Monday, November 30, 2015

Jack Ripper : One of the Worst Burgers Eaten

The owner named this burger stall after one of the most known serial killers. This stall is located at the atas Salute Kopitiam together with Two Wings and Immanuel French Kitchen.

Their burgers listed on the menu are quite pricey : Fairy Fay ($16), Emma and Martha ($24), Mary Ann ($18), Annie ($18), Elizabeth ($18), Mary Jane ($12) and Catherine ($14). And, 5 of these burgers are named after the 5 victims of Jack the Ripper. This burger stall is a collaboration between Chef Nicolas Reynard and the son of the Koptitiam's owner. On the menu, it stated, "Our 'Juicy Lucy Style' Burgers are made of 100% natural ingredients, designed and create by Chef Nicolas Reynard'. For this, i was expecting these burger to be of certain standard. I decided to go with Mary Ann since i am such a big fan of bacon.

It took quite a while before my buzzer buzzed, at least a good 15 minutes wait even though i was the only customer at that time. The 2 cooks did not seem to be too experienced, in fact, they seemed to be a little clumsy when assembling the burger. This burger, as described on the menu, it is actually similar with their signature Fairy Fay, it consists of a 150 grams juicy beef patty with cheese, romaine lettuce, tomatos but with an additional of 3 slices of crispy bacon. And, all the burgers on their menu come with fries. 

First impression was the burger buns seemed to be a bit over toasted as the color was a bit too dark.

When inspecting the burger, the 3 slices of bacon were overcooked as the color gave it away. The texture was not crispy but hard with a distinct burnt taste that led to bitterness detected. The cheese was supposed to be oozing out as described on their menu but in fact, it was dry and sticked on to the beef patty. The beef patty was not too firm and tasted quite bland as well. Those fries were just normal.

This is one of the worst burgers that i have ever eaten, crazily bad. I wonder why did they even bother to serve this burger? The 2 foreign cooks were likely to be just employees thus they did not seem to be bothered in presenting such a burger. I remember that i came across an advertisement placed by the owner of this burger stall for foreign cooks and they will provide accommodation and meals when hired. As a trained HR professional, i am aware of the issue in hiring incompetent employees and worst, send them to do their job without given the proper training. This is likely to be the case here. No pride. 

LATEST UPDATE: The owner responded to this post by sending me an email. He mentioned that they took notice of my comment and even invited me for a food tasting which i declined. 

Block 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-40 Salut Coffeeshop SINGAPORE 151119
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 3.00 pm / 5.30 pm to 10.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Bedok Marketplace : What to Eat?

This food centre was taken over by the people from BC Food Concept, the same people behind the Bark Cafe at Changi Chapel & Museum. They are seriously in wanting to take a huge step into creating a good centre that is not our typical hawker centre that offer an extensive range of food choices and creatively crafted dishes. They started The Bedok Marketplace in December 2014 at Simpang Bedok and there are a total of 15 stalls. The food there is priced slightly higher than the usual hawker prices but the food quality is expected to be better.

Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

I started eating Uncle Chicken Rice quite a while ago when the stall was at Alexandra Village Food Centre before moving to the current location. They used to only serve the white chicken then. Niven Leong, the owner, was one of the sons of the founder of original Sin Kee that started at Margaret Drive Food Centre in the 70s. His brother used to run the Sin Kee Chicken Rice at Meiling Food Centre before he joined Niven at this stall. Both brothers started helping out their father at his stall since really young.

They are still cooking the chicken the traditional way like using this tall and rather unique looking steel pot that designed by his father with his specifications. The chicken is served in chunky pieces and drizzled with lightly flavored sesame oil and soya sauce to serve. What distinguish their stall with other stalls is their rather plump chicken has a distinct natural chicken flavor that you do not quite get it elsewhere. They served the rice warm, it is aromatic and not over greasy, rather grainy too, the perfect texture with a slight hint of garlic too. And, unlike most chicken rice stalls, they do not provide soup as this has always been the tradition of Sin Kee.

They also made their chilli and garlic paste daily. Their chilli is amongst one of the better ones that i come across, the spiciness is rather sharp with a hint of tanginess but rather well-balanced. As for their ginger paste, the coarsely grounded ginger blended with the chopped spring onion for the flavor. 

The Lo Mien (Tossed Noodles) is the new addition on their menu which they called it 'Lo Ding' 捞丁, it is quite common in most of the menu in those tea houses in Hong Kong, which means tossing of 出前一丁, a particular type of instand noodle produced by Nissin Foods. This is likely to be the first and only Hawker stall serving this dish apart from those Hong Kong cafes in Singapore. 

This dish consists of a few chunky pieces of soya sauce chicken, a quarter piece of luncheon meat, a lava egg and a few stalks of blanched vegetable, it is doused with the soya sauce base sauce then served it with their homemade ginger paste. Overall, it tasted really good, even better than some of those that i have eaten in Hong Kong, definitely worth a try.

Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 10.00 pm

They started in May 2015 offers mainly the different types of freshly handmade meatballs with meal option such as pasta, sandwiches and salads. They also serve interesting side dishes like truffle fries, mash potatoes and crispy wild mushrooms. They do not use pork and lard in their cooking and they also offer vegetarian options. They believe in serving good food at budget-friendly prices.

The visit was in early September but i still vividly remember the good service rendered at that time when writing this post. I was there slightly after lunch and I was the only customers then at their stall. When i was caught browsing the menu, a service staff came over and attempted to make recommendations. 

You could try their Signature Meatballs at $5.90 for 5 pieces or their Plain Jane Meatballs at $4 for 5 pieces that are available in 5 flavors: Beef, Chicken, Seafood and Vegetarian. Choices of wraps, salads or sandwiches are available for an additional $1.90. You could also choose to have it with their pasta, either penne or linguine to go spicy tomato, cream pesto or aglio olio at $3.90.

I decided to go with their Signature Meatballs as recommended, i was also recommended to have their Pasta with the spicy tomato as this is one of their most popular combinations. When i mentioned that i would be sharing it with a friend and this friend has little tolerance towards spiciness and they offered to have it separated even though they claimed that the level of spiciness is pretty mild. Such an effort is definitely commendable.

I  was asked to come back about 15 minutes to collect it. 

The spicy tomato pasta was in quite an adequate portion with bits of carrot and tomato in it then topped with a handful of finely chopped spring onions. The texture of the linguine was a bit too soft. The spicy tomato sauce has rather mild spiciness and not quite noticeable. For an additional of $3.90, this is quite acceptable.

Their Signature Meatballs consists of cheese in the midst, it tasted better when you eat it hot. The taste was slightly compromised when it turned cold, the cheese will then just lumped together. The seasoning of the meatballs was rather light with no particular distinctive taste. It was served with mayo then sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onions.

Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 10.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

I was asked by a gentleman when i walked past this stall whether i want to eat wanton noodles, he then instructed an uniformed service staff to take the order. Their prices range from $3.50 to $5.50. I actually wanted the smallest portion but i was encouraged to try the $4.50 bowl. As i was the only customer then, i gotten my order rather quickly. There was a big jar of fried pork lards at the counter for self-service. 

The $4.50 portion came with 5 pieces of wantons in the soup. Those were the old-school tasting wantons, lightly seasoned with a slight peppery taste and firmly wrapped in the wanton skins. The soup was lightly flavored as well.

The noodles served with quite a few slices of char siew and its texture was a slightly dry with not too much taste. As for the fried pork lards, it did not taste as crispy nor fragrant as expected. The sauce mix has quite a distinct spiciness though. I did not get to try it when they were still at Dunman Food Centre thus not able to make the comparison of then and now but the taste of this bowl of wanton noodle was quite forgettable. 

I will definitely be back as there are still many other food choices in this food centre that i have yet to try and i will keep updating this post.

348 Bedok Road SINGAPORE 469560
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 12.00 am

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ah Kow Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle : How Long Would Such Authentic Taste Stay?

They have been around for decades along, to be exact they started their business in 1945 for close to 70 years now. The 2nd generation is taking charge of the stall and is still serving authentic Teochew style Bak Chor Mee. Their menu is kept simple with just Bak Chor Mee at $5 and $6 together with Teochew Dumpling Soup at $5 and $6 too. Most Teochew style Bak Chor Mee is known for the use of vinegar to enhance its flavor. As for this particular bowl of Bak Chor Mee, i could taste the distinct taste of rather good quality vinegar, though strong but not as overpowering as the famous Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. 

The soup version at $6 served with generous amount of ingredients like slices of lean pork and pork liver, braised mushroom, minced meat, dried seaweed as well as some vegetables. Even though you might see bits of minced meat floating in the soup but it was not as flavorful as expected to be, in fact, it tasted quite bland.

The dry Bak Char Mee is definitely a better choice. The braising sauce for the mushroom was used as part of the sauce mix, together with chilli, soy sauce and dash of vinegar, the combination tasted quite flavorsome.  The mee pok was lightly blanched to retain its desired springiness. The dumplings were quite tasty even though the skin was slightly too thick.

There is a slight drop in the standard but it is still better than most average Bak Chor Mee out there. It reminded me a bit of my favourite Bak Chor Mee from the already closed Joo Heng Mushroom Minced Pork Mee stall if lesser vinegar is added. I know i could never find a replacement as i have been looking for a while since their closure about 2 years ago. I used to go there for 2 to 3 times per week till the friendly auntie could even remember my order that she did not even bother to ask me whenever i was there. Those were the happier days when i get to enjoy my favourite bowl of Bak Chor Mee so often.

I could not help but wonder, how long more would Ah Kow's Bak Chor Mee been around since the owners are getting older and they do not seem to have someone to take over their cooking and stall. That is the reason why they are operating for only 3 days a week now as they could no longer cope with the laborious bit of working as hawker. I could not quite imagine if these pioneer generation hawkers retired. Would such an authentic taste still stay? Would the younger generation still able to enjoy a bowl of traditional Teochew style Bak Chor Mee in time to come? I am really not sure. 

531A Upper Cross Street #02-42 Hong Lim Food Centre Singapore 051531
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 3.00 pm (Friday to Sunday)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Jason Niang Dou Fu : Chye Poh Sauce and Yam Rice are must-try!

I have heard of this particular shop selling Yong Tau Foo along Beach Road, just a few shops away from Prince Coffee House. The boss, Jason Ng, decided to follow the steps of his parents, his parents have been in street food business for a while. Jason ventured into opening 5 Yong Tau Foo outlets at different food courts before set up this cafe to sell Yong Tau Foo. Yong Tau Foo is usually a Hakka dish, consisting primarily tofu with ground meat or fish paste as filling.

What actually distinguish between his Yong Tau Foo and others is they have about 50 items for selection, ranging from fish balls, cuttlefish, crab sticks, lettuce, ladies fingers as well as cabbage parcel also some tau pok and tau kwa stuffed with fish paste. Most Yong Tau Foo is eaten dry with sweet sauce and chilli or the soup version but not so here. You could choose to have it with their special chye poh (preserved radish) sauce or even the satay sauce, or just the laksa sauce. They do also offer chee cheong fun if you did not want the rice or noodles.

You are expected to choose your own items then decide over the counter on the type of noodles and sauce to go with Yong Tua Foo. This was my first time to come across chye poh sauce, since i was sharing it with a friend, we decided to try the chye poh sauce and the laksa version. 

The total amount for all was $18.80. When taken a closer look, i realised they charged for sauce and the type of noodles or rice selected too. Our first bowl consists of 7 items for $6.40, the chye poh sauce is $1.50 and the yam rice is another $1.50 for a total of $9.40. The second bowl has 6 items for $5.40, the laksa is $1.20 and the yellow noodle is $0.90 cents for a total of $7.50. This is not cheap but again, given the rapid raising cost of living including the rental and labor, what is really cheap in Singapore?

There is a promotion for their barley at $1 if you order your bowl of Yong Tau Foo. We had the cold and the warm barley, the warm one is a better choice as the cold one was a bit diluted after the ice cubes melted.

You were expected to collect your order from the counter when the buzzer buzzed. They will have everything placed on the tray and handed it to you. You were also expected to collect your chopstick and spoon as well as the condiments from the station just in front of the counter.

The Claypot Chye Poh Sauce Yong Tau Foo tasted quite unique, it reminded me a bit of the Ampang Yong Tau Foo but taste wise, it is quite different. The Yong Tau Foo items were cooked in the chye poh sauce for a bit and topped with dried shallots and chopped spring onions to serve. It was still really hot even when i done taking the pictures. The saltiness of the chye poh did not overwhelm the taste, it has a savory sweetness and went well with the Yam Rice. I read it would be even better to go with white rice to truly enjoy its unique flavor. 

Though it is quite a small bowl for $1.50 but the tastiness of this bowl of Yam Rice is worth the value. It has got a distinctive taste of dried shrimps and with tons of chunky yam pieces amongst the rice. It was one of the better Yam Rice tasted. 

The Laksa Yong Tau Foo did not taste too special even though it is one of their popular choices. The Laksa sauce did not taste particularly creamy nor too spicy, it just did not quite stand out. They made an effort to separate the items to be placed in the Laksa sauce and to re-fried it then served it separately on the plate, that is definitely commendable. 

The Fried Tempura Brinja was quite nice, it is one of the most unique items amongst their 50 choices for selection.

The overall experience was not too bad but i am not quite likely to make a special effort to come back again given its prices.

321 Beach Road SINGAPORE 199557
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Daisy's Dream Kitchen : Good food and Great Service

It was one of the rare occasions that i was in the western part of Singapore. It was raining very heavily at that time and i nearly changed my mind in going over to this Peranakan eatery located at the residential area of West Coast. I was there slightly after 2 pm and there were only 2 other tables occupied at that time. I was presented with the menu rather quickly upon seated down. 

Daisy, the lady boss, came over to greet us. She asked whether are we here for the first time and do we need her recommendation. She then asked whether do we eat spicy foods and she suggested that we should try their Babi Buah Keluak and Kong Bak when she found out that my lunch partner could not take spiciness. We decided to have Babi Buah Keluak and Beef Rendang for $14.80 per set that featured as part of their set lunch choices, it consists of Nonya Chap Chye and Bakwan Kepiting Soup with rice, also Emping Belinjau with Sambal Belachan. Daisy took our orders and when we could not decide whether to have desserts or not, she suggested we could decide later and they would adjust the orders at their end.

For the $14.80 set, you could also choose Sambal Stuffed Fried Fish. There are also the Assam Chicken set at $13.80, the Kong Bak set and Babi Pongteh set at $11.80 as well as Ngor Hiang set and Chicken Wing set at $9.80. You could add $1 to include either a canned drink or their lime juice and add $3 for a canned drink or lime juice with their dessert.

Our drinks came together with Emping Belinjau with Sambal Belachan. While waiting for the mains to be served, i enjoying myself by munching on those Emping Belinjau, the level of spiciness of the Sambal Belachan is not to be underestimated. I dipped it slightly to coat just a bit of the Sambal Belachan before eat it. 'Shiok' is the most appropriate word to describe such a simple pleasure, something so simple could be so enjoyable.

Some of the customers were done with their lunch and leaving. Daisy was asking whether they need to borrow her umbrellas or she could just get someone to shelter them to get their cars in the carpark. A particular customer wanted to borrow the umbrella and could only return next week, Daisy has no issue with it. You do not get much of such heartwarming service anymore, it reminded me of the kampong spirit that we used to talk about during my younger days. I guess such thoughtfulness is what got their customers to keep coming back as they have been around for a few years here. They used to be just a hawker stall at Tiong Bahru Food Centre before moving to the current location in 2011.

Our bowls of Nonya Chap Chye came next. The cabbage was nicely braised to give it the desired texture, it was not overly soft nor too hard but just right to still have a delightful chewiness. They braised it with other ingredients like dried bean curd strips, black fungus and grass noodle. This was easily one of the better Nonya Chap Chye that i have ever eaten.

Subsequently, the rest of the dishes came at about the same time. The Beef Rendang did not taste like those available at the Nasi Padang stalls but more like a fusion of Chinese and Malay cultures. The 'rempah' (paste) was robust in flavors with a slight hint of spiciness but the texture of the beef was not as soft as i liked it to be. 

Babi Buah Keluak is a traditional Nonya dish cooking with Buah Keluak, which is an Indonesian Black Nut, about the size of a golf ball. A slit is made through an opening on the surface of the nut across its flattest part to scrap out the content. Then, to wash and scrub thoroughly until the thin film of the fried mud is gone completely. The content of the nut is to be dugged out then mashed it and stuffed it back again to cook together with the meat. The taste is indescribable, it is quite an experience to actually know how does it tasted like. 

I think i might have eaten Buah Keluak before but that was quite long ago and i did not quite remember the actual taste. When i tried it this time, i realised i did not like it as much as i thought i would. I dugged out the content from the nut but left it as it is after tasted it slightly, it has a slight bitter taste which i could not quite associate with. The texture of the pork was cooked just right.

Bakwan Kepiting Soup was pure comforting. These succulent meatballs has a combination of pork, crab meat and crunchy bamboo shoots, it is a homely but laborious Peranakan dishes that they usually cook during the special occasions. The crabs have to be steamed first then extracted out the meat to mix with the meat paste to make meatballs. The soup has a distinct sweetness that we enjoyed. This is the dish that left an impression even though was one of the meatballs contain a small piece of shell. 

I was given 3 choices and i wanted Bubur Cha Cha out of it, it is the Peranakan style colorful sweet soup. It has an intense coconut milk taste and intensely flavored using the palm sugar with ingredients like chunky pieces of diced sweet potato and yam with the sagu gunting, those colorful jelly-like morsels that made from either tapioca flour or sago flour. 

It was a memorable dining experience and i would definitely be back. By the way, they do charge service charge but not GST.

Block 517 West Coast Road #01-571 SINGAPORE 120517
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm / 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

一条龙菜头粿 : Steamed Yam Cake & Fried Carrot Cake

It is the stall name that first caught my attention, it is in chinese, the direct transaction of 一条龙菜头粿 is '1 dragon fried carrot cake'. When you take a closer look at the menu board, they do offer steamed carrot cake and yam cake for $2 each. The lady taking my order has a distinct chinese accent like those from the mainland China, it turned out that she was also the one frying my plate of carrot cake. I was a bit skeptical though. 

I also ordered the Steamed Yam Cake, it was a piece by itself in the shape of a circle topped with bits of sesame seeds, dried shallots and chopped spring onion. The Yam Cake was in a pool of sweet sauce with chilli by the side.

The texture was rather soft with chunks of yam pieces embedded in it, the taste was slight bland if eaten without the sauce. Even so, the sweet sauce did not have much effect in enhancing the overall taste. The level of spiciness of the chilli was rather mild with no distinctive fragrance.

The Fried Carrot Cake came next. The steamed carrot cake coarsely chopped into big chunky pieces then fried it with dark sweet sauce and generous amount of beaten egg then topped with chopped spring onions to serve.

I could taste bits of shredded carrot and dried shrimps in the carrot cake which you do not usually get it in most of the Fried Carrot Cake out there. It tasted a bit too sweet, likely to be the result of too much dark sweet sauce added which somewhat overwhelmed and i could hardly taste the eggy taste nor the spiciness of the chilli in it. 

Block 23 Sin Ming Road SINGAPORE 570023

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nam Hwa Chong (Ah Chew) Fish Head Steamboat

They are located at the corner shop near the junction of North Bridge Road and Jalan Sultan. They have been round since 1927 and likely to be the creator of Teochew style Fish Head Steamboat. Even though, the 3rd generation is running it and they still insist in doing it the traditional way by using charcoal to run their steamboat.

You can choose between Song Fish, Grouper, Red Snapper or Pomfret for the Fish Head Steamboat. They do offer an extensive range of cze char dishes too. Prices are varies depending on the type of the fish chosen and the number of people. Red Snapper Fish Head Steamboat for 2 pax is $30, not the cheapest nor the most expensive that i had ever eaten. I also ordered their Salted Egg Pork Ribs for $14 if i remember correctly.

The Fish Head Steamboat consists of chunky fish pieces with fried yam and different type of vegetables in the hot broth. Unlike some of those places serving the Fish Head Steamboat, they did not offer to top up the soup even when it was running out. I did not make the request though so not too sure whether it is their practise to do so with or without extra cost.

Those chunky fish pieces tasted quite fresh and meaty but i felt the broth was a bit too saltish, it might be better if more water added to dilute it slightly. 

The Salted Egg Pork Ribs tasted quite bad, in fact, the worst ever that i had eaten. First of all, the pork ribs were tough and stick to the bones. Secondly, the salted egg sauce did not taste quite like it. It did not have any taste of salted egg but more towards a creamy peanuts sauce, similar to those for satay but not as nutty. 

This is likely to be my first time and also the only time to dine here, it was not as memorable as i expected it to be.

808/812/814/816 North Bridge Road SINGAPORE 198776
Operating Hours: 4.30 pm to 12.30 am (Daily)