Saturday, September 28, 2019

Weng Kiang Kee Porridge : comfort food

Charlie Chang, 58, a regular of Joe Pork Porridge took over the stall once it was vacated by bidding for it and started selling porridge too. Joe, the owner of Joe Pork Porridge retired and sold its business to a Chinese Pr but things just did not work out and it has already closed last year. Charlie has about 30 years of kitchen experiences, working in Ritz Carlton, Raffles Hotel, Crown Prince Hotel, Oriental Hotel, Fullerton Hotel and also working in Beijing and Miami, USA. He was the Executive Chef in the Grand Millennium Hotel in Beijing before returning to Singapore. He set up the stall with Philomena, his wife, and Stephen Sim, his partner, a supplier of produce and meats that source for ingredients for the stall. He is hoping to preserve the food culture despite having to endure the long hours and also demanding customers. 

I wanted to try his Premium Porridge ($5) and the Triple Egg Porridge ($3.50) at the same time. The pieces are kept low despite using premium ingredients. When ordering, I asked, "Can I order the Premium Porridge and added the triple egg to it?" His wife asked him and he suggested I should order the Triple Egg Porridge and added lean meat or minced pork balls. I decided to heed his suggestion and ordered Triple Egg Porridge with minced pork balls. I was given a number tag and asked to come back in about 25 minutes.

The Triple Egg Porridge is cooked using the premium Jasmine rice and it is served with century egg, salted egg, and poached egg. The salted egg is nicely flattened to look like a disc. To start, drizzled with a little soya sauce and a dash of white pepper as it is purposely underseasoned as some of the customers are those elderly folks and they usually want it less salty. 

The porridge was rich, smooth and the right thickness, it tasted towards the traditional Hainanese style porridge, its texture is slightly more grainy. Each bowl is cooked individually to achieve the right texture.

Go early if you are interested to try as they usually sold out before 1 pm. 

335 Smith Street #02-082 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Joo Chiat Prawn Mee : Lost & Found

This stall used to be at 15 Crane Road in Joo Chiat but closed in January 2015.  Madam Lee Xiu Chun, the owner, is running the stall with her son-in-law. Mr Lee Pi Duan, her father, started Beach Road Prawn Mee in the coffee shop opposite Blanco Court in 1936 after a friend from Xiamen, China shared the recipe and taught him in cooking it. Her was likely to be the first to serve this unique Singapore style hawker dish. He was also the one that taught the founder of 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles to cook the dish. Mr Lee Seng Hoon, her eldest brother took over the stall after her father passed away in 1956 before moving to Beach Road. He created the dry version of prawn mee and John Lee, his eldest son, started Beach Road Prawn Noodle House at East Coast Road. The same recipe is supposedly also used by the other family members, the Jalan Sultan Prawn Mee in Jalan Ayer by the son of her older sister and Blanco Court Prawn Mee in Jalan Kayu by the other sister. 

I ordered the medium portion of Pork Ribs Prawn Mee for $5 and opted for yellow noodles, the kway teow was already sold out and so the other option is bee hoon. The smallest portion is for $4 and the largest portion is for $6. There are also Pork Rib Pig's Tail Mee ($5/$6) and Pig's Tail Prawn Mee ($5/$6) on the menu.

My dining companion tossed the noodles and had his first mouthful followed by another then said, "It is nice. It would even be better if there are crispy lard added." I did not get to try when they were at their previous location so this would be my first time eating at this stall though I have tried the other prawn noodles that mentioned earlier. It was quite enjoyable, the level of spiciness was manageable and it complimented the nicely cooked yellow noodles well. The pork ribs were of the right texture, tender enough but not overly so. The prawns were of medium-sized and it tasted relatively fresh. It was topped with fried shallots. 

The soup tasted of a slight hint of prawn flavor, nicely flavored. 

This stall is a worthy option for lunch if you happen to be here. 

Block 503 West Coast Drive #01-35 Ayer Rajah Food Centre SINGAPORE 120503
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Quan Ji : Teochew noodle in Ang Mo Kio

Ivan and Chun Siang, both are 25 years old and they are the owners of this a month old noodle stall in Ang Mo Kio. They met at Singapore Polytechnic when doing a Diploma in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Ivan, took a year off from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to start this noodle stall with Chun Siang, a fresh graduate from NTU. The recipe is based on the grandfather of Ivan's wife that started selling the noodles in 1965. The original stall is still located at Bedok Interchange. 

Their signature noodle ($3.50/$4.50) is Minced Meat Fishball Noodle, it consists of noodles with minced meat, sliced meat, meatball, fishball and slices of fishcake. Vinegar is not commonly used in Teochew style noodles and it was omitted. The Mee Pok and Mee Kia were sold out when I was there for lunch so I decided to have Mee Tai Mak. I also ordered Laksa. I was given a number and it will be shouted out when it is ready for collection. We waited for about 15 minutes before it was ready.

The dry Mee Tai Mak was for my dining companion. He took a mouthful and asked, "Did you request for extra amount of chilli to be added? It is quite spicy." I did not request for extra chilli to be added. The chilli was surprisingly nice but it might be a bit too spicy for those that have little tolerance towards spiciness. 

The Laksa tasted just like any of those available at any hawker stalls that are serving this dish. The gravy was light and kind of diluted with little coconut taste, it did not taste too spicy.

It was served with prawns to replace the cockles together with other ingredients like slices of fishcake and tau pok. 

Apparently, the 2 young owners are not doing the cooking. It was cooked by their helper, an elderly lady that is hired to do the cooking. It reminded me of Douglas Ng of Fishball Story. It used to be good when he started his first stall at Golden Mile Food Centre but the standard dropped quite a bit when he started to hire cooks to man the stall. He went about franchising to expand the business but all these franchised stalls were only around for a while before closing down.

Block 260 Ang Mo Kio Street 21 SINGAPORE 560260
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Claypot & Cooked Food Kitchen : Cheap & Good Cantonese style cze char

This humble stall that does not even have a name is a hidden gem amongst the other popular food stalls at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Uncle Hong (洪哥), the owner cum chef, has about 40 years of culinary experiences. He was trained under Chef Tham Mui Kam, one of the legendary Four Heavenly Kings that specialized in Cantonese Cuisine before starting his stall at Silat and moving to Chinatown Complex Food Centre much later. He is still manning the stall with his wife. The menu is quite extensive and there are also a few dishes that are off the menu like Glutinous Rice Chicken (Lo Mai Kai). Most of the dishes are served in the claypot.

There were already some of the regular customers seated at the tables near to the stall waiting for their orders when I was there. I stood in front of the stall for a few minutes, the elderly auntie was busy getting those freshly out of the wok dishes to be served. I waited for a while before telling her that I want to order. I wanted to order Deep Fried Salt and Pepper Squid but was told it is not available. I tried ordering Salted Fish Minced Chicken ($7) and Prawn Paste Chicken ($8) with 2 bowls of rice ($0.50 each). I wanted to try their signature Claypot Pork Liver but did not order as my dining companion does not eat it. I left my table number with her.

While waiting, I went to order the glutinous rice from the stall right at the corner. The friendly uncle there asked me to take the late plate of yam cake as well. I brought it back to our table and told my dining companion to eat these while waiting. We waited for about 45 minutes before it was served to our table.

Salted Fish Minced Chicken ($7) was a pleasant surprise. Though this is a simple dish but was perfectly executed. You could actually taste bits of salted fish amongst the chicken, tofu, onions, green pepper, and chilli. It went really well with rice. The homely taste is quite memorable. Prawn Paste Chicken ($8) is my favorite dish to order at different cze char places. It was quite a big portion for $8 and chicken parts were used instead of the usual chicken wings. My dining companion tasted and said, "This is very good. I would think it is one of the better ones. Those chicken pieces were flavorful and deep-fried for the desired crispiness."

I was told that the uncle can be temperamental and might close the stall earlier depending on his mood. He is one of those pioneer hawkers left but not for much longer before he retires. He reminded me of the late Uncle Hai Zai (虾叔) of Mitzi (美食之家) and Master Tang that have already passed on. This should that kind of hawker stall that truly deserved to be awarded a Michelin-star. Again, for a self reason, I am hoping that Michelin will never find this stall.

I was surprised to see the stall has already opened at 10.30 am when I went back to try the Claypot Pig Liver and I ordered a bowl of rice to go with it. I pointed to the corner of the long table in front of the stall when I was asked for the table number. I went to get the iced coffee from the stall behind and went to wait at that table. I waited for less than 5 minutes before it was served.

Those slices of liver were of the right thickness and size, nicely stir-fried with ginger, spring onion, and garlic. The texture of liver was tender, not overly powdery and not gamey. It was served sizzling hot in the claypot, aromatic with a slight smokiness and the tenderness remained throughout the meal. The tasty gravy went well with the rice. It is cheap and good for just $8, the same dish is for $15 over at Keng Eng Kee Seafood, it is their signature dish too.

335 Smith Street #02-83 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 6.30 pm (Closed on Saturdays & Sundays)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Li Yuan Mee Pok : Japanese fusion mee pok

The stall started by Naoji Kuribaram, a permanent resident, after leaving his job as a Finance Specialist at a Japanese company in Singapore. He initially started a Japanese food stall in the same coffee shop where he met Eric Chia, the boss of Ah Hoe Mee Pok. He worked as an apprentice for 6 months before closing his Japanese food stall and took over the noodle stall in January 2015. He then handed the stall to his children and returned to Japan to open a noodle shop with an identical menu but it was shut down later. 

There are 2 coffee shops on the same block and this stall is located at the coffee shop farther from the main road. There was already a short queue when we reached slightly after 12 pm. While queuing, there was a lady came by to take the orders. I ordered the Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle ($4/$5) for myself and the soup version of Japanese Fusion Mee Pok ($6/$7) for my dining companion, there is a choice of Miso and Shoyu and I decided to go with the latter. I went with the larger portion for my orders. I also went with the Teo Chew Dumpling Soup ($4). There are also Special Mee Pok ($4/$5), Crayfish Mee Pok ($10), Big Prawn Noodle ($10), Meatball Soup ($4), Braised Pig's Trotter ($4) and Japanese Fusion Mee Pok with Char Siew ($10) on their menu. I waited in the queue for about 8 minutes or so before collecting it. I was served the noodles first and asked to come back in a bit to collect the Dumpling Soup.

The traditional Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle is served with sliced pork, minced pork, meatballs, braised mushroom and slices of canned king top shell, in the well-balanced sauce. The noodles are cooked using a timer for the right texture and springiness. 

The Japanese Fusion Mee Pok is a special creation, there is the dry and also the soup version based on Miso or Shoyu, serving with meatballs, sliced pork, imitation abalone, and Japanese chashu. The soup is tasty though not exactly like those for the ramen but those that are of dashi based, the pork flavor is not too distinct. I was asked whether I wanted to have chilli and it was added to the soup. My dining companion said, "It should be nicer if without the chilli." 

He said, "The chashu was quite fat and not soft enough. It also did not have much flavor." He also said, "The dry one tasted quite normal but the soup one is nice. If we do come back, we should order a bowl of Miso and a bowl of Shoyu for comparison, to actually see what is the difference and which is better.

We did not like the dumpling, the skin was quite thick and the filling was not too flavorful. The soup also consists of shredded cabbage and crispy lard, quite thick and it tasted a bit like the base for the Mee Pok soup. 

The Japanese Fusion Mee Pok is definitely worth a try if you happen to be in the vicinity.

Block 710 Clementi West Street 2 Rong Fa Coffee House SINGAPORE 120710
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

28 Noodles : enjoyable Bak Chor Mee

This is a popular stall in the same coffee shop with the other outlet of Ah Seng Duck Rice, within walking distance from Serangoon MRT. There was just another customer when I was there on a weekday for an early lunch.

I decided to go with the larger portion of the Minced Pork Noodle at $4.5, there is a smaller portion at $3.50. I opted to have kway teow with an extra amount of chilli. Thre are also choices of Fishball Minced Pork Noodle ($3.50/$4.50), Laska ($3.50/$4.50) and Liver Mee Sua ($4.50/$5.50). 

The portion of the nicely cooked kway teow was substantial serving along with ingredients like slices of fishcake, lean meat, and liver with fishballs, meatballs, fish dumpling, minced meat then topped with chopped spring onion. The level of spiciness was manageable even though I requested for an extra amount to be added. The bowl of soup that served along was lightly flavored. 

It is simple yet satisfying. It reminded me of the kway teow dry that I used to eat with my late Grandpa at a stall in Ang Mo Kio but that stall is no longer around. 

I will be back for their Laksa and Liver Mee Sua.

Block 204 Serangoon Central #01-104 SINGAPORE 550204
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Nanyang Chicken : the worth-trying Soya Sauce Chicken

This is a soya sauce themed cafe that serves Soya Sauce Chicken as its signature dish. The owner is behind the Nanyang Sauce, it is a rebranding of Swan brand, one of the oldest artisanal soya sauce markers in Singapore. They are still making their sauces the same way that they did 50 years ago. This cafe that opened on September 2018 is located along South Bridge Road and there used to be another outlet at East Coast Road but has closed, their brewery is at Chin Bee Avenue. 

When I was looking at the menu, the friendly staff quickly came out of the door and said, "I can help." I ordered the Princess Chicken ($12.80) for myself and Soya Sauce Chicken Rice ($12.80) for my dining companion with a cold coffee ($2.50). 

The cold coffee came first, enough ice cubes were added to keep it cold without diluting its taste.

The Princess Chicken and Soya Sauce Chicken Rice were served along with their in-house Chicken Rice Chilli Sauce and Sambal Prawn Chilli Sauce. The service staff said, "If you like the sauces, you can get a $3 off for them, the Ikan Belis and also other sauces too based on the amount spent today."

The welcome soup is a chicken soup served in a small glass and it is refillable. We were also served a sample portion of their Ikan Belis which they labeled as Nanyang Snacks. 

My dining companion, said, "I was wondering why there is a sourish taste in their soup then I realized it is probably from the plum that was used as part of its ingredients." He liked it enough to have a refill when the waiting staff came by our table with a kettle. 

My dining companion said, "This is hawker food at cafe prices. It is not cheap but at least it came with a whole piece of a chicken leg." He took a bit and said, "It is not bad but a bit too salty. " The chicken leg was well-braised with a good infusion of aromatic soya flavor. It tasted different from the other Soya Sauce Chicken, it is distinctly savory and no hint of sweetness. 

The braised chicken leg was served with slices of braised mushroom, cherry tomatoes, and lettuce with the selection of noodles or rice. 

The service came by and asked, "How was the food?" And, she said, "I hope you will leave us a good review." It stated on the number tag that "Review us on Facebook or Google." Though their prices are a little on the high side, their attentive service makes it worthwhile. 

70 South Bridge Road SINGAPORE 058700
Operating Hours: 9.00 am to 6.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Koung's Wan Tan Mee : the popular Wanton Mee in Geylang

Mr Koung Boon Kong, 70s, the owner, started selling wanton mee since 1964. This is probably one of the famous choices for wanton mee in Singapore. He started working as an apprentice at a pushcart stall before taking over when the owner decided to quit. It was only $0.40 when he started selling it. Now, a basic plate is priced at $4, it will be $5 if you want extra noodles, $6.00 for extra ingredients and it is $7 for extra noodles with extra ingredients. There is also Dumpling Soup at $3, $4 and $5.

My dining companion said, "It is not quite worth it to pay an extra $2 for extra ingredients. You only get more pieces of wanton but not too many slices of char siew."

Their char siew is still marinated and roasted at their stall every morning over the charcoal oven. This traditional charcoal char siew is going at $5.00 for 100 grams on their menu. My dining companion said, "I do not find their char siew spectacularly nice." Those pieces of char siew were slightly lean but it still tasted tender and flavorful.

The egg noodles were nicely cooked to the desired softness with a slight springiness, served with their special chilli sauce, oil and soy sauce.

You could see an elderly auntie making those wantons at the side of the stall. The tasty filling was encased in a thin wrapper. 

The dumpling tasted the same but it has a piece of prawn in it and of a bigger size. My dining companion said, "I prefer the dumpling to wanton."  

This might not be the best wanton mee but I enjoyed eating it.

205 Sims Avenue SINGAPORE 387506
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 7.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Monday, September 2, 2019

SweeT.Rex : Souffle pancakes

This stall is not to be missed if you are looking for an affordable option for souffle pancake, a Japanese-style pancake. Cassandra Lim, 43, is running the stall with her husband. It used to be at Mei Ling Food Centre before moving to Alexandra Village Food Centre. The choices include $4 for 2 pieces of the freshly made pancake with topping sauce and $5 for 2 pieces with topping sauce and ice-cream. They adjusted the prices after moved here. There is chocolate, strawberry and caramel sauce to choose. There are also Lemon Chocolate Cheese Cake, Homemade Milk Pudding and Homemade T-Rex Snack Bar on their menu.

I ordered a set of pancakes and was asked to choose the sauce. I was recommended to try the chocolate and caramel sauce. I was asked for the table number as it will be sent over later. The pancakes were served with icing sugar lightly scattered then drizzled with the sauces.

The pancakes are made from butter, eggs, milk, and flour. The egg whites were whipped into a meringue to achieve a lighter and fluffier texture despite the pancakes were of a certain thickness. It tasted quite close to what I had in Japan. 

120 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-79 Alexandra Village Food Centre SINGAPORE 150120
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Thursdays & Fridays)