Friday, September 30, 2016

Soi 19 Thai Wanton Mee at Jurong East

Their first outlet is actually near to where i stay. I happened to chance upon it then tasted it and actually enjoyed its unique flavor. That prompted me to write an article on MAKANSUTRA in June 2014 about this Thai Wanton Mee stall, which likely to be the first of its kind at that time. I was told that they are not related to the famous wanton mee in Thailand at Soi 19. The stall got really popular after that and attracted consistently long queues, the queue is still long these days. I am still going back as and when though not as often but usually when there is a shorter queue.

They opened the second outlet in Jurong East just a couple of months ago, it is right next to the CPF building, just a stone's throw away from the Jurong East MRT station. The queue there was so much shorter when i visited on a Saturday as compared to their outlet in Ang Mo Kio. There is an option to choose between a regular bowl ($3.50), a medium bowl ($4.00), a large bowl ($5.00) or a Jumbo Bowl ($6.00) for more noodles with extra ingredients. They do not have the braised pork trotter with rice which is available in their Ang Mo Kio outlet. 

For the large bowl, the portion of noodle is quite substantial served together with 2 fried wantons and 2 soup wantons, char siew, chinese sausage and some green. There are condiments like fish sauce, dried chilli flakes, sugar, green chillies and fried pork lards for self-service at the counter.

As the portion is meant to be shared between myself and a friend that has little tolerance towards spiciness so left out the dried chilli flakes. To start, tossed the noodles well to have it coated with the fish sauce underneath and then ate it with those crispy fried pork lards, it was still a tasty treat. Somehow, i felt the standard is just different, it did not taste as good as what i had at their Ang Mo Kio outlet which is headed by their father that started it. Their chinese sausage was served in smaller pieces over here and the texture was slightly harder. Their specially made egg noodles were cooked to a perfect springiness, though.

Perhaps, the key to enjoying Thai Wanton Mee is about getting used to it. The friend that i was sharing it with has never eaten Thai Wanton Mee before. When i brought it to the table, she starved at it for a moment and said, 'Why no sauce?'. She took a bite and decided that she did not like it. And, perhaps that's the reason why the black sauce version Wanton Mee is introduced, it is available at $4.00, $5.00 and $6.00. I have yet to try this version so could not comment on its taste.

The fried wantons and soup wantons tasted quite similar but somehow, something is just missing though same recipe is used in making them. The soup was lightly flavored.

Block 130 Jurong Gateway Road #01-211 SINGAPORE 600130
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)

Block 151 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 SINGAPORE 560151
Operating Hours: 7.15 am to 3.30 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ang Mo Kio Cold Hot Drinks : Ice Kacang & Bo Bo Cha Cha

There are a total of 3 dessert stalls in this food centre but this particular stall usually starts after lunch and lasted till after dinner, and closed around 10 pm or earlier. There used to be only an elderly Uncle but joined by a younger man in a recent year, it looks like a father & son team. This is amongst the popular stalls in this food centre that has been around for a long while with many regular customers, though you hardly see a queue but there is always customers there ordering their desserts.

There are at least 48 types of different hot and cold desserts on their menu board, the most popular has to be their Ice Kacang for $1.40 or have it with strawberry, mango or durian puree at $2.00. Other than the usual ingredients like atap seeds, red bean, jelly cubes, there are also pineapple cubes to be found under that pile of coarsely shaved ice. The level of sweetness from the condensed milk and syrup was just right. 

Amongst their most popular items, there is also Bo Bo Cha Cha at $2.50, which they only served in the cold version. Their Bo Bo Cha Cha is only consists of sweet potato, yam and tapioca but without those colorful tapioca jellies, it is served with shaved ice in coconut milk at just the right level of sweetness. 

Block 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-54 AMK 628 Food Centre SINGAPORE 560628
Operating Hours: 1.30 pm to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Baba Melaka : Peranakan Fare in a Coffee Shop at Jurong East

I gotta know about this stall from some reviews that i came across on the net. I came as i was really curious about how does those recommended dishes fared in reality. It was lunch time but there there was no other customer at that time. There was a friendly lady, stood in front of the stall, awaiting for customers. She was smiling when we were approaching the stall. This stall is in the same coffee shop where the branch of Soi 19 Thai Wanton Mee is located, it is within a short walking distance from the Jurong East MRT. 

We ordered Ma Cik Nasi Lemak Beef Rendang ($5.90), Famous Ayam Buah Keluak with Steamed Rice ($5.50) and Claypot Ikan Assam Pedas with Steamed Rice ($6.50). Their menu also includes Pak Cik Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng ($4.90), Pak Cik Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang ($4.90), Mee Rebus ($3.50) and Nyonya Mee Siam ($3.00).  

We were asked to come back in 5 minutes as they need to prepare it. The lady suggested that they could deliver it to our table even though there is a sign stating 'Self-Service'. I was telling her that, "It is alright, we would come back later to collect it." It was delivered by the older man that was seen preparing at the back of the stall earlier, he even brought us the forks and spoons that we forgot to collect. When saying thank you to him, he said, 'Don't mention.' That kind of service standard is definitely going to leave an impression. 

Ma Cik Nasi Lemak Beef Rendang ($5.90), it consists of a portion of beef rendang serving with achar and ikan belis with peanuts, together with sembal chilli by the side and coconut infused rice. The texture of beef rendang was done lovingly with just the right softness and nicely flavored. The achar that made up of cucumber, carrot and cabbage tasted quite fresh with a nice crunch. The ikan belis and peanuts were crunchy and tasty. The sambal chilli tasted slightly sweet with a mild spiciness. 

Famous Ayam Buah Keluak with Steamed Rice ($5.50). The Ayam Buah Keluak tasted slightly saltish with a mild flavored but cooked to the perfect tenderness. It is served with sambal belachan and not the sambal chilli, which is spicier but complemented the dish nicely. 

Though it might not be the tastier that i ever tasted but it is a comfort dish that warms the heart with its homeliness. 

Claypot Ikan Assam Pedas with Steamed Rice ($6.50), the most expensive amongst the rice sets. A thick slice of fish was served with brinja and ladyfinger in a claypot, its spiciness was quite mild. It tasted homely and it is quite value for money. 

They do serve desserts like Sago Gula Melaka ($1.80), Bubur Cha Cha ($1.80), Melaka Pulot Hitam($1.80),  Baba Chendol ($2.00), Baba Durian Chendol ($2.50) and different type of Nyonya Kueh from 0.80 cents to $1.20. We decided to go with Baba Chendol and it was disappointing. It did not have enough gula melaka and the chendol strips were not as smooth, it has big kidney beans in it. You might want to try other desserts but this one is not worth trying. 

I would be interested to try their Mee Siam and Mee Rebus if i happen to be in the vicinity next time.

Block 130 Jurong Gateway Road #01-211 SINGAPORE 600130
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Master Fried Rice : Far from being a Master

This is one of the newest stalls in this food centre and they have been around for a few months now if i remember correctly. There is hardly a queue and that is why i have never wanting to try it. I only decided to do so when i was there for a late dinner and was left with rather limited options. At that time, there was 2 customers ordering from this stall and i thought i should just give it a try too. 

There are only 3 items on their menu : Master Fried Rice ($3), Ipoh Fried Hor Fun ($3) and Ginger Wine Chicken Bee Hoon ($4).  I decided to go with the Master Fried Rice since that is their signature dish and i also ordered their Ipoh Fried Hor Fun. The waiting time was surprisingly short. I waited right there and gotten both plates almost at the same time, within 5 minutes. You could choose to have it with their sambal chilli or the preserved green chillies. 

Though the portion was good for the fried rice but the taste was quite disappointing as it tasted quite bland with no wok taste detected. The texture of the rice was not greasy but too dry thus not appetising. They fried it with ingredients like char siew, egg, long beans, fried silver fish and added in the chopping spring onion to serve. I tried it with the preserved green chillies then later with the sambal chilli but both did not enhance its flavor further. There was a bit of ginger taste in their sambal chilli which was a turn off. 

If you have ever tried the fried rice from the Chinatown Special (#02-12) at Chinatown Complex Food Centre, this is far from it. That was truly the work of a fried rice from a Master but not this, this particular one is far from being a Master and not quite deserving to be called Master Fried Rice. 

I was hoping that Ipoh Fried Hor Fun will fare better but it was equally disappointing. There was no wok taste as well and with no distinctive flavor from those ingredients added, though there was bits of char siew in it but i could hardly taste it. It was just bland. The texture of those kway teow was quite soft but not mushy, it did not go too well with the preserved green chillies and sambal chilli, too.

The only item that i did not try is the Ginger Wine Chicken Bee Hoon, it might be good but i am not too keen to try it too soon as i do not wish to be disappointed again. Let's just hope that their standard will be improved and i might just give it another chance, but definitely not now. 

Block 724 Ang Mo Kio 6 #01-11 Ang Mo Kio Central Food Centre SINGAPORE 560724
Operating Hours: 11.30 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Teochew Fish Ball Noodle at Crawford Lane

If you happen to be at Crawford Lane and did not want to join the long queue for the Hill Street Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee that has been awarded 1-michelin star recently then this Teochew style Fishball Noodle is a definitely a good alternative. It is located at a coffee shop nestled under the HDB block, just a stone's throw away from that Bak Chor Mee. This stall is manned by an elderly couple and they have been cooking Fishball Noodle for more than 50 years. They started it at Selegie Road for about 40 years then shifted to Jalan Besar for about 14 years before moving to Crawford Lane. 

There is always a constant queue and the queue will usually get longer during lunch, even so, the waiting time is not as long. The Auntie is taking the order and Uncle is doing the cooking, he is quite efficient. I ordered the mee pok at $4.00, though there is a smaller portion at $3.00. I was only told much later by a FB friend that i should order their mee kia instead as it is a better choice. 

It is served in a good portion with ingredients like minced meat, lean meat, white & orange fishcake together with fishballs and meatballs. I would not call this a Bak Chor Mee or even compared it to Hill Street Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee, just like what i had read on a particular blog that left me dumbfounded. This is a typical Teochew style Fishball Noodle as it has even clearly indicated on their signboard. This is no way to be mistaken as Bak Chor Mee and there is definitely a difference between both, it is usually well-differentiated by their sauce mix. And, Bak Chor Mee is mostly served with braised mushroom and its sauce is always a part of the sauce mix. It also does not have pork liver in it.

The mee kia could have been a better choice but i am not disappointed with my mee pok. It was cooked just right to retain its springiness and chewiness though it was slightly oily as i have requested for an extra amount of chilli to be added. I overheard the Auntie telling the Uncle to add in the 'Extra Chilli' when he was about to serve it. The Auntie will also ask you whether you would like to have chopped spring onion, fried garlic and fried pork lards added to the noodles. I enjoyed it pretty much as every strand of mee pok was nicely coated with their homemade chilli which bring forth the aromatic flavor. The fishballs still tasted decent even though they are no longer making them. The overall taste is simple but it is utterly delicious.

Block 462 Crawford Lane #01-29 SINGAPORE 190462
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wei Wei Noodle Stall : Bak Chor Mee

I was in the coffee shop for the second time in a month and i took notice that many customers ordered from this stall. I decided to try it when the other stall that is serving Mee Siam is closed, i ordered Bak Chor Mee for $3.50. I was asked to take a seat. The coffee shop is quite small so you do not even need to give your table number when ordering, you can just sit anywhere and they will find you somehow.

My bowl of Bak Chor Mee came pretty soon, served by a friendly Auntie, i was telling her that i decided to move to this table as it is farther away from the smoking zone. She was saying, "Ya, ya, that area is for smoking."

The portion is good for $3.50, it consists of a substantial amount of mee kia with ingredients like pork liver, lean meat, minced meat, braised mushroom and bean sprouts, topped with chopped spring onion to serve. 

Even though i requested to have extra chilli added but its level of spiciness is still quite mild that i could hardly taste it but it did not really disappoint as the overall flavor was quite tasty. The mee kia was cooked just right as well.

Though simple but i really enjoyed it, it was a pleasant surprise. As i did not expect too much when i came across their menu that includes Wanton Mee, Laksa and others. They even has a fried carrot cake stall just next to it. How do you expect Jack of all trades to be good? Though this is the case but their Bak Chor Mee is really nicer than expected and i will likely to order it again when i happen to be here.

Block 807 Yishun Ring Road #01-4203 Cafe 807 SINGAPORE 760807

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tims Restaurant & Cafe : Celebrating 10th Year Anniversary

It got me to wonder a little on what does it takes for an eatery to survive and actually lasted for 10 years in Singapore? Not many of these eateries around and some only lasted for just a couple of months before closing down. Their reasons for not been able to make it are quite identical, it is mainly due to the manpower issues as well as of the high rental. So, what exactly does it takes for a eatery to go through that and is still around after a good 10 years? Tims Restaurant & Cafe is amongst those that have been around for at least a decade or longer. It is located in a shop house nestled underneath a HDB block next to the food centre at Toa Payoh Lorong 4. Their menu includes Western & Nepalese Cuisine like Himalayan/Nepalese dishes, Hot Dogs, Burgers, Pizza, Seafood, Steaks and Vegetarian dishes. Tom Shrestha, the owner, is from Nepal, he started this since 2006 and is currently celebrating the10th year anniversary of its existence. 

They do serve set lunches from 11.30 am to 3.00 pm. There are Grilled Chicken Set ($12.80), Chicken Cutlet Set ($12.80), Grilled Fish Set ($12.80), Fish & Chips Set ($12.80), Vegetarian Spaghetti Set ($12.50), Fried Chicken with Onion Rings Set ($13.50), Fried Fish with Calamari Rings Set ($14.80), Cheesy Chicken with Sausage Set ($15.80), Spaghetti Bolognaise Set ($12.80), Grilled Sirloin Steak Set ($15.50), Grilled Ribeye Steak Set ($18.00), Sirloin Steak & Chicken, Fish or Sausage Set ($19.00). There are a total of 12 different sets and you could choose your choice of sauce from Black Pepper, Field Mushroom, BBQ, Mango Salsa, Rosemary Onion and Teriyaki. The set includes a Soup of the Day with Garlic Bread, Dessert, Coffee/Tea or Milo. Option is available to change the hot drink to canned drink at an extra $1.00 or change the Dessert to a single scoop of ice cream for 0.80 cents. Most importantly, there is no service charge nor GST added on to those prices.

I was there at about 1.30 pm and almost all of the tables in there were occupied. I was asked to seat at a long table for 6 and menu was quickly presented upon seated down. I decided to go with Grilled Chicken Set and requested to change the hot drink to a canned drink. The drink came first, followed by the garlic bread then the soup right after. 

The garlic bread did go well with the Cream of Mushroom though the soup tasted slightly diluted.

The Grilled Chicken consists of a piece of a nicely charred and flavorful, boneless chicken accompanied by roasted potato and blanched carrot, radish as well as long bean. It is of a pretty good value for a rather comforting taste. 

The Dessert of the Day was a piece of buttercake, simple and nice.

Their tagline is "A place where you can find quality, services & affordable pricing". And, they have definitely live up to it and has do it right in order to survive so long in the competitive food scene in Singapore. Though the food did not impress too much but their attentive service has definitely left an impression. 

Block 95 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 #01-52 SINGAPORE 310095
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 10.30 pm (Daily)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hup Kee : Malaysian-style Handmade Fishball Noodle

I happened to chance upon this new stall in a coffee shop near to a food centre in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4. I approached the stall and started to chat with the cook in Mandarin, i said, "Your stall seem to be quite famous." He said, "I cannot say that we are famous but we do have other outlets in Malaysia and this is the first in Singapore." He continued to say, "We are famous for our handmade fishballs."

Their menu is quite simple, there is the dry and the soup version at $3.50 and $4.50. I ordered one of which, at $4.50. I asked the cook, "Do you bring the noodles from Malaysia or source locally?" He said, "We are currently getting it locally but would consider to bring in from Malaysia later." He then said, "The texture is actually different."

The soup noodle at $4.50 consists of 4 pieces of handmade fishballs, a few slices of fishcake, a fried wanton and a fried stuffed beancurd. They topped it with chopped spring onions and fried shallot to serve. Though simple, it is actually quite tasty and the flavor is bring forth by the fried shallot. 

The mee pok is cooked just right with a slight springiness still intact, just how i would liked it.

The deep-fried wanton tasted quite normal but the stuffed beancurd is quite unique, it was still slightly crispy when i ate it. They even have a special chilli to go with it but the spiciness is quite intense. 

I requested to have extra fried pork lards for my dry noodle which contributed to a bowl of deliciousness. I would actually prefer the dry to the soup one as it is a tastier choice. It tasted quite different from other fishball noodle locally. Just like those available in Malaysia, they actually made an effort to mix the noodles with the sauce before having served it to you. 

The texture of fishball is soft and rather springy, it tasted fresh. 

The stall is closed from 13 September to 17 September as the cook and his assistant will be going back to Malaysia to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with their families. The cook said, "We have been in operation for 3 months and this is our first time to be on off." 

Block 158 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-590 SINGAPORE 560158
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 8.00 pm

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Heng Huat Soup House : Cheap & Good Double-Boiled Soups

This is one of the newest stalls in this food centre, they serve different types of double-boiled soups with rice and often, there is always a short queue. This is a family run business and they are friendly people, the food items are quite affordable. 

Their menu includes Old Cucumber with Soft Bone Soup ($3.50), ABC Soup ($3.50), Watercress with Soft Bone Soup ($3.50), Peanut Lotus Root with Soft Bone Soup ($3.50), White Radish Soft Bone Soup ($3.50), Sze Chuan Vegetable with Soft Bone Soup ($3.50), Papaya with Soft Bone Soup ($3.80), Pear with Soft Bone Soup ($3.80), Apple with Soft Bone Soup ($3.80), Herbal Steamed Black Chicken Soup ($4.00), Herbal Imperial Chicken ($5.00) and Chinese Steamed Egg($1.50). Other than the different type of stewed soups, you could also choose between the Taiwan Braised Meat Rice ($1.50), Pumpkin Rice ($1.00) and Cabbage Rice ($1.00). 

My usual order is their Taiwan Braised Meat Rice with a braised egg added. Though it did not quite taste the real thing that i had eaten in Taiwan but it is actually unique in its own way. It is healthier as less oily though not as fragrant as not much dried shallot flavor in it. The braised egg is just normal but it is a nice addition that i usually like to have it with.

Their Peanut Lotus Root with Soft Bone Soup is my usual order. It consists of 2 pieces of soft bone with a few slices of lotus root and a handful of peanuts in it. The flavor is light and not too oily, it tasted quite healthy, too.

The Sze Chuan Vegetable with Soft Bone Soup consists of a few pieces of Sze Chuan vegetable, a small chunk of carrot and sweet corn with 2 pieces of soft bone added. It is more flavorful with a well-balanced saltish taste. It is usually one of those soups that are always sold out first.

The soft bones for both soups have a desired softness and the meat came off from the bone effortlessly.

I have been back a few times since their opening in early July 2016.

Block 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-65 AMK 628 Food Centre SINGAPORE 560628
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)