Saturday, September 30, 2017

Midas Every Touch Is Gold at Yishun Park Hawker Centre

Sax Choa, the owner, named its stall after King Midas in Greek mythology which possessed a special power to turn everything that he touches into gold. He used to be an Operations Director with more than 25 years of experience in the Food & Beverage and hospitality industries. He wanted to recreate and share the curry experience when he started this stall at Jalan Kukoh Food Centre before moving to Yishun Park Hawker Centre. 

I was there on 23 September 2017, the opening day of the food centre. I was told that they ran out of curry. Sax suggested that I should try the Baked Croissant Murtabak Sardine Puff ($3.00) as it just came out of the oven which I agreed. You could also choose to go with Corn Beef as filling for $4.00 in a piece of oven-baked prata that resembled the texture of the croissant. I did not like it as much after I took my first bite, the filling consists of bits of sardine with too many corns and peas. 

I was there again on 26 September 2017 for dinner and this was one of those stalls with no queue at that time. I decided to go with the Set B on the menu, which is Master Touch Chicken Curry ($5.00) to go with a plain prata ($1.00) and a spring onion prata ($1.50). The prata is different, it is not pan-fried but baked in an oven with right temperature controls. This is the healthier version as it is less greasy but crispier and flakier in texture. The plain prata and the spring onion prata actually tasted quite alike. My dining companion commented that he would not pay the extra $0.50 for the spring onion prata and would just go with the plain one. 

The curry is different from the usual Chinese-style curry, it is thicker and rather creamery with a strong hint of spices, it tasted a little closer to the Indian-style curry. Mustard seed, lemongrass, and onions are some of the ingredients added to make it tastes differently. The level of spiciness is well-balanced, it is good even for my dining companion that has little tolerance towards spiciness. It consists of a boneless chicken thigh, potatoes, and a hard-boiled egg. 

I was curious enough to ask Sax on one of his posts on Facebook. I asked why did he choose to add a hard-boiled egg to his curry which he replied, "Egg itself goes well with curry more so when you break it and mix with the curry, the yolk enhances it and is extraordinary flavorsome." I could sense the amount of pride that he has in serving it this way.

If you are wondering what to eat in this recently opened hawker centre, I would suggest giving this stall a try, for something different. 

51 Yishun Avenue 11 #01-31 Yishun Park Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 768867
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Thursdays)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ah Tan Wings at Yishun Park Hawker Centre : Har Cheong Gai - must-try

Tan Yu Yan, 28, started this stall with her brother, Tan Wee Yang, 25 and they are one of the 25 recipients of Tiger Beer Street Food Support Fund. Their menu consists of mainly Har Cheong Gai (Prawn Paste Chicken) based on a recipe that they have spent more than a year in perfecting it. And, that was after experimented up to 800 variations of the recipe which demonstrated great dedication. Though the process was rather challenging but fruitful, it was a journey that filled with many ups and downs. They used to be at different pop-up events while hunting for a permanent location. They kept on improving their recipe and doing online marketing at the same time before finally settling at Yishun Park Hawker Centre. The entire process was quite a struggle.  Their vision is simple, they want to introduce a shatteringly-crispy Har Cheong Gai that you will never forget. 

We were there at about 6 pm when they just opened but there was already a short queue in front of the stall with some customers waiting for their takeaway orders. Other than Har Cheong Gai, there is also Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) on their menu. I was told to wait for a little while for my order to be taken as the gentleman at the counter was trying to clear some of the earlier orders. We decided to go with Ah Tan Atas Cutlet ($7.00) and Okonomiyaki ($8.50), an extra $1.00 is added as tray deposit. After payment, I was told to come back in about 10 to 15 minutes to collect it. It was ready and waited at the counter when I went back at about 15 minutes. I was asked even offered an extra saucer of chili.

The Ah Tan Atas Cutlet consists of 2 pieces of prawn paste chicken cutlets serving with shaker fries and salad. They marinated those chicken pieces in the har cheong gai paste for 2 days and coated in their specially made batter before deep-frying. How they managed in resulting such a crispy crust has remained to be their secret. The unparalleled crispy skin and the deep satisfaction when you crunch down on those chicken cutlets were just so unforgettable. 

The Okonomiyaki is not commonly found in Singapore and I was glad that they served it too. It is grilled Japanese pancakes embedded with prawn and bacon then topped with bonito flakes and oko sauce. There is an option to add Tobiko (flying roe) and oozing torched cheese for $1.50. It was nice though not particularly memorable. I would rather skip this and go for the Har Cheong Gai.

They are currently short-handed and their operating hours will be from 6.00 pm till sold out for the time being. I asked about their operating hours on their Facebook which they replied and I did not quite expect to receive their private message to inform me of the changes. I was amazed by such personal touch.

They are doing their part to be a part of the street food culture in Singapore and hawker centre is where it started and where they will belong.

51 Yishun Avenue 11 #01-40 Yishun Park Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 768867
Operating Hours: 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Chef Ron : homely food prepared with love

This is an interesting stall manned by Ronnie Ng, also known as Chef Ron and his mother-in-law serving a certain selection of Ipoh specialties. Despite naming the stall after him but the actual chef is his mother-in-law. Nonetheless, Ronnie is the chef in the midst of training, he is locally born and bred but his mother-in-law is from Ipoh and they started this stall about 5 months ago. 

I asked for a recommendation as I could not decide between having Ipoh Curry Noodle and Ipoh Dry Curry Noodle. The friendly Auntie said, "If you like some soup to drink then Curry Noodle is nice if not then would be Dry Curry Noodle". I decided to go with the Dry Curry Noodle as this dish is not commonly found in Singapore. Both are priced at just $4.00, which I think it is of pretty good value.

I was telling Ronnie that it is difficult to find a good Ipoh Curry Noodle in Singapore after trying the existing few and none has met my expectations. He suggested I should considering visiting Ipoh as they are many street foods to try.

This was my first time eating the Dry Curry Noodle so there would not be any prior comparison. I was asked to choose between the yellow noodle and bee hoon but Auntie recommended a mixture of both for textural contrast. It consists of the handmade charsiew, sio bak, chicken and added the homemade curry sauce then garnished with fresh mint leaves that they have grown it themselves.

Their secret ingredient that contributed to the authenticity of this dish is the black soy sauce from Ipoh which giving it a rather home-cooked feel particularly to those Malaysian living in Singapore. Most of the items are homemade.

The gravy did not taste like the usual Chinese curry but slightly thicker and less coconut flavor, even so, it was aromatic with a mild spiciness. 

I was offered a small bowl of Braised Pork with White Radish for tasting purpose. I would guess pineapple is part of their ingredients in this dish as I could taste the combination of sweetness and a little sour zestiness amidst the savory notes and a mild level of spiciness. The flavor-rich white radish was a nice accompaniment. 

Other than Curry Mee, there are also Malaysian-style Nasi Lemak, Assam Laksa, Curry Chicken with Rice, Superior Soya Sauce Chicken with Rice, Superior Soya Sauce Pork at $4 each and also Bak Chang. If you are looking for homely food prepared with love, give this stall a try.

1 Kadayanallur Street #01-03 Maxwell Food Centre SINGAPORE 069184
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 7.30 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tow Kwar Pop : it has been around for 50 years and counting

It started by 2 brothers in 1965 and it has been around for more than 50 years since then. This stall serves Rojak set at $4.00 and $5.00.  It consists of their signature Tow Kear Pop, Cuttlefish, Fried Dough Fritter, Pineapple, Turnip, Green Papaya and also slices of Apple. It was served with 2 types of sauces separately in the saucers, the dark sweet sauce that tasted a little sourish and a rich and fragrant Shrimp Paste. I enjoyed dipping those pieces of the Rojak into the sauces. I could decide the amount of sauce that I liked in such a way and by serving the sauces separately, the Tow Kwar Pop and Cuttlefish would not get soaked in it and it will remain crisp to the last bite. 

An extra portion of sauce is chargeable at $3.00 as well as for other ingredients like Tow Pok ($1), You Tiao ($1), Dried Fish Fillet ($2) and Cuttlefish ($5) are available at different prices. It was sprinkled with some ground peanuts for a rich nutty flavor. 

The Tow Kwar Pops were freshly toasted over the charcoal, it was meticulously grilled by flipping around to make sure every side was toasted to a slight crisp in a traditional way before cutting it up and adding in to be part of the Rojak. Each Tow Kwar Pop was stuffed with blanched bean sprouts and shredded cucumber. 

The portion is good for a light snack or to go in between meals. This is definitely amongst one of the best Rojak and is a must-try if you are at Tiong Bahru Food Centre. 

30 Seng Poh Road #02-06 Tiong Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 168898
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ang Mo Kio Lor Mee . Laksa : a part of my growing up memories

This stall has been a part of my growing up memories. When my mother was still around, she usually brought me here for the Laksa, she would just ordered a bowl to share with me but I was too young to really appreciate the taste. After she left, I did not get to visit this stall as often though I still followed my late Grandpa to this food centre and we usually eat at Chia Keng Kway Teow Mee. I visited again a few years ago but the taste was not quite memorable. This stall serves only Lor Mee and Laksa at $3.00 and $4.00. I was here with a friend on a Sunday, the queue was still long even though it has already past the lunch hour. We decided to order the small portion of Laksa and Lor Mee to share. 

I went for the Laksa first. It tasted quite simple with a slightly diluted gravy and ingredients like tau pok, fish cake, cockles and hard-boiled egg together with a handful of bean sprouts then garnished with laksa leaves and sambal chilli. Somehow, it seemed to taste much nicer when I had it with my mother. 

The Lor Mee served with a few slices of braised meat, fish cake, ngor hiang, hard-boiled egg and bean sprouts garnished with chopped coriander, minced garlic and sambal chilli to serve. They used to serve with fried wanton but they have stopped making it. The gravy was slightly too watery to my liking and I did not like it as much as there are other better choices for Lor Mee around. 

I could not quite understand the persistent long queue right in front of this stall, the Laksa and Lor Mee are not amongst the best ever tasted but I guess, it is the familiarity and comforts of the dishes that kept the customer to keep coming back. 

Block 453A Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 #01-17 Chong Boon Food Centre SINGAPORE 560453
Operating Hours: 6.00 am to 2.30 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kok Sen Restaurant : awarded Bib Gourmand by Michelin for 2016 & 2017

Kok Sen Restaurant has been awarded the Bib Gourmand by Michelin for 2016 and 2017. It is an old-school Cantonese-style Cze Char that has been around for more than 37 years and is popular amongst the local, passing down from Kau Kee, the founder to Kok Sen, his son and now to the third generation. 

We were there on a Thursday for dinner and it was still early, there was no queue yet. We decided to go with their signature dishes like Big Prawn Horfun, Claypot Yong Tau Fu and Prawn Paste Chicken. 

Their most popular dish has to be their Big Prawn Horfun, starting from $16 for the smallest portion to $32 for a medium portion and $48 for the largest portion.  You could taste the distinctive wok flavor amidst those nicely charred rice noodles. The gravy was a bit too spicy for my dining companion as he has little tolerance towards spicy food. Those big prawns tasted relatively fresh and we liked it. The portion is good enough to be shared amongst 2 people. 

Though their Prawn Paste Chicken ($12 / $18 / $24) might not be as popular as the other dishes that we ordered, it was quite good though and easily one of the better Prawn Paste Chicken that We have tasted. I liked it enough to want to go back for it. They do not use chicken wings but different parts of the chicken for this dish. It was perfectly fried to crispiness with an intense prawn paste flavor. 

The Claypot Yong Tau Fu ($14 / $21 / $28) is also a recommended dish to order. It consists of assorted pieces of Yong Tau Fu like the beancurd skin, brinjal, chilli and all these came stuffed with fish and prawn paste. I enjoyed the homely taste but my dining companion did not like it as much.

The queue is usually quite long if you come during lunch or dinner and to avoid such a long waiting time, you might consider making a reservation. 

30 Keong Saik Road SINGAPORE 089137
Operating Hours: 12.00 to 2.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm (Closed on Alternate Mondays)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tiong Bahru Lor Mee : a comforting choice

There are 2 stalls serving Lor Mee in this food centre and both are equally popular. This one is serving a traditional Lor Mee with the usual ingredients and the other is focusing more on fried shark fish nuggets. Apparently, both stalls are not the original stalls from the Seng Poh Road Market that was demolished in 2004. The 2 original stalls that used to be there were moved out, one of them is currently at Bukit Batok and the other has already ceased operation. 

It was a Saturday when I went for lunch. This was the only option as the other stall was closed on that day. It was located at the corner and you might not get to see the queue from far. There are 3 sizes available, the smallest one at $3 then followed by $4 and the largest portion is at $5. I told the Auntie, "The $4 portion with extra ingredients." She replied, "so the $5 portion la." 

It came with a substantial portion of flat yellow noodles in flavorful gooey gravy with ingredients like slices of fishcake and ngor hiang, fried fish nuggets, stewed pork belly and braised egg, serving with sambal chill, red/green chopped chillies, and minced garlic. Overall, it was not too bad though not amongst my top 3 choices. 

30 Seng Poh Road #02-80 Tiong Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 168898
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Serangoon Nasi Padang : a Chinese Nasi Padang stall

Mr and Mrs Tan, the owners, have been selling nasi padang since 1983 when they started their first stall in Serangoon and that very much explained why it is called "Serangoon Nasi Padang" when they are actually located in Bishan. Mr Tan used to help out in those Malay weddings and that is how he learned to cook nasi padang. This is one of those stalls manned by Chinese that is not quite common 

All the dishes are prepared using the freshest ingredients and that including the freshly squeezed coconut cream. Most than 30 dishes are prepared each day and some of the popular choices are curry fish, fried chicken, grilled sotong, grilled fish and so on. These dishes are prepared in small batches to serve warm and also to ensure its freshness. The queue was long when we were there for lunch on a Sunday. While queuing, we were eyeing the last few pieces of the egg omelette on the display shelf but did not get to order as the last piece was taken by the customer in front of us. 

We ordered 2 plates with different dishes. We were asked whether we want it with gravy and chilli. The first plate consists of Ayam Goreng, Sambal Goreng, and Sambal Kangkong. Ayam Goreng, a Malay-style fried chicken dish, is the must-order right here. The best part would have to be the chicken leg. It was well-marinated and fried to perfection to achieve the desired crispiness on the outside but still juicy within. This is one of the most sought-after dishes here as almost every of the customer ordered it. The Sambal Goreng was nice too, it comprises of french bean, fried beancurd and tempe, stir-fried with Sambal Chilli, the spiciness was rather mild. The Sambal Kangkong was not too bad as well.

The second plate consists of Curry Fish, Curry Vegetable, and Sambal Ladyfinger, a request was made for the tail part of the fish. The Curry Fish was nicely cooked and it retained a firm texture with a robust savory flavor, the spiciness of the curry was rather mild. The Curry Vegetable and Sambal Ladyfinger have a very homely taste.

We paid $11.20 for both plates. The best timing to be there would be before noon as most dishes would still available at that time and also to avoid the long queue. 

Block 150A Bishan Street 11 SINGAPORE 570150
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dynasty Ipoh Seafood : Fried Porridge and other interesting dishes

Dynasty Ipoh Seafood, formerly known as Royal J's Premium Taste is famous for their signature fried porridge, started by chef John Ng, the owner. It used to be a hawker stall at Macpherson before moving to a coffee shop at Foch Road in Jalan Besar. He then opened a shop in Bishan but closed it down after a little while then moved to this stall at the coffee shop just next to the shop. Apparently, the stall at Foch Road is still around there but under the charge of his cousin who is also from Ipoh but somehow both stalls are not related.

We were there during their soft launch for dinner. Fried Porridge is still one of their signature items on the menu together with some interesting Cze Cha dishes like Cheesy Prawn, Baby Lamb Chop and Crab Tang Hoon. We decided to go with Fried Porridge ($6), Penang -style Fried Hor Fun ($4) and also Signature Fried Garden Chicken ($12). 

The Fried Porridge came first. It is a common dish in Penang but hardly seems in Singapore though, this might just the only place serving such a dish. The cooked porridge is stir-fried in a wok over a relatively high fire using a ladle to keep tossing it in a fast motion repeatedly and quickly. It is then served in a claypot to keep warm. 

I first tasted in May 2016 when they were still at Foch Road. I was very impressed then but not so much this time. It just seemed something is missing, it just did not taste as good as it used to be. I could taste the diced yam, dried cuttlefish, dried shrimps and crispy lard bits in it though not too much flavor from the dried shrimps this time, it was garnished with fried shallots and a handful of chopped chives to serve. 

Signature Fried Garden Chicken came next. It was a fried chicken dish served with strips of fried ginger. A ginger lover, just like my dining companion, would have loved it and he actually finished eating all of those fried ginger strips that I did not like. Those pieces of chicken were fried well though certain pieces were a bit over-fried, it was basically alright though not too impressive. 

The Penang-style Fried Hor Fun was an absolute disappointment. That was clearly the name stated on their menu but no part of this dish resembled the Penang-style fried kway teow that I have tasted, though they called it hor fun, it was the same thin rice noodles that are usually used for the fried kway teow. It tasted just like the lousy version of a normal fried kway teow with no wok flavor. I even left a feedback on their Facebook page, telling them how bad this dish was. 

I wonder how would they compete against Ong Yong Lee Seafood,  the popular Cze Cha stall just next door that is known for its affordable and tasty dishes? 

Block 151 Bishan Street 11 #01-195 SINGAPORE 570151
Operating Hours: 8.30 am to 2.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Song Kee Fishball Noodle at Bishan

I received a comment on my post on Ong Yong Lee Seafood, it was mentioned that the Song Kee Fishball Noodle there is run by the Uncle of the other Song Kee Fishball Noodle at Tembling Road in Joo Chiat and they usually sold out at noon. I was there at about 12.30 pm on a Sunday and I was told that they have sold out. When I was about to walk off, the friendly Uncle said, "We left only meatballs. Do you want it?". I nodded. He asked, "$4 portion?" Again, I nodded. It was cooked by the younger guy. As it is self-service, I waited there for it to be ready. While waiting, I asked, "I was told that you are the Uncle of the other Song Kee at Joo Chiat?".  He nodded and said, "Sometimes, I was there to help out too."

I said, "There are many outlets of Song Kee but not all are as good. I did not particularly like that one at Serangoon." The Uncle replied, "We are not related. That one is from the same boss of the other Song Kee at Toa Payoh Lorong 5. They even announced on their Facebook page that they are not directly related to that particular outlet and also the new outlet at Thomson Plaza that is under the same boss.

Here, we are using the same recipe as the one at Joo Chiat. Everything is handmade right here."  I said, "I was a regular when they were still at Serangoon and I really love the fish dumplings. I did not go as often after they moved to Joo Chiat. But now, I can come here for fish dumplings instead." When I was taking pictures of the stall, the Auntie told me that their off day is on Friday. The younger guy said, "Then, it is better for you to come during weekends as we might not have it on weekdays and even if we do have it, it is usually run out before 10 am."

My dining companion tasted the meatball and he commented, "The taste is similar to the one from the other Song Kee at Joo Chiat." The meepok was cooked just right with the desired springiness and nicely coated with the tasty sambal chilli. Though simple but quite enjoyable. I will definitely come back for their fish dumplings soon. 

Block 151 Bishan Street 11 Ong Yong Lee Eating House SINGAPORE 570151
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 1.00 pm (Closed on Fridays)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice : Bib Gourmand Award

There are many Chicken Rice stalls in Singapore but this particular one at Tiong Bahru Food Centre is awarded Bib Gourmand by Michelin for 2016 and 2017. Cheong Weng Wah, 48, the owner, grew up in Tiong Bahru prior to starting his stall in 1988. He was only 20 years old then and just completed his National Service and he happened to know a friend that used to work as a cook at Chatterbox in Mandarin Hotel, cooking the legendary Hainanese Chicken Rice. This particular friend imparted the skills and given the recipe to him. He further improvised by experimenting and improved on the recipe. 

Other than the Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice ($3), there is also Roasted Chicken Rice ($3), Lemon Chicken Rice ($3) and side dishes like the Soya Sauce Vegetables ($3) and Bean Sprouts ($3) on their menu. I was there for a late lunch but there was just another customer right in front of me. I wanted the combination of blanched chicken and roasted chicken with a plate of rice for $5.00. 

The blanched chicken was smoother and juicier but the roasted chicken was more flavorful, both were equally good though I would prefer the roasted chicken a little more. It was served with a portion of salted vegetable, which is not quite common. Onion is added as the special ingredient to the rice apart of the usual garlic, ginger and spring onion, that making it different from the others. The texture of the rice was fluffy and not greasy. This might not be the best Chicken Rice that I have tasted but this is definitely above average.  Though, there were some negative reviews about this stall but I was honestly impressed with what I had eaten. 

There is also another outlet by the same name in Chinatown that is run by his elder brother and his other brother has another outlet at Changi Village. 

30 Seng Poh Road #02-82 Tiong Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 168898
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)