Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ong Yong Lee Seafood : the hidden gem

We stumbled upon this Cze Cha stall when going to the other coffee shop for dinner. Almost all their tables were take up during dinner. This prompted us to return the next day to check it out. We were there slightly after 7 pm and again, most of the tables were occupied and left just a big table. We went to sit at that table but was told to move to a smaller table, right at the corner. The elderly Uncle pointed to that table and said, "I will get you another chair." 

He then attempted to take our orders. I decided to go with their signature Double Treasure Dry Hor Fun, Salted Egg Chicken and Prawn Paste Chicken. Uncle said, "All chicken dishes?" which I replied, "We prefer to eat chicken." Uncle then said, "Then you should try the 麦芽鸡 (Maltose Chicken). I said, "We will try next time." Uncle replied, "We have it just for today and it is not on the menu." He continued to say, "It is a small chicken, just nice for 2 to share."  We decided to go with his recommendation then.

We waited for about 45 minutes before the first dish was served. It was delivered by the same Uncle to our table. Uncle apologetically said, "The waiting time is usually long during weekends. You will have to come early or come late to avoid such waiting time."

The Salted Egg Chicken came first. My dining companion enjoyed it, he said, "This is very nice particularly those pieces of thinly sliced deep-fried taro." Those pieces of fried chicken were evenly coated with salted egg sauce with bits of the salted egg on it. 

Next, it came the 麦芽鸡, the same Uncle delivered it. He said, "This is my recommendation. Have a try to see whether you like it or not". Then, he asked, "Any more dishes?" I said, "We are still waiting for the Double Treasure Dry Hor Fun." 

The 麦芽鸡 is actually tasted like the usual roasted chicken. The skin was paper thin and rather crispy with a slight sweetness derived from the marinade that is using malt sugar as its main ingredient. Though plainish, it was quite tasty and kind of special, we enjoyed it.

Apparently, the Double Treasure Dry Hor Fun did not come. I went to the counter for payment and I said, "The Double Treasure Dry Hor Fun did not serve. Can I have it take away?" The same Uncle overheard it, he asked, "So, you did not get the hor fun? I am so sorry about it." He then asked, "How was the 麦芽鸡?" He said, "You can eat Prawn Paste Chicken anytime but not this."I said, "It was very nice, a bit like the roasted chicken." Uncle said, "It is actually better than the normal roasted chicken", which I agreed. The total bill came to $33, which is much cheaper than we expected. 

All in all, the standard, which is, well, very impressive and I am eager to return for their other dishes. 

Block 151 Bishan Street 11 #01-207 Ong Yong Lee Eating House SINGAPORE 570151
Operating Hours: 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm (Daily)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Shun Feng Crayfish Delight : standard is not consistent

Daniel, 39 and Willy, 38, started this hawker stall in April 2017 at a coffee shop near Khatib MRT station. Crystal Crayfish Delight at $6 and $10 is their signature item and it consists of dory fish, tofu and handmade meatballs.

I went back twice in a week. The first visit was on a weekday and the second one was a Saturday. On the second visit, I was informed that the $10 portion is not available when ordering. And so, if I want a bigger portion, I would have to order 2 of the $6 portion. It puzzled me as I could not see the logic behind this other than the motivation is kind of profit-minded and to possibly maximise the earnings during lunch on a Saturday when the queue was rather long. The long queue was likely caused by their slowness in cooking. The $10 portion was available during my first visit though and that was on a weekday at about 2 pm when there was just another customer right in front of me.

The standard is not quite consistent as well, the soup was better the first time that I tried but it was kind of diluted on the second visit. The crayfish did not taste too fresh when I came to take away the first time, the meat was a bit too mushy and soft but it fared much better during the second visit, the meat was firmer this time.

Those meatballs are handmade with a mix of dried sole fish and sliced mushroom for a distinct flavor. The stock is made of the old mother hen, chicken feet, pork bones and other secret ingredients then boiled for about 4 hours till it is milky white. 

You could choose to have it with rice or horfun. The horfun  is actually thin rice noodles tossed in dark soya sauce then served with fried shallots. I would think rice is a better option as the horfun did not go too well with the seafood soup.

Overall, it was not bad but its standard is still far from Yan Ji Seafood Soup at Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre, which is still the best. 

Block 848 Yishun Street 81 SINGAPORE 760848
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 12.00 am (Daily)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Beast : the Yum Seng to SG52 promotional set for National Day

And, to get to eat this, we made 2 trips in total. The first one, we were there at about 1.30 pm but was told that the Yum Seng to SG52 set was sold out for lunch. The service staff asked whether we would want to come back for dinner on the same day. And, he mentioned that we could actually call to make a reservation. We strongly felt that there was a lack of flexibility in handling this. There is totally no mention that there are limited sets available for their lunch on their Facebook page when they open from 11.00 am to 12.00 am during weekends. At that moment, we felt that this promotion was an insincere one and we even tempted to leave a bad review on their Facebook page but we decided to give it a second chance. This time, we called right after they opened on a Sunday to reserve a table for 2 and also that promotional set before going there at about 1 pm. 

This Yum Seng to SG52 set consists of Nasi Lemak Burger, Salted Egg Yolk Chicken & Pandan Waffles, Beef Rendang Cheese Fries and 2 glasses of Pandan Arnold Palmer at $56++. It would be $52++ if you "yum seng" (make a toast) with their staff and agreed to record a video. We decided to skip it. This set is only available for the month of August. 

The 2 glasses of Pandan Arnold Palmer were served in just a while. My dining companion could not quite tell the flavor of it. He said, "It tasted a bit strange and a bit too sour." He did not like it. This drink is none other than pandan infused lemonade with southern sweet tea.

Nasi Lemak Burger, the most talked about in town about Macdonald's launched its version and sold out soon after that. It has recently announced that they will be bringing it back at the end of August. I wonder how good could their Nasi Lemak Burger be since it is served without the rice which is one of the main components of the Nasi Lemak. I did not get to try it the last round and I doubt I would do it even when they are back.

The Nasi Lemak Burger by The Beast is pretty legit. They served it with a fried egg, a fried chicken together with lettuce and cucumber, sandwiched in between 2 pieces of rice patties and served along with luncheon meat fries. 

The hand-shaped coconut rice patties were coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried to achieve the desired crispiness and it stayed crispy even after left for a while.

The fried chicken thigh was smothered with their house-made sambal tumis. My dining companion said, "It is the sambal chilli made it tastes so authentic." I shared the picture on my Facebook and a friend asked for the review which I replied, "They got the taste and combination correct."

Salted Egg Yolk Chicken & Pandan Waffles. This consists of a piece of salted egg yolk chicken served on a crisp pandan waffle with a side of creamy milk sauce. 

At this point, after just done with the Nasi Lemak Burger, this was a bit overwhelmed. It is like the typical American food, it came in massive portion and it was quite a challenge to finish it. It happened to the table next to us too, that group of guys did not manage to finish their food as well.

The moistness of the fried chicken caused the waffles to be soggy pretty fast and we left most of it unfinished. Just like the fried chicken for the Nasi Lemak Burger, it tasted quite bland if without the salted egg sauce.

The fries were topped with their rendang using their secret recipe and melted mozzarella cheese. This was not bad though not quite memorable.

17 Jalan Klapa SINGAPORE 199329
Operating Hours: 5.00 pm to 12.00 am (Mon to Wed) / 5.00 pm to 1.00 am (Thurs & Fri)
/ 11.00 am to 12.00 am (Sat & Sun)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Don Signature Crab : affordable Crab Bee Hoon Soup

Don Lim, started this stall at a coffee shop in Toa Payoh serving Crab Bee Hoon Soup and Chilli Crab as their signature dishes. Other dishes include Crab Laksa, Prawn Laksa, Black Pepper Crab Bee Hoon and more. Most dishes are priced at $25, $30, $40 and $50, depending on the size of the crab. He was the owner of the famous Don Your Personal Pie Club before he sold it away in November 2015.

I was with a friend to try the western food stall in the same coffee shop and took notice that most of the customers there ordered Crab Bee Hoon from this stall. When ordering, I was asked, "For how many people?" I said, "Just two of us." The Uncle that was taking my order replied, "I would suggest that you go for the $30 portion." I said, "We just had dinner so might be too much for us." And, Uncle said, "Then just go for the smallest portion."

It was served to our table in about 10 minutes. There was a small crab with some vegetables and thick bee hoon in the claypot. Now, I understand why did the Uncle suggest that I should go for a larger portion if it is to be shared as this is just enough for a person. 

We tasted the soup first and both of us agreed it was not as good as we expected it to be as we compared to what we had at Mellben's. It was mildly flavored with ginger, dang gui and Chinese cooking wine added to enhance it. 

The prices are definitely cheaper as compared to the same dish at other Cze Cha places, it is affordable but not that cheap to be called unbelievable prices though. 

Block 206 Toa Payoh North 1 #01-1197 SINGAPORE 310206
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.30 pm (Daily)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Xing Xing Soya Sauce Noodle : one of the best in Ang Mo Kio

This was, in fact, my third visit. I came to take away during the first 2 times. Mr Tay, the owner, kind of remember me as I chatted with him the last time. This stall is located at the coffee shop near to the Mayflower Food Centre where the popular Hong Kong Street Zhen Ji is located.

I said, "Your Soya Sauce Chicken is very nice, it is even nicer than that Michelin Soya Sauce Chicken." Uncle replied, "Oh, I know him." I continued to say, "That Soya Sauce Chicken is not the best but it is cheap." Uncle said, "Yeah, it is only $2 and so many elderly folks queue for it." I replied, "But now, not quite possible as the queue is very long." Uncle also said, "I used to own a stall at Philip Street as there is always a long queue." He even took out his phone and showed the picture of a stall by the name of Gourmet Corner. 

I asked, "Do you open on Monday?" Uncle replied, "Yeah. We are closed on Tuesday." I said, "Most of the stalls usually closed on Monday". He said, "That is the reason why we choose to close on Tuesday." I asked Uncle, "Besides, your Soya Sauce Chicken, which is the best in your opinion?" Uncle chuckled and he did not answer.

This time, I decided to have the Chicken Drumstick Noodle ($4) with Dumpling Soup ($5). While waiting, one of his regular customers came by and she asked, "Boss, no roasted pork for today ah?" Uncle replied, "Not for Monday" and that customer walked off.

While preparing, Uncle asked again, "Which part do you want?" I replied, "I want the drumstick.". While deboning the drumstick, he added extra meat from the chicken breast. He also added a fried wanton. I said, "Today, got fried wanton?" He said, "For you to try." I did not ask for extra chilli this time but I think he remembers that I did ask for it the previous time. He scooped a pile of chilli into the bowl and asked, "Enough?" and I nodded my head. It was then mixed with some braised sauce before he tossed the noodles in it. He added some crispy lard bits the previous times but it was missing this time. He asked me to come back 5 minutes later to collect the Dumpling Soup but he brought it to my table when it was ready.

The soya sauce chicken though flavourful but not as sweet as some that I had eaten, its texture was smooth and soft. The egg noodles were cooked well to the right texture with the desired springiness.

While eating, he came by to ask, "How is the dumpling?" I said, "Very big, and nice too." He replied, "I added a lot of ingredients, including the prawns". He said, "Try the fried wanton. I used the same filling in it." There was a total of 5 pieces of dumplings served in a lightly flavored soup. I asked Uncle, "Those dumplings are handmade by you?" He said, "Everything is handmade here."

This is one of the better Soya Sauce Chicken in Ang Mo Kio and you should try it if you happen to be in the vicinity.

Block 158 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-590 SINGAPORE 560158
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Friday, August 18, 2017

吃 Western : hawker-style Western food

It was a rainy evening when I came by this coffee shop to try this western food stall for the first time. I came across their Facebook page and was amazed by the number of 5-stars reviews given, there was a total of 47 such reviews, and that prompted me to visit it. This stall is helmed by 3 experienced chefs with more than 2 decades of experiences working in top-class restaurants and hotels as mentioned on their Facebook page. Their aim is to provide quality western meals at affordable prices, their menu is range from fusion creations to classic homely dishes. They have been around since 15 February 2016. They named the stall as "吃 Western," it literally means "Eat Western" as "吃" means "eat" in English.

I decided to go with the pan-grilled Chicken Chop with Mashed Potato ($6.00) and Chicken Run Salted Egg Yolk Burger ($6.50). I was given a pager after the payment. I waited for about 15 minutes before it buzzed. I went to the counter, returned the pager and was only given the burger. I asked, "I should have another order." He checked the order chit before handed the other dish to me. 

Chicken Run Salted Egg Yolk Burger ($6.50) consists of 2 pieces of fried chicken as patties, served with tomato and lettuce then garnished with salted egg sauce together with crinkle-cut fries. Those sesame buns seemed to be those of generic brands that are available conveniently. 

The salted egg sauce did not taste like those that are made from the salted egg yolks but rather those from the powder with just a slight salted egg flavor which I did not like it. I would think those crinkle-cut fries are a boring option for a side dish, but the serving was quite generous though.  The fried chicken patties were principally forgettable as it was mildly flavored. 

Chicken Chop with Mashed Potato ($6.00) which consists of a piece of nicely charred pan-grilled chicken with mashed potato and coleslaw, served with mushroom sauce. Maybe I have left it for a little too long after spending some time taking pictures as the chicken did not taste as crispy as it seemed. 

I did not like it as much as compared to the chicken chop at The Carving Board, which is my current favorite. The mashed potato did not have much flavor if omitting the mushroom sauce but its texture was rather smooth though. The coleslaw made exclusively with purple cabbage, which was pretty decent. Overall, it was not too bad, it was just simply disappointing, but I ate it anyway.

I am not all impressed by these dishes, or perhaps I am expecting too much thus feeling the disappointment? 

Block 206 Toa Payoh North #01-1197 SINGAPORE 310206
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.30 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yankee Chicken : Salt Baked Chicken

We happened to sit at a table right beside this stall, though no queue but there were random customers quite constantly. This stall is serving Salt Chicken and we decided to go with the Drumstick set ($5.50) out of curiosity. There is also the option for half a chicken at $10.90 and a whole chicken at $19.90. Besides, they serve different types of satay as well, chicken satay and pork satay at 0.60 cents together with mutton satay at 0.70 cents. They also have Bak Kwa at $25.00 per 500 grams. 

It was manned by an elderly Uncle all by himself. He was busy when I wanted to order. He said, "You need to wait for a while." When I asked him whether should I pay first, he said, "It is alright. You can pay later." I pointed to the table where I would be.

He came by about 5 minutes later with my order. The chicken drumstick is served along with a pile of rice and some lettuce with a saucer of chilli by the side. My first impression was that it did not look too appetizing but no longer think so after tasted it and I know what they meant by "手撕" (hand-torn) on their signboard. The texture of the salt baked chicken was so soft that it could be easily pulled apart by just using hands unlike some of those salt baked chickens that I had tried which often came with very dry meat. It was so tasty that could be eaten without the accompanying chilli sauce. I said to my dining companion, "This is good, meat is so soft and flavorful." and I urged him to try it too. He shared the same opinion after he took the first bite. We enjoyed it very much.

When leaving, the Uncle was with a friend, seated at the table right behind us. I said to him, "The chicken is very nice." Uncle replied, "I am just a worker." He continued to say, "Come back more often then." I would take away a whole chicken when I come by again. This is a simple dish but unexpectedly memorable. 

505 Beach Road #01-96 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583

Monday, August 14, 2017

Gyu Nami : Wagyu Roast Beef Donburi @ Amoy Street Food Centre

I was at Amoy Street Food Centre for a late lunch when I chanced upon this stall. There was a flower basket displayed right beside their stall, which is a good indication that this is a new stall that likely to be just opened for business. It was only later when I came across their Facebook page then I realized that they have just opened today. There is even a promotion going on, if you like their Facebook Page and follow them on Instagram, you will get free truffle shavings with each order which I did not know and so, I am not entitled. It will be nice if they make an effort to highlight it to their customers. The lady that took my order did not seem particularly friendly though. I was telling her that I did not expect to find such a stall in the food centre and she just smiled away. 

This stall is headed by a few young and passionate foodies that want to make good gourmet food available to the masses at affordable prices and they take pride in their ingredients as well as the cooking methods to serve the best to their customers, as mentioned on their Facebook page. 

Wagyu Roast Beef Donburi ($10) is their signature dish, it is slowly roasted to a perfect texture which still has its moisture retained for the desired tenderness. It is served along with an egg and their signature homemade yogurt sauce on rice. This is not a common dish to be found in a food centre and they are likely to be the first hawker stall serving such a dish.

I first tasted such a dish during my recent trip to Japan, though not really a fan but it is something different to have when visiting a food centre for lunch. I would think that $10 for such a dish is of decent value though it is more expensive as compared to the usual hawker fare. When I brought along to order my coffee from another stall, a fellow hawker was asking how much did I pay for it and when I told her it costs $10. She looked a bit shock and was telling the Uncle of the coffee stall that this beef rice bowl is $10. She did ask which stall that I ordered it from, I told her that it is a new stall near Taste Affair and the famous Han Kee Fish Soup. 

The real thing did not look as tall as the one in the picture on their Facebook and also with lesser beef slices though I totally understand that pictures are always just for illustration purposes. In this case, what you see is not exactly of what you will get. Overall, it was not bad. Those beef slices were quite tender with a runny egg yolk and when mixed it well, it provides a nice textural contrast. This would not be something that I will look forward to eating it again soon when I am here for lunch again.

7 Maxwell Road #02-126 Amoy Street Food Centre SINGAPORE 069111
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm (Mon to Sat) (Closed on Sundays)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Nyonya Fish Maw Soup : the comforting taste

This is an interesting find amongst the others in this food centre. It is located at the corner unit, and it was quiet during lunch on a Public Holiday as I was their only customer at about 1 pm. I decided to go with the smaller portion of Fish Maw Soup at $6, there are also the larger portions at $8, $10 and $12. 

The older man took my order, and the younger one was preparing it. They are not particularly friendly nor chatty but when the older man overheard I told my dining companion that I ordered a bowl of rice to share and he asked, "Do you need another bowl?" which I declined. A friend on Facebook shared his encounter. He tried asking when he was at this stall whether they are Nyonya but was given an unpleasant response. 

After a few sips, the soup was quite flavorful though not as "gao gao" ("thick thick") as indicated on the poster that they displayed at their stall. It has a homely taste though, this is something simple that most Peranakan families would be cooking at home. The soup is lightly flavored, and there were fish maw, prawns and handmade meatballs in it, the ingredients tasted fresh.

The handmade meatballs were made of minced meat with bits of water chestnuts embedded in it. My dining companion commented that the texture was a bit too soft and he did not like it.

They are serving it with rice and tang hoon at 0.50 cents each.

This is worth a try if you are looking for something different yet filling.

505 Beach Road #01-80 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583