Monday, October 31, 2016

The Mookata Empire : Probably the cheapest Mookata in Ang Mo Kio

They used to be in another part of Ang Mo Kio but closed it down in 15 November 2105 and restarted in the current location on 21 September 2016. They are located in th same coffee shop with 133 Seafood Kitchen that i have been patronising regularly for the cze cha dishes. I took notice of their popularity when i was having dinner just other day, it was during dinner time and many tables ordered it. I returned the next day just for it. 

We ordered the set for 2 pax at $25.80. They claimed to serve the cheapest and best Mookata in Ang Mo Kio. I did not get to try the rest of the Mookata in Ang Mo Kio to actually comment on it. The boss came over to our table, he asked, 'Have you try it before?' I said, 'No, not yet, but i know it is quite popular." He said, "We used to be at Block 108 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 before moving here." He said, "If you need more chilli, just let me know but be careful, it is quite spicy." He actually came back in a bit to check whether we need more chilli. When he knew that my friend could not endure the level of spiciness, he actually suggested that he will make a non-spicy chilli for him. He came back with a bowl of sweeter version thai chilli that has a handful of sesame seeds added in it. 

It consists of chicken thigh, pork belly, pork collar, fresh prawns, queen scallops, white clams, egg, corn, crab stick, hot dog, fishball and vegetable. Addititonal ingredients are available from $1.80 to $3.80 per serving based on their menu. They do serve desserts too, the choices are Mango Stick Rice ($4.90) or Durian Ice Cream, Mango Ice Cream and Chocolate Ice Cream at $3.90.

It was quite an enjoyable experience particularly on a cooling evening. The gas run out in the midst, the boss came over to attend to us and he then replaced the gas cylinder.

All the ingredients were rather fresh and i particularly enjoyed the queen scallops. We ordered 2 bowls of rice to go with it and we did not order anything extra as the set is quite substantial for 2 pax to share.

The food did not actually leave an impression but the attentive service did. The boss came over when after we settled the bill and were about to leave. He came to ask for our feedback and said, he hopes that we will recommend to our friends and get them over to try it. 

Block 133 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 SINGAPORE 560133
Operating Hours: 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm

Friday, October 28, 2016

72 Xiao Chu Zhi Jia (72 小厨之家) : Curry Fish Head

This is the only Cze Char stall in this food centre and it has been around for about a year or so. I was there for an early dinner, when i was looking at the menu board and deciding what to order. The elderly Uncle attempted to make a recommendation by asking the number of pax. He suggested that we should try their Curry Fish Head when i told him it was for just 2 pax. The Curry Fish Head is one of their signature dishes as well as their White Bee Hoon, they even have it indicated on their signboard. I decided to go with his recommendation, i given the table number and went back to wait for it to be served. It took about 20 minutes before the elderly Auntie brought it over.

The Fish Head got a notably freshness, serving with brinjal, cabbage, lady finger and also pieces of dried beancurd skin. Its spiciness was rather comforting with a light coconut taste. My dining partner commented that it actually reminded him of Lotong as it tasted quite alike. And, it did not taste as sour as the Asam Fish Head or as strong-flavored as those Indian style Curry Fish Head. 

Those pieces of dried beancurd skin were quite hard, it was so even after soaked in the curry gravy for a while. I expected it to taste similar to the famous Kam Long Curry Fish Head that i used to eat in Johor Bahru but it was quite different and definitely not as good. Their Curry Fish Head is served with dried beancurd skin too and i usually order an extra portion to go with it. I have been looking for a similar version that has dried beancurd skin in it but has yet to find a good one as substitute.

I have also tried their White Bee Hoon on another occasion but i felt it did not taste as good as compared to the other stall in the same food centre that is serving the same dish.

72 小厨之家
Block 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-86 AMK 628 Food Centre SINGAPORE 560628
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 10.30 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wei Nan Wang Hock Kian Lor Mee : Soon to be Gone

This humble stall is operated by an elderly couple. This stall has an interesting name and to translate it into English, it simply means the 'unforgettable taste' Hokkien Lor Mee. I was there at about 10.30 am, the elderly Auntie was still slicing the braised meat and i thought they are not ready yet, i approached the Auntie to ask. She said, "We have already started. What do you want?" I told her that i wanted the $4 portion with $1 extra ingredients added. Auntie did not quite expect that i go for the bigger portion. There is also the smaller portion at $3.00. There are also a few types of noodles to choose from.

While waiting for the Uncle to prepare it, i started chatting with the Auntie. We talked about the demolition of Market Street Food Centre that is going to take place next year. When asked whether would they be moving to the new food centre, the Auntie said, "No, we are going to retire after this food centre is gone." She then said, "I am already 77 years old." I asked, "How old is your husband?" She replied, "He is also 77 years old. We are of the same age."

She told me that they have been selling Lor Mee for the past 40 over years, they started in Bugis Street and have moved a few times though still in the town area. She said, "We stay at Pasir Panjang and we have to come as early as 3.00 am to start the preparation work. We used to stay in Bukit Merah though but moved farther and farther away." She added, "We are already too old to continue doing it." She also said, "It can be quite boring if just stay at home and do nothing." And, i asked, "Would your children want to take over?" She said, "My son is a graduate and he used to study Computer Science in oversea. He would never want to take over." Auntie was saying there is usually long queue during lunch time and they will closed after lunch.

I did not quite expect it to be such a big bowl when i received it. I do not know whether is this the usual serving size or i was given an extra bigger portion for my friendliness? In the end, i did not manage to finish it with some noodles left. 

It was topped with minced garlic, sambal chilli and also the red cut chillies. The gravy was not too starchy, a little too light though and a bit watery, it has a slight of sourish taste. It was served with quite a bit of those fried balls that are made of flour, i thought it was meatballs initially though. The other ingredients consist of braised meat, shredded fish meat, fried fish skin. There was also another fried item in it which i think was the fried beancurd skin, it was a bit too soft after soaked in the gravy for a bit so i could not really tell. 

This is another stall to check it out before the demolition of the food centre as they would call it quit after the food centre is gone. Then, the forgettable taste would only be in the memory. It might not be the best tasting Lor Mee that i have ever eaten but the old-school taste is rather pleasing. 

50 Market Street #03-03 Market Street Food Centre SINGAPORE 048940
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 2.30 pm (Monday to Friday)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kim Keat Hokkine Mee : Hokkien Mee in the Claypot

I have heard about this Fried Hokkien Mee and the story of the owner. Lee Eng Keat, the owner, has been in and out of the prison for countless times, he spent about 20 years behind bars with a total of 34 strokes of the cane received. In 1988, he helped out his stepfather at a hawker stall in Toa Payoh Central and he was taught how to cook Hokkien Mee from another hawker at that time. He tried Heroin again and later, he turned to be a drug dealer and was arrested twice for drug trafficking and sentenced to prison. He was released and again, sentenced to 11 years  of imprisonment in 2006. He was let out early due to good behavior and started Kim Keat Hokkien Mee in April 2014 with nearly $20,000 at the age of 58. He is experienced in frying Hokkien Mee as his family used to run Heng Heng Hokkien Mee at the old Food Centre near Toa Payoh Interchange that was started in the 80s.

The regular Fried Hokkien Mee starts at $4.00 but if you want it to be served in opeh leaf then it has to be at least $8.00, the claypot version is available at $10 and $15. I decided to go with the $10 Hokkien Mee in the claypot, which is an interesting option that does not seem to be available elsewhere. I was asked for the table number followed by the payment. It was served to the table in about 10 minutes. 

The noodles were stir-fried in the wok before transferred to the claypot to cook over the fire again before being served. Perhaps it was done it too quickly, the noodles did not have a chance to absorb the broth well for a full flavor upon served. It was expected to be still cooking by the heat in the claypot at that time but it did not do much to enhance its texture as well as the flavor. 

In this case, the noodles were not fried well to have the smoky charred flavor and also the gooeyness after soaking up the broth. It did not have the aromatic flavor that is expected of a good Fried Hokkien Mee, it was too soupy and tasted a bit too bland. The addition of fried roasted meat did not bring forth the flavor like what crispy pork lards would and the texture of those pieces of fried roasted meat was quite hard, though not burnt but likely to be fried for too long. 

The $10 portion is substantial to be shared amongst 2 pax and it consists of ingredients like fried roast pork, squid, clams and 2 pieces of medium-sized fresh tasting prawns. The sambal chilli has a minimum spiciness and it enhanced the flavor. 

I would rather walk across the street to have the Tian Tian Lai Fried Hokkien Mee at the food centre in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 as that is a better Fried Hokkien Mee than this.

Block 92 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 #01-264 SINGAPORE 310092
Operating Hours: 11.15 am to 10.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Say Seng : Old-School Fishball Noodle that has been around for 56 years

When i was just walking around and deciding what to eat, i came across this stall and what caught my attention was 'Established since 1960, well-known by its tasty and delicious mee poh" on their signboard. And, there was a short queue of about 4 people at about 11am, a particular customer was taking away a few portions. There was an elderly auntie taking away, she might not be too smiley but she is actually quite friendly. When i asked to have some red-cut chillies to go with the noodles, she just said, 'Here, just help yourself'. As it was still early and i was not too hungry then so i decided to go with dry Kway Teow at $4.00, there are also the $3.00 and $5.00 for selection. 

It is 'Self-Service' so i waited in the queue for it to be ready. Auntie was quite systematic, she will read out the orders one by one to the cook in there. The kway teow used is the thicker type and not the thinner version that is usually for Ipoh Horfun. It was perfectly cooked to the right texture without getting too soft and mushy. I requested for extra amount of chilli to be added and its spiciness has added flavor. It was served with slices of fishcake and lean meat with 2 pieces of fish balls and a halved prawn then garnished with coriander. 

It used to be cooked by an elderly couple before the current owner took over, he is also the co-owner of Claypot Rice stall next door. He has doing the cooking for a few years now. As i have never get to try it before so there would not be any comparison on their standard.

It reminded me of another stall in Ang Mo Kio where i used to eat with my late Grandpa, that stall has been taken over by a younger couple and the taste is no longer the same, i have since stopped eating there.

It has recently announced on the news about the re-development of this Golden Shoe carpark into an office building. All the hawker stalls are likely to be relocating to a new food centre just nearby but how many of these hawker stalls would still be around at that time? 

50 Market Street #03-14 Market Street Food Centre SINGAPORE 048940
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 2.00 pm (Monday to Friday)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ming Fa Fishball Noodles : New Outlet at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10

I chanced upon the new outlet of Ming Fa when collecting my birthday cake from The Pine Garden cake shop, which is just a few shops away. I remember i ever eaten at their outlet in Thomson and their Bak Chor Mee was quite nice. It was unexpectedly quiet during lunch time. One of the ladies was quite friendly, she told me that they are only about a month old. She said, they opened on the 17 September and still not many people seem to know about their existence. The other lady was telling me that this outlet is operating on 24 hrs, just like the one in Thomson Road. 

I decided to go with their Signature Noodle at $4.50 and i wanted it with Mee Kia. The portion was quite substantial, serving along with braised mushroom, braised meat, sliced meat, a fried dumpling, a piece of dried beancurd with filling, half of an onsen egg and a piece of leaf lettuce. I also ordered a glass of iced coffee to go with it.

I have requested for extra amount of chilli to be added but its level of spiciness was still mild. The Mee Kia was nicely cooked to the right texture and it did not clump together even after left it for a while. That friendly lady came to chat with me when she spotted me spending some time taking picture. She asked, "So, how is it? Does it take like the one at Thomson Road?" I nodded. She then said, 'Hope to see you come back more often to have our noodles." I liked it that she made an effort to interract with the customers.

On their menu, there are also Curry Chicken Noodle, Fishball Noodle, Pork Ribs Noodles and even toasts with half-boiled eggs. This is likely to be my other usual lunch place near home.

Block 529 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 SINGAPORE 560529
Operating Hours: 24 Hrs 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Grill & Pasta : 11 Choices of Hawker Style Pasta Dishes

This stall has been in this food centre for the longest time. It was first of such hawker stall serving pasta dishes when it started before the others started to follow suit.

I made a special order, I wanted Marinara with a piece of Chicken Chop added. The chef did not quite get it the first time and I was asked to repeat my order. I repeated that I want to order Marinara with Chicken Chop. He got it this time. He asked, "Do you want them to be in the same plate?". I nodded. I waited in the queue for it to be ready as it has changed to 'Self-Service', the chef used to have an assistant during my last visit but he was all by himself this time, even so, the waiting time was a short one.

In total, I paid $7.20 for Marinara and $5.00 for that piece of grilled Chicken Chop. The Marinara was in good portion with ingredients like prawns, squid, and clams in the tomato-based sauce.  There were dried chilli flakes and dried parsley flakes for self-service at the counter but missing the Parmesan cheese, it used to be served by placing on the spoon and served along with it. It stated under the 'additional charges' on their menu board that the cheese is chargeable at 0.80 cents. You could also add cream for 0.80 cents or upsize the pasta at $1.00. There are a total of 11 pasta dishes from $4.00 to $8.00 for selection together with the other 2 choices of penne served with grilled chicken or grilled fish at $6.50.  

The spaghetti was cooked just right to the desired texture and those ingredients were notably fresh particularly the prawns, the texture was firm with a delightful chewiness. 

The well-marinated Chicken Chop was grilled to near perfection, it was nicely charred at those edges with a slight crispiness and moist within. 

If you are thinking to visit this stall, please take note that they will be closed from 28 October to 7 November 2016.

590 Upper Thomson Road #01-34 Sembawang Hill Food Centre SINGAPORE 574419
Operating Hours: 12.00 to 2.00 pm / 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Potong Pasir King Specialist Carrot Cake in Ang Mo Kio

This fried carrot cake stall is in a coffee shop near to the famous Pine Garden cake shop and is serving white and black versions of fried carrot at $2.50 and $3.00, they also serve fried kway teow. This stall is operated by an elderly Uncle all by himself, he cooks, he serves and he collects the payment and even so, the service is unexpectedly fast though. The stall has been around for years, i had tasted it once and that was quite a while ago. I start to patronising this stall on a regular basis only recently, i came back a few times and usually packed it to have it take away. That time, when i took notice of a blown up newspaper article that was displayed underneath their signboard, i asked, "Have this article actually improved the business?". Uncle nodded. Then i said again, "It said your carrot cake is very nice.". Uncle asked, "Have you eaten before?". I said, "I did but that was quite a while back". That article was actually the reason that got me to revisit again. 

If you are observant, you might notice that there are towers of those deep and round metal baking tins nicely stacked up, some are empty and some still have kueh in it. These are the handmade kueh made using rice flour and shredded radish as the main ingredients and both are added in the almost equal proportion for a well-balanced texture. It is then cut into irregular rectangular pieces before frying it with preserved radish (chye poh), egg and garlic, dark soya sauce is added for the black version. The Uncle has fried it well to not overcooking the egg as well as leaving the edges of those pieces of kueh to a nice crisp.

I have tried both versions and both are nice, i liked it equally much that i would usually order a plate of black carrot cake and another plate of white carrot cake at $2.50 for each plate. Uncle took notice of it so when he served it, he usually just brought along a single fork. 

Even though Fried Kway Teow is also available on the menu but i have never seen it been served during my last few visits so it might not be worth trying after all. 

Block 532 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 Sunday F & B Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 560532
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 7.00 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Konomi Zen : Hawker Style Japanese Fare

They moved from Amoy Street Food Centre to the current location in 2012 and is still serving affordable Japanese fare in hawker style starting from $3.00 to $6.00. This is just those kind of places that you will go for something simple yet satisfying. The service is warm, the chef and his assistant have the habit of addressing their customers as 'brother' and 'sister'. And, they are listed in the Makansutra 2017 as one of the must-try stalls. 

Amongst the items on their menu, the most popular has to be the Chicken Katsu Don at $3.50, it is served with a bowl of miso soup. The portion is good for its price, it consists a portion of plain rice with a chicken cutlet that is nicely chopped into pieces together with beaten egg, onion then topped with seaweed strips. 

The other popular item is their Salmon Bento Set at $6.00. It is only prepared upon order. It consists of quite a big piece of grilled salmon, shredded cabbage, tempura sweet potato and a portion of rice, together with a bowl of miso soup.

It has stated on their signboard that their food is of 'Restaurant Standard' at 'Hawker Price', even so, i think it is rather unfair to actually do a comparison in terms of portion and taste. As their prices are much lower, they will have a tighter budget to work around.

Block 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-59 AMK 628 Food Centre SINGAPORE 560628
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Soon Kee Teochew Porridge : Simple & Satisfying Lunch

I came here just about 2 days ago to have a Nacho Burger and Triple Threat Krusty Crust Quesadilla by REM'N.NIS, a muslim-owned stall in the same coffee shop serving Tex-Mex food. I took notice of a Teochew porridge stall there but it was closed on Sunday. I made an effort to come back on purpose just to try it. I was told this is a popular stall, i was even advised to come early to avoid the crowd and also, most of the dishes would have been sold out by 1 pm. I came around 10.30 am on a Tuesday and it was still quite quiet at that time.

As it was still early, there were an extensive range of dishes for selection including a few selections of steamed fish dishes and it is amongst their most popular choices, almost like a must-order dish. I was eating alone so i did not go for it. Their other popular dish is the braised meat which i ordered together with fried pork chop, brinja and also salted egg with a bowl of plain porridge. I was told to take a seat and it will be served to the table. I said, '谢谢 (thank you)'. He replied, "不用客气 (don't mention it)". It seems he did not quite expect that i will say thank you. It is always good to show appreciation particularly to our hawkers that have put in enormous efforts in serving such comfort food.

It was served by the friendly lady in just a bit, she lined all the dishes neatly on the table with the bowl of porridge right in front of me. I presented a $10 note for payment without asking the exact amount for all these dishes and porridge. If i recall correctly based on the amount of change that i have received, it should be about $6.00 for everything.

This braised meat is strongly recommended by their regular customers. Its texture was extremely soft, so soft that you did not need much effort to chew it. Though there was a good amount of fat in those pork belly but it was not as oily as expected. It was served in a pool of tasty braised sauce that went really well with the plain porridge.

The fried pork chop was served with a saucer of chilli as dipping sauce. It was nicely marinated then coated with a thick layer of batter and deep-fried to a perfect crispiness that lasted even after it was left it for a while. The slight spiciness of the chilli actually enhanced its flavor for just a bit.

This brinja is a simple dish, it was cooked the same way that my late Grandpa used to cook for me. It was stir-fried with just a bit of chilli powder to give it the flavor.

Salted egg is a must-have whenever i have porridge. I like to dig it out from the shell and meshed it slightly inside the porridge. This is something that i have been doing it since young.

This new found love is just about 10 minutes away from where i stay so this is going to be a new lunch spot that will get me to come back often.

33 Sembawang Road #01-04/07 Hong Heng Garden SINGAPORE 779084
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)