Thursday, August 30, 2018

Anson Town : Curry Mee & Nasi Lemak

We went on National Day for lunch, the cafe was unexpectedly crowded on a Public Holiday. They started at a shop along Changi Road and this is their new outlet. They are serving Malaysian dishes particularly those from Anson Town, a town located in the state of Perak in Malaysia and is famous for Chee Cheong Fun. It is a different style from the usual Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun as it is served dry with some green pickled chili, the rice sheet is embedded with turnip, dried shrimps and minced meat.

When I was ordering at the counter, I was told that their Chee Cheong Fun has sold out. The friendly chap said, "There was an earlier order of 50 portions of Chee Cheong Fun for taking away." He continued to say, "This does not usually happen. We also did not expect." I have heard about their signature Chee Cheong Fun and is looking forward to trying it. I guess I will just have to come back another day for it.

We decided to have lunch there nonetheless. My dining companion went ahead with their Nasi Lemak, there are choices to have it with the chicken wing ($3.50) or chicken chop ($4.50). He wanted it with the chicken chop. I decided to go with the Curry Mee ($4.50). As for drinks, we ordered the Grass Jelly Drink ($1.20) and Iced Coffee ($1.60). After payment, a buzzer was given as it is self-service. They mixed up the Iced Coffee with the Hot Coffee so we collected without it. The Iced Coffee was sent over later. When collecting the utensils, the soup spoon was run out so we made do with the normal spoon. 

The Curry Mee consists of a substantial portion of yellow noodles with ingredients like tau pok and chicken. My dining companion took a sip of the curry gravy and commented that it was quite spicy. It was also thick and rich and it tasted nicer than expected. 

The Nasi Lemak did not taste too special, it consists of a big piece of chicken chop with cabbage, peanuts and ikan belis accompanied by the sambal chili on a slice of cucumber. The coconut rice was quite fragrant but the pre-fried chicken chop was a letdown. The chicken was quite bland and the batter was a little too thick. The sambal chili was good though, it reminded me of the traditional sambal chili that is usually a little sweet yet spicy. 

I am likely to go back for their Chee Cheong Fun.

No 7 Gambas Crescent #01-07 ARK SINGAPORE 750787
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 9.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee : just so so

Manfred Lim, 40s, is the 3rd generation hawker that took over the stall from his mother when he was 27 years old. His mother took over the stall from a relative. This decades-old stall has been award Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Though they are not amongst the famous Fried Hokkien Mee around, they have been around for a long time. 

I was there on a Saturday, there were just a few people in the queue. The queue was much longer at Tiong Bahru Hainanese Chicken Rice which is also awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand. There are the $3, $4 and also $5 portions available and I decided to go with the $4. The assistant was taking the order the moment when I joined the queue. It is cooked in batches and added in the pre-cooked ingredients later. 

Their version is wetter and not quite flavorful, no hint of wok flavor and not serving with fried lard. It was served with ingredients like prawns, squid, slices of pork belly and fish cake with sambal chilli by the side. My dining companion said, "It is not bad but not exceptionally impressive and I do not think they deserved the Michelin Bib Gourmand. How good can a Fried Hokkien Mee be if without wok flavor and fried lard?"

I think the inspectors from Michelin did not get to taste enough of the other Fried Hokkien Mee for a comparison. Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Mee at ABC Brickworks Food Centre that has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand this year is definitely more deserving. What do these foreign inspectors actually know about our hawker food? 

30 Seng Poh Road #02-01 Tiong Bahru Food Centre SINGAPORE 168898
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ah Lee Curry : a hearty lunch

This is a new stall at this coffee shop together with The Famous Porridge and 祥仔虾面 by a group of friends. There are the options to have it with the bread or rice for $4.00. I choose to have it with baguette and it came in 3 slices with the bowl of curry chicken.

The color of the curry was orangy and not the usual bright red but it has got a subtle spicy undertone with a distinct coconut flavor and not too oily. The chicken was cooked well to just the right texture. 

It would be nicer if those slices of baguette were lightly toasted to serve warm. 

It was a hearty choice for a light lunch. 

Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 #01-1149 SINGAPORE 560421
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 4.00 pm (Daily)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

小蔡自制手工包點 . 點心 : simple Dim Sum fare

This stall has just opened not too long ago. It actually took over a wanton mee that has been there for more than 30 years. My late Grandpa used to bring me to that coffee shop. We usually ordered that wanton mee with a bowl of wantons soup as well as the coffee there. Grandpa said they served one of the better coffee in that area. My dearest Grandpa was a simple man and his way of showing love was to make sure I will not go hungry.

There were no other customers when I was there on a Sunday. It is self-service and you are expected to wait at the stall for it to be ready. Most of the items are priced at $1.80 to $2.20, slightly cheaper than the other popular dim sum stall at Block 151 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. We decided to go with some of their signature items like the Lobster Balls, Steamed Pork Ribs, Prawn Siew Mai, Prawn Dumpling, Fried Carrot Cake and Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf. 

The Lobster Balls ($1.80) were just those ready-made lobster balls in wrappers. It tasted just like those lobster balls that are readily available at those supermarkets. My dining companion was disappointed. We did not like it.

The Steamed Pork Ribs ($2.20) were alright though, right texture and flavor.

The Siew Mai ($2.00) tasted just fine.

Those Prawn Dumplings ($2.20) were nice, the wrapper was thin and nicely folded.

The Fried Carrot Cake ($0.80) was pre-fried so it tasted slightly hard.

The Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf ($3.50) was our favorite amongst those that we tried, it contains ingredients like chicken, salted egg yolk, shiitake mushroom and Chinese sausage.

It reminded me of those Dim Sum served in the eateries in Malaysia, simple yet affordable.

小蔡自制手工包點 . 點心 
Block 339 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 SINGAPORE 560339
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 4.00 pm (Daily)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

食香阁 Shi Xiang Ge : La Mian & Shaved Noodle

Mr Liu Yi Zhong that started this stall used to be working with Crystal Jade as La Mian Director. He has a total of 28 years of experiences in making la mian, including the 10 years in China before moving to Singapore in 2000. This stall is located in a coffee shop above Bishan Bus Interchange. It is specialized in Shanxi cuisine, serving dishes like Beef La Mian ($5), Minced Meat La Mian ($5), Hot & Spicy Intestine Shaved Noodle ($5), Poached Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce ($5), Pork & Vegetable Dumplings ($5), Meat Bun ($3.50) etc. The noodles and dumplings are all handmade at the stall.

There was a long queue when we were there for lunch on a Sunday. We ordered the Beef Shaved Noodle, Minced Meat La Mian and also the Pork & Vegetable Dumplings.  My dining companion has the Beef Shaved Noodle. He took a sip of the soup followed by a mouthful of the noodles and said, "好吃". He continued to say, "The soup was lightly flavored and the small chunks of beef are quite tender. I wish there are more though. It is quite a big bowl and definitely value for money."

The shaved noodle is known as 刀削面 in Chinese, it means knife-sliced noodles. There was a man behind the stall, holding a big piece of dough with his left hand, supporting using its shoulder and using his right hand to hold a knife and repeatedly shaving pieces of noodles out of that dough. The texture of noodles was just right, not lumpy nor clumpy and not too thick. It is served with a mixture of nicely cooked meat and tendons, garnished with coriander. The soup base is made using beef bones and meat. 

The Minced Meat La Mian is known as 杂酱拉面 in Chinese on their signboard, the La Mian is referred to hand-pulled noodles. This is another popular dish that most of their customers are ordering. It is served with a handful of minced meat with pieces of beancurd then garnished with shredded cucumber. What left an impression is not the taste but the texture of the noodles, it was springy and bouncy and is amongst the best that I have eaten. 

We agreed that the Pork & Vegetable Dumplings were just average. The poached dumplings tasted a little bland and uninteresting, its filling was mainly minced meat with a bit of vegetable. The Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce might be a better option and it seems to a much more popular choice as most customers order that. 

I would definitely come back for their Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce and I might even try the Hot & Spicy Intestine Shaved Noodle if I am feeling adventurous. 

Block 514 Bishan Street 13 Bishan Bus Interchange Level 2 SINGAPORE 570514
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

祥仔虾面 : by a Gen Y hawker

Eu Siang, 30, started this stall at a coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 in March before moving to the current location. His family used to run a stall in a food centre at Hougang Avenue 7 and he used to help out there. He used to be a specialist with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) before starting the stall. 

The menu includes basic Prawn Mee ($3), Big Prawn Noodle ($6), Prawn Noodle with Clams ($5), Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs ($5), Pork Noodle with Pig Tail ($5), Jumbo Big Noodle ($8.80), Pork Ribs Noodle ($4), Pig Tail Noodle ($4) and Jumbo Prawn Soup ($6/$8/$12). I decided to go with the Prawn Noodle with Pork Ribs. The broth for their Prawn Noodle is simmered for at least 2 hours using a secret recipe that has been handed down, part of the ingredients are prawn shells and pork bones.

While waiting for my order to be ready, I asked, "Why did you move from the coffee shop at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 to here? I got to know about it from your Facebook that you moved to here." He said, "This coffee shop is owned by a friend. We decided to set up the stalls together. The Famous Zhou and Ah Lee Curry are run by my friends."

It was ready in a bit. He handed the bowl of noodles to me with a smile. I helped myself with the dried chilli powder and the cut chillies at the counter. It consists of a good portion of yellow noodles with 3 peeled prawns and a few pieces of pork ribs with blanched bean sprouts and kang kong. The noodles were cooked well to the desired texture and it was tasty when tossed well with the chilli though the spiciness was quite mild. The texture of pork ribs was soft and not too chewy. The soup was flavorful, with a subtle prawn flavor and a hint of natural sweetness.

Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 SINGAPORE 560421
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Monday, August 13, 2018

茂盛潮洲糜 . 饭 : cheap and good

It was rather quiet during dinner in this food centre and almost 80% of the stalls were already closed for the day. This stall was amongst those that were opened, it is located right at the corner of the first row and there were other customers waiting to order. As it was an early dinner, some of their dishes were not ready yet. 

I decided to go with steamed fishcake, sliced meat with ginger, braised brinjal, and Stingray with salted vegetable together with 2 bowls of porridge and a bowl of rice for only $10.50. This is definitely cheap. It is self-service, the Uncle arranged everything neatly on a big tray for me.

Our favorite dish has to be the sliced meat with ginger. My dining companion said, "It has an old-school taste".

The steamed fishcake was another comforting choice, it tasted good when eaten with the fermented bean sauce and chilli that served along. 

The stingray with salted vegetable has got a rather strong fermented bean taste which my dining companion did not like. I enjoyed it though, it tasted like a similar dish that my dearest Grandpa used to cook for me. The braised brinjal is another homely dish that my Grandpa used to cook. 

There was a queue forming when we were about to leave. I applaud their efforts in keeping the prices affordable, this stall is worth supporting. 

茂盛潮洲糜 . 饭
Block 105 Hougang Avenue 1 #02-02 Hainanese VillageFood Centre SINGAPORE 530105

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Penang Authentic Delicacies : Penang Fried Kway Teow in banana leaf

I came across a picture posted by an FB friend not too long ago. It showed the Penang Fried Kway Teow wrapping in banana leaf in the shape of a cone, it is by a new stall in Golden Mile Food Centre. I was not particularly looking for this stall but wanted to eat Hainanese Curry Rice and it just happened this stall is just next to it. I changed my mind at that point in time and decided to try the Ah Gong Penang Fried Kway Teow. There are the $3 and the $5 portion which I decided to go with the big portion. They do serve Penang White Curry ($3/$4.50), Fried Mee Tai Mak ($3/$5) and also Fried Mee Sua ($3/$5). The lady that took my order, said, "Go, take a seat."

I asked, "Why did you choose to wrap it in the banana leaf? Is this a practice over in Penang? The lady replied, "This method and the recipe are passed down from our Ah Gong (Grandpa). He served it in this way to better preserve its aromatic flavor." Then, I asked, "Are you from Penang? "She said, "No. Not me. My husband is from Penang though."

It was ready in less than 5 minutes as I was the only customer at that time. The lady handed it to me and said, "Thank you." I have traveled to Penang quite a few times but never come across such a method in presenting the Fried Kway Teow there. I slowly unwrapped it by moving the 2 toothpicks that were used to hold the banana leaf together. I was greeted with a nice smoky flavor. The thin flat rice noodles were stir-fried with prawns, clams, roasted meat, Chinese sausage, fish cake and a handful of bean sprouts for a textural contrast. They actually made an effort to peel the prawns leaving only the head and tail part.

It definitely requires the right ingredients coupled with the correct techniques to stir-fry a plate of fried kway teow at high heat for a charred taste. And, this might not be the best that I have tasted but it was actually better than most of the others in Singapore. It was savory, moist and drier in texture, not oily too. I requested to have an extra amount of chill added for a spicier flavor.

505 Beach Road #01-111 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Famous Zhou 粥出名 : a porridge stall in Ang Mo Kio

This porridge stall is set up by Chew Chor Meng (周初明) and Dennis Chew (周崇庆), this is their new venture after setting up 3 outlets of 888 Mookata at Hougang, Bishan and Bukit Batok, serving Thai-style barbecue steamboat in the coffee shop. This stall is named "The Famous Zhou" and the "Zhou" here is 周, their surname, it also means 粥 in Chinese. It is 粥出名 in Chinese, sounded like 周初明 and it also means the famous porridge. The Taiwanese chef Huang Ching Biao is behind the recipes of their porridges. It is their friend, an ex-engineer that is doing the cooking together with a Malaysian cook at the stall. There are 8 different types of porridge on their menu starting from $3.50 to $12.80, adding an egg is $0.50 and $0.80 cents for extra you tiao (fried dough fritters). 

I was there at about 12.30 pm on a Sunday and I did not see a queue at that time. Chew Chor Meng was there though, sitting at a table near the stall. I wanted the Happy Belly Chok, a fish porridge at $5 but was told they run out of fish. I decided to go with A Smart Scholar Chok at $4, a mixed pork porridge, added an egg and you tiao. I was given a buzzer after paying, it buzzed in about 8 minutes. When I stood up and walking towards the stall, the friendly auntie was holding the bowl of porridge and looking around for me. I handed the buzzer to her when she passed that bowl of porridge to me. The light of their signboard went off at this time, indicating they have already sold out. I must be really lucky to order the last few bowls of the porridge.

The texture of this Cantonese style porridge was rather smooth but a little too runny. It consists of pork slices and liver but there is no intestine in it. Those slices of liver were a bit too thin and it ended up overcooked thus a little tough. And, some you tiao was crispy and the other was soggy. 

They will need more time to work at improving its standard. 

Block 421 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 Tian Tian Lai Food Place SINGAPORE 560421
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays) 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Jing Ji Fishball Noodle : a 3 decades old noodle stall

This was one of those stalls that I featured when writing for Makansutra. This stall has been around for more than 30 years, it started as a pushcart in the vicinity before moving into the food centre. It has been handed down by Mr Toh that started it to his 2 daughters.

The older Madam Toh is 59 years old, she is the one taking the orders and serving it when it is ready. The younger Madam Toh is 56 years old and she is doing the cooking. Their Uncle used to run a noodle stall just a couple of stalls away, he was also taught by Mr Toh using a similar recipe but that stall has already closed down.

There was a queue of about 8 people when I was there at about 11.15 pm. When it was about my turn, I was told that they have already run out of fishball. I decided to go with mee pok at $3 and added $1 for additional ingredients. I requested to have an extra amount of chilli to go with the mee pok. When waiting for my order, I overheard Madam Toh talking to the customer behind me, "You did not come for a while." There was another customer right behind me asking whether would there be anymore mee pok left when it is her turn to order. She is likely to be one of the regular customers as Madam Toh seemed to remember how she likes her order to be done. I was told that most of their customers are the regulars staying in the vicinity and they usually come as a family. 

The mee pok was cooked just right, firm and still springy. It did not taste too spicy with that extra amount of chilli added, a hint of the vinegar and lightly flavored by lard. It was served along with a bowl of soup consisting of slices of pork liver and fishcake as well as meatballs. The meatballs have an ideal consistency and texture. Those slices of pork liver were lovely, it was tender and soft in the right thickness and size. I got the last few bowls of the noodles before they sold out at 11.30 pm.

Their secret to their survivability is none other than using the freshest ingredients. The elder Mr Toh used to go marketing personally to source for it, he was doing that even when he was in his 80s. Such old-school taste can be so memorable. I was told that their children have no plan in taking over their stall at this moment. Enjoy it while it lasts. 

590 Upper Thomson Road #01-04 Sembawang Hills Food Centre SINGAPORE 574419
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)