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)

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