Hawker goodness

I’ve always felt that the most affordable and delicious foods are now located at the hawker centre. This is another example of one such place. Such places are usually family-run and this place whips up to-order dishes, according to their menu.

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This dish was just so-so. The beef was a little tough. The vegetables were fine though.

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The noodle was fried just nice before the other ingredients were added to the top. This was nice.

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This place is worth returning to for other ze char orders. Tien Kee is located at Blk 22 Lorong 7 Toa Payoh #01-19 Toa Payoh.

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Battle of the curries

In my search for good curry chicken, I ended up at Toast Box! The chicken was tasty as the flavour of the curry had gone into the chicken, which is the way it was meant to be.

They also served iced milk tea with gula melaka. As much as I like gula melaka, the taste took some getting used to. I think the taste of the palm sugar was a little too overwhelming and I’d settle for condensed or evaporated milk with sugar anytime. There seems to be a recent trend in using gula melaka in hot drinks though.

Toast Box, Hougang Mall, 90 Hougang Ave 10, #B1-29/K12-15/K17. Tel: 6686 6401.

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New ‘old’ food, part II

In my last post, I mentioned that the curry chicken looked so good that I had to try it so off I went. This time I went to another outlet.

While it looked good, the curry taste did not go into the potatoes and chicken enough. I don’t know if it is the way it is prepared here – chicken curry uses coconut milk which has a limited shelf life and the chicken and potato did not taste like they were in the curry for long enough before they were served. In any case, compared to the chicken rendang which tasted really good, the chicken and potato tasted salty but not curried enough.

The sambal sardines were pretty decent. There was enough chilli and sambal mixed into the sardines for a sambal chilli taste and the sardines were not overly salty. Sardines can be overly salty but the combination resulted in something that was not overly salty and it was spicy enough. I would definitely come back for the sandwiches again.

Ya Kun Family Cafe, Nex, 23 Serangoon Central, #B2-46, Singapore 556083. Tel: 6634 9744.

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New ‘old’ food

The place was so crowded on a Sunday that we had to share seats. At first I thought I was seeing double. Initially, it was a man eating curry chicken with bread on the side. His bag was on a chair at the side. When I returned after ordering my food, it was a lady eating the same dish. I thought, “I shall order the curry chicken and bread the next time.” As it turned out, the two of them were a husband and wife couple, eating at separate times as each took turns to look after their young son.

When my meal finally came – it took a while to come – I tucked into my chicken rendang thick sandwich. I was not prepared for how good it tasted. The taste of the rendang and spices had gone into the tender chicken which was spicy enough. I was happy I had ordered that as it was a more substantial meal and value-for-money, compared to the kaya toast which I always order. I concluded then that whoever prepared their chicken rendang clearly got their recipes right.

Did I say I was going to try the chicken curry next?

Ya Kun is probably the first chain of food shops to turn the humble kopitiam coffee and kaya toast into something that customers would pay a little more for, compared to what was offered in coffeeshops all over Singapore, and have it in air-conditioned comfort. The prices of food and drinks are between what is being charged at the local coffeeshops and cafe chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (where coffee is concerned). The food is clearly local and Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf do not compete on the same food front. After Ya Kun started doing well with local coffee and food, other similar joints have sprung up and joined the bandwagon. Recently, this chain has added more traditional food to their menu like the curry chicken and sambal sandwiches and newer Tom Yum and sweet and sour-type sandwiches. The newer range of food is only found in the Ya Kun Family Cafes. The older cafes do not offer the newer menus. Check their website for more details. This chain is a franchise.

Ya Kun Family Cafe, 80 Marine Parade Road #01-14B, Parkway Parade, Singapore 449269. Tel: 6345 5322.

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Yummilicious chicken rendang sandwich! Serving it this way is a novel idea and the sweet and sourish achar tasted really nice with the crunchy keropok (prawn crackers).

Fish Maw soup

Fish maw, also known as swim bladder or air bladder, helps the fish to remain buoyant in water. This bowl of soup was full of meat and maw goodness. It was large enough for two people to share. It was about twice the price of a normal bowl of minced meat, mushroom, seaweed and egg noodles.

Unfortunately, I did not get the name of the stall but will put it down on my next visit. There aren’t many stalls that sell fish maw soup so it shouldn’t be too hard to find if one looks for it.

Serangoon Gardens food centre, 49A, Serangoon Garden Way, S555945.

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An old staple!

I never imagined I would have a favourite chicken rice stall in Singapore — chicken rice is very common in Singapore — but I think I may have found one at the Kovan hawker centre. Standing in line to order while the stall assistant packed ten packs for the customer before me, I struck up a conversation with a Filipino helper who really liked the food and had a lot of good things to say about the taste. I ordered the smallest available while she ordered the largest as it was that good.

Tucking into the hot fragrant chicken rice was nice on a cold, wet, rainy day. The portion was a little more generous compared to other stalls and the soup was pretty authentic – clear, chicken soup goodness. The stall also had an A rating for hygiene and was well run. It was only when I was going back to take a picture of the stall that I noticed the accolades and reviews on the stall by the different magazines and newspapers. A quick check on two other chicken rice stalls did not show any reviews on theirs. Located towards the back of the hawker centre, this was the best of the lot! I think I’ve found my value-for-money chicken rice stall.

Later, I found out that this is a franchise where the stalls are located mainly in hawker centres.

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For $2.50, the amount of chicken was more than some of the other stalls I have been to and the soup was good too. This chicken rice may be the best around yet.

Tong Fong Fatt Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice, 209 Hougang Street 21, #01-49 Kovan Hougang Market and Food Centre, S530209.

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This stall proudly displays the heads and neck bones of the chicken to show how many chickens they have sold that day.

 

A yummy fish-y meal!

This is a reasonably priced meal. I was actually surprised at how precise some of the hawker stalls are and how quick their service is. I wanted the garoupa fish soup but they had run out of that fish. So I settled for their normal fish. It was immediately weighed and cooked and before I could even dig the money out of my wallet to pay the staff, the food was ready. This place has an ‘A’ grade for hygiene and they served otah as well which I added to my order. So, a fishy meal for a not-so-fishy price.

I forget the name of the stall but it is located at the hawker centre in Kovan, near Heartland Mall. I’ll update this post with the correct address when I go there again.

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Coffeeshop food

We came here due to proximity; it was nearer for those who were staying in the north. One of the criteria was that it had to serve crabs as we were feeling crabby again. So based on one review on someone’s blog that I found on the internet, we decided to come here. It also did not seem to be a very crowded place, due to location.

This is a coffee shop and it was not crowded. We got our table and seats immediately. It was after all only 6p.m., still early for many to have dinner. The food was good but not great. I could not help comparing the crabs here with the one that I had somewhere else before as after all, the crabs were the draw.

This is a chain of coffeeshops. I didn’t get the name of the zi char stall though, except that it is located at this coffeeshop. There are many stalls here. The one we ate from is the zi char stall though we also ordered from the chicken rice stall which apparently is also very good. If I came back here again, it’d probably be for the sambal fish and chicken rice from the other stall.

Broadway Coffeeshop, 334 Sembawang Cl, #01-01. Tel: 6758 4144.

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Sweet and sour pork

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Prawn omelette.

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Salted egg yoke crab. This did not have much gravy and we didn’t order the mantous (fried bread) to dip into the gravy either.

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Sambal fish. I’d come back here for this again. This is one of their more popular dishes.

A pit stop

I have been here several times in the past but the service before was bad. In August 2013, I heard that the place was under new management so I decided to wait for the new boss to take over before I did the review. The new boss was aware of the poor service before and had promised to improve on it. And improve, he did, significantly. Waiting times became noticeably shorter as staff became a lot more attentive and prompt in their service.

This place is a novelty because it has a wonderful parking bay for cyclists to park their bikes, unlocked, and have a meal. Because of this concept, many cyclists like this place.

I came here for something light and they were offering roti prata and drinks. There were large television monitors in the restaurant and occasionally, one could hear the cheers and groans of supporters depending on whether a goal was scored or lost. The night that I was there, the customers were mainly Singaporeans while the servers were mainly Malaysians. As the game continued, different people would react according to the side they were supporting. It was quite comical to watch. One time, when Malaysia scored a goal, the customers moaned while the servers secretly cheered. When Singapore scored a goal, the opposite happened. I suspect this place is popular not because of the bicycle bay alone but because of the television screen and the fact that it is a nice place to chill with friends and family alike and watch an entire match on TV.  Just remember to keep the good improved service coming.

There is now a set and ala carte menu.

Pitstop, 10 Tebing Lane #01-01, Singapore 828836. Tel: +65 6242 0710.

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Tissue prata with drizzled condensed milk, banana prata and ginger lime drink.

Beef fried beehoon which was a little small for a serving portion but good for those who are not ravenous. It was tasty enough.

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‘Sinning’ within limits

I love fried carrot cake but I try not to eat too much of it at hawker centres as it is usually overly oily and fried. As one advances in age, one has to watch one’s cholesterol levels. But when my friend invited me over for lunch and said that it was going to be carrot cake, I was happy. What made it acceptable? There was not going to be any added MSG in it, it was going to be cooked in olive oil (I know, we deceive ourselves sometimes) and she was not going to make it too salty.

Verdict? It was all that and I loved the deveined prawns in it as well. Good job, indeed! She can open a stall at a hawker centre soon.

By the way, there are two types of fried carrot cakes. One is black while the other is white. I like the white ones, i.e. the one without the added black sauce.

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Home-cooked carrot cake.