吃 Western," it literally means "Eat Western" as "吃" means "eat" in English.

I decided to go with the pan-grilled Chicken Chop with Mashed Potato ($6.00) and Chicken Run Salted Egg Yolk Burger ($6.50). I was given a pager after the payment. I waited for about 15 minutes before it buzzed. I went to the counter, returned the pager and was only given the burger. I asked, "I should have another order." He checked the order chit before handed the other dish to me. 

Chicken Run Salted Egg Yolk Burger ($6.50) consists of 2 pieces of fried chicken as patties, served with tomato and lettuce then garnished with salted egg sauce together with crinkle-cut fries. Those sesame buns seemed to be those of generic brands that are available conveniently. 

The salted egg sauce did not taste like those that are made from the salted egg yolks but rather those from the powder with just a slight salted egg flavor which I did not like it. I would think those crinkle-cut fries are a boring option for a side dish, but the serving was quite generous though.  The fried chicken patties were principally forgettable as it was mildly flavored. 

Chicken Chop with Mashed Potato ($6.00) which consists of a piece of nicely charred pan-grilled chicken with mashed potato and coleslaw, served with mushroom sauce. Maybe I have left it for a little too long after spending some time taking pictures as the chicken did not taste as crispy as it seemed. 

I did not like it as much as compared to the chicken chop at The Carving Board, which is my current favorite. The mashed potato did not have much flavor if omitting the mushroom sauce but its texture was rather smooth though. The coleslaw made exclusively with purple cabbage, which was pretty decent. Overall, it was not too bad, it was just simply disappointing, but I ate it anyway.

I am not all impressed by these dishes, or perhaps I am expecting too much thus feeling the disappointment? 

Block 206 Toa Payoh North #01-1197 SINGAPORE 310206
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.30 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yankee Chicken : Salt Baked Chicken

We happened to sit at a table right beside this stall, though no queue but there were random customers quite constantly. This stall is serving Salt Chicken and we decided to go with the Drumstick set ($5.50) out of curiosity. There is also the option for half a chicken at $10.90 and a whole chicken at $19.90. Besides, they serve different types of satay as well, chicken satay and pork satay at 0.60 cents together with mutton satay at 0.70 cents. They also have Bak Kwa at $25.00 per 500 grams. 

It was manned by an elderly Uncle all by himself. He was busy when I wanted to order. He said, "You need to wait for a while." When I asked him whether should I pay first, he said, "It is alright. You can pay later." I pointed to the table where I would be.

He came by about 5 minutes later with my order. The chicken drumstick is served along with a pile of rice and some lettuce with a saucer of chilli by the side. My first impression was that it did not look too appetizing but no longer think so after tasted it and I know what they meant by "手撕" (hand-torn) on their signboard. The texture of the salt baked chicken was so soft that it could be easily pulled apart by just using hands unlike some of those salt baked chickens that I had tried which often came with very dry meat. It was so tasty that could be eaten without the accompanying chilli sauce. I said to my dining companion, "This is good, meat is so soft and flavorful." and I urged him to try it too. He shared the same opinion after he took the first bite. We enjoyed it very much.

When leaving, the Uncle was with a friend, seated at the table right behind us. I said to him, "The chicken is very nice." Uncle replied, "I am just a worker." He continued to say, "Come back more often then." I would take away a whole chicken when I come by again. This is a simple dish but unexpectedly memorable. 

505 Beach Road #01-96 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583

Monday, August 14, 2017

Gyu Nami : Wagyu Roast Beef Donburi @ Amoy Street Food Centre

I was at Amoy Street Food Centre for a late lunch when I chanced upon this stall. There was a flower basket displayed right beside their stall, which is a good indication that this is a new stall that likely to be just opened for business. It was only later when I came across their Facebook page then I realized that they have just opened today. There is even a promotion going on, if you like their Facebook Page and follow them on Instagram, you will get free truffle shavings with each order which I did not know and so, I am not entitled. It will be nice if they make an effort to highlight it to their customers. The lady that took my order did not seem particularly friendly though. I was telling her that I did not expect to find such a stall in the food centre and she just smiled away. 

This stall is headed by a few young and passionate foodies that want to make good gourmet food available to the masses at affordable prices and they take pride in their ingredients as well as the cooking methods to serve the best to their customers, as mentioned on their Facebook page. 

Wagyu Roast Beef Donburi ($10) is their signature dish, it is slowly roasted to a perfect texture which still has its moisture retained for the desired tenderness. It is served along with an egg and their signature homemade yogurt sauce on rice. This is not a common dish to be found in a food centre and they are likely to be the first hawker stall serving such a dish.

I first tasted such a dish during my recent trip to Japan, though not really a fan but it is something different to have when visiting a food centre for lunch. I would think that $10 for such a dish is of decent value though it is more expensive as compared to the usual hawker fare. When I brought along to order my coffee from another stall, a fellow hawker was asking how much did I pay for it and when I told her it costs $10. She looked a bit shock and was telling the Uncle of the coffee stall that this beef rice bowl is $10. She did ask which stall that I ordered it from, I told her that it is a new stall near Taste Affair and the famous Han Kee Fish Soup. 

The real thing did not look as tall as the one in the picture on their Facebook and also with lesser beef slices though I totally understand that pictures are always just for illustration purposes. In this case, what you see is not exactly of what you will get. Overall, it was not bad. Those beef slices were quite tender with a runny egg yolk and when mixed it well, it provides a nice textural contrast. This would not be something that I will look forward to eating it again soon when I am here for lunch again.

7 Maxwell Road #02-126 Amoy Street Food Centre SINGAPORE 069111
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm (Mon to Sat) / 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Mon to Fri)
(Closed on Sundays)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Nyonya Fish Maw Soup : the comforting taste

This is an interesting find amongst the others in this food centre. It is located at the corner unit, and it was quiet during lunch on a Public Holiday as I was their only customer at about 1 pm. I decided to go with the smaller portion of Fish Maw Soup at $6, there are also the larger portions at $8, $10 and $12. 

The older man took my order, and the younger one was preparing it. They are not particularly friendly nor chatty but when the older man overheard I told my dining companion that I ordered a bowl of rice to share and he asked, "Do you need another bowl?" which I declined. A friend on Facebook shared his encounter. He tried asking when he was at this stall whether they are Nyonya but was given an unpleasant response. 

After a few sips, the soup was quite flavorful though not as "gao gao" ("thick thick") as indicated on the poster that they displayed at their stall. It has a homely taste though, this is something simple that most Peranakan families would be cooking at home. The soup is lightly flavored, and there were fish maw, prawns and handmade meatballs in it, the ingredients tasted fresh.

The handmade meatballs were made of minced meat with bits of water chestnuts embedded in it. My dining companion commented that the texture was a bit too soft and he did not like it.

They are serving it with rice and tang hoon at 0.50 cents each.

This is worth a try if you are looking for something different yet filling.

505 Beach Road #01-80 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Prawn Village : affordable prawn noodle for a satisfying experience

Anson Loo, 30s, started this stall on 1 December 2016 and prior to this, he was in nursing for about 16 years, worked in the NUH, the Navy and also private emergency medical services before entering hawker trade. Tom Loo, his brother, the owner of Tom's Citizoom Mee Pork Tar at Ghim Moh Food Centre is another prominent Generation Y hawker.

It happened years ago when he was in Penang for a holiday where he chanced upon a particular stall that serves good Penang style prawn noodle. He actually asked the boss there to consider imparting the skills and sharing the recipe, he never quite expects to receive a yes as an answer. He spent about 2 weeks there to learn the required skills to set up this stall. He has been adjusting the recipe while cooking for his family and his friends through the years and it ended up tasting like the Penang style prawn noodles though not quite like it. 

There is the dry and the soup version available at the standard price of $4.00 with different types of noodles like yellow noodles, kway teow, bee hoon and thick bee hoon to choose. Their homemade fish cake is available at $1.40 each and it is handmade by Tom daily. 

A standard bowl of prawn mee comprises of 2 medium-sized prawns with slices of fish cake and lean meat with kang kong then topped with fried lard before serving. The prawns are only blanched upon order and Anson actually made the efforts to de-shell the prawns, left with just the head and tail. The prawns are deveined as well though it is rather time-consuming. These prawns tasted relatively fresh. The broth is prepared using ingredients like pork ribs and chicken bones slow-cooked for hours to bring out the flavors though light bodied but with a notable robustness. 

Those fresh-tasting fish cakes were fluffy with a noticeable tenderness and bounciness. This is one of the key factors that set this particular prawn noodle apart from the others. 

And, there is no need for the addition of chilli powder as it is already spicy enough as commented by my dining companion. 

Anson was not there when I visited. Overall, the prawn noodle was nice though not quite memorable as yet but do support this passionate young hawker if you happen to be in this food centre. 

505 Beach Road #01-97 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (Closed on Saturdays)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ang Mo Kio 453 Wanton Mee : my new favourite

I did not actually take note of this newest stall in the food centre till my dining companion pointed out. He said, "Is this a new stall? Look at that long queue!" This stall has a bright yellow signboard and it stated "Ang Mo Kio 453 Wanton Mee". My guess is they are likely moved from Chong Boon Food Centre at Block 453 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 to here. I went for a late lunch on a weekday, it was near 2 pm at that time with a short queue of about 4 people in front of the stall. When it was my turn, I wanted to go with Wanton Mee ($3.00) and Dumpling Soup ($3) but was told that the Prawn Dumpling Soup has already sold out. I asked, "Closing soon?" and the Auntie replied, "No, not yet. We usually close at 2ish." I decided to add extra wanton. She asked, "Add another $1 for wanton ah?" I nodded. I also requested to have an extra amount of chilli to be added. While waiting for my order to be ready and I asked the Auntie, "This stall moved from Block 453 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10?" Aunties replied, "Yeah, that food centre." 

There are 2 sizes for Wanton Mee, the smallest portion is at $3 and the largest portion is at $4. There are also Prawn Dumpling Noodle, Shredded Chicken Noodle and Chicken Feet Noodle on their menu. Their Wanton Mee is different from most others. The mee kia is only mixed with chilli and no sauce beneath. It served along with ingredients like a few slices of char siew and vegetable then topped with fried lard with pickled green chilli by the side. Auntie asked, "Do you want your green chilli with the noodles or by itself?", which I opted to have it together with the noodles. To start, tossed it well with the chilli and you could see almost every strand of the mee kia was nicely coated with it. It is the chilli that set it apart from the others, it has a comforting level of spiciness which brought forth the flavor. 

I added $1 for extra 4 pieces of wanton together with the other 3 that are included in the $3 portion.The wanton has an old-school taste, the filling which consists of minced meat was lightly marinated with a light peppery taste.

There is always a queue and the waiting time is usually about 15 minutes or so, it will be longer if some of the customers in front take away a couple of orders. 

Block 162 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-28 Mayflower Food Centre SINGAPORE 560162
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 2.30 pm

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ming Mun 名门 : the authentic Hong Kong taste

Chef Rex Lam, 42, the founder, came to Singapore from Hong Kong about 3 months ago and brought along his recipe as well as 18 years of experience in roasted meat. The recipe has been adjusted to better suit the taste buds of the locals. The stall has been around for a while but they have been really low key and so, even though it is near to where I stay but I know nothing about them until someone posted it on Facebook.

They are likely to be the only hawker stall that is known for serving Roast Goose, they imported the frozen goose from Hungary as those from China are not approved. It is only available by ordering in advance and on certain days, particularly on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was reported recently in the newspaper that half of their roasted goose costs $128 as there is an increase in the price of frozen goose, from the initial $80 to $150 per bird, to actually justify it. The availability of Roast Goose is quite indefinite as the source of supply is not reliable for now.

The roast goose was not available when We were there on a Sunday for lunch. We decided to go with a quarter Roast Duck ($13.00) with Char Siew ($4.00) for 2 pax together with 2 plates of rice ($0.50 cents each). I ordered the Roasted Pork too, but they did not get the order as I could not communicate well in Cantonese when I ordered through Chef Lam. As it is self-service, I waited there for it to be served. When Chef Lam handed the plate of roasted meat to me, he said, "慢慢食" in Cantonese, which means "enjoy your meal."

The skin was slightly crisp with a slight smokiness and still retained its moisture within, it was so tender and juicy. My dining companion got pretty excited over it. He exclaimed, "It tasted just like what I had eaten in Hong Kong." It has a pretty authentic taste as Chef Lam insists on using a classic blend of spices and herbs as the marinade, providing a savory flavor and not as sweet as some of the others roasted ducks in Singapore. 

The Char Siew was really good, and its standard is even close to Roast Paradise which is known for their amazingly good Char Siew. It had a perfect lean-to-fat ratio and nicely caramelized with charred edges but still tender within.

As a frequent traveler to Hong Kong, I can attest that this is one of the closest choices that you can get without flying to Hong Kong.

Block 159 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 SINGAPORE 560159
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ah Poh BBQ Seafood : the better BBQ Stingray

It was rather chaotic when we were there for a late dinner on a Saturday, as most of the tables were taken up at that time and the only empty table was right in front of the satay stall, that very much explained why it was the only table available. 

There are 2 stalls serving BBQ seafood, but we decided to order from Ah Poh BBQ Seafood, the most popular stall amongst them. There was another customer ordering when I was there. I decided to go with BBQ Stingray, Sotong and 2 bowls of rice. I was asking Auntie that took my order, "How long would it be? about 30 minutes?" She replied, "No, not that long, should be shorter." I went back to wait at the table. A friendly Uncle came by with chopsticks, spoons and 2 saucers of dipping sauce. 

The Uncle came over with Sotong and the rice. I was expecting the BBQ Sotong, but it turned out to be the Sambal Sotong, the smallest portion is priced at $12. It was my fault as I did not specify that I want BBQ Sotong when ordering, the Auntie did not ask me as well, so I assumed it. It was stir-fried with shredded onion, green pepper, and some chilli but it did not taste too spicy, the sauce reminded me of those that usually for Chilli Crab which was unexpectedly appetising. 

We had waited for another 5 minutes before the same Auntie came over with the BBQ Stingray. And, I said, "Really less than 30 minutes." Auntie replied, "It is usually quite fast as we "long pang" and cook the orders together."

After our first mouthfuls, my dining companion and I agreed that this has to be one of the better-barbecued Stingray that we have ever eaten, it is much better than the famous BBQ Stingray by Hong Chang Eating House along Braddell Road. The smallest portion is reasonably priced at $12 which consists of 2 slices of nicely barbecued stingray; the medium portion is at $15 and the large one at $18. 

The surface was nicely seared to give a slight crisp but still retained its moisture within then smeared with the chilli to serve. I liked the chilli that has a mild level of spiciness and I wished there were more of it; perhaps I could try to request for more when I visit again.

51 Upper Bukit Timah Road #02-119/120 Bukit Timah Food Centre SINGAPORE 588172
Operating Hours: 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm (Daily)