Monday, December 28, 2020

Mad Charcoal : Texas-inspired smoked meats

A friend left me a message stating that I need to try this as it is really good and is better than El Carbo as can really taste the charcoal flavor. He further mentioned that there is no reason for me not to do so since it is in Ang Mo Kio. It is located where the Singapore Driving Centre used to be, within walking distance from Yio Chu Kang MRT station and just a stone's throw from my house. I went on Christmas day, the food court was unusually quiet, only them and the other stall were opened. 

Kelvin Low, the owner was there and he took the order. He has been in the F & B industry for the past 20 years. He is serving Texas-inspired smoked meats using 3 kinds of wood charcoal, namely the compressed charcoal and the traditional charcoal together with the lychee wood. Some of their popular choices are beef briskets, beef cheeks, and grilled chicken. 

I decided to go with Mushroom Soup ($5.90), Pork Belly ($8.90), and Mad Spiced Chicken ($7.90). When choosing the side dishes, I asked for a recommendation. Kelvin replied, "You can try our Mashed Potato or Ratatouille. He continued to say, "Of course, our salad is good too." I decided on Ratatouille to go with the Pork Belly. There are also options to choose pasta as a side dish and I opted for Marinara pasta. I asked, "Do I have to come back to collect it?" He replied, "We will serve it to you."

The Mushroom Soup came first, brought over by Kelvin. The soup is served along with a piece of garlic bread. The texture was thick and creamy, I liked it. I could not say the same about the garlic bread as it did not have much garlic flavor. The Pork Belly and Mad Spiced Chicken were served together. 

The Mad Spiced Chicken consists of a price of chicken breast, the Marinara pasta, coleslaw, and a soft-boiled egg. The pasta reminded me of chilli crab pasta and it is tasty. The chicken was surprisingly tender for the breast meat. The soft-boiled egg is a nice addition acting as a dip for the chicken. 

My dining companion took a piece of the Pork Belly and he said, "I was expecting the skin to be crispy but it actually tasted quite chewy. The texture of the meat is tender with a distinct charcoal flavor." He did not touch the Ratatouille. He also said, "I would go with Mashed Potato or with the pasta. And, I prefer the Mad Spiced Chicken to this."

This stall has been around for about a year or so and it is getting popular for its smoked dishes. This is definitely worth a try if you happen to be in the vicinity. 

3 Ang Mo Kio Street 62 #01-38 SINGAPORE 569139
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Yang Ming Seafood at Bishan

We were there on a Sunday for lunch. The coffee shop was quite crowded at that time and almost every table there was occupied. We decided to go ahead to order Yang Ming Special Chicken ($12), Cai Pu Beancurd ($10), and Stir-fried Prawns ($18). The ordering was done at the counter and paid right after. 

The waiting time was about 15 minutes and Yang Ming Special Chicken served first. After tasting, we agreed that it actually like the Gong Bao Chicken. Though it is stir-fried with dried chilli, it did not have much spiciness. I was expecting more from this dish as it is listed as one of their special dishes.

The Cai Pu Beancurd came next. The beancurd was served in a pool of sauce accompanied by a few chunks of broccoli, topped with preserved radish, also known as cai pu or chye poh.  It would be tastier if the cai pu is slightly saltier for a better flavor. 

The Stir-fried Prawns are one of their signature dishes. The prawns were relatively fresh and coated well in the tasty sauce, nicely done though but no surprises. 

Overall, it was quite an enjoyable lunch. 

Block 150 Bishan Street 11 SINGAPORE 570150
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 2.00 pm / 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Authentic Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee : based on a 97 years old recipe

We decided to drop by when happened to be in the vicinity. Mr Tan Poh Chye, 65, was there, he used to run Tian Nan Xing Minced Pork Noodle, a hawker stall at Block 511 Bedok North before he handed it to his son and retired. His grandfather started the trade in 1923 before handed it to his father, then to him and he passed it to his son. It has been around 97 years and they are still using the same recipe. As reported in this article, he met David Tan, the owner of this coffee shop and also a fan of his Bak Chor Mee. He was encouraged by him to set up this hawker stall to pass down his skills. 

The menu consists of the soup version ($3, $4, $5) and the dry version ($4, $5, $6). I ordered the $5 portion of Mee Pok Soup and $5 portion of Kway Teow Dry. I was recommended to try their Fried Dumplings (8 pieces at $4), they called it 满载而归 as it is served in a boat-shaped bowl. I paid and given a buzzer for collection later. 

My dining companion tasted the Mee Pok Soup and said, "It tasted like the typical Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee and of the same standard." He continued to say, "The meat dumplings are good though the meatballs are pretty average. The pork bone  broth is quite tasty." 

The Kway Teow did not leave an impression. It tasted just average and the sauce did not quite stand out. Those pieces of fried lard were over-fried and it has got a slightly burnt taste. I will just stick to the soup version if I do come back. 

My dining companion took a piece of the fried dumplings and said, "This fried wanton tasted different from the soup one. It did not have the taste of dried sole fish. I wonder why they did not use the same dumpling for deep-frying." Those fried wantons were served with a dipping sauce, I could tell it is a mixture of mayonnaise and something else. My dining companion said, "It could be Sriracha Chilli Sauce and Mayonnaise." I only found out later that it was a mixture of mayonnaise and mala sauce. The dumpling is the same as the 2 pieces of fried dumplings that were served with the Kway Teow though of a different shape. 

We were curious enough to try the Salt Baked Kampang Chicken ($22.90). They do not make them and it happened to be their first day selling it. There is an indication on the banner that it is "Singapore Best Salt Baked Kampang Chicken".

When eating it, my dining companion said, "The breast part is small which is a telltale sign of a Kampang chicken." It was wrapped in 2 layers of baking paper, the first layer was quite burnt.  

The meat was firm with a distinct herbal-ish taste and a slight saltishness. I did not eat enough of Salt Baked Chicken to know whether is this indeed the best in Singapore but I quite enjoyed the taste. 

Do drop by to give your support if you happen to be in this part of Singapore. 

Block 83 Macpherson Lane #01-263 SINGAPORE 360083
Operating Hours: 8.30 am to 8.00 pm (Daily)

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Really Something : Taiwanese Egg Fried Rice & Braised Meat Rice

This is a relatively new stall at the Chinatown Complex Food Centre, serving Taiwanese cuisine. The owner has a distinctive Taiwanese accent. Their stall name is quite catching, it is "Really Something" and is 非同小可 in Chinese. The first time when we were here, they ran out of rice and the next batch was only ready in 30 minutes. We did not wait but decided to come back again for it. We were there on a Sunday and there was no office crowd like the first time. We decided to go with the Fried Chicken Cutlet Egg Fried Rice ($4.80) and Braised Pork Rice ($3.00). There are also other dishes like Shrimp Egg Fried Rice ($4.80), Chiayi Chicken Rice ($3.00), Fragrant Chicken Egg Fried Rice ($4.80), and Egg Fried Rice ($3.00) on their menu. 

The waiting time was a short one as we were the only customers at that time. We waited there for it to be ready. The Braised Pork Rice was ready first. The rice was fried on the spot followed by deep-frying the pork cutlet. 

I tried the Fried Chicken Cutlet Egg Fried Rice first. The Chicken Cutlet though crispy but lacking flavor. The rice had a notable fluffiness but the eggy taste was not intense and a little bland.  My dining companion said, "The texture of the rice is very fluffy though not as flavorful as I liked it." He also said, "The portion is good for its affordable price." 

I enjoyed the Braised Pork Rice, though it might not be as good as what I had tasted in Taiwan, it is decent enough. The texture of those braised pork chunks was tender and quite flavorful accompanied by a nicely braised egg and salted vegetable with rice. Pearl rice is used for a softer and sticky texture. 

This stall is really something different, worth a try if you happen to be in this food centre. 

335 Smith Street #02-207 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 5.00 pm (Closed on Mondays & Thursdays)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Xinxin Traditional Claypot Rice : by the Gen Y hawkers

We went looking for this stall that is serving Claypot Rice at Kovan Food Centre, it took us a while to locate it as it is located at the last row, right behind. And, it was a bit disturbing that one of the younger owners was standing outside the stall awaiting customers when this food centre was quite packed during lunch on a Sunday. I ordered it a few times during the Circuit Breaker period through delivery. I was amazed by the tenderness of those chicken pieces when I tasted it for the first time, it was not just soft but flavorful too. 

I got to know about this stall from Martin, a friend on Facebook. It was recommended by Kai, a partner of Roast Paradise. 

This stall is manned by 2 youngsters, they did it through numerous experiments to get the recipe right. I ordered the portion for 2 to share. I was asked for the table number as it will be served to the table later but told to help myself with the condiments, bowls, spoons, and chopsticks. I waited for about 15 minutes before it was served.

It was served with a generous portion of chunky chicken pieces with Chinese Sausages garnished with chopped spring onion, the rice was drizzled with dark soy sauce. To start, gave it a quick stir to mix everything together. 

My dining companion tasted it and said, "Somehow, I felt it tasted better when it was delivered." It still tasted good though, there was a nice layer of the burnt bit right at the side and below. 

I would think this is easily better than some of those popular ones out there, even so, this might not be the best but it is good enough to keep me coming back. 

209 Hougang Street 21 #01-62 SINGAPORE 530209
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.30 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Monday, September 28, 2020

Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice : the continuity

Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice started at the already demolished Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre, off Margaret Drive by Mr Leong Fook Wing in 1971. Niven and Benson, his sons, continue his legacy after his passing. Niven started a stall at Ubi in July 2020. He used to man Uncle Chicken Rice in Alexandra Village Food Centre before moving to The Bedok Place. Benson, his brother has a stall in a coffee shop at Holland Drive.

We were there on a Sunday and there was a short queue during lunch. We decided to go with a set meal for 2 at $14 which includes 2 bowls of rice, a bowl of soup, a plate of vegetables, and the steamed chicken. There are also set meal for 1 pax at $4.50, set meal for 3 at $24, and set meal for 4 at $36.  

The chicken is chopped into chunky pieces with the bone still intact and drizzled lightly with their special sauce which complimented the natural flavor of the chicken. The chicken is nicely cooked to the desired tenderness and there is a nice jelly-like layer in between the skin and the meat. 

We did not like the fermented fried pork belly, the texture was not as tender as we liked it. It was recommended by the stall assistant and so decided to try it. The other option is the braised pork belly. 

The texture of the rice was grainy and not too greasy with a light chicken stock flavor. The chicken stock is used to cook the rice thus no soup is served. They also serve crispy lard upon request and the recommended way is to eat it is with dark soy sauce on rice. I did not like the chilli as much, it was not as spicy and slightly tangy. Their ginger paste is the drier version mixed with chopped scallion. My dining companion said, "This is better than that from Jiang Ji's. In fact, this is the only thing that is better."

Watercress Soup was alright but I would actually prefer the recommended Chicken Feet soup but was not available on that day. 

After tasting this and Jiang Ji Traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice, my choice is the latter if they continue to maintain the standard. 

Block 304 Ubi Avenue 1 #01-95 Ubi DMQ Eating House SINGAPORE 400304
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Jiang Ji Traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice : next generation of Sergeant Kiang

I heard about the opening of this stall from a friend on Facebook. They opened on 20 June 2020 by Susan, Raymond, and Alvin using a recipe handed down by their 81 years old father, Sergeant Kiang. Sergeant Kiang founded Sergeant Chicken Rice before it was acquired by the Food Republic. He was also one of the pioneer chefs that created the famous Chicken Rice in Chatterbox, a cafe in the former Mandarin Hotel.

I went on a weekday for lunch. I took a picture of the stall before joining the queue. Susan spotted me and when it was my turn to order, she asked, "You are?" I replied, "I am just one of the fans of Sergeant Kiang's chicken rice. I met him before and I met you too at the stall in Havelock." She chuckled and said, "That was very long ago." I decided to order half of the poached chicken with 2 plates of rice to share it with my dining companion. I was asked to take a seat as it will be sent over. Alvin brought over. He asked, "Remember me? I was at the Jiang Ji in Havelock." He also asked, "How is the taste? still the same."

I could actually taste the similarity. I said, "The same. The chicken is still tender. The rice is so fragrance. The chilli and ginger paste are still good." It is still that familiar taste. Their specialty is always the poached chicken. The texture was tender and still retained its juiciness. I still think their rice was amongst the better that I have tasted. The fragrance was quite distinctive and the texture was grainy and not overly greasy. 

Susan came over when we were about done eating. She said, "We set up this stall to force our dad to retire. He is staying at the next block and he always asked our helper to come over and bring back for him to sample. He is still making sure that everything is still up to his standard." She further said, "And, he wanted to hand on but we do not allow him to do so." I said, "I remember Sergeant Kiang ever shared that he decided to throw away the whole tub of chilli after tasting it as it is just not up to his standard." I continued to say, "I asked him then whether he is passing the recipe to his children and he replied that their cooking is not up to his standard yet." I said, "I have been going around eating Chicken Rice but this is still amongst the best, much better than most of those out there." What actually defines good chicken rice? It is everything, from the chicken to the rice and the chilli to the ginger paste. Everything has to be good. And, I think I have found the perfect combination here. 

It is heartwarming to see a family comes together for a common goal. Unity is indeed strength. I will definitely be back for more of their chicken rice. 

780 Yishun Ring Road SINGAPORE 760780
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 8.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Five Guys in Singapore

Five Guys,  a popular American burger joint has landed in Singapore on 16 December 2019, after Shake Shack, the other popular burger joint. They have more than 1600 outlets worldwide and is famous for serving burgers, hot dogs, fries and milkshakes. They serve only the hand-formed burgers cooked on a grill along with fresh-cut fries cooked in pure peanut oil. The patties have a good ratio of lean to fat meat. The buns are baked fresh by a local bakery.

The burgers, fries, and drinks are to be ordered separately as there are no set meals. Customization can be done for burgers and hot dogs with no hidden cost. The choices for burgers are Hamburger ($13),  Cheeseburger ($15), Bacon Burger ($15), and Bacon Cheese Burger ($17). The choices of fries are the original or with Cajun spices, starting from $7 then $9, and $11 from the hand-cut potatoes. When selecting toppings for the burgers and hot dogs, you go with your choices or simply go with the "all the way" option to have everything included. Some of the most popular toppings are lettuce, pickles, grilled mushrooms, and grilled onions. The famous shakes at $10 can be further customized too, like selecting between with or without whipped cream and mixing in the bacon bits, salted caramel, strawberry, banana, and chocolate with no extra cost. They are to cook everything fresh and not using frozen ingredients.

We decided to go with their Bacon Cheese Burger, regular fries, and coke. There is the free flow of peanuts to keep you occupied while waiting for your number to be called. Your order will be packed in the brown paper bag. 

The "all the way" option came with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, mushroom with mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard. 

The burger came with double patties and 2 slices of cheese in between the juicy patties. It was good though not mind-blowing but it is definitely one of the better burgers but it is the expensive ones. 

I would not mind eating it once in a while but not too willing to queue for it. 

68 Orchard Road #01-23 Plaza Singapura SINGAPORE 238839
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Quan Xing Mei Shi : old school Laksa

This stall has been in this food centre for decades, it used to run by an elderly couple but it left only the elderly Uncle with his son. There is only Laska on their menu for $3.00 per bowl. Most of their customers are the residents staying nearby and have been patronizing the stall for the longest time.

It usually sold out quite early and that is why I was quite surprised to see the light of the signboard was still on at 11 am and quickly, I joined in the queue. There are choices of thick bee hoon, thin bee hoon, and yellow noodles. I opted for the yellow noodles, it was topped with chopped laksa leaves and sambal chilli to serve. The portion of yellow noodles was quite substantial, serving with ingredients like slices of fishcake and pieces of tau pok with a handful of cockles and beansprouts. 

It tasted old school, no-frills and purely comforting. This simple Laksa is good enough, it does not need premium ingredients to make it tastier. 

162 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-26  Mayflower Food Centre SINGAPORE 560162
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 1.00 pm

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Song Kee Fish Ball Noodle at Circuit Road Food Centre

This stall at Circuit Road Food Centre is one of the many outlets of Song Kee Fishball Noodle in Singapore. All of them are mostly operated by relatives, they are related but different entities and so, they will usually claim that they are, in fact, not related. The Finest Songkee's Cuisine at Upper Serangoon seemed to be the only exception, the nephew is a minor shareholder there so an identical name is used. As for this stall, it is operated by one of their uncles, and this uncle has been making fishballs for more than 40 years. He is still insisting on doing so right now. It is located just beside Soon Lee Lor Mee that I patronize regularly.

There was just another customer in front of me so it was my turn, he asked, "You want a mixture of everything?" I nodded. He took out the oval-shaped and started cooking. When it was done, he placed the bowl on the tray and collected $5. There is a smaller portion for $3.50.

The texture of fishballs was soft and bouncy, those 2 pieces of tau pok with fish paste were not too bad but there is no fish dumpling and no crispy lard too. The other Song Kee at Cheng San Food Centre in Ang Mo Kio used to have fish dumplings too but it seemed to stop serving. 

The other Song Kee at Tembeling Road in Joo Chiat will be moving to Yio Chu Kang Road in this coming April. The new shop is at 100 Yio Chu Kang Road and it is much nearer to where I am staying.

Block 79 Circuit Road #01-06 Circuit Road Food Centre SINGAPORE 370079
Operating Hours: 5.00 pm to 1.00 am (Closed on alternate Wednesdays)