Monday, February 27, 2017

Ah Kow Mushroom Minced Pork Mee : the decades old Bak Chor Mee

They started at the front of Thong Chai Medical Institute in 1945 before moving to Hong Lim Food Centre and is serving Teochew style Mushroom Minced Pork Mee, which is also known as Bak Chor Mee. Ah Kow, the founder, has since passed on the skills and the stall to the elder and fourth sons. These 2 brothers used to take charge of the stall together. The elder son would operate from Fridays to Mondays and the fourth son would do so from Tuesdays to Thursdays. They decided to go separate way after a dispute in 2000, the fourth son used to run a stall in Old Airport Food Centre but closed in 2014 as the rented stall was sold away by the owner. He made a come back in a coffee shop at Bukit Batok in 2016. Jon Cher, his son, left a message on my Facebook page to tell me about his dad's stall. 

I went on a weekday and was there slightly after 12.00 pm, there was no queue. The light of signboard was off and I actually thought they might have already sold out. The Auntie spotted me when I was standing in front of the stall. She raised her voice a little and asked the Uncle, "Why you did not on the light for signboard?" She then asked for my order. Their menu is similar to the other stall in Hong Lim Food Centre. You could choose between the $4, $5 and $6 for the Bak Chor Mee and between $4, $5 and $6 for the Teochew Dumpling Soup. I decided to go with the $5 portion Bak Chor Mee and the $4 portion for the Teochew Dumpling Soup. 

The smallest portion of Teochew Dumpling Soup came with 6 pieces of handmade dumplings which consist of minced meat and dried sole fish as part of the filling. It was in a lightly flavoured soup that has a hint of dried sole fish and with slices of mushroom in it. The soup tasted better as compared to the one served at the other stall at Hong Lim Food Centre, it was rather bland over there which I did not like.

I requested to have an extra amount of chilli added to my dry mee pok but I felt it was a bit too much till the extent that I could actually taste it in almost every mouthful. The amount of vinegar added has reminded me of Tai Hwa Pork Noodles at Crawford Lane. It was heavy thus rather overwhelming and added a sourish taste to the noodles. If I do go back, I would have to remind Uncle to go easy with it. It was served with ingredients such as slices of lean pork, minced meat, liver, braised mushroom, dried sole fish and dumplings, there was a total of 3 pieces of dumplings for the $5 portion. 

Though not the best but this is still easily one of the better Bak Chor Mee around.

Block 359 Bukit Batok Street 31 SINGAPORE 650359
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 2.00 pm (Mon) / 8.00 am to 8.00 pm (Wed to Sun)
(Closed on Tuesdays)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

House of Li Xiang : Mee Siam and Mee Rebus

This stall and the stall on its left, as well as the other stall on its right, share the same stall name as they are the same owner. The main stall is serving Mee Siam and Mee Rebus, the stall on its left is serving soya bean drinks and grass jelly drinks together with different flavours bean curds, the other stall on its right is mainly for doing preparation.

I took a picture of the stall front when approaching. The Auntie asked, "Why are you taking picture of our stall?" I replied, "I wanting to tell my friends about your stall." She said, "You scared me and I thought what happened." I asked, "I was told that you obtained the recipe from Montfort, that famous stall before the owners retired ah?" The Uncle replied, "We know each other for more than 30 years in this food centre. We used to sell You Tiao and we were quite famous then. We decided to take over the recipe when they wanted to retire and we have been using the same recipe for Mee Siam and Mee Rebus for about 3 years now."

How many of you remember Montfort, the famous stall in Mayflower Food Stall that was serving Mee Siam and Mee Rebus? The queue was always long there and they always sold out before noon. Their Mee Siam is even voted to be amongst the top 10 in Singapore. Then, they closed it down. It is good that they decided to pass down the recipe to a fellow hawker to continue it. Apparently, not too many of their customers know about this as told by the Uncle.

I was there slightly after 1 pm and they only left with Mee Siam, Mee Rebus has already been sold out much earlier. The smaller portion costs $2.50 and the larger portion costs $3.00 which they serve in a bowl rather than on the plate. I wanted the larger portion as I was quite hungry then. 

The portion at $3.00 was quite substantial. The consistency is just right, it is not too thick nor too watery with a right balance of sweetness and sourness. You could clearly taste the dried shrimps that were added into the gravy, it was garnished with bits of dried taupok and chopped chives with sambal chilli by the side. When mixing it well, the slight spiciness of sambal chilli has actually brought forth its flavour. 

I would come back again for their Mee Rebus.

Block 162 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-17 Mayflower Food Centre SINGAPORE 560162
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 2.00 pm 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Indonesia Delight Gandis : so so Mee Rebus and Ayam Penyet

I visited a Malay stall in the coffee shop at D'Lithium, a building along Playfair Road and I tried their Mee Rebus which I did not like. Just a couple of days later, someone posted pictures on the famous Mee Rebus in Ang Mo Kio and a Facebook friend commented, he recommended the Mee Rebus from a Malay stall that used to be at D'Lithium for 6 years but forced to move to a new location due to an increment in rental about 2 years ago. Their current location is at Trivex Building along Burn Road, which is directly behind the exit A of Tai Seng MRT station and about 5 minutes' walk from there. The family that started this stall was from Bandung and moved to Singapore 12 years ago. 

I was there around11.00 am and there was only 1 other customer in front of me. I decided to go with their Mee Rebus ($3.00) and Ayam Penyet ($5.50) without the rice as I was eating alone. They also serve Mee Soto ($3.00), Soto Ayam ($3.00), Lotong ($3.00), Ikan Penyet ($5.50) and also dishes for Nasi Padang. I was asked whether I want the chicken leg or breast for the Ayam Penyet and I opted for the chicken leg. While waiting, I was told that the chicken leg is not ready and the lady suggested that I go for the breast which I agreed but regretted later. I waited for about 5 minutes for both to be ready.

The Mee Rebus tasted just average, the gravy was too diluted and is not starchy enough to coat every strand of noodle well. The flavour is quite mild and its taste is not even close or on par with the Mee Rebus by Rahim Muslim Food located in Ang Mo Kio that they serve with satay sauce with an option to add poached chicken to it.

Their chicken pieces are supposedly marinated with various herbs and spices then deep-fried and 'penyet' (smashed). The chicken breast though nicely fried to a desired crispiness but it was too dry within thus not as flavorful, which I did not even manage to finish. It might be due to that they fried it for too long and the other possibility is, they actually re-fried it so its texture was somewhat compromised. Maybe, I should have waited for that chicken leg. Worst of all, I was expected to eat it with disposable spoon and fork and it was particularly challenging when eating that piece of fried chicken. 

There was still no queue after I done eating at about 12.05 pm.

8 Burn Road #01-06 Trivex Building LC Food Centre SINGAPORE 369977
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Roast Paradise : Char Siew is good but the Sio Bak is just so so

This was my third visit, the last two were about a year ago when they just started. Their queue now was much longer as compared to then. They are in the midst of opening a branch but the location has not been revealed yet. The queue was long but it moved quickly. I waited about 20 minutes before I got to order. I decided to go with 100 grammes of Char Siew ($4.70) and also 100 grammes of Sio bak ($4.70) with a  plate of rice (0.60 cents) and a bowl of Hakka noodle ($2.20). I was asked whether I want to have chilli to go with the Hakka noodle.

The Char Siew is still amongst the best that I had eaten but I could not say the same about their Sio Bak as I actually prefer those from 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist. The texture of the Char Siew was amazingly soft, this is their signature dish that has left many of their customers smitten. This can be addictive as well, the 100 grammes that we ordered to share did not seem to be quite enough. It is so good to be eaten on its own, without the chilli sauce and even the dark sauce that served along. 

The Sio Bak was slightly disappointing, certain part tasted a bit more saltish and slightly bland at the other part but the crispiness of the skin somewhat made up for it. 

The mee pok was cooked just right and served along with a handful of minced meat and slices of cucumber with chilli by the side. 

I actually prefer the noodle to the rice as I think is a better option. 

Somehow, they managed to live up to the hype and is doing well, which is good. 

51 Old Airport Road #01-121 Old Airport Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 390051
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 2.30 pm / 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm (Tue, Thu to Sat)
10.30 am to 2.30 pm (Wed & Sun) (Closed on Mondays)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Eighteen Chefs at AMK Hub

Eighteen Chefs strives to provide their customers with good quality food at an affordable price that is freshly prepared and also fast every time, it is indicated as their philosophy on their website. Their menu has a great variety of food choices, from pasta dishes to the usual western fare. 

This was my second visit, but just like the first time, I was not too impressed. Their service was warm though not too attentive and the food did not taste too memorable yet again. I would not say their prices are quite affordable, though it seemed to be reasonably taken into consideration of their rental and operational costs. We went with a single serving of Heart Attack Fried Rice ($15.80) with Eighteen Beef Burger ($13.80). We selected Combo B as an add-on, which includes a drink plus a soup of the day for an additional $3.80. This is a value-added option that is worth considering.  

Eighteen Beef Burger ($13.80) came with sauteed slices of beef fillet with lettuce, tomato slice and cheddar cheese in toasted buns and is served with potato wedges. The chilli sauce did not go well with the burger as well as the potato wedges.

The Heart Attack Fried Rice ($15.80) consists of 200 grammes of New York strips served with fried rice. I did ask for the doneness for those New York strips when ordering but only the central part was done just right and the edges were slightly overcooked, thus more chewy and tough. It was partly so due to the selection of the cut of the beef. Again, I felt, the chilli sauce did not enhance its flavour further even though it is quite spicy but I would just leave it as it is. 

53 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 #04-02 AMK Hub SINGAPORE 569933
[Please refer to their website for the addresses of other outlets]
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 10.30 pm (Daily)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hong Chang Eating House : BBQ Sambal Stingray & Sambal Sotong

Hong Chang Eating House is located along Braddell Road at the junction of Serangoon Road. Prata and economic rice are served during the day; BBQ seafood and frog porridge in the evening. 

I visited during the Chinese New Year and I was given free packet drinks upon seated down. I was just told, "请你们喝!" and that person just walked away. I was presented with the menu quickly and the friendly staff stood by the table, waiting to take the order. I decided to go with the medium portion for BBQ Stingray ($17) and the smallest portion for Sambal Sotong ($10) with ladyfinger. When I wanted to order drinks, the friendly Auntie said, "你们有水了."

The BBQ Stingray came first followed by the 2 plates of rice and the Sambal Sotong came a few minutes later.

The Sambal Sotong was served not just ladyfinger but also long beans. Apparently, the texture of sotong was a bit too chewy to my liking as it required a certain effort to do so. 

Their BBQ stingray is strongly recommended and so, I expected it to be good. The level of spiciness of the sambal chilli is quite manageable, it is even so for my dining companion that has an almost zero tolerance of spicy food. The stingray was quite a thick piece and it tasted relatively fresh. It was moist within but not as crispy on the exterior. It was served along with cinchalok and calamansi lime by the side of the stingray, garnished with coriander and onion.

It was a pleasant dining experience though not quite good enough to get me to make that extra effort to travel there. 

2 Braddell Road SINGAPORE 359895
Operating Hours: 5.30 pm to 2.30 am (Closed on Mondays)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Otto Berlin Haus in Ang Mo Kio

I have stumbled upon this stall during one of the trips to a Supermarket nearby. I waited for a while before I get to order, the only person manning the stall was busy with cooking at that time. I went with half a portion of the Pork Knuckle ($12.90), there should not be a reason to go wrong with dishes under the German selection since they are supposed to be good at it. I also decided to go with their Oxtail Stew ($14.90). The menu also offers a choice of the usual western fare. 

The waiting time was slightly longer than expected. The Pork Knuckle came first, delivered by the same chap. Though only half of the portion but it was of good-sized and is enough to be shared with my dining companion. It was served with mashed potato and achar, rather than the usual Sauerkraut that is traditionally served with Pork Knuckle, together with the brown gravy for the dish. 

The pork knuckle was not greasy, the well-seasoned meat was tender and moist. We enjoyed the crunchiness of the skin, it was unfussy and cracker-like. 

The Oxtail Stew is not usually commonly available, it was a pleasant surprise to find it on the menu. It served with a basket of garlic bread and together they constitute a full meal. It consists of few chunks of oxtail with some carrot and it was better than expected other than a bit too saltish. 

Though it might not look quite like it but it was actually quite tasty, particularly so when eaten with gravy of the Oxtail Stew.

Block 122 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 #01-1745 SINGAPORE 560122
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Xing Li Cooked Food : Fried Oyster - the hidden gem

This unassuming stall is manned by an elderly Uncle all by himself, serving Fried Oyster at $4, $5 and $6 and also Oyster Egg at $6, $8 and $10. It is manned by an elderly Uncle all by himself. There was a queue at about 1 pm on a Sunday. The Uncle was taking the orders in batches and usually about 3 to 4 orders at a time. He then started to work on his big wok which situated at the corner of the back of his stall and preparing these orders at his own pace. He is diligently frying it batch by batch and plate by plate, the key to his Fried Oyster is none other than having patience.

The oysters were plump and relatively fresh nestled amongst the fluffy egg and fried potato starch, together with the spring onion. The tangy chilli is a nice accompaniment which brought forth the flavour though not quite necessary as it is tasty enough to be eaten on its own. He added a generous amount of egg with about 8 pieces of oyster for the $5 which I ordered. Though I usually prefer the crispy version but this moist one is quite good, not too starchy as there is more egg than starch. 

The waiting time was quite long, one of the customers even cancelled the Oyster Egg that she ordered with the Fried Oyster. Uncle was apologetic but the customer said, she will come back another day for it. 

The wait might be long but it is definitely worth the effort as it was one of the better ones that I had tasted. It might not be good enough to be considered the best but it is impressive enough to be called the hidden gem.

51 Old Airport Road #01-28 Old Airport Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 390051
Operating Hours: 1.00 pm till sold out

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle Rice : soon to be gone

I came to bid farewell to Hambaobao as their last day will be on the 5 February 2017, their license cannot be renewed. In fact, not just their license but also for the other stalls in this food centre. It has been brought over by a mystery buyer for the sum of $17.5 million and it is to be converted into an air-conditioned food court.

I was there slightly after 1 pm, there was no queue at Hambaobao and even so,  I was informed by Ryan that the expected waiting time then will be at least 1 hour. I did not want to wait but thought of coming back the next day. Ryan said, "Even if you come at 12 pm, you will have to make sure that you are amongst the first few to avoid long waiting time." I guess it is just not meant to eat it one last time before they cease to operate. They have no plan for relocation at this moment.

I walked around the food centre to look for an alternative and this stall has caught my attention. The queue was long there but it moved quickly, I decided to join in nonetheless. I have tried their Stewed Beef Brisket Noodle once and I liked it but it is only available during the weekends. I went for their Soya Sauce Chicken Horfun ($4) together with a bowl of Wanton Soup ($3) this time.

The Soya Sauce Chicken was noticeably flavorful, tender and is, therefore, better-than-expected. In fact, it is comparable to the Michelin-starred Soya Sauce Chicken in Chinatown. I thought that Michelin-starred Soya Sauce Chicken is overrated and is not worth queuing, even though it is cheap but really not the best. My current favourite is Lee Nam Fun Kee in Toa Payoh. 

The Wanton Soup came with 5 pieces of plump wanton serving with some green in a lightly flavoured soup. Their tasty wanton is bigger in size with prawn and minced meat as filling. 

I did not get to ask how long more would they still be around in this food centre but a good guess is they would not be around for too long. Most of the other stalls are already in the midst of vacating or have already vacated their stalls. It is really sad to see the food centre go. 

44 Upper Bukit Timah Road #04-51 Beauty World Food Centre SINGAPORE 588177
Operating Hours: 8.30 am to 6.00 pm

Friday, February 3, 2017

Narco Taco : probably the only Singa-Mex (Singapore-Mexico) taco in SG

Sean, the owner, started a stall to serve taco in the food centre at Beauty World Centre. He is not serving the usual Tex-Mex (Texas-Mexico) but what he has created that is based on his very own recipe, he called it Singa-Mex (Singapore-Mexico) taco. 

His stall stood out amongst the others, he kept it really simple, it does not even have a proper signboard but a piece of printed paper that displayed a logo and 'Narco Taco' on it, together with some lightings. I happened to walk past and was standing in front of the poster that is inserted in a clear plastic holder and prominently displayed right in front of the stall. Sean quickly walked to the front at the very moment when he spotted me. He is bespectacled, rather tall with a scholarly look and is soft-spoken. He told me that he is in his early 30s.

I asked, "Is this the only thing that is on the menu?" He replied, 'Yes. It is Chicken Tacos.". Then I said, "I shall have the Chicken Tacos then". It is served in a pair for just $5 and he called it the 'Singaporean Tacos". It is stated as part of the description that it consists 'melt in your mouth pulled chicken that has been slow-cooked with local spices and is served on soft and fluffy tortillas and topped with fresh Salsa Picante'. 

And, I asked further, "This food centre is closing down. Are you moving to elsewhere?". He replied that there is no intention to relocate. I continued to ask, "Why did you pick this location since it is about to close down?". He answered, "I am waiting to start a new job." When I was about to walk away with my tacos, he said, "Hope you will like it." 

Apart from the tortillas, everything else is freshly handmade daily. The tacos were served with chicken chunks and not pulled chicken as indicated in the description, it was topped with bits of green pepper with the Salsa Picante. Though not particularly impressive but the effort in creating it is worth commendable. 

Do take note that they will only be open until 10 February 2017, just another couple of days more before they cease to operate. The food centre is undergoing an extensive upgrading to convert into an air-conditioned food court. 

144 Upper Bukit Timah Road #04-49 Beauty World Food Centre SINGAPORE 588177
Operating Hours: 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Monday to Friday)
12.00 pm to 3.00 pm / 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Saturday & Sunday)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist : Sio Bak is so good!

Martin Ong, the owner cum chef, first started it in Tampines then moved across the causeway to Johor Bahru and moved back to Singapore about 1.5 years later, to Bukit Batok. He then moved to Foch Road in January 2016, in a coffee shop off Jalan Besar before moving to the current location. This time, he has also set up another stall just next to it that offers wanton mee. Though under different names but he has been at it for about 5 years. 

There was a short queue on Sunday even though it was already after 2 pm. I decided to go with their char siew & sio bak rice that costs $4.50. 

Their sio bak has been strongly recommended by some friends on the Facebook and I have been looking forward to trying. I read it from somewhere that the entire process of roasting is more than 2 hours, which is slightly longer than most of the other stalls. It starts from the braising before proceeding to blow drying and then to the roasting. Those steps are to ensure that the fat is to burn well and also to achieve crispier skin. A good sio bak is the one that has a layer of crispy skin while keeping the flesh moist and tender, exactly like what I had tasted here. 

Char Siew is good as well, it was shiny, caramelised and slightly charred on the outside but still, tender and juicy within.  It is sweet and savoury with the right balance layers of fat.

I am going back for their roasted duck which I did not get to try this time. I took away once to have it at home when they were still at the coffee shop along Foch Road. Its taste was not memorable then but I heard it is getting much better now.

153 Tyrwhitt Road SINGAPORE 207566
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)