Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Gin Sen : authentic Thai noodles

Tanya, 36 started this stall with Candy, 36, both of them came from Thailand but moving to Singapore after marriage. Gin Sen" means "eating noodle" in the Thai language, a rather common word used amongst friends and families in Thailand which symbolizes a form of bonding over food. Tanya and Cindy decided that the best way to spread their love for Thai food is to share it with the locals by cooking it themselves.  Though their main focus is to preserve the original Thai recipes, the adjustment is made to further suit the taste buds of locals. Their signature dishes include Thai Bak Mee ($4/$5), Tom Yum Bak Mee ($4/$5), Thai Beef Soup Noodle ($5/$7), Thai Claypot Basil Beef Rice ($6.50), Thai Green Mango Salad ($5), Thai Fish Cakes ($5) and Thai Fried Mid Wings ($5).

Tanya was there when I went for lunch on a Saturday. She greeted me with a warm smile and started to introduce some of their signature dishes. I pointed to the Thai beef Soup Noodle on the menu board and said, "This." I was contemplating between ordering this and the Thai Bak Mee earlier. She pointed to the different types of the noodles on the menu board and asked, "What types of noodles do you want?" I asked, "What do you recommend?" And, she said, "Most of the customers would go for egg noodles or flat rice noodles but for a more authentic taste, I will recommend glass noodles." I also ordered Thai Fried Mid Wings at $5.00. I paid a total of $10.50 for both.

While waiting, I asked, "Where is your friend?" She smiled and replied, "We are working on shifts and she will be here later."

The Thai Beef Noodle was ready first. There are some condiments for self-service but I did not go for any. I waited for another few minutes for the Thai Fried Mid Wings to be ready. Tanya actually asked where do I sit and when she knew that I would not be sitting near the stall, she suggested that I might want to come back later to collect it.

Thai Beef Soup Noodle is quite similar to our local soup version of Beef Noodle but the broth was lighter flavor with a tinge of peppery taste. It came with beef balls and a few chunks of beef. The soup was served lukewarm, it would be better if it was served hot. 

Thai Fried Chicken Mid Wings consists of 8 pieces of battered chicken wings. Those middle wings were cut in half then coated with a light batter and deep-fried to the perfect texture, it was served along with sweet Thai chilli. 

51 Old Airport Road #01-65 Old Airport Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 390051
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm / 5.30 pm to 9.00 pm (Mon to Fri) /
10.00 am to 8.00 pm (Sat & Sun)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wonderfull Nasi Lemak : it is a goodbye

It was announced on their Facebook page that they are closing down for good and their last day will be on 26 February 2018. It mentioned that they will be taking an indefinite hiatus from making wonderful nasi lemak. It must be a difficult decision to end such a journey, from the burnt rice to undercooked chicken and to massive 200 pax orders as well as appearing on TV and various publications.

The stall is manned by Lois Er, 26 and Eunice, her younger sister with a recipe from their dad. I decided to visit them for the first and also the last time before they are gone. I said, "I heard that you are closing down for good?" then I continued to say, "Life of hawker must be pretty hard." Lois nodded her head and smiled. She said, "You saw our post on the Facebook?" I nodded. 

She asked, "You actually come all the way here?" I answered, "I wanted to try but did not get to do so. I did not expect the stall at Yishun Park Hawker Centre to be closed down so soon, that place is much nearer to where I stay." And, I continued, "I wanted to know how wonderful is your Nasi Lemak." Then, I asked, "Is it true that you actually burnt the rice and undercooked the chicken as you stated on your Facebook post?" Lois chuckled then replied, "It actually happened." And, she did not share the reason for closing down. 

I ordered the Set D, which consists of a chicken drumstick with an egg, ikan belis and peanuts for $4.20. Eunice asked, "Do you want it with the sunny-side-up egg or the omelette? which I answered, "Omelette please." The chilli and coconut infused rice are the most important components of a good Nasi Lemak and both were actually good. The chilli has a good balance of sweetness and spiciness. The rice is cooked to the right texture with a tint of coconut flavor. The chicken drumstick though not freshly fried but it was still slightly crispy and tender within, quite tasty as well.

Eunice handed me my plate of nasi lemak and I said, "All the best." I was the only customer at that time and there were another to get a piece of otah when I was about to walk off. I do hope that this is not the end of their journey of a hawker. If you happen to be at the food centre for lunch on 26 February, go order this wonderful Nasi Lemak for the last time and bid goodbye to them. 

51 Old Airport Road #01-96 Old Airport Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 390051
Operating Hours: 8.30 am to 8.30 pm (Closed on Fridays)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sheng Ji Soya Sauce Chicken Rice / Noodle

This is amongst those stalls that has a consistent queue in this food centre. It was so even after 2 pm on a Saturday. Most of these customers ordered the Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle and some have it with rice. Their Soya Sauce Chicken must be good since it is their signature item and they even stated it on their signboard. The stall is manned by an elderly couple. It was sold out at 2 pm when I re-visited on a Sunday. 

For just $3, I was given a chicken wing with some breast meat together with a good portion of noodles and some green. The chilli was added to the side. The noodles were cooked nicely to the perfect texture, slightly springy and not too soft. To start, tossed it lightly to mix the noodles with the braised sauce underneath as well as the chilli. The level of spiciness for the chilli was quite mild. 

The Soya Sauce Chicken was not the best that I have eaten but if to compare to that Michelin starred Soya Suace Chicken, I would think this is better. It was quite flavorful and rather tender. I did not like it as much but my dining companion thought it was quite good. 

69 Geylang Bahru #01-13 Geylang Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 330069
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hock Choon Laksa . Lor Mee at Eunos Crescent Food Centre

There was a short queue when I reached there just before lunch. You do not usually get to see queue at this quiet food centre, there was also a queue at a Yong Tau Foo at another row. There are only 2 items on their menu, Laksa, and Lor Mee respectively at just $3. It seemed Lor Mee is slightly more popular as most of their customers ordered it.

When it was my turn to order, I said, "Can I order it with extra ingredients?" The lady in there nodded. It was served in the oval-shaped bowl rather than the usual round ones, it is priced at $4. When it was ready, the lady handed the bowl to the Uncle, he passed it to me and collected the payment. There were sambal chilli, minced garlic, red-cut chilli and a bottle of vinegar available for self-service. I added everything except the vinegar. 

Tables were slowly taken up when it passed 12 pm but it was still easy to find a table. I mixed it lightly before eating it. I was given more pieces of the nicely fried fish nuggets for that extra $1 together with half a piece of braised egg, handmade meatballs and some pieces of braised pork belly that were drenched in the savory gravy.

Block 4A Eunos Crescent #01-25 Eunos Crescent Food Centre SINGAPORE 
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hui Wei Chilli Ban Mian at Geylang Bahru Food Centre

This was one of the stalls that with a queue when I visited on a Sunday for lunch. This is one of the stalls originally from this food centre before the renovation and they moved to Toa Payoh for a while before moving back to here again. The options on the menu include Fuzhou Fishball Noodle ($3.50/$5.00), Meatball Handmade Noodle ($3.50/$5.00), Abalone Clam La Mian ($5.00/$7.00), Seafood Tom Yum La Mian ($4.50/$6.00), Mee Hoon Kueh ($4.00/$6.00), Signature Chilli Ban Mian ($4.00/$6.00), Signature Soup ($12.00) and more. 

I remember eating Chilli Ban Mian when I was in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia and so I decided to go with the smaller portion of their Signature Ban Mian. A substantial portion of ban mian was served with meatballs, braised minced meat, poached egg accompanied with ikan belis, fried shallots, and lard. I tossed it lightly to mix the nicely cooked noodles with the dark sauce and chilli. And, the spiciness of the chilli is not to be underestimated and so, go easy with it.

Block 69 Geylang Bahru #01-58 Geylang Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 330069
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Fully Good Food : Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs

Poh Chee Eng, 28, the owner, was a former civil servant and he is a first-time hawker. He used to help out at his parents' stall at Chong Boon Food Centre in Ang Mo Kio before starting this stall at the newly opened hawker centre. He wants to continue the legacy of his family's recipes through this stall. He is under the "hawker-preneurship" programme by NTUC Foodfare, which aimed to attract and nurture new-generation hawkers by lowering their start-up costs with guidance provided. He started preparation as early as 2 am and left the stall as late as 8.30 pm.

There was just another customer in front of me when I was there for an early lunch. Their menu includes Prawn Noodle ($2.80), Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs ($4.50), Pork Ribs Noodle ($3.50) and Mee Rebus ($2.80). I decided to go with Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs. While waiting for it to be ready, I helped myself with those red-cut chillies. 

It is served with a good portion of yellow noodles with kang kong, 2 pieces of pork ribs and 4 pieces of small prawns, garnished with a stalk of coriander. I tossed the noodles a little but it did not have much sauce underneath thus it was slightly dry. Though I asked for an extra amount of chilli to be added, it was not as spicy as I expected it to be. Those pork ribs were lovely though, its texture was desirable falling-apart. Overall, it might not be the one of the best Prawn Mee now as there are still opportunities for enhancement. 

110 Pasir Ris Central #01-14 Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 519641

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Stew House : not as good as I thought it would be

Caleb Tan, 28, the owner, is a first-time hawker, started this stall to serve stew in the recently opened "hipster" hawker centre. It was a weekday lunch, some stalls were closed but there were 2 stalls that have got quite a long queue. I decided not to go for that 2 stalls but this one that got only 3 people waiting to order. When it was my turn to order, I pointed to the menu board and said, "Beef Bourguignon, regular portion". The regular size is priced at $6 and the large one is at $8, it stated that it will be served with rice.  Then, I asked, "Can I have just a bit of rice?" The chap that was taking my order, said, "You might want to have it with the soft rolls?" I asked, "Can I have just 1, please?" He said, "It came in 2." I know I could not finish as I just had a bowl of Prawn Mee before this. 

Their signature Beef Bourguignon, also called Beef Burgundy, is a basic beef stew using a traditional French recipe that is quite difficult to go wrong. It is prepared by braising the beef in red wine and beef broth, flavored with garlic, onions, thyme, bay leaves and sage. It consists of beef chunks, mushroom with pieces of potato and carrot. I was quite excited but soon this excitement turned to disappointment. Those beef chunks were not sufficiently tender and even those pieces of potato were quite hard. The gravy was not as thick as I liked it. Overall, it fared quite badly in comparison with the similar dish served by Lad & Dad that moved from Serangoon Garden Food Centre to Maxwell Food Centre not too long ago.

The soft rolls tasted quite stale, it might be softer if they served it warm by toasting it first. I ate only half of the soft roll and also left those pieces of potato and some beef chunks unfinished. The only thing that was decent in this bowl of stew was actually those mushroom. 

There are other options like Nonya Curry Chicken ($5), Chicken Tikka Masala ($5/$7), Chicken & Mushroom Veloute ($5) and Cream of Mushroom with soft rolls ($5). The Smoked Duck Salad ($7) and Chicken Caesar Salad ($6.50) have been marked as "sold-out". 

110 Pasir Ris Central #02-07 Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 519641
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Nadim's Delights : that forgettable cheese loaded burger

I headed to Jurong West to look for the Penang Fried Kway Teow recommended by a friend at one of the coffee shops there. The popular cheese loaded burger is at the coffee shop nearby by a Muslim-owned Western food stall that opened in last November. I went looking for it after having the Penang Fried Kway Teow. There is only a coffee shop at Block 508 but I walked past and overlooked this stall, I walked back when I realized it got to be in that coffee shop since there is no other coffee shop in that block. 

It was the only customer at 1.10 pm. The hype must have already died down. There was no one at the stall. I waited for a bit before the lady seated at the table in front of the stall stood up. I showed her the picture of that infamous burger on my phone and said, "This one, please." She asked, "Do you want the chicken or beef burger?" And, I asked, "Which one do you recommend?" She said, "The one with the chicken came with 2 pieces of fried chicken patties and as for the beef burger, it is served with a slice of Ribeye steak and black pepper sauce." I decided to go with the Chicken Burger Banjir for $7.50, it is the same price for the Beef Burger Banjir as well. There are also Black Pepper Steak, Chicken Chop and Fish & Stick on the menu. I was given a buzzer for collection later and quite unexpectedly, it buzzed in just a couple of minutes. 

The Burger Banjir, which means "flooded burger", was placed in a paper box together with some fries and baked beans by the side then loaded with cheese sauce and served along with plastic cutlery. It consists of 2 fried chicken patties with a piece of cheese and sandwiched in between the buns with a dash of dried parsley lightly sprinkled on the top of the bun. The presentation was rather sloppy. 

My dining companion, said, "Why are they putting coleslaw in the burger? It didn't go too well." The next disappointment has to be their choice of chicken patties, it tasted like those frozen ones that are readily available in the supermarkets. And, it reminded me of Ramly Burger, in fact, an upgraded version but inferior in taste. The ultimate disappointment has to be the nacho cheese sauce, it was kind of diluted and watery and it did not actually taste like cheese.

This was none other than a forgettable and rather gimmicky burger.

Block 508 Jurong West Street 52 Ayza's Restaurant SINGAPORE 640508
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 9.50 pm (Daily)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Tong Ji (同记 ) Penang Fried Kway Teow at Jurong West

It is getting difficult to find a good Penang Fried Kway Teow in Singapore, it is even more so if you have visited Penang and eaten the Fried Kway Teow there. I visited Penang a few years ago and I got to try the popular Siam Road Char Kway Teow and the Famous Ah Leng Char Koay Teow, both tasted equally good. I used to be patronizing Simei Penang Laksa Speciality regularly at the food centre over at Block 347 Jurong East Avenue 1 for their Penang Fried Kway Teow. This stall serves Penang Laksa too but I did not like it as much. Besides, there used to be a stall at one of the coffee shops at Holland Drive that served good Penang Fried Kway Teow and that was the closest that I have eaten in Singapore but that stall has closed down a long while ago. Since then, I have been looking for good Penang Fried Kway Teow in Singapore. 

A friend left a comment on my blog about this stall at Jurong West that used to be at Block 959 Jurong West Street 91 before moving to its current location. This friend mentioned that a Malaysian couple recommended the stall to him when they shared a table at Malaysia Boleh food court at Jurong Point. The wife came from Penang and she only eats from this particular stall. This friend visited him on his last day at the previous location and then again at his new location. The comment stated, "He is very meticulous in his cooking. I was able to observe his fry his CKT at the old stall as the stove was just at the front. Instead of just cracking the egg and mix it with the other ingredients. He would drizzle some soy sauce on its first. But his chili was nicer when I tried at the new location."

I was there for lunch at about 12 pm. I pointed to the signboard and said, "Penang Fried Kway Teow, please. The $5 portion." The smaller portion is at $4. And, I said, "A friend recommended your stall." I asked, "I heard that you are from Penang?" He nodded his head. He said, "Some people thought I am a Japanese." He pointed to the towel that he tied around his head. He said, "That is for absorbing sweat." While waiting, there were other customers came by to order the Fried Kway Teow. There is also the local style Fried Kway Teow ($4/$5), Mee Goreng with Cockles ($4.00) and Bean Sprouts with Cockles ($5.00) on the menu. 

There is actually a difference between the Penang Fried Kway Teow and a local one. The taste is different, the Penang style is more savory and spicier, the local version is sweeter as no dark sweet sauce is used in Penang Fried Kway Teow so it tends to be lighter in color. His version reminded me of those that are easily found in the streets of Penang. I shared it with a friend and he commented, "That portion is big for $5." The flat rice noodles were nicely stir-fried with ingredients like prawns, cockles, Chinese lap cheong, eggs, bean sprouts and chives in a mixture of soy sauce. The color was slightly darker but it was flavorful. 

Block 504 Jurong West Street 51 SINGAPORE 640504
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Wen Wen Pork Rib Prawn Noodle at Geylang Bahru Food Centre

Uncle Richard started this stall with his wife at Geylang Bahru Food Centre about 5 years ago when he was 49 years after he left the printing industry. They moved to Old Airport Road Food Centre temporarily when this food centre was undergoing renovation. Their stall is famous for their prawn noodle but also the seafood hotpot, a popular choice amongst their customers, it is served with ingredients like pigtails, pork ribs, prawns, la la, crab and even canned abalone. Customers are also allowed to bring their own ingredients to add it in. 

There was no queue when I was there for lunch. I stood back a little, took a picture of the stall before proceeding to order. Uncle Richard seated at the table in front of the stall and he smiled at me when he saw me taking the pictures. I pointed at the picture of Big Prawn Noodle on their menu board and said, "This one". Auntie replied, "That will be $12. Is it okay for you?" It is indicated as $10 and $12 beside the picture of the Big Prawn Noodle on their menu board. This is probably charged accordingly to the size of their available prawns, these prawns were fresh and not frozen. The regular Prawn noodle is priced at $4 with ingredients like average-sized prawns and sliced pork. Cold crab is a unique dish that is on their menu at a seasonal price. 

The friendly Uncle cooked those prawns and pork ribs in a pot over an induction stove. He then poured it into the bowl of yellow noodles. When Uncle handed it to me, he said, "If the prawns are not good enough, come back and tell me." He said, "I gave you 2 big pieces of pork ribs."

I did not like the soup as much when I first tasted it but I began to like it more and more along the way. The soup though was lightly flavored but it had a pleasing notable natural sweetness. I could not help but compared it with the supposedly popular Sumo Big Prawn Noodle at Ang Mo Kio which I tried only once and did not like it as the sweetness of their soup was kind of artificially enhanced.

Those big prawns were relatively fresh and the pork ribs were cooked to desired tenderness and there were also a few pieces of la la with a good portion of nicely cooked yellow noodles. It was an enjoyable bowl of prawn noodle.

Block 69 Geylang Bahru #01-22 Geylang Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 330069
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 2.00 pm / 5.30 pm to 10.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)