Monday, May 30, 2016

Balmoral Bakery : Hate it or love it

This is one of those old-school bakeries that are still existing, they have been in operation since 1965 when they started to sell English style cakes and pastries. It was founded by a group of Hainanese 'big brothers' as a complement to the famed Balmoral Steak House at Holland Village that was patronized by the British and Australian armed forces that was stationed in Singapore then.

I tried some of the pastries like Chicken Pie, Beef Pie, Curry Chicken Puff, Curry Beef Puff, Samosa and Sausage Rolls. Apparently, none of these pastries have tasted as good as it supposed to be. The puff pastry did not have much buttery taste and it was rather thick, in fact too much of it and with a rather minimum filling. I would actually suggest to try the Curry Chicken Puff ($1.80) from the Swisslink Bakery & Cafe nearby instead as those are surprisingly good and much better in standard in comparison. 

I also got to try a few of their swiss rolls, buttercake, cream horns and coconut tart but none actually left an impression. The buttercream used was those old-fashioned type, which is rather oily and dense with not much flavor, it tasted of low quality.

It has stated on their website that 'We still make our items by hand, maintaining generation old tradition and ensuring quality and tastiness in our products. Our butter cakes, rum balls, cream horns, samosas, chicken pies and curry puffs still taste how they did so long ago.'

Still, i could not help but wonder what have actually gone wrong and there is such a drop in their standard? I felt that they do not longer serving 'delicious, crusty, golden pastries and moist, flavorful cakes' that were mentioned in 'Our Story' on their website. Perhaps due to certain reason that they are no longer doing that 'something right' as claimed on their website in their kitchen that they used to? Though they have been around for decades but sadly, the taste and standard have somewhat did not stay the same anymore.

Are there any of their fans out there? Perhaps you might want to share your thoughts on their standard now as compared to that of yesteryear. I did not get to try it first but this is definitely not something that i am expecting from a more than 50 years bakery.

Block 105 Clementi Street 12 #01-06 SINGAPORE 120105
Operating Hours: 8.30 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Lik Ming Toa Payoh Laksa : Homely Laksa

This is one of those popular stalls in this Food Centre serving only a single item on their menu which is Laksa at $2.50, $3.00 and the largest portion at $4.00. The friendly Auntie spotted me when i was approaching the stall, she smiled and asked, 'Laksa ah?' And, i asked, 'How big is the $4 portion?'. The Uncle overheard and he said, 'The $3.00 is already enough as it is quite a lot". I said, "Most of the stalls are giving rather small portion for that price and it is not filling." Uncle replied, 'We do not do that here." Auntie then asked me to take a seat as it will be served to me. The Auntie and Uncle are already the second generation serving this old school Laksa. 

Auntie walked over to my table in less than 5 minutes, carrying my bowl of Laksa and a plastic container that stored their special dried shrimp chilli, commonly known as Hae Bee Hiam. She asked whether i want it to be added and i nodded my head, she then added a big spoon of it to the Laksa. It also came with a bit of chopped laksa leaves to enhance its flavor.

I stirred it slightly to mix the dried shrimp chilli and dried laksa leaves into the gravy before tasting it. It consists of a substantial portion of thick bee hoon with a few pieces of tau pok and a few slices of fishcake together with a handful of cockles and 2 pieces of halved prawns. The gravy was quite light with a hint of coconut milk and its level of spiciness was rather mild. It has a homely feel and comforting taste which i liked.

Block 93 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 #01-48 SINGAPORE 310093
Operating Hours: 6.00 am to 3.00 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grazie : Hawker Italian Food made fresh

'Grazie' which means 'Thank You' in Italian is the name of this unassuming hawker stall at Serangoon Garden Food Centre. This stall has been serving Italian food using the fresh ingredients with no MSG and preservative added as indicated and they have been around since April 2012.

Though they are supposedly famous for their pasta dishes but i decided to go with Pork Chop with apple sauce for $8.80. This dish is created to commemorate SG 50 and have been on their menu on a permanent basis since August 2015. I made an order and paid, i was asked to come back in 8 minutes to collect it. When i went back at 7 minutes, it was already done and left waiting at the counter. 

That 2 slices of thinly sliced Pork Chop were nicely marinated and cooked well to a desired tenderness. It was served with apple sauce though i felt the sweetness of the apple sauce did not do much to enhance its flavor. It came along with a portion of fries and garden salads that included a handful of chickpeas which is not quite common. The overall standard is pretty good and i would think it is definitely value for money as i could taste the freshness of those ingredients used.

Perhaps i would come back for their pasta dishes next time since this is supposedly their signature dishes.

49A Serangoon Garden Way #01-01 Serangoon Garden Food Centre SINGAPORE 555945
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Seng Kee The Black Seed by Chef Benny : the modern Kopitiam

This recently opened coffee place is a brainchild of Chef Benny that founded Eighteen Chefs, it is located at Bugis Junction, right in front of the taxi stand along North Bridge Road. It is a modern kopitiam serving Eggs & Toasts, Chee Cheong Fun, Sandwiches and Curries in Bread Bowl together with drinks like Kopi and Teh in cold and hot versions, Grass Jelly Bandung and Milo T-Rex. The menu includes desserts like Sour Plum Sng Pao and Soursop Sng Pao that are quite interesting.

It was not as crowded as i expected to be when i was there slightly after 12 pm on a weekday. I was expected to order at the counter then paid and wait for my drink there then wait for my order no to be flashed on the LED panel to collect food at the other counter. 

As i just had lunch, i decided to have their 63 degrees eggs (2 for $2.50 and 1 for $1.50) and Iced Pandan Teh ($4.00).

The sous-vide eggs were slowly cooked at 63 degrees to give the yolk a runny texture, the temperature and timing are really mattered for a perfect soft-boiled egg that has such a desired degree of tenderness. 

Their Iced Pandan Teh at $4.00 is a bit steep for just a glass of normal tea that is infused with a rather slight pandan taste and served with crushed ice. Again, if it is going to be compared with some of those atas cafes out there, their menu prices are considered as quite affordable and in fact, it is slightly lower.

Their customer service was not as attentive, the service staff that took my order did not inform me that there is an ongoing opening promotion that offer set meals that are of better value. And, i do not quite remember seeing any indication about the opening promotion. 

If i do visit again, i would probably like to try their Curry Chicken with Chee Cheong Fun or in a Bread Bowl and also Singaporean-inspired Ciabatta and Focaccia sandwiches if i do visit again. 

SENG KEE The Black Seed by Chef Benny
200 Victoria Street #01-71/72 Bugis Junction SINGAPORE 188021
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 10.30 pm (Daily)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Prince Coffee House : that nostalgic feeling

This 40 years old coffee house used to be located at Shaw Tower and is named after the now-defunct Prince Cinema where they stayed for 13 years. They then moved to Coronation Plaza at Bukit Timah for 22 years before moving to the current location for about 5 years now.

I was their only customer at 11.15 am and i was greeted by the elderly Jimmy Lim, 72, he is one of the owners that has been with the coffee house since 1977. He used to be the Head Waiter before he bought the business with his partners when the original owner retired. Though i have not been here for a while but it is still the same familiar coziness that is so welcoming. The last time when i visited was for my article on Makansutra.

Set lunches serve here on the weekdays from 11.00 am to 3.00 pm. Chicken Cutlet is served on Monday, Pork Chop is on Tuesday, Grilled Fish on Wednesday, Chicken Chop on Thursday and Fish & Chips on Friday for only $8.80+. Alternatively, they also serve air flown Sirlion Steak at $13.80+ from Monday to Friday during lunch. You could also choose a al-crate dish and then add on $4.00 to make it a meal. Their lunch sets include a soup of the day, drink and dessert. Their prices have not changed in the last couple of years. 

I opted to have Ice Lemon Tea to go with the set lunch. It came rather quickly followed by the soup of the day, which was Cream of Chicken that is served along with a piece of garlic bread.

Next, came along the Sirlion Steak with fries, carrot and long beans on their decades old Pyrex plate. The steak was nicely done at medium to medium-well that still have its tenderness and is served with their signature brown sauce.

When a serving staff came over to clear my plate, i asked to take away 2 Chicken Pies with a Yam Cake. While waiting for the orders to be packed, Uncle Jimmy came over with a tray of different types of desserts consisting grass jelly and cut fruits. I picked the cut papaya from there. When leaving, he was waiting by the entrance just to say thank you and followed by 谢谢 in Chinese. 

It is that feeling of such old school heartwarming service that is always leaves an impression. And, this is often missing in most modern eateries that is usually focus too much on efficiency and quick services thus ended up becoming cold and impersonal.

249 Beach Road SINGAPORE
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Soh Eng Siong Coffee Stall : 0.90 cents for Iced Coffee

This is the only coffee stall in this food centre that has got a short queue, i decided to join and ordered a iced coffee. I was told it is only 0.90 cents when i asked how much is it as i was digging my coin purse for loose change. I could not help but asked, 'Why is it so cheap?' and i continued asking, "Most of the coffee stalls are already charging $1.00 or more for a cup of hot coffee and $1.20 to $1.50 for iced coffee."

The Uncle said, "We have different priorities in life." He then pointed at the Auntie and said, 'She does not drive Mercedes Benz but taking bus to work." He said, "I could not really answer this question and definitely not on behalf of other coffee stalls on why are they charging much more but it is really about what we perceive as important." He is so right. To get the priorities right and to live simply are keys to happiness. 

On a side note, i wonder why is there an additional of 20 cents to 50 cents charged for the cold version of coffee and tea which i think is not quite justifiable. The main difference between the cold and the hot version is none other than the amount of ice cubes added to cool it. 

It is heartwarming to know there is still such a hawker stall around that aims to bring down the costs to benefits their customers. In order to do so, this hawker stall is likely to be one of those pioneer hawker stalls that is given a heavily subsidised rent so they could afford to just earn enough. Apparently, not many of such stalls are around these days as most of these pioneer hawkers are getting old and retiring.

49A Serangoon Garden Way #01-38 Serangoon Garden Food Centre SINGAPORE 555945

Friday, May 13, 2016

133 Penang Authentic : Prawn Noodle is just so so

It was a Monday and this stall happened to be one of those stalls that were opened. This stall has been in this food centre for a few years, serving Penang Fried Kway Teow and Penang Prawn Noodle, both items are equally popular. There is usually a long queue if you come during lunch on weekends, and the waiting time could be quite a while as most of their customers are here for their Penang Fried Kway Teow as it is done by batches. Some of these customers could not wait and actually gave up queuing and walked away. 

There are 2 different types of Prawn Noodle on their menu, the Penang Prawn Noodle that is served in the soup version and the local style Prawn Noodle that is served in the dry and soup version. I ordered the dry Prawn Noodle with extra chilli which is offered at $3.50 and larger portion at $4.50. I was there just before lunch so no queue at that time.

The portion at $3.50 came with a good portion of yellow noodles along with a few slices of fish cake and lean meat with 2 pieces of prawns and some greens, garnished with a handful of dried shallots and fried pork lards. Though with extra amount of chilli added, it did not taste as spicy as i would like it to be. Its overall taste was just average and not quite memorable. Their Penang Prawn Noodle might actually be a better option since this is what they are supposedly famous for.

I have eaten their Penang Fried Kway Teow before though it is not too bad but i would not bother to queue for it as there is actually a better Penang Fried Kway Teow at Yu Hua Food Centre at Jurong East Avenue 1 by Simei Penang Laksa Specialty which i enjoyed much more.

116 Upper Bukit Timah Road #02-193 Bukit Timah Food Centre SINGAPORE 588172
Operating Hours: 8.30 am to 3.00 pm / 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm (Daily)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Royal J's Seafood : Fried Porridge is a must-try!

The first time when i came across Fried Porridge was in Penang which i did not get to try. Then, i heard about this particular Fried Porridge when they were still at Machperson but again, i did not get to try. There were many reviews about this Fried Porridge on the net that got me really curious and finally made an effort to try it at their current location at Foch Road, which is at Lavender and near to Jalan Besar.

I went on a Sunday, it was not too crowded in the coffee shop though there was a short queue for the supposedly famous roasted meat stall there. I decided to try their signature Fried Porridge and also Seafood Horfun, i was charged $14.00 for both and have to pay right at the counter after ordering.

The Fried Porridge came first, though it is the smallest portion that i ordered but it was good for 2 pax. It is done the same way of frying rice or even noodle, the already cooked porridge is then stir-fried in a wok over a relatively high fire using a ladle to keep tossing in a fast motion repeatedly and rather quickly. When is done, it is then served in a claypot to keep it warm and garnished with chopped spring onions and dried shallots.

It might not quite look like it but it tasted much better than expected. The texture is not as mushy but much thicker then the plain porridge and rather flavorful. You could actually taste bits of dried shrimps, dried squids and fried pork lards that contributed to its intensified flavor. Even though i have yet to try another one to have a comparison but this one is good enough to get me going back. If you happen to know another Fried Porridge in Singapore, do leave me a message as i am interested to try for comparison purpose.

The Seafood Horfun came next. I did not take notice of its price when placing the order earlier but if the total cost for both items is $14.00 and the smallest portion of Fried Porridge is $6.00 then the Seafood Horfun should be at $8.00. If it is so then its value did not quite justify the price charged. It was served in a substantial portion with ingredients like sliced fish, prawns and squids with some greens. I could taste the distinctive wok taste from those nicely charred fried horfun and unlike most other horfun that is usually missing the wok taste. It is indeed getting harder to come across a really good horfun these days and though this might not be the best ever tasted but it is not too bad.

I am likely to try other dishes when i come by again for their Fried Porridge.

30 Foch Road #01-02 Hotel 81 Elegance SINGAPORE 209276
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 2.30 pm / 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm (Daily)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Lao Song Huat Fishball Noodle at Serangoon Gardens

Most of the stalls were closed on Monday and that including the famous Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Meat Noodles which is my regular option whenever i am at this food centre for lunch. I then decided to go with this noodle stall that relocated from the Taman Serasi Hawker Centre at Cluny Road, directly opposite Botanic Garden and was demolished in 2004. They have been around since 1966 as indicated on their signboard. 

You could choose between the smaller portion at $3.00 or the bigger portion at $4.00 for Fishball Noodle or Bak Chor Mee (Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle) which i ordered. They are supposed to be famous for their extremely huge fishcake and they even served it with Bak Chor Mee together with braised mushroom, minced meat and pork's liver. 

Though i requested to have an extra amount of chilli added but the level of spiciness was rather mild and i could hardly taste any vinegar in it. 

For the $4.00 portion, the soup is served with 3 pieces of 3 fishballs and 1 vegetable ball with some dried seaweed. The soup was quite bland though and the fishballs did not quite stand out but those slices of fishcake were quite nice.

Overall, it fared not too bad though not quite memorable and would not be in my list for one of the best around.

49A Serangoon Garden Way #01-Serangoon Garden Food Centre SINGAPORE 
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 10.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ah Hua Kelong : Seafood Home Delivery

This was my first time ordering from Ah Hua Kelong. I came across their facebook page quite a while ago and have been wanting to order from them. To start, i went to their website at and browse through their list on 'Our Shop' and under 'Seafood Home Delivery'. There is an extensive range of products listed there from clams, cockles, mussels and also fishes like Seabass, Pearl Grouper to Red Snapper. They even have Fish Otah and Prawn Otah in the list. I went through the list and selected a 700 grams Red Snapper that is priced at $18.00, Fish Otah ($5.00) and Prawn Otah ($6.00) to be delivered 2 days later.

I have received a call on the day of delivery slightly after lunch. I was asked whether would i mind to have a 900 grams Red Snapper at $22.00 instead which i agreed. I was told the delivery would be in between 2.30 pm to 3.00 pm later. My doorbell rang at 3.00 pm and i was greeted by a friendly delivery guy. I handed over the cash as i selected for 'Cash on Delivery' as mode of payment and he handed over the box to me.

When i opened it, all the items were nicely packed with a packet of ice included in the box.

There were 2 boxes of Prawn Otah and 2 boxes of Fish Otah along with the Red Snapper.

The Red Snapper has got rather clear eyes and firm in texture which are the indication of freshness.

I am very much impressed with their efficient service and that made me a happy customer.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice

If you do not want to be in the queue for the famous white bee hoon then Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice might be a good alternative. It is located just a couple of shops away from that coffee shop where the white bee hoon is, you just keep walking and you could spot it after making a right turn, it is directly opposite Sembawang Shopping Centre. It was not as crowded as i expected to be particularly during lunch on a Sunday though most of the tables there were occupied. The service was quite attentive, the menu was presented right after when seated down and the order was taken right after. I decided to go with Da Lu Mian ($4.80), San Lou Bee Hoon ($4.80) and Garlic Fried Chicken ($12.80).

Da Lu Mian came first. From the name, i guess it is supposed to be KL style braised noodle but the noodle was a bit too thin and it is closer to the braised Hokkien Noodle that is commonly available at most Cze Cha stalls. It was tasty though not too memorable, the addition of fried pork lards enhanced its flavor quite a bit. The portion was a bit too little thus not too filling.

San Lou Bee Hoon came next, though not as crispy as it is expected to be but i could taste the intense wok hei in it. It was nice though not the best that i ever tasted. 

The Garlic Fried Chicken that came last was the most disappointing. Though it was served along with large amount of fried garlic but it did not have any garlic taste, not even a bit of it. It reminded me of those Malay style Fried Chicken Wings that are usually served along with Nasi Lemak as it has quite a distinctive turmeric taste. It would be more acceptable if this dish is labelled as Turmeric Fried Chicken as it is more appropriate in accordance with the taste.

I might just come back for their claypot rice the next time as this is what they are famous for.

No 4 Jalan Tampang SINGAPORE 758948
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm