Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wang Mei (Chin Ji) Soya Bean : the decades-old goodness

This stall has been in this food centre for more than 30 years, manned by an elderly couple. The Grass Jelly, Grass Jelly Drink, Soya Beancurd, and Soya Bean Drink are still making at the stall. There are 2 sizes for the drink, the small cup at $1.00 and the big cup at $1.20. The Grass Jelly and Soya Bean Curd are priced at $1.50 each. There was a younger guy manning the stall when I was there. I ordered the big cup of Grass Jelly Drink and Soya Bean Drink. He asked, "Less sweet?". I replied, "I like it sweeter." He said, "Most people wanted it less sweet but there are some that prefer sweeter." I told him that a friend recommended it. He smiled and said, "Thank you." The Soya Bean Milk was left just a bit slightly after 1 pm on a Sunday and the Grass Jelly Drink was also finishing. 

The Grass Jelly Drink tasted different from the others out there, it has a comforting homemade taste. There is a rather mild, slightly bitter taste that reminded me of my late mother. She used to buy a block of grass jelly, shredded it and boiled it with sugar. I was telling my dining companion that it has "妈妈的味道". I also told him that this is one of the better Grass Jelly Drinks that I ever tasted. I lost my mother when I was 10 years old and that was part of the memories that I had of her.

The Soya Bean Drink has a thick and creamy taste, an extra amount of syrup was added for a slight sweetness as requested. 

Block 210 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 #01-27 Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Food Centre SINGAPORE 310210
Operating Hours: 5.30 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Penang Seafood Restaurant : Assam Laksa, a must-try

We came across this restaurant while going to Kwong Cheong Thye to get the ingredients for making mooncake. When we were browsing the menu, a friendly lady approached us. She said, "Table for 2? We are famous for the Assam Laksa and Penang Fried Kway Teow. We used to be at the opposite before moving here." She continued to say, "We are celebrating our 10th anniversary by offering a 20% discount for the food items from 11 am to 4 pm on Monday to Friday till the end of the month."

I decided to go with Assam Laksa, there are 2 sizes, the small portion is at $4.80 and the big portion is $5.80. The same lady was taking our orders, she asked, "Small or big portion?". She pointed at the table next to us and said, "That is the big portion. I can finish it by myself." I opted for the bigger portion. My dining companion ordered the Penang Fried Kway Teow ($5.00) and he requested to have it without chili. We also ordered Prawn Paste Chicken ($12) to share. We also ordered a canned drink ($2.00) and Lime Juice ($2.50). I wanted to order coffee but was told they are using the 3-in-1 instant coffee. 

The canned drink and Lime Juice came right after.

The Assam Laksa came first. There were some reviews stated that this is probably the best Assam Laksa in Singapore. I eagerly took a mouthful. It was flavorful, spicy and tangy. It would be even better if they are using the right type of noodles, those that are thicker and chewier and not using the thick bee hoon. 

The Penang Fried Kway Teow was not as good as expected. The chilli was omitted as requested, it did not taste as savory as expected. They might have replaced it with the usual dark sauce as it actually tasted like the local style fried kway teow. It was stir-fried with ingredients like cockles, lup cheong, and prawn with a handful of bean sprouts.

Those pieces of Prawn Paste Chicken were nicely fried to the desired crispiness but the prawn paste taste was not as intense. 

I am likely to come back for their Assam Laksa if happen to be in the vicinity.

32 Aljunied Road SINGAPORE 389817
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 11.55 pm (Daily)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fatburger Singapore : disappointing experience

Fatburger, an iconic burger from Hollywood that founded by Lovie Yancey in 1952 has recently opened its door in Singapore. Moe Ibrahim, CEO of Deelish Brands tied up with FAT Brands, a US franchise company to secure the franchise rights to bring in the Fatburger to Singapore. The first location is Kinex Mall, the former OneKM Mall and the other location is Velocity in Novena Square at the end of September. 

Every burger comes with mustard, pickles, relish, onions, mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes, which is part of "The Works". It can be customized by adding beef bacon, cheese, onion rings, eggs, BBQ sauce, thousand island dressing, and even American-style chili. It was mentioned by the CEO during his interview with the lifestyle section of The Business Times that they work with a local butcher to prepare the ground beef according to their specifications. They also import high-quality beef and grind it twice to achieve the desired fat content. It was also mentioned that every Fatburger is lean and they are also working with a local baker to deliver fresh brioche and wholemeal buns daily. Every meal is supposed to cook-to-order using the freshest ingredients and traditional cooking methods using the chilled and not frozen beef with a ration of 80 percent lean meat to 20 percent fat. You are able to choose from brioche, wholemeal and gluten-free buns.

The burger comes in different sizes from Single ($7.90), Double ($10.90), Triple ($13.50) and Quad ($15.90). There is also Skinny Burger ($7.50) that replaced the buns with patties and Western BBQ Burger ($9.90) that came with onion rings and beef bacon with BBQ sauce. There are choices of Fat Fries ($3.90), Skinny Fries ($3.90), Sweet Potato Fries ($5.90), Onion Rings ($5.90) and Chili Cheese Fries ($5.90) for sides. The add-on items like beef bacon, cheese, onions rings, and eggs are available at $1 each. An option is available to top up $4 to make it a meal which includes free-flow of soft drinks and a choice of fries.

Fatburger is co-branded with Buffalo's Express for its chicken wings and sandwiches. There is the selection of Bone-In Wings (from $5.90 for 6 pieces), Boneless Chicken (from $8.50 for 6 pieces), and Chicken Tenders (from $6.50 for 3 pieces). There are Crispy Chicken ($7.90) and Grilled Chicken ($7.90) for sandwiches. There are a total of 7 sauces to go with starting from Death Valley, Hot, Cajun, Thai Sweet Chilli, Teriyaki, BBQ, Lemon Pepper or simply have it plain. 

We ordered the Single Burger with Sweet Potato Fries and Soft Drink and Double Burger with Onion Rings and Strawberry Milkshake as well as Bone-In Buffalo Wings (6 pieces) for a total of $39.10. The service was personalized. They asked for your name and even have it printed on the receipt and they will call you by name when they served it to your table.

The Strawberry Milkshake is made with hand-scooped ice-cream but it is not as thick and creamy as expected to be. The other flavors are Cholocate, Vanilla, and Oreo. 

The first bite was a disappointment. The patties were so well-done thus it tasted dry. Having paid so much, I expected it to be better. Shake Shack has always cooked their patties at medium when it comes to the degree of doneness, which is different than most of its competitors. 

My dining companion said, "It reminded me of the Double Whopper that I had at Burger King just recently. The patties were equally dry. This type of quality is more acceptable at a cheaper price. It does not quite make sense to pay so much for such a lousy burger." He continued to say, "I would rather go to Macdonald's and order one of those burgers listed in their Signature Collection, it is cheaper and tastier." He said, "This is so not worth it and probably one of those overrated meals that I had had."

The Double Burger was equally disappointing. I have tasted it before when I was in Macau, it was much better then. I hope this is a one-off due to the probable inconsistency as they are newly opened and still adjusting. 

The onion rings are made from scratch daily, it is dipped into their special batter and fried to perfect crispiness but a little too greasy. 

When I asked for the recommendation, I was told that Bone-In Buffalo Wings are the classic choice. I opted to have it with the hot sauce. The heat was quite mild and it was tasty, the carrot and celery sticks that served along were a bit dry though still crunchy.

Overall, this newly opened burger joint somewhat reminded me of Wendy's and they did not quite make it in Singapore. 

11 Tanjong Katong Road #01-70/71/72 Kinex SINGAPORE 437157
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

[Japan] Shake Shack : my favorite fast food joint

Shake Shack is likely to be coming to Singapore. If you wonder what exactly is Shake Shack, it is a fast-growing American fast food restaurant chain based in New York City. It started out as a humble food cart outside Madison Square Park in 2001 serving only hot dogs and it moved to a food stand in 2004, it included burgers, hot dogs, fries and milkshakes to its menu. It has over 170 outlets in America and overseas. It is rumored to be opening at the upcoming Jewel Changi Airport in early 2019. 

I had it for lunch when I was in Tokyo just recently. There are a total of 9 outlets in Japan and 5 of them are located in Tokyo. I went to the outlet at Ebisu in Tokyo. The restaurant was almost full during lunch on a weekday. I ordered their signature Shack Stack, ShackBurger, Crinkle Fries, Strawberry Milkshake, and the Shack-made Lemonade. Their beverage menu is customized to the local flavors of the city, just like the special Hong Kong Milk Tea Shake together with 3 different Hong Kong style frozen yogurt desserts at their outlet in Hong Kong.

The Strawberry Milkshake is thick and creamy with a well-balanced sweetness. Their milkshakes have been reviewed as one of the best. The Shack-made Lemonade consists of Shack-made syrup in original or featured flavor. The featured flavor then was raspberry. 

ShackBurger comes with single or double Angus beef patties topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce, sandwiched between the potato buns. It is a no-frill cheeseburger that done really well. The quality of ingredients determines the taste of the burger which set apart a great burger from a mediocre one. The ShackSauce is none other than mayonnaise, dijon mustard, ketchup, cayenne pepper and pickle juice put together. 

Shack Stack is actually the combination of Cheeseburger and Shroom Burger. It consists of an Angus beef patty and a deep-fried breaded portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheese. It was placed on a melted cheese then topped with lettuce. tomato and the ShackSauce, sandwiched in between the potato flour buns. 

The Crinkle Fries is one of the popular items on their menu, it is the must-order to go along with their burgers.

I am eagerly waiting for their opening in Singapore. 

Ebisu Minami 1-6 Shibuya-ku Tokyo JAPAN
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tiong Bahru Lien Fa Shui Jing Pau : the decades-old traditional snack

This is one of the stalls that originated from the Seng Poh Road Market that was opened in January 1951 before its demolition in 2004 and it is later renamed to Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre. They are famous for their steamed crystal dumplings that are not commonly found these days. There are only 3 types of fillings available, namely yam paste, sweet bean, and turnip. They are made in batches but always sold out pretty quickly, the next batch will have to wait up to an hour or so. It is priced at $0.60 for each dumpling during my last visit.

The skin of these bite-sized dumplings is slightly chewy and is translucent, it is very thin that you could actually see the filling through it and even so, it does not break easily. My favorite has to be the turnip dumplings as it goes really well with the accompanied chilli. The other 2 fillings are the sweet ones.

They are likely to be the only stall that is still handmade these traditional snacks in Singapore.

120 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-10 Alexandra Village Food Centre SINGAPORE 150120
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 3.00 pm

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Lai Heng Fried Kway Teow at Sembawang Hills Food Centre

This stall has been in this food centre for quite a while, serving Fried Kway Teow ($3/$4) and Banana Leaf Mackerel Otah ($1). They are related to another stall at Shunfu Mart and that stall used to be at the already demolished Lakeview Food Centre along Thomson Road. It is supposed to be manned by the father and sister. The last time when I was there, it was cooked by a lady. It was served in a few minutes. The kway teow were in broken pieces and some were rather charred and dry. I actually thought the portion was pre-cooked then left it in the wok and they just re-fried it to heat up a little before serving it. I did not go back after that. I heard that the father with his 40 years of experience fries very good Fried Kway Teow though. I was at the food centre a few times but did not get to see his father at the wok.

The experience at this stall in Sembawang Hills Food Centre was better. It is one of those stalls that will still serve it to you after ordering. The portion was quite generous even for the smaller serving at $3. It was served with ingredients like cockles, egg, lap cheong with a handful of bean sprouts. It was moist and not overly greasy but not as flavorful as expected to be and it did not have much smoky wok flavor. I did not find any lard amongst it. 

The Banana Leaf Mackerel Otah is an interesting side dish. It was nicely seasoned with a mild spiciness. 

Though I have been in this food centre quite often for lunch, this is not amongst the regular choices. It is getting difficult to find a good Fried Kway Teow these days.

590 Upper Thomson Road #01-15 Sembawang Hills Food Centre SINGAPORE 574419
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 5.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Xiang Rui Gourmet at Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre

This was one of the stalls that got a queue during lunch so I decided to join in. I went ahead to order a Century Egg Porridge ($3) added with an egg ($0.50) and You Tiao ($0.60). I also ordered the small portion of Spring Onion & Ginger Pork Liver at $5, the larger portion is available at $8. While waiting, there were more people joining the queue to order. 

The Century Egg Porridge was ready first, it was garnished with chopped spring onions and fried shallots with pieces of you tiao. I waited for another few minutes for the Spring Onion & Ginger Pork Liver to be ready.

The porridge was rather grainy, not quite smooth but it was quite comforting. 

The Spring Onion & Ginger Pork Liver was quite tasty. I wish those slices of pork liver were in bigger and thicker pieces. Those pork liver were sliced a little too thin and that might be the likely reason that caused it to be overcooked. 

This is a good choice for lunch when the choices are quite limited in this food centre.

110 Pasir Ris Central #01-08 Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 519641

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Anson Town : Curry Mee & Nasi Lemak

We went on National Day for lunch, the cafe was unexpectedly crowded on a Public Holiday. They started at a shop along Changi Road and this is their new outlet. They are serving Malaysian dishes particularly those from Anson Town, a town located in the state of Perak in Malaysia and is famous for Chee Cheong Fun. It is a different style from the usual Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun as it is served dry with some green pickled chili, the rice sheet is embedded with turnip, dried shrimps and minced meat.

When I was ordering at the counter, I was told that their Chee Cheong Fun has sold out. The friendly chap said, "There was an earlier order of 50 portions of Chee Cheong Fun for taking away." He continued to say, "This does not usually happen. We also did not expect." I have heard about their signature Chee Cheong Fun and is looking forward to trying it. I guess I will just have to come back another day for it.

We decided to have lunch there nonetheless. My dining companion went ahead with their Nasi Lemak, there are choices to have it with the chicken wing ($3.50) or chicken chop ($4.50). He wanted it with the chicken chop. I decided to go with the Curry Mee ($4.50). As for drinks, we ordered the Grass Jelly Drink ($1.20) and Iced Coffee ($1.60). After payment, a buzzer was given as it is self-service. They mixed up the Iced Coffee with the Hot Coffee so we collected without it. The Iced Coffee was sent over later. When collecting the utensils, the soup spoon was run out so we made do with the normal spoon. 

The Curry Mee consists of a substantial portion of yellow noodles with ingredients like tau pok and chicken. My dining companion took a sip of the curry gravy and commented that it was quite spicy. It was also thick and rich and it tasted nicer than expected. 

The Nasi Lemak did not taste too special, it consists of a big piece of chicken chop with cabbage, peanuts and ikan belis accompanied by the sambal chili on a slice of cucumber. The coconut rice was quite fragrant but the pre-fried chicken chop was a letdown. The chicken was quite bland and the batter was a little too thick. The sambal chili was good though, it reminded me of the traditional sambal chili that is usually a little sweet yet spicy. 

I am likely to go back for their Chee Cheong Fun.

No 7 Gambas Crescent #01-07 ARK SINGAPORE 750787
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee : just so so

Manfred Lim, 40s, is the 3rd generation hawker that took over the stall from his mother when he was 27 years old. His mother took over the stall from a relative. This decades-old stall has been award Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Though they are not amongst the famous Fried Hokkien Mee around, they have been around for a long time. 

I was there on a Saturday, there were just a few people in the queue. The queue was much longer at Tiong Bahru Hainanese Chicken Rice which is also awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand. There are the $3, $4 and also $5 portions available and I decided to go with the $4. The assistant was taking the order the moment when I joined the queue. It is cooked in batches and added in the pre-cooked ingredients later. 

Their version is wetter and not quite flavorful, no hint of wok flavor and not serving with fried lard. It was served with ingredients like prawns, squid, slices of pork belly and fish cake with sambal chilli by the side. My dining companion said, "It is not bad but not exceptionally impressive and I do not think they deserved the Michelin Bib Gourmand. How good can a Fried Hokkien Mee be if without wok flavor and fried lard?"

I think the inspectors from Michelin did not get to taste enough of the other Fried Hokkien Mee for a comparison. Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Mee at ABC Brickworks Food Centre that has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand this year is definitely more deserving. What do these foreign inspectors actually know about our hawker food? 

30 Seng Poh Road #02-01 Tiong Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 168898
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ah Lee Curry : a hearty lunch

This is a new stall at this coffee shop together with The Famous Porridge and 祥仔虾面 by a group of friends. There are the options to have it with the bread or rice for $4.00. I choose to have it with baguette and it came in 3 slices with the bowl of curry chicken.

The color of the curry was orangy and not the usual bright red but it has got a subtle spicy undertone with a distinct coconut flavor and not too oily. The chicken was cooked well to just the right texture. 

It would be nicer if those slices of baguette were lightly toasted to serve warm. 

It was a hearty choice for a light lunch. 

Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 #01-1149 SINGAPORE 560421
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 4.00 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

小蔡自制手工包點 . 點心 : simple Dim Sum fare

This stall has just opened not too long ago. It actually took over a wanton mee that has been there for more than 30 years. My late Grandpa used to bring me to that coffee shop. We usually ordered that wanton mee with a bowl of wantons soup as well as the coffee there. Grandpa said they served one of the better coffee in that area. My dearest Grandpa was a simple man and his way of showing love was to make sure I will not go hungry.

There were no other customers when I was there on a Sunday. It is self-service and you are expected to wait at the stall for it to be ready. Most of the items are priced at $1.80 to $2.20, slightly cheaper than the other popular dim sum stall at Block 151 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. We decided to go with some of their signature items like the Lobster Balls, Steamed Pork Ribs, Prawn Siew Mai, Prawn Dumpling, Fried Carrot Cake and Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf. 

The Lobster Balls ($1.80) were just those ready-made lobster balls in wrappers. It tasted just like those lobster balls that are readily available at those supermarkets. My dining companion was disappointed. We did not like it.

The Steamed Pork Ribs ($2.20) were alright though, right texture and flavor.

The Siew Mai ($2.00) tasted just fine.

Those Prawn Dumplings ($2.20) were nice, the wrapper was thin and nicely folded.

The Fried Carrot Cake ($0.80) was pre-fried so it tasted slightly hard.

The Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf ($3.50) was our favorite amongst those that we tried, it contains ingredients like chicken, salted egg yolk, shiitake mushroom and Chinese sausage.

It reminded me of those Dim Sum served in the eateries in Malaysia, simple yet affordable.

小蔡自制手工包點 . 點心 
Block 339 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 SINGAPORE 560339
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 4.00 pm (Daily)