Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ministry of Ribs in Ang Mo Kio

Ministry of Ribs is now in Ang Mo Kio, nestled in the coffee shop right next to Courts, just a stone's throw from AMK Hub and within walking distance from Ang Mo Kio MRT and bus interchange. This is their newest outlet after they were forced to close down their stall at the coffee shop in Dover Crescent. This is definitely a good news for the those staying in the northern part of Singapore particularly those in Ang Mo Kio. Their main branch is a cafe in Pandan Garden. I have even featured them in my article on MAKANSUTRA as one of the 5 noteworthy western food stalls in Singapore.

When i was there for dinner, the stall was manned by Kleiser Lee, the owner with an assistant and a lady with a kid worn in a baby carrier at the counter taking orders and collecting payments. Though not as crowded as expected but there was a steady flow of customers. 

I ordered their signature Ministry Burger is serving at an unbeatable price of $14.90. It consists of a thick piece of handmade beef patty with a big chunk of fried battered onions together with 2 slices of bacon and cheese with a side dish of your choice.

Another order was Ribeye Steak (200 grams) with 2 side dishes at $15.90. It was nicely done at just the right doneness to a desired tenderness with a nice smoky flavor. I decided to have Potato Salad and Coleslaw as side dishes and both tasted fresh and refreshing. I would think much better than what i tasted over at their now-defunct stall at Dover Crescent.

I will definitely be there often as this new outlet is really near to where i stay.

. Block 727 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 #01-4236 Singapore 560727
Block 416 Pandan Garden #01-125 Singapore 600416
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

NOTE: This outlet in Ang Mo Kio has already closed.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ahsia Food Stall : Roti Prata with Sardine Sauce

When i was compiling a list of must-try stalls at Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre for my recent article on MAKANSUTRA, this is one of stalls recommended to be included in the listing as they are really popular in this food centre. They are also likely to be the only stall serving their prata with their special sardine gravy. When i was there for the first time at about 10.30 am, they have already sold out. I was told that they usually sold out by 10.00 am. I made an effort to wake up early on the next day and managed to be there at about 9.30 am. I joined in the short queue and waited for just 5 minutes to be served. I ordered 2 plain prata at 0.90 cents and add in another 0.60 cents to have it with their special sardine gravy. 

While waiting for my order, i had a chat with the stall assistant and i was told that they sold out much earlier during the weekends, it could be 9.00 am or even earlier than that. I also chatted with a Malay couple that has been patronising this stall for decades. I was told that the stall is now manned by 2 stall assistants without the presence of the owner. The husband was telling me that the owner was hospitalised not too long ago and have not been around for a while. He shared that their standard for the prata and their sardine gravy used to be better although it is still good now. He also told me that some of their assistants have left and set up their stalls elsewhere but somehow it just did not taste as good especially for their sardine gravy and their stalls have closed down eventually.

Some of the reviews that i have read mentioned that it is their sardine gravy that actually made it special as their prata tasted just decent. As their regular customers, the husband and wife agreed to that. The husband shared that even though there is a drop in the standard for their prata but this stall is still handmade the dough and not using the factory made ones just like the other stalls in this food centre. One of the assistants was telling me that he has to be at the stall at 12.30 am in order to have those dough ready by 4 am.

The sardine gravy has got a small chunk of sardine in it, it was a little spicy and slightly sweet likely from the tomato puree added. It tasted quite special though not particularly memorable that will get me to make that effort to wake up early and travel for about 1 hour by MRT and bus to eat there too often.

Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road #02-76 Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre
Operating Hours: 4.00 am to 10.00 am (Daily)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Forgotten Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre

The decades old Woodlands Town Centre is a border town for people passing through to Malaysia or to Singapore. Though it may have lost its appeal after the relocation of Woodlands Bus Interchange in 1996 but the sleepy Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre is still serving as a pit stop for travellers on both sides of causeway who yearns for a good value meal. It is time to rediscover this once bustling Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre and read my article on MAKANSUTRA to find out which are those hidden gems there, waiting to be uncovered.

Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Closed on Alternate Thursdays)

Operating Hours: 3.00 am to 8.30 pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Operating Hours: 3.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Thursdays)

Operating Hours: 4.00 am to 10.00 am (Daily)

Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 7.00 pm (Closed on Thursdays)

Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road Singapore 731005

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ye Lai Xiang Laksa : A Simple Taste

This was one of the stalls opened for an early lunch when i was there on a weekday. The food centre was rather quiet at that time and there was just another customer in front of me at this stall at that time. The younger man was asking what i want and the elderly man cooked it, it was done in just a couple of minutes before he served it to me.

I requested for yellow noodles and it was served in rather rich and thick gravy which is better than most of the other Laksa out there. I could also taste an intense flavor of coconut milk added to bring forth its creaminess and further enhanced by the dried shrimps added for an aromatic flavor. It was served with slices of fishcake and tau pok together with a few cockles and a handful of bean sprouts. Though added with sambal chilli but its spiciness was still rather mild.

It might not be the best tasting Laksa that i have ever eaten but it is amongst one of the most satisfying ones. It is definitely worth a try if you happen to be here for breakfast or lunch.

Other than Laksa, they do serve Lor Mee, Prawn Mee and Fish Ball Mee too. The smaller portion for Laksa and Lor Mee is $3.00 and $3.50, the Lor Mee and Fish Ball Mee is $2.50 and $3.00.

Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road #02-36 Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre
Operating Hours: 3.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Thursdays)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lian Xiang Shu Shi : Old-fashioned Fried Kway Teow

My attention was caught by their really old signboard, a rather simple one with just their stall name on it which we do not get to see it much these days. It was still early in the morning and i was the only customer then. I approached the Uncle to order a small portion of Fried Kway Teow at just $2.50 and the larger portion is available at $3. We do not usually get such prices these days as a regular plate of fried kway teow is starting from $3 onward with little ingredients added. They do serve Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee at $4 too. I seated at a table near to the stall and waiting for it to be served and i got it in about 5 minutes.

A substantial portion of evenly fried kway teow and yellow noodles was served along with a few pieces of thinly sliced Chinese sausages, cockles, eggs and few stalks of green together with a handful of beansprouts. I actually liked how it tasted, it is more savory than sweet as the sweetness of the dark sweet sauce was rather well-balanced. Though chilli was added but i could hardly taste it. The texture of kway teow and yellow noodles was just right, not overly soft nor too greasy.

This might not be the best fried kway teow that i ever tasted but it has got a homely taste that warmth my heart. This is worth the try if you are here and looking for something to eat.

Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road #02-38A Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre

Monday, January 11, 2016

Jing Jing 晶晶点心

You could try the snacks from this stall if you happen to order from Yan Kee Seafood Soup and you have to wait at least 45 minutes for your order. I have tried a few though they were not particularly interesting nor tasty but it is good to keep you occupied and have something to munch while waiting for the seafood soup to be served. In fact, if you walk around, you will take notice that many of the tables particularly those near the seafood soup stall actually ordered some snacks from this stall. 

Some of the most popular choices are fried carrot cake, spring roll, curry puff, goreng pisang and also their tapioca balls.

Amongst the few that i have tried i do like those tapioca balls on stick. They made an effort to make the tapioca into the ball-shaped then fried and skewering it. I would think it is an interesting way  to present it and it does make it taste better that way.

Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road #02-07 Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre 
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Takagi Ramen Shop : Ramen for the Average Singaporean

There is a new ramen stall in a coffee shop facing the MRT station in Ang Mo Kio central recently opened on 2 January 2016. The Owners, Ai Takagi and Yang Kaiheng, her husband, are the founders of the now-defunct socio-political website known as The Real Singapore (TRS) that shut down by the Singapore government as they deemed the TRS site for 'causing ill-will'. Ai Takagi decided to forgo her studies in law and went ahead to start the hawker business with husband that is serving authentic and affordable Japanese Ramen in food court and coffee shop. They started the first outlet in NUS Prince George's Park near the Kent Ridge MRT and the second outlet at NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy which is near Botanical MRT but has already shut down then followed by this newest outlet in Ang Mo Kio. 

As indicated on their Facebook page, their ramen is served in a Tonkotsu based soup which is made from quality Australian pork bones that are boiled for 12 hours to extract all the essence and goodness. They then let the flavors infuse and condense for another 12 hours to give a collagen rich and smooth broth. It is then carefully filtered for a clean taste of authentic Tonkotsu soup without a strong pork or oily aftertaste.

There is a current promotion of 1-for-1 different choices of ramen starting from 2 January 2016 to 9 January 2016. I went with a friend and we tried Karaka-Men for $6.00 and Black Tonkotsu for $6.50.

The Karaka-Men is the spicy Tonkotsu Noodle Soup that served with strips of seaweed and beansprouts, i added Ajitama for $1.00 to go with it. Though the broth has got a distinctive spicy taste but its spiciness was actually quite mild with a rather light flavor and not as salty as most ramen out there, which is good. The texture of the noodle was a bit too soft to my liking. The 2 pieces of Charsu tasted quite good though with a literally melt-in-the-mouth texture. 

The Black Tonkotsu is Tonkotsu Noodle Soup served with charred garlic oil, bamboo shoot strips and black fungus. The flavor of the broth was equally light and i could not quite taste the charred garlic in it. The texture of ramen was a bit too soft too but for just $6.50, it is quite acceptable. 

Takagi Ramen is hoping to open more outlets in different parts of Singapore to allow the average Singaporean to enjoying authentic Japanese Tonkotsu Ramen. And, they are in the midst of planning to open the next outlet in Yishun.

Block 721 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 Broadway Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 560721
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Those Chance Encounters on My Journey

These are some of the most wonderful people that i have met on my journey and i am thankful for those chance encounters.

There are those moments in my life where i get to meet people that have completely changed me in a matter of moments. These people show me to see the world in a new perspective. And, whether we will get to meet again in this life is not quite matter as i have already carry a piece of the memory in my heart wherever i go.

Left: Uncle from Mei Handmade Hakka Yong Tau Foo at Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre
Central: Valentino from Ristorante De Valentino and Pasta Stop at Ci Yuan Food Centre
Right: Uncle Yap and Auntie Yap from Yap Kee Wanton Noodles at Holland Drive Food Centre

Left: Peter and Bee Lee from Noodle Evolution at Lau Pa Sat
Central: William and Wah from J & J Special Beef Noodle at Old Airport Road Food Centre
RIght: Francis and Christina from Fishii Tales at Amoy Street Food Centre

Left: Christopher from Yao Mian Zi at Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Central: Cai Weili and Cai Weisheng from Brothers Ramen at International Plaza, Tanjong Pagar
Right: Lisa from Bento n Roll at Bendemeer Food Centre

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mei Handmade Hakka Yong Tau Foo 美手工客家酿豆腐 at Woodlands

The food centre was rather quiet on a Sunday with most than half of the stalls were closed. After placing my taking away orders at the Yan Ji Seafood Soup, i went walking around to look for other choices for lunch as i did not want to wait for at least 45 minutes to eat as that was the expected waiting time at the Yan Ji Seafood Soup.

This stall caught my attention with quite a few of those awards and certifications prominently displayed and amongst them, one has even listed them as serving one of the best Yong Tau Foo in Singapore. Though no queue but there was a constant flow of customers so i guess they must be of certain standard. When looking at their Yong Tau Fu items, it is not difficult to tell from its odd and uneven shapes that most of them were handmade.

The owner is an elderly Uncle in his 60s. We started chatting in Hokkien. When i pointed to those awards displayed, Uncle chuckled and said, "All of those ah? Kelong ones la!".  His eyes sparkled with pride when he was saying that. 'Kelong' is a term usually used in Singapore and Malaysia to indicate cheating to achieve an objective by non-appropriate means. They have moved to this food centre for about 8 years now but Uncle has been at it since a teenager.

Uncle was all alone at the stall when i was there so i asked whether is he running the stall all by himself, he said, "I am doing it with my Zha Bo Lang (查某人)". Uncle was calling his wife as my woman, which is the meaning of Zha Bo Lang in Hokkien. I could not quite remember when was the last time when i encountered a man that is still proudly referred his wife as my woman. My late Grandpa used to do that too.

Uncle said, "We are usually at the stall at about 3 am to do all the preparations and we will also start selling by then too." He said his wife will come to take over later so he can go back to have a nap and they operate till about 8.00 pm.

Uncle told me that they handmade most of the items themselves, he said, "We could not make too many at a time, this is to ensure their freshness and also to avoid them from turning bad". Though most of these are the standard items that are commonly available at most Yong Tau Fu stalls but those from this stall are mostly painstakingly handmade.

Uncle said, "It is getting difficult to find the handmade Yong Tau Fu these days, a lot of hard works involved so many stalls have already given up and acquired these items from the factory instead." He continued to say, "The handmade and the factory made ones tasted quite different but again, not many of the younger generation could actually tell the difference."

Uncle was telling me that his most popular items are those handmade meatballs, he said, 'You do not get these anywhere else.' There were 2 different types of meatballs, the fried one and the steamed one, both tasted equally good.

I wanted to have yellow noodles to go with my Yong Tau Foo, Uncle asked. "Extra chilli with a bit of sweet sauce? it has to go with sweet sauce then is nice."

Most of the items tasted really fresh with not a bite of stale taste detected. Though a lot of chilli was added but the level of spiciness is quite mild and the sweetness from the sweet sauce enhanced its flavor quite a bit. It was quite enjoyable and easily one of the better Yong Tau Fu that i have eaten.

One of his regular customers was telling me, he said, "You should try the Laksa here, it is very good". Uncle said, "I added lemongrass into it and that is the key".  I told Uncle that i will come back for his Laksa soon. 

With many of the first and second generation hawkers went into retirement, many of the foods did not actually taste quite the same anymore. 

Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road #02-29 Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre
Operating Hours: 3.00 am to 8.00 pm

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ah Ter Teochew Fish Ball Noodles

It was an early lunch on a weekday. I was hoping to meet Gilbert there but it was his dad manning the stall at that time. Gilbert is the third-generation hawker and the face of this noodle stall that named after his father. He is working with his dad in a team to take charge of this unassuming noodle stall at this food centre and that somehow explained why are they able to operate such a long hours, they start at 7.00 am to 10.00 pm with a 1 hour break in between from Monday to Friday and only from 7.00 am to 2.00 pm on weekends. By the way, Gilbert is named the Most Handsome Hawker in 2005 in the National Day edition by The Straits Time. The father was not as friendly nor as chatting as Gilbert as there was no smile on his face, i guess he is just not used to being chatty. I could hear a soft thank you when i was about to move off with my tray.

The choices available are the dry and the soup version at $3.50, $5.00 and $6.00. The top's pick as indicated is the $5.00 portion and that was my choice too. And, i requested to have extra chilli added and that turned out to be quite a mistake later. 

As i was the only customer at that time, i gotten my order after a short wait. The ingredients were served separately in the bowl of soup that came along with the noodle. It came with quite a big portion of mee pok served with coarsely chopped spring onions and a bit too much chilli. It was partly my fault as i requested for an extra amount to be added. I would prefer the other version that they added tomato sauce to the noodles which i tasted the previous time that cooked by Gilbert. The presentation reminded me of another rather popular fishball noodle stall over at Toa Payoh Lorong 7.

For just $5, it came with a big bowl of soup with ingredients like slices of pork's liver,  lean meat and fish cake together with minced meat, fishballs and meatball. I could detect the natural sweetness in the soup and the freshness of the pork's liver. 

It was quite a pleasant lunch.

7 Maxwell Road #01-47 Amoy Street Food Centre SINGAPORE
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 4.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 10.00 pm (Mon to Fri) 
7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Sat & Sun)