Thursday, April 18, 2019

Kampung Kia Blue Pea Nasi Lemak

Jack Beh and Kok Kian Ann, the owners, they are originated from Penang and Ipoh in Malaysia. They have an extensive background in Chinese cooking and are passionate about serving the authentic Malaysian style Nasi Lemak. They started a shop in Marine Parade in January 2018 followed by a hawker stall in Clementi before shutting them down and eventually resurfacing in this coffee shop at Kelantan Lane in February. 

Their signature Fried Chicken Wing set ($4) is the most popular. There are also choices of Rempah Chicken set ($5.00), Curry Chicken set ($5.50), Rendang Chicken set ($5.50), Nonya Ayam Fish set ($6.00) and Nonya Asam Seafood set ($6.80). 

I was attended by one of the young bosses. I asked, "Which Chicken set would you recommend?" He said, "Why don't you try the Rendang Chicken set?" I replied, "Alright. I will like to add a piece of the chicken wing to the set." He asked me to take a seat first and will give a signal when it is ready. I waited for about 10 minutes before he waved at me.

The set came with a portion of achar, prawn crackers together with a fried egg and served with homemade sambal. The rice that is cooked using pandan leave and lemongrass has a lovely blue color infused by the blue pea flowers that are known to have certain health benefits, it was fluffy and moist with a hint of coconut flavor. The chicken wing was lightly coated with a layer of batter and deep-fried to the desired crispiness. The rendang chicken leg is like the dry version of chicken curry, the chicken leg was moist and quite flavorful with a tinge of spiciness. My dining companion said, "I did not exactly like it, it was a bit too saltish."

31 Kelantan Lane Time Cuisine Kopitiam SINGAPORE 200031
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Newton Tan Song Heng : good Fried Hokkien Mee

I was there on a Friday for the popular Hai Tang Lor Mee (海棠卤面) but it was closed. Amongst the food choices there, this Fried Hokkien Mee stall was one of those that have got a queue. They used to be at Newton Food Centre before moving to this food centre. I joined the queue and waited for a while before get to order. The auntie was telling me that I have to wait for the next batch of Fried Hokkien Mee. There are the $4, $5 and $6 options to choose and there is also Fried Kway Teow for $3, $4 and $5. I decided to go with the Fried Hokkien Mee as most of their customers were ordering this but opted for the smallest portion. While waiting, I chatted with a customer right behind me. She said, "Their Fried Hokkien Mee is very good. I always come to eat this, the Ipoh Hor Fun and also the Lor Mee."

I waited for about 15 minutes to get my plate of Fried Hokkien Mee. Though it is the smallest size, its portion was quite substantial to share with my dining companion. He got to taste it first and he said, "It is moist but not overly wet, the noodles were nicely braised in the broth to absorb the flavor well."

When I had my first mouthful, I was equally impressed and totally understand why there is always a constant queue at this stall. The same customer said, "If you come at 12 pm, the queue is really very long but not so now as lunch hour is almost over." The prawns tasted relatively fresh and the chilli though not too spicy but it actually enhanced the flavor. 

This is definitely better than the Yang Zhou Hokkien Sotong Mee at Jalan Bukit Merah. I would think this is easily one of the better Fried Hokkien Mee that I have eaten so far and definitely worth traveling to this secluded hawker centre just for this. I am likely to come back for their Fried Kway Teow.

159 Mei Ling Street #02-40 Mei Ling Food Centre SINGAPORE 140159
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 7.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays & Public Holidays)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

One Mouthful Noodle : handmade Wanton noodle

Jim Yeow, 37, the owner, a former interior designer that started in a coffee shop at Geylang Lorong 27 but closed down in December 2017 and reopened at Yishun Park Hawker Centre on 1 April 2019. His father, Mr Yeow Lok Meng, 68, used to run a stall in Chinatown for decades but has already retired for almost 20 years, he learned the art of making noodles from a master from Guang Zhou in 1965. Their noodles are handmade at the stall using the same technique for making Cantonese noodles with just eggs and flour based on a recipe that has been handed down. It is very challenging in making the noodles, it requires the right technique and adequate amount of strength to do it right. Not many are making their noodles these days.

I was there on a Sunday slightly after 12 pm. There were another 2 customers in front of the stall. I wanted to have their Hong Kong style Beef Brisket Noodle ($5.50) but was told that it has finished. I decided to go for their Char Siew Wanton Noodle ($4.50) and Shrimp Dumpling Soup ($4.50) then. I was told that they only left the last 2 pieces of Shrimp Dumplings and I can choose to just add on. I wanted to add extra wanton but Jim said, "Don't want la. I do not have enough."

Another customer was also waiting for his order to be ready. He also requested to add extra wanton to his noodles but was also told not to do so. He said, "Their wanton noodle is very nice, particularly like their Char Siew." He sounded like a regular customer. I replied, "You are staying nearby?" He pointed at the block behind. He also said, "Their dumplings are also very good." I overheard when he asked for dumplings earlier. I laughed then said, "I am the one that took the last 2 dumplings." We were waiting for the char siew to be ready. 

Their thinly-pulled noodles are kneaded by hand and its texture is quite similar to those served in Hong Kong, it is lighter and springier, almost no lye is tasted. My dining companion said, "The noodles are very nice. The char siew though tasty but not tender enough, the cut is a bit too lean. "

The wantons and shrimp dumplings were quite nice though particularly the shrimp dumpling. The shrimp dumpling consists of a piece of shrimp with minced meat nicely wrapped in a piece of thin wrapper. 

As I was just seated near the stall, I overheard that the noodles were ran out and they have to halt the operation while making a new batch for dinner. 

Jim is striving hard to preserve the originality of the authentic wanton mee founded by his father. 

51 Yishun Avenue 11 #01-12 Yishun Park Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 768867
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 9.00 pm

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Tie Fun Wan by Rice & Fries : fusion rice bowls

Chef Ken Chia, 43, the owner, previously manned Rice & Fries, a cafe along Changi Road for about 5 years before moving to the current location. It is a hole-in-the-wall just a stone's throw away from Farrer Park MRT and is only selling rice bowls thus he named the shop as "Tie Fun Wan", it is 铁饭碗 in Chinese, literally means iron rice bowls.

The menu consists of 4 different types of rice bowls including their signature 72-Hr Slow Cooked Beef ($14), Sweet & Spicy Pork Pork Belly ($10), Braised Pork (Lor Bak) ($8) and Teriyaki Chicken ($8), it served with the pearl rice of Shanghai noodle. There are choices to add a 63-degree egg for $1.50, corn at $1.00 and extra rice at $1.50. 

There were just another 3 customers when we were there for lunch on a weekday. Chef Ken was there all by himself. We ordered at the counter and decided to go with the 72-Hr Slow Cooked Beef bowl and Braised Pork bowl, added egg to both rice bowls. We were asked to take a seat. 

There are pickled radish and carrots in the containers available for self-service on the table. Chef Ken said, "These condiments go well with the rice bowls." He also said, "Everything is made fresh in house and no MSG is added."

We also ordered the home-brewed drinks, Lemon Grass ($3.00) and Honey Lemon ($3.00). The Honey Lemon drink is particularly good for such hot weather.

The 72-Hr Slow Cooked Beef bowl consists of lightly torched beef slices served with the housemade teriyaki plum sauce together with the 63-degree egg and greens, garnished with bonito flakes and chopped spring onions. The tenderness of the sous-vide Australian Angus beef has left an impression. My dining companion said, "It is really soft and quite flavorful." He added, "The soup that came with the rice bowl is actually quite tasteless though there are ikan belis and soya beans at the bottom of the soup bowl." 

The Braised Pork bowl came with a few chunks of braised pork and a piece of braised beancurd, garnished with bonito flakes and chopped spring onions. My dining companion said, "It would be nicer if the meat is softer."

Chef Ken came over to ask, "How was the food?" I replied, "The 72-Hr Slow Cooked Beef bowl is very nice. My sister is quite a fan of your Western food particularly the Lamb Shank and Oxtail Stew." He said, "We are not able to do that here as cannot do heavy cooking right here." He added, "Another reason that we decided to move here is it was kind of quiet at our previous location. Sometimes, there were only a few tables." He is happy with the current location as his customer base is slowly building up.

89 Rangoon Road #01-03 Urban Lofts SINGAPORE 218375
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 2.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 11.30 pm (Mon to Fri) /
11.00 am to 11.30 pm (Sat & Sun)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Yang Zhou Hokkien Sotong Mee : formerly from Beo Crescent

Uncle Lim, the owner, started his stall at Block 40 Beo Crescent and was there for 3 decades before moving to the current location in September 2016 leaving the previous stall to someone else. I did not get to eat it when they were there. While queuing, I quietly observed how the elderly Uncle frying the noodles and he would look up occasionally and to ask for the order then continuously frying the mixture of yellow noodles and thick bee hoon. I decided to go with the smallest portion at $4. There are also the $5 and $6 portions available. 

The Hokkien Mee is different, the texture is much drier as compared to most of those out there as the noodles were nicely fried to give it a charred flavor rather than just braising in stock. He used to be doing so using charcoal fire over at Beo Crescent but no longer doing so as they are not able to use charcoal in this coffee shop. Sua Lor prawns were used together with squid, bean sprouts and egg as the ingredients.

This is a simple yet satisfying Fried Hokkien Mee though not the best that I have tasted but it is good enough. 

Block 127 Bukit Merah Lane 1 SINGAPORE 150127
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Monday, April 1, 2019

Hong Kong Yummy Soup : healthier soup choices

This stall was awarded a Bib Gourmand distinction in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2018. The owners are a Cantonese couple originated from Hong Kong. The awareness of healthy eating has brought forth the demand for such healthy soups and that was further proven by the long queue in front of the stall waiting for it to be ready at 12 pm.

The menu only consists of 6 types of soups : Spareribs Soup with Lotus Root ($3.50), Spareribs Soup with Winter Melon ($3.50), Brazilian Mushroom Soup with Snow Fungus ($4.50), Spareribs Soup with Mushroom ($3.50), Cordyceps Flower Soup with Chicken ($4.50) and Night-blooming Cereus Spareribs Soup ($3.50). There are also Steamed Pork Ribs ($3.50) and Pumpkin Steamed Minced Meat ($3.00) as a side order, rice is $0.50 per serving. The soups are made from scratch with no MSG together with specially selected ingredients that have different health benefits like replenishing nutrients, acting as a detox cleanser or removing the effects of humidity. I joined in and waited for about 15 minutes to order Brazillian Mushroom Soup with Snow Fungus and Spareribs Soup with Mushroom together with a bowl of rice. 

Spareribs Soup with Mushroom was light but full of ingredients like different types of mushroom, carrot chunks and spareribs. The texture of the spareribs was so tender. My dining companion said, "There is a strong yet refreshing mushroom flavor." 

The Brazillian Mushroom Soup with Snow Fungus is supposed to be good for the ladies and it is also good for the skin too. There was a chicken drumstick with Brazillian cap mushroom, white fungus, red date added to the soup. The soup tasted healthy and lightly flavored but the chicken drumstick was not soft enough yet. 

My dining companion said, "Their soups are different from the other stalls. They are one of the hawker stalls that are worthy of the Bib Gourmand distinction."

Block 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-51 Alexandra Village Food Centre SINGAPORE 151120
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.30 pm (Closed on Saturdays & Sundays)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Hock Kee Fried Kway Teow : the decades-old flavor

Ah Song, 66, the owner, has been frying kway teow for more than 4 decades after taking over the stall from his mother-in-law that started it from a pushcart in the 60s' along Maude Road. This stall used to be in a coffee shop at Maude Road for about 20 years then moved to Syed Alwi Road in November 2015 before moving to Berseh Food Centre in March 2018. 

There are 3 sizes, from the smallest at $3 to medium at $3.50 and the largest at $4.00. There was another customer in front of me. I decided to go with the $4 portion and waited in front of the stall. Uncle asked, "Do you want chilli?" I replied, "Yes." As I will be sharing with my dining companion so I said, "Just a bit of chilli." It was still a little too spicy for him. He said, "I did not taste much of the wok flavor and there did not seem to have any lard. It would definitely be nicer if there are some bits of crispy lard." He added, "It is still a good plate of fried kway teow, much better than some of the mediocre ones." 

Nonetheless, it has an alluring old-school flavor with ingredients like slices of fishcake, cockles, Chinese sausage, and egg. It was fried well to the desired texture, which was drier, more savory and less sweet. 

166 Jalan Berseh #01-16 Berseh Food Centre SINGAPORE 208877
Operating Hours: 2.00 pm to 11.00 pm (Daily)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hor Fun Premium : Beef horfun

I was there for an early dinner, the food centre was quite quiet at that time and most of the stalls have already closed and I was left with limited choices. This was one of the stalls that got a short queue and the other one was Hong Kong Yummy Soup that was awarded a Bib Gourmand distinction in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2018.

After some thoughts, I decided to have horfun, it is my kind of comfort food. It is getting difficult to find a really good one these days. I joined in the queue without realising that those customers in front of me have already ordered. The uncle saw me, he looked towards my direction and was waiting for my order. I told him that I wanted to have Beef Horfun ($4.50). There are also choices of Mixed Horfun / Mui Fan ($4.50) and Sliced Fish Horfun / Mui Fan ($4.50) together with Pork Ribs Rice ($4.50), Ginger & Spring Onion Beef / Chicken ($4.50) and Prawn Paste Chicken ($8/$10/$12). 

There was a smokiness amidst the nicely charred horfun came with ingredients like sliced beef and greens in eggy gravy that was not too starchy nor too watery. It was good though not exceptionally so I would think it is still better than most out there.

I ordered my favorite avocado shake from Mr Avocado Exotic Fruit Juice to go along with it.

120 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-78 Alexandra Village Food Centre SINGAPORE 150120
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 2.30 pm / 5 to 8.30 pm (Daily)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Wok In Burger : taste the Kungfu burgers

Paul Liew, 37, and Wayne Liew, 34, have recently started Wok In Burger, a stall at their father's coffee shop after getting approval from Mr Liew Choy, 65 who is still overseeing the operation of Keng Eng Kee Seafood. It is also known as KEK Seafood, a family restaurant in Alexandra Village. They are known to serve old classic items like Chilli Crabs, Salted Egg Stong, Coffee Pork Ribs, Moonlight Horfun and more. Wayne is the third-generation head chef of Keng Eng Kee Seafood. The stall name alludes to tossing and stir-fried in a wok just like what it is usually done in a traditional zichar stall before serving in between the burger buns and presented in wok-shaped platters. Such an effort of incorporating Asian elements into Western dishes to showcase zichar dishes and transforming it into burgers is definitely commendable. Wayne started by making these zichar-inspired burgers for staff meal before eventually featured them as Wok Hei Burgers as part of the side menu at their now-defunct outlet at Pandan Garden, it was closed last August after the lease was up.

The menu consists of the 7 types of Kungfu Burgers with pasta dishes, rice sets, sides, and drinks. This is not fast food as everything is made from scratch, the recipes and the cooking methods are the same as that of the Zichar stall. The order has to be placed at the counter and a buzzer will be given for collection. All burger orders come with fries, coleslaw, and a water chestnut drink with the option to top up $1 for Lime Fizz cordial or $2 for a Root Beer Float. There is also an option to add a sunny-side up egg for $1. There were 4 of us and we ordered 2 sets of Chilli Soft Shell Crab Burger, a set of Salted Egg Sotong "Blur"ger and a set of Marmite Pork Burger.

Their signature Chilli Soft Shell Crab ($15) is a must order. The soft shell crab was battered in thin batter then deep-fried before sandwiched in the sesame buns accompanied by a brunch of thinly julienned purple cabbage, cucumber, and lettuce. 

It was served along with a saucer of chilli crab sauce together with hand-cut fries and coleslaw. The sesame buns are buttered and toasted for crispier texture but still fluffy within. The sauce is supposed to be poured on the fried soft shell crab and eat it together. The sauce had a good balance of sweetness, spiciness and sourish.

Salted Egg Sotong "Blur"ger ($9.80) is an interesting choice. The squid rings were fried over a high fire for the desired crunchiness and softness, it was tossed in the wok with the salted egg sauce then sandwiched between the sesame buns with thinly julienned purple cabbage, cucumber, and lettuce. 

The salted egg sauce is made from scratch consisting of a blend of sweet and savory flavors that further accented by the curry leaves. It is served with hand-cut fries and coleslaw. There is also the choices of chicken and pork for this burger. This has to be the best salted egg burger that I have eaten so far. The hand-cut fries were lightly salted, slightly crisp and still soft within. The coleslaw provides a refreshing twist. 

My friend that was having the Marmite Pork Burger said, "I did not expect the meat to be so soft." She also said, "The fries are also very nice." I was telling her that, "They have the skills after running the Zichar stall for quite a while to actually infuse the familiar flavors to these burgers."

This is likely to be the only place for such hearty burgers with the familiar local flavors and it is definitely worth a try. 

Block 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-136 SINGAPORE 150121
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm / 5.30 pm to 10 pm (Daily)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Milah Hokkaido Curry Puff at Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre

My dining companion told me about this stall after he went walking around the food centre. He said, "There is an interesting curry puff located at that corner." I decided to go check it out. When I was there, the "Hokkaido Curry Puff" on the signboard actually caught my attention. They are using 100% "Wonderful Traded Flour" from Hokkaido as indicated on their signboard. This is a halal stall owned by a Malay owner.

The friendly owner spotted me and he asked, "Any curry puff for you?" I asked, "What exactly is Hokkaido Curry Puff?" He pointed at the paper bag that has "Tokachi Mill Factory" printed on it together with some Japanese characters and said, "I am using the flour from Hokkaido to make all these curry puffs." He added, "There are different flavors ranging from the usual potato and sardine to cheese potato and mentaiko cheese potato." I asked, "How long have you been running this stall?" He answered, "We have been around for about 7 months." It is 1 piece for $1.20 or 3 pieces for $3.00. I decided to get one of each of the remaining flavors for a total of $4.20. 

We tried the sardine flavor and the potato flavor first, it actually tasted just like the usual curry puffs from the Malay stalls. We then tried the mentaiko cheese potato, it did not have the taste of mentaiko though we could actually see it amongst the filling. And, the cheese potato flavor did not have the taste of cheese in it. My dining companion said, "Though they claimed to use flour from Hokkaido, I could not quite tell the difference. It did not seem to have much effect in enhancing the texture of those puffs."

The size of these curry puffs is quite small. 

The owner seems to be passionate enough to keep this stall going and perhaps, give it more time and it will get better. 

31 Commonwealth Crescent #02-64 Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre SINGAPORE 149644
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 6.00 pm (Mon to Fri) / 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (Sat & Sun)
(Closed on Thursdays)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

黄大福 : cheap & good Bak Chor Mee

I did not manage to ask for the name of this young owner but I know that his name is not 黄大福, the name of this stall. I seated right in front of his stall while waiting for my burgers to be ready and I took notice of the constant queue there. Most of these customers seem to be the regulars, there was even a caucasian man ordered his Bak Chor Mee. I decided to try it.

I decided to order Bak Chor Mee and added $1 for extra ingredients. While waiting for my order to be ready, I said, "I somewhat could not quite associate the Chinese stall name with a young man cooking at the stall." I asked, "Did you happen to take over the stall from your father?" The young owner replied, "黄大福 is not my name. I balloted this stall. I decided to use  as the stall name as this is the name of the person that taught me how to cook the noodles." The young owner actually reminded me of Douglas Ng that operates Fishball Story, the Fishball Noodle was really good when he just started at Golden Mile Food Centre but not so now. 

I also said, "A basic bowl at $2.70 is cheaper than most of the other stalls." He replied, "There are many elderly folks in this estate so I cannot afford to set the prices too high." He continued to say, "There are also other stalls in this food centre selling at this price. There is a Chicken Rice stall behind selling at $2.50 per plate and also a dessert stall selling desserts at $1.00 per bowl." He said, "My stall used to be next to the dessert stall When I first started. The elderly owner has quite an attitude. She will snap at the customers when they ask her for cold desserts." I asked, "How long have you been in this food centre?" He replied, "About 3 years already."

It consists of a good portion of mee pok with liver and lean meat with minced meat together with meatballs. The pork liver was cooked just right, those pieces were thinly sliced in big pieces. The lard is available in a container at the stall for self-service. I helped myself with a big spoonful of those bits of crispy lard, it was tasty and not oily. I tossed the mee pok to mix it with the sauce beneath. 

The first mouthful wowed me. The mee pok was perfectly cooked to the right texture, with just the right balance of chilli sauce, and vinegar added. This bowl of Bak Chor Mee is easily amongst the best that I have eaten. This is even better than some of those popular ones out there.

The accompanying soup was lightly flavored with a hint of fresh pork.

I went back to the stall and tell the young owner that, "I am a big fan of Bak Chor Mee and your Bak Chor Mee is really nice." He smiled and said, "Come back more often then. We open on every day." This Bak Chor Mee is a new found favorite.

31 Commonwealth Crescent #02-93 Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre SINGAPORE 149644
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 5.00 pm (Daily)