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Hawker/Kopitiam Eats

Hawker/Kopitiam Eats

As Singaporeans, we just love food, especially when it comes to our hawker/food court/kopitiam fare. A list featuring not only the conventional for the true local, but also for anyone looking for special finds as well.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua
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Had to try this since I am always around Tekka Centre and people all over actually make their way down just to have it — finally gave it a go after spotting a relatively short queue during lunch hours.

Opted for the smallest bowl ($4; The also have $5 and $6 portions available) and went for both ketchup and chili whilst going for Kway Teow. Must say that the Kway Teow did carry a good hint of savoury, spicy and tangy flavours when tossed around with the sauce, while the prawns were surprisingly fresh. The bowl of noodles also come with pork lard, shallots and spring onions as well. While I am no lover of Prawn Noodles (especially the soup variants) for how the broth tastes, I actually quite like how fresh this was — carrying the natural sweetness of the prawns, the broth was also left void of any unnecessary distractions considering how it did not carry an overwhelming hint of pepper. While I go for Prawn Noodles usually, this might be a bowl that I wouldn’t mind having if there isn’t much of a queue around at Tekka Centre.

From Apollo Nasi Lemak; a new hole-in-the-wall Nasi Lemak stall with a dine-in area situated at Paya Lebar Square. While most of the offerings here on the menu are seemingly familiar to other Nasi Lemak joints, the Galaxy Set is the full-works here that sees Chicken Wing , Lobster Tail, Egg, Ikan Bilis, Peanut, Sambal and Japanese Cucumber coming all on a single plate.

Set B consists of chicken wing, sunny side-up, Ikan Bilis, peanuts, sambal and Japanese Cucumber. The Nasi Lemak rice itself was actually pretty decent — moist, fluffy and soft without resorting into a mush; the rice also carried a light hint of coconut-y fragrance as well that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. The chicken wing comes all crisp on the exterior with tender meat that came off the bone easily; the juices all locked in within. Ikan Bilis retained its crispness, while the sambal was of a good balance of sweetness and spiciness, carrying a substantial kick. Mackerel Otah was also delicious; soft without being overly dry, the flavours of the spices were evident whilst being of reasonable spiciness — wouldn’t even mind having it alone. A respectable dining option in the mall that I wouldn’t mind going for again.

From SG Braised Rice at Food Opera ION Orchard; the stall is by the same folks behind Thai Village Restaurant and serves braised rice with a variety of different condiments; think fried chicken to fish maw and even pan-fried unagi.

I am usually one who doesn’t get very impressed with the stalls that food courts have to offer, but I must say that SG Braised Rice is perhaps one that changed my perception quite a fair bit. The braised sauce is pretty similar to a good Hor Fun gravy, providing the white rice some flavour especially when mixed with the sauce. Fried chicken was crisp on the exterior and succulent inside, while the braised sauce also comes with a decent portion of greens, mushrooms and seafood; the greens providing a crunch, while the mushrooms giving a good chew whilst carrying an earthy flavour. Seafood includes fresh shrimp, but what’s pretty impressive was getting a rather plump scallop alongside. One of the better options around Food Opera ION Orchard, and perhaps one of the few food court stalls that I would seriously not mind going for again.

Didn’t really have a clue what I would like to eat for lunch but fried rice and a fried chicken cutlet pretty much seemed like what I was craving for. The plate for fried rice tasted rather old-school; a simple wok-fry of egg and other ingredients without the crab sticks in today’s tzechar variant — comes with a distinct smokiness as well whilst not being overly savoury. Thought they could have sliced the fried chicken cutlet a little thicker for more bite and texture; was quite stumped by how auntie managed to slice the chicken cutlet so thinly as though she was slicing up sashimi — pretty cray knife skills over there especially for something fried. One of the slightly more pricier options at Tekka at $4 (there is also a larger $5 portion available), but I would say it’s a pretty decent eat for those who are looking for something comforting.

From Alishan Curry Rice at the newly renovated Food Republic Wisma Atria. Quite impressed by how the Cheesy Curry Pork Cutlet here is being fried freshly upon order (at least for mine), coming with braised vegetables and sunny side-up. For the most part, the entire dish was pretty average; the braised vegetables being slightly better than the other components — the sunny side-up being overdone with a solid yolk and prepared in bulk being stacked up behind the display counter. The Curry also barely carried much flavour; somewhat more similar to Japanese Curry with a spicier kick. The Cheesy Pork Cutlet was the highlight however; served hot, it was crisp on the outside while not too dry nor stodgy — stuffed with enough mozzarella that’s all string and stretchy within though mostly ended up as a pool on the plate for how they slice it up before serving. Would really have liked it if the Cheesy Pork Cutlet was served as western fare — that itself was pretty on point I would say.

From Nam Kheng Delights at Chinatown Complex Market; I don't seem to have much liking for Glutinous Rice but I seemed to prefer those that are actually wok-fried rather than steamed. Here, the Glutinous Rice is not too sticky; every grain distinguishable on its own with enough bite without reducing into a mush. The flavours of the spice were also rather light; clean-tasting and in no way clouding the tastebuds. Really quite enjoyed this despite being not the Glutinous Rice lover.

Trying this relatively new stall at the food centre named Happy Duck — didn't expect much but the Duck Rice is actually pretty palatable overall; reasonably tender and succulent duck drenched in a thick, savoury sauce while served with braised taupok and braised egg. Even the the rice was pretty tasty; fluffy with grains that is distinguishable from one another, yet not too heavy on flavours thus easy to finish. Comes with a bowl of herbal soup by the side.

Probably one of the Ayam Penyet that's not quite like an Ayam Penyet somehow. The lack of turmeric makes the chicken feel quite plain overall, though no doubt crisp, somewhat juicy and reasonably succulent — somewhat closer to Chinese-style fried chicken rather than Indonesian. The sambal was probably the least spiciest of what I had tried from Muslim/Indonesian/Indian stalls — exceptionally tame on spiciness and totally lacking a kick; verging on the sweeter, tangier and savoury side though I would really have liked it to be spicier.

From t.Grill at Tekka Centre; a new western stall that occupies stall no. 290 serving up chops and grill — the usual western fare at Hawker centers.

Coming with pasta, greens and diced carrots by default, the item here felt pretty much of the usual affair; nothing much to shout about. The grilled chicken is pretty tender, juicy and succulent; comes with skin on though the skin lacks crispness the way I would I prefer it to be. Pasta was softer than al-dente; seemingly prepared with quite an amount of butter though the slight hint of herbs does pull through. The garden salad comes with a drizzle of thousand island sauce, while the carrots somehow retain a soft crunch. Overall, a decent eat though I would personally prefer the other western stalls here.

From The Rice Bowl; the Chinese economy stall that also sells tzechar items just beside Roast Master and two doors away from Taste Good (aka the more famous Salted Egg Chicken Rice in Sim Lim Square).

I liked the version at Taste Good, but I found the variant at The Rice Bowl even more appealing — a good balance of sweet and savoury; saucy but not overly creamy (it maintains a gritty texture of mashed salted egg yolk) while carrying a good amount of chili powder for that occasional spiciness when one chews on them. They seem to be generous with the fried chicken chunks; crisp and served piping hot, along with warm rice and a good amount of sauce. Quite value for money now given their current promotion at $4.50; a dollar off the usual $5.50 that is listed on the menu board. Worth going for!

From Hua Li Carrot Cake at the new Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre — wasn't very quite impressed with the stalls that we tried although we were seemingly trying all the wrong ones.

The White Carrot Cake may seem a tad pedestrian but its definitely decent enough for Woodlands folks, though I wouldn't probably make a special trip down to the food centre for this but have it alongside other dishes if I were to come back again. It's pretty old-school; the egg comes with a certain hint of smokiness, while the radish cake comes pretty soft. Not the crispy sort that I would prefer, but more towards the sort that resembles a nicely done Chinese-style omelette. Did notice that most patrons ended up ordering the black variant; probably that would have fared much better than the white carrot cake that we have had.

Trying out the Sri Lankan Food stall at Tekka Centre — had previously had their rice dishes once although I wasn't quite in the know of what I actually ordered apart from the fried chicken and dhal.

The Poli Roti is probably best described as a crossover between a Prata and Flatbread — it's slightly more dense than the Flatbread being thicker and slightly stodgier (not sure if that's the case because it's been made in advance and stockpiled behind the counter); made of flour and coconut milk. Texturally, it also bears a closer resemblance to the Flatbread too, though this felt slightly dry; that's where that Dhal and chicken curry helps — the Dhal adding a beany flavour with a thick consistency while the chicken curry helps add that slight tinge of spiciness though slightly more watery than those served with Roti Prata.

PS: do note that the Poli Roti comes served in twos rather than fives as illustrated on the menu — the stall seems to have rather misleading illustrations such as the Fried Chicken Rice depicting an entire drumstick rather than the small, sometimes boney chunks that they serve up in reality.

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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Burpple Guides, Hawker Food Tastemakers Guide To Jalan Besar Hawkers A trip down the famous food haven of Jalan Besar is not complete until you've checked all these places off your list. Laksa with fresh cockles? Comforting pig organs soup with a side order of mei cai? Gravy ladened scissors cut rice? Check, check and check. Follow our Tastemaker's recommendations for a guaranteed happy belly!
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