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

Had been to the coffeeshop at 218 Sumang Walk previously for the now-defunct Big Brother 台湾盐水鸡; didn’t forsee myself returning again for yet another stall but was pretty intrigued by what this new Western cuisine stall named The Backyard Cookery has to offer. Taking a space beside Ming Xiang Seafood Zi Char, the western stall serves up appetisers, fries (think Okonomiyaki Fries) chops and grills, as well as burgers and pasta, they are an establishment that looks to serve up modern bistro-style fare in a neighbourhood setting. Prices are relatively pocket-friendly here, with the highest-priced item being at $15.90 for the Grilled Grass-Fed Ribeye Steak.

What got us especially intrigued to make a special trip down to try them out is their Cookery’s Beef Burger; the burger features a Laugen Brioche Bun, Caramalised Onion, Tomato Relish, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayonnaise, Homemade Beef Patty. Was initially quite concerned with how it didn’t seem to suggest that it includes cheese in its description, but we did find that they do serve a slice of proceeded cheese melted over the beef patty for the burger as well. The Cookery’s Beef Burger also comes default with a side of fries that accompanies the burger as well. On first look, the Cookery’s Beef Burger does carry an aesthetic almost familiar to that of the burgers served with a Pretzel Bun from HANS IM GLÜCK German Burgergrill, which operates multiple locations islandwide. This is pretty much due to the Laugen Brioche Bun that they use here — a very interesting choice for an establishment of its type. The burger buns come lightly buttered and grilled; pretty crisp on the outside, whilst having a firm bite to it texturally. Beneath the top bun, one would be able to find the caramelised onions just sitting in between the bun and the beef patty; the folks here seemed to have snuck in some raisins that provided an extra hint of sweetness and a bit more texture that actually goes quite well with the homemade beef patty. We also really enjoyed the homemade beef patty here; its beautifully crusted on the exterior from the grilling process — savoury yet locking in all the juices without being particularly gamey nor greasy (we have had quite a disappointing beef burger from a hyped-up new establishment just a week before; this was wayyy better) and while the melted cheese wasn’t something too artisanal, it was a great touch nonetheless. Beneath the patty, we were pretty surprised with how the lettuce and tomatoes were especially fresh; the former retaining a crunch while the latter comes with a juicy bite — all that without the bottom bun being all soggy from the elements above. While the fries did carry a rather plain aesthetic, we felt that these were decent; it’s sufficiently crisp on the exterior and fluffy inside — slightly more thick cut than the standard shoestring fries and probably a commercial product, though well-salted without being excessively so. No doubt a little more of an artisanal creation at the price of $11.90, but one that is seriously as competent as the variants that some cafes/bistros attempt to serve at higher price points both in terms of portion and execution.

Felt that it was quite a pity that we didn’t get to try the other menu items that they have here since we didn’t have that much of a stomach for them, considering that items such as the Okonomiyakk Fries and Cream of Mussels (blue cheese and whole blue mussels) were also items that seem to interest us, and are not something that can be commonly found in Western cuisine stalls in coffeeshops. Having tried the Cookery’s Beef Burger though, we are pretty certain that we are likely to return to try more of their items; no doubt a short travel is required from Punggol MRT Station/Bus Interchange to reach here, but its pretty worthy especially when one is already in the area. A spot that residents should be glad about having in the the neighbourhood; also somewhere that they would most likely be splurging on to treat themselves every once in a while!

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Those who have seen my post on Chee Cheong Fun will likely have noticed how I have always seemed to have mentioned about a certain Rice & Roll — a stall that is located at the Food Loft coffeeshop at Blk 107 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 which is just a stone’s throw away from Mayflower MRT Station. The same coffeeshop is also now home to a new outlet of Chef Kin HK Wanton Noodle as well, which has been seemingly been rather aggressive in its expansion plans lately.

Created as a limited time-only special, the Black Sesame Cheong Fun features black sesame powder, and comes drenched with a house-made sweet ginger syrup over the top; a rather interesting sweet rendition instead of the savoury ones that we are familiar with when it comes to Cheong Fun. Available till the end of the year or till once it has been sold out, these rolls are pretty much the same in terms of texture and consistency as the ones I previously had when they have first opened; there is this qq texture to their rice rolls with an evident rice-y note lingering around — the rolls smooth and silken, and carried a slightly wrinkled aesthetic that seems to be typical of stone-milled Chee Cheong Fun as we come to know these days. Here, the roasty black sesame is especially evident; yet not heavy enough to cause a scratchy throat — but what is especially wonderful is that house-made ginger syrup that seems to have incorporated the use of Japanese brown sugar(?). The strong earthy note with a controlled level of sweetness is especially enticing with the gingery finish at the end — so good on its own, and also replicates that of the Tang Yuan that we enjoy during winter solstice; the same exact item that this item takes inspiration from.

It is interesting to see how Rice & Roll has managed to think out of the box with their limited time-only special; a very incentive approach to the Chee Cheong Fun that we have been all too familiar with. With the Thomson-East Coast Line now open, it certainly is more convenient to get here; looking forward to hopefully more releases such as these in the future!

The Food Loft coffeeshop at Blk 721 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 located after Jubilee and opposite the MRT tracks leading towards Ang Mo Kio MRT Station seems to be a hotspot for interesting coffeeshop stalls of the late — the coffeeshop is home to stalls such as El Carbon and Donburi No Tatsujin, and has seen recent additions such as Meng Meng Roasted Duck (hailing from Johor Bahru, and famed for their charcoal roasted duck) and Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu recently. The latter is an “express” concept of SBCD Korean Tofu House, which has outlets at Tanjong Pagar Centre, Millenia Walk and Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC) — also probably one of the first establishments with an emphasis on the Korean Sundubu (Korean Soft Tofu Stew) in a coffeeshop setting. At Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu, expect a smaller variety of Sundubu dishes available — all items here are also served in sets which includes kimchi, seaweed and rice; pretty much a fuss-free and more affordable concept with prices ranging from $6 to $8.

Opting for the Dumpling Soon Tofu Set, it is noted that each order is made a la minute — there aren’t any buzzers or queue numbers distributed here, and patrons will have to wait at the counter for their order to be cooked and collected. The process didn’t take very long — around 5 minutes though I was the only customer in line. Served in an earthenware just like how it would be in the restaurant, the only difference here is how the seaweed comes served in the pack directly in the original packaging. Whilst I ain’t much of a Sundubu fan and have yet to make my visit to SBCD Korean Tofu House (so take my post with a pinch of salt; I wouldn’t know how the one from SBCD Korean Tofu House would taste like whilst writing about this), I could see how some folks would love this. Yes, no doubt the soup-base itself was on the lighter side; that being said, the flavours do seem to build up slowly here and one could taste that slight hint of savoury and mild hint of spiciness in the soup that made it particularly comforting especially on a rainy day — best had when drenched onto the pearly short-grain rice served in the bowl on the side. Inside the soup comes bits of onions, an egg with a liquid yolk, tofu and two dumplings; could tell they were fairly generous with the items served in the soup — the egg yolk helping to further enhance the flavours of the soup when mixed in, while the cooked egg whites gave a slightly different texture against the smooth, silken tofu. Not sure if the dumplings are made by SBCD Korean Tofu House or if commercial ones are used here; whilst stuffed with quite a decent portion of meat, the fillings are slightly more peppery and provided an added spicy note on top of that of the soup’s — still pretty manageable though. The Kimchi was decent, though my preference would be for it to be served chilled rather than at room temperature for an extra refreshing respite over the hot soup by the side.

Sundubu is quite a niche item to be served, but I guess it’s affiliation with SBCD Korean Tofu House somewhat guarantees the quality of the Sundubu that is being served here — a more affordable, fuss-free rendition that would hopefully bring the dish towards the masses. No doubt the Sundubu here is priced slightly higher than the average hawker fare that one would expect from a coffeeshop, but in an era of change where budding hawkerpreneurs are bringing a more premium experience against the traditional stalls that we are familiar and grew up with, perhaps the Sundubu here doesn’t seem that much inaccessible as compared to the trendy fried rice and chee cheong fun options that we are seeing these days. I am probably not the right person to comment on how authentic or how well-executed the Sundubu is here, but it is definitely exciting to see how coffeeshops are also in the midst of a phase of gentrification; a stall that Sundubu lovers probably should check out.

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Wasn’t really intending to go for a second item here but the Orh Nee lover in me was actually very tempted when I saw this being listed on the menu at Whampoa Soya Bean — so much that after making an entire round in the food centre, I found myself heading back just to order a bowl. Auntie was a little surprised I had went for this — she remarked that she wasn’t expecting me to order this because I looked rather young; but then, why would anyone pass on an opportunity to have Yam Paste and Soya Beancurd in a single bowl?

Auntie first scoops out the beancurd into the bowl, then dollops the yam paste above the beancurd and then carefully pours the sugar syrup over the beancurd. Was pretty impressed with how this went; I like how the Yam Paste here isn’t particularly sweet since the Soya Beancurd was going to be drenched with sugar syrup anyway — it’s earthy, smooth and dense texture was a contrast against the smooth and silken beancurd, which was something I found very interesting yet balanced. The sugar syrup adds a hint of sweetness that somehow binds both elements together — the whole ordeal wasn’t overly sweet, and was actually pretty intriguing; got me yearning for more.

Whilst being a rather commercial outfit with multiple outlets around these days, the Chinatown Complex Market outlet of Whampoa Soya Bean does serve up pretty decent beancurd — for those who are into Taiwanese-style taro ball desserts, Whampoa Soya Bean also does serve up Taro Ball Beancurd as well. That being said, it is the Yam Paste Beancurd that I would likely develop cravings for in the future — a combination of two rather unlikely items that turns out way better than what I have expected; one that sounds simple, yet surprises.

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Came across Wonder Grill in the Food Paradise coffeeshop located at Blk 182 Woodlands Street 13, which is a stone’s throw away from Marsiling MRT Station — the coffeeshop also houses Ain Popiah Basah; a Muslim stall that serves up halal Vietnamese beef pho and popiah that had been recently featured on 8 DAYS Eat. Wonder Grill is a western cuisine stall that mainly serves chops and grills, as well as burgers.

Apart from serving their chops and grills on plates, there are also western fare that is serve hotplates — the very same reason why we actually made our visit here for. With options ranging from Beef Steak to Lamb Chop and even Salmon Teriyaki for their hotplates, we went for their Mexican Chicken Chop. Each hotplate item comes accompanied with a baked potato, fried egg and corn nibs; the Mexican Chicken Chop comes pretty much the same as the Cajun Chicken Chop — the Mexican Chicken Chop comes served with the same brown sauce, with an addition of nacho cheese sauce and mayonnaise drizzled on top. To be really fair, the entire dish tasted fairly alright; the chicken could be a little juicier, but the savoury brown sauce did help to make the dish refrain from being too dry, while I did appreciate how they did the drizzling of the nacho cheese sauce sparingly so it is not overwhelmingly cheesy. The baked potato was fairly decent; sufficiently soft, though it seems to be topped off with a mix of mayonnaise and tartar sauce(?); provides for the creaminess that often goes with the baked potato that could be a little heavy-handed for those who are more accustomed to pairing their baked potato with sour cream. Fried egg was done with a well done yolk; noted how it wasn’t quite consistent across the two orders we had — thought it would have been better if it came with molten yolk. The nibs of corn provided a crunch and sweetness; balances out against the heavier components here.

Whilst the dish remained fairly decent, we wished there was more attention to the details here — it is noted that the hotplate was served pretty much without the sizzling and smokiness that usually one would expect for such dishes; the lack of such details probably setting a less memorable first impression without having to dig into the dish. That being said, there isn’t much to shout about for the Mexican Chicken Chop here — decent Western fare for the residents living around the coffeeshop, though not one I would make a special trip to have.

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Quite into having Mee Hoon Kuey every now and then of the late after having tried, and then subsequently having again a family-made rendition of the dish. Was pretty much thinking about this dish subconsciously whilst walking around Orchard, and noticed how Greenview Cafe seemed to have been especially empty despite the constant ravings of their Mee Hoon Kueh on social media; and that was how I found myself settling here for an early dinner.

Greenview Cafe offers a pretty wide variety of dishes in fact; they do serve up other items such as fried rice and soups but it is the Minced Pork Mee Hoon Kuey that often gets talked about — especially the dry rendition of the dish. The presentation of the dish here would probably be what one calls “ugly delicious” — they have already thoughtfully given the dish a mix before serving up, the bowl also consisting of greens, Ikan Bilis and minced pork bits. Of course, there is also an option to go with or without chili, which we went for the former. One of the things that makes Greenview Cafe’s Mee Hoon Kuey so enticing to most is likely the hand-torn noodles here; the inconsistent sizing of the torn wheat flour gives it away here — each piece comes with a fair bit of chew and of the right sort of thickness the way I like it. Tossed in black sauce and chili, I did feel that the chili here isn’t particularly punchy though it provides a slight heat that tickles the tastebuds subtly, but the black sauce here is pretty much an unadulterated experience on its own — so rich and savoury that it’s an instant hit, with almost every single element absorbing those notes pretty well. The minced pork bits are actually inconsistently sized here too — had one that was almost shaped like a meatball, but there are couple of a smaller chunks and loose bits around; some may find that they could have been a little more generous with the pork, though I personally do think it’s sufficient alongside the greens and those crisp Ikan Bilis that add a slight saltishness to the entire deal.

Far East Plaza is home to many spots serving up fuss-free, comfort food along the shopping belt of Orchard Road that is speckled with restaurants, cafes and bistros alike. Greenview Cafe, like many of their neighbours around the building, gives folks around Orchard Road the option of dining simply without breaking the bank — and does the job pretty well. Quite interesting how Greenview Cafe also allows for the option for one to add-on some of their signature appetisers such as the Fried Sticky Cake (seemingly like deep-fried Nian Gao) and Super Crispy Prawn Fritter and their house-made Barley as a set at a small cost. Probably a spot I would consider eating at if I am heavily craving for some Mee Hoon Kueh in the Orchard neighbourhood next time.

Have been wanting to give Empyrosis a go ever since I had heard about their existence — took me a while to get to them; they have since moved from Tampines to the air-conditioned food court at Blk 279 Sengkang East Avenue; a location that is indeed more convenient for me to head down. While the stall looks like your typical Western food stall in an air-conditioned food court serving up chops and grills, pasta and burgers, Empyrosis actually focuses on charcoal-grilled Western fare, and is also a “no pork, no lard” establishment that caters to the Muslim crowd.

Between the two items we had, the Signature Charcoal Grilled Chicken Burger was undoubtedly our favourite; it costs $8, but is one that has been thoughtfully put together and a fairly good burger that is being served up in a food court setting. Coming with a sunny side-up, tomatoes, lettuce and a charcoal-grilled boneless chicken thigh sandwiched between two buns, the buns were lightly grilled but were sufficiently light and fluffy. As one takes a bite further into the burger, the charcoal grilled boneless chicken thigh gives a savoury and meaty bite; chunky and reasonably tender, whilst hinting of a slight smokiness from the charcoal grilling process. Personally would prefer a stronger, smokier note to that, though it could be likely that they probably had concerns of it being too heavy for some; also possible that they couldn’t overdo the charcoal grilling to a point where it smogs up the whole air-conditioned food court given the environment it is in. The slice of tomato provide a refreshing burst and juicy bite, while the lettuce provides a wholesomeness to the burger to balance things out a little; the sunny side-up gives the extra “oomph” with its molten egg yolk that eagerly bursts as one takes a bite into the burger; all that while the fluffy whites and a crisp bottom provides for an nice textural touch — extra brownie points awarded for that. The fries here are also pretty well-executed; crisp and well-seasoned — enough to put some renditions served in cafes to shame.

While I wasn’t quite impressed with the Lemak Chili Padi Pasta with Mussels, it is probably correct that Empyrosis does emphasise on their charcoal-grilled items, which they do pretty well with. Other interesting menu items include the Unagi Burger with Kabayaki Mayo — the last time I ever heard of a Unagi Burger being served in a coffeeshop setting was from The Social Outcast; coincidentally also started from a coffeeshop in Tampines and moved on to do dish out even greater food at The Grandstand in its most recent move out of The Bedok Marketplace. Will definitely check that out when I do eventually make my return; a spot that residents around would appreciate having as a dining option in the neighbourhood!

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Yet another one of those times when I was initially intending to head elsewhere to settle for lunch, but found my curious self alighting way ahead of time to check out a neighbourhood and then ended up randomly settling for something which I didn’t intend to. Fatty Ipoh Fried Noodle’s signage seems to hint that it is likely a new stall that had moved in to Pasir Panjang Food Centre pretty recently; the stall serves up mainly Malaysia-style fried noodles which includes the likes of Moonlight Hor Fun, Wan Tan Hor Fun and KL Tai Loke Noodles — the stall also caters to “rice buckets” as well, considering how they have thoughtfully included Yangzhou Fried Rice as one of the items that they serve up.

Making my order at the stall, the lady fronting stall was pretty polite as she told me to look for a seat and to return to collect the food when the buzzer rings. The wait was fairly reasonable considering that there seem to be other folks who have already ordered and seated down before me; thereabouts of 15mins to 20mins — was pretty impressed with how it smells like as I collected the order. Giving the egg a good mix into the Moonlight Hor Fun, this was one plate of noodles that I utterly enjoy through and through — the Moonlight Hor Fun features the flat rice noodles that is more typically used in Hor Fun dishes in Malaysia than in Singapore; long strands of noodles rather than the flatter, broader and shorter sort that we get for our Hor Fun here. The noodles were undeniably slurpy and slippery; well-tossed in that dark sauce that gave it that savoury flavour. For those who are looking for that hint of wok hei, this one does carry a hint of it without being overly peppery; mixing the raw egg into the noodles just gives it everything a silkier texture as it brings all the elements together. Here, the Moonlight Hor Fun comes with sliced pork and quite a bit of leafy greens — the former was tender and easy to chew without carrying a strong porky stench, while the greens provide for a refreshing crunch and brings a wholesomeness to the plate of noodles. What I really enjoyed though were the pieces of fried lard — yes, these were hidden well within all that gravy but I was surprised how they were crackling crisp despite being drenched in all that gravy, not to mention how well-fried and chunky they are without being all that greasy. You can’t miss out on the chili sauce here; just when you thought you didn’t need it, it is a great accompaniment to the plate of noodles — it gives yet another dimension of savouriness, whilst providing for a good hint of spiciness that was quite manageable for those tolerable to moderate levels of spiciness. You know, not the sort that will make one break out in a sweaty mess, yet tingles the tastebuds so you know it’s there.

Pasir Panjang Food Centre may be a little bit far out for some, but I reckon how this makes for the perfect pairing for those who make their way here for the BBQ items to pair up with some beer from the beverage stalls around — just quite the combination to have. But even if you ain’t looking for beer and are craving for some comforting Malaysia-style noodles to have (because the VTL is such a hassle), this is probably something that you might want to consider.

Caught some wind on the existence of Mister Rice within the Chong Pang neighbourhood — the coffeeshop stall is situated within Swee Sian Yuen Eating House that also houses other notable tenants such as the Walaku Express which specialises in Nasi Lemak Kukus (an offshoot of Walaku at Joo Chiat). Occupying a stall beside the Chinese-run stall that sells economic bee hoon and Nasi Lemak (Mum had always mistaken them as Chong Pang Nasi Lemak since it is located within Chong Pang City and serves Nasi Lemak), Mister Rice dishes out several variations of fried rice including that of Egg Fried Rice, Mala Egg Fried Rice, Tom Yum Fried Rice and a Special Egg Fried Rice; all with the option of adding items such as Shrimp, Pork Chop, Chicken Chop or Ebi Tempura, though also available as-is plain — the same type of stall that one may associate with the many others that are serving Din Tai Fung-style fried rice which has been a trend of the late.

There wasn’t a queue when we made our visit on a Saturday evening for dinner; didn’t have to wait for long for the buzzer to ring either. Found that the portion size here is decent for one average hungry diner — pretty reasonable considering how I personally find it rather stressful to order such fried rice dishes considering how I often struggle with the portion of rice that comes with it from stalls that may be a little bit too generous. Using short-grain pearl rice grains, the fried rice is nothing short of being fluffy and well-fried; there wasn’t any clumpy bits of rice with our plate — each grain distinguishable from the other, while the fried rice does comes aptly savoury with just a slight hint of wok hei lingering. The Pork Chop didn’t carry the light and crisp crust that we were expecting, but it was certainly well-marinated and seasoned with a distinct peppery note that wasn’t particularly overwhelming. It was also sufficiently tender — pretty decent, but it was the savoury and smoky chili that gives the entire plate so much flavour with a fiery kick that tingles the tastebuds for those who are tolerable to moderate levels of spiciness; something which I couldn’t do without.

Have pretty much lost count of the number of fried rice specialty stall at that opened of the late — some even garnering long queues after media coverages on social media; the same reason why I hadn’t really been trying most of the stalls that serve up Din Tai Fung-esque fried rice of the late. That being said, for a stall that we did not have to wait for long for our order, Mister Rice does work as a good location to get those fried rice cravings solved, especially considering it isn’t a spot that is too far out for me to get to either. A great dining option that residents around the area will be glad to have around their neighbourhood.

Have always passed by Bei-Ing Wanton Noodle’s original outpost at Roxy Square but usually too distracted with the cafe options around the area to drop by and make a visit — the folks behind the stall has recently opened a new coffeeshop stall at The Bullion Hawker Bar situated at 396 East Coast Road, which is located near Penny University. Apart from serving up their signature Wanton Noodle that we had, this new outlet also boasts exclusive items such as the Spicy Noodle Soup, Mentaiko Wanton Chips and Deep Fried Mushrooms.

Whilst many of the newer items do sound interesting, we found ourselves going for the Wanton Noodle since we have yet to try them out. The Wanton Noodle comes at a rather hefty price tag of $6 — but there again, it does come with a good portion of noodles, and a rather generous serving of Char Siew and Fried Wantons especially when compared to other establishments around. Bei-ing Wanton Noodle’s wanton noodle will probably appeal to those who prefer heavier flavours — the sauce mix here for the noodles seem to come with black sauce and a dash of vinegar; savoury and comes with a tang. The noodles itself came be said to have come al-dente; it’s definitely springy though some may prefer their noodles to be on the softer side — boils down to personal preference. The fried wontons and soup wontons were decent; some packing more meat than others but I did enjoy how the fried ones were crisp but not greasy. Appreciated how the Char Siew wasn’t the generic sort than came with the red dye; does carry a hint of sweetness from that honey-glaze though the meat is on the leaner side, while the greens gave a refreshing crunch. Was actually quite impressed with the soup provided alongside the Wanton Noodle here; pretty flavoursome without being too greasy and jelak — snuck a few spoonfuls of it for someone who usually prefers leaving the soup alone whilst having wanton noodle.

At $6, Bei-Ing Wanton Noodle’s Wanton Noodle does command a steeper price tag than its counterparts — all that with albeit of a more generous portion, somewhat better Char Siew than some and the artsy brush of the black sauce on the plate. That being said, their wanton noodles is probably one that suits those who prefer it being done the way it is — one that is mostly attributed to one’s preferences. Glad to have given their wanton noodles a try since it’s been so long since it’s been on the bucket list — a dining choice I wouldn’t mind having in the area if i am looking to splurge a little on a hawker/coffeeshop meal.

Fragrant Fried Chicken & Western Food isn’t quite the western food stall that is located near me despite being located within Woodlands — the stall is well hidden in the realms of the Marsiling Crescent estate inside Lucky Stars Coffee Shop, which also houses other eateries such as Chao Yuan Gourmet serving Teochew noodles and also Shi Mei Shao La Ji Fan that is best known for their Char Siew. Interestingly, Fragrant Fried Chicken & Western Food serves up western cuisine with a no pork and no lard policy — perhaps an attempt to attract Muslim diners within the neighbourhood.

One big draw that got me to trek all the way down for their food is perhaps how they seem to serve up rather rustic, old-school western cuisine here — fuss-free ordering without the need to pick your choice of sides; the Chicken Chop here comes with fries, coleslaw and baked beans, not forgetting that it comes with that iconic deep-fried bun that not a lot of places serve up these days. The chicken chop here is decent — meat is reasonably tender and is relatively juicy, but it is that savoury and slightly buttery brown sauce which does the job for me here for how it gave that slab or chicken a good flavour without being overly salty. The shoestring fries were executed pretty fine here too — it’s crisp but not too greasy; nicely salted. Call me basic, but I have always enjoyed having fries like these with the commercially-made chili sauce to be squeezed out of packets; perhaps a bit of a guilty pleasure. While the baked beans were nothing much to shout about, the coleslaw is on point; served chilled, it provides for a refreshing crunch whilst carrying a creamy note that makes it particularly satisfying. And that fried bun; lightly crisp on the outside whilst not being too greasy — also had this light sweetness that made it rather fried mantou-like.

Having western fare like that always brings back some moments of nostalgia — where days are simpler, and that having western fare is a luxury (since the parents usually are in disapproval for how “unhealthy” western fare is). The Chicken Chop from Fragrant Fried Chicken & Western Food is most certainly not the best in its class; that being said, there is no dispute on how comforting this is, especially given how this old-school form of western fare carries a charm that it’s modern siblings just doesn’t seem to have …

Was initially headed to another stall that also serves up Bak Chor Mee in another food centre nearby but plans got diverted when I found out that the stall wasn’t opened upon reaching the location — and that is how I find myself ending up with Ah Gong Minced Pork Noodles (not to be confused with Ah Gong Teochew Noodle, which operates at Whampoa Drive Food Centre, Sin Ming and Yishun).

Have had quite a fair number of Bak Chor Mee from various stalls around but having one served in a claypot is probably a first. There is the Signature Bak Chor Mee that is the full works, but I went for the Dumpling Meat Ball Bak Chor Mee since I wasn’t really feeling like I wanted to deal with the other condiments that may come along with that version. Interestingly, all variants of Bak Chor Mee here comes in a claypot (the plain jane version also being especially affordable at $2.50), and can be opted to be served soup or dry. There is, however, only one choice of noodles here — the U-Mian. I liked how claypot isn’t just simply used as a preferred choice of crockery for the noodles here — the dry noodles are essentially served with a bubbling mix of sauces in the hot claypot that works as some sort of “reduction” as one tosses the sauce with the noodles. Unlike most dry Bak Chor Mee out there that relies heavily on dark sauce and vinegar for flavour, the rendition here seems particularly light in flavour — especially fitting for the lighter choice of noodles used here since it emphasises more on the piquant spiciness of the old-school style chili that the noodles come tossed in. The noodles also come with a good load of minced pork and shallots, whilst pork lard is also added in the variant here, though the pork lard here isn’t as crispy as what I would have preferred to be. The dumplings here are especially well-packed however; the meat seemingly packed rather loosely as compared to what most other stalls will serve, though the star here for me would the pork meat balls — these come evidently marinated considering how they are all savoury without being particularly gamey. They were also loosely packed; almost the same consistency as the dumplings in terms of texture — could imagine how good these may be if they could provide for fried versions as well.

Despite being called Ah Gong Minced Pork Noodles, each order is painstakingly prepared by the Auntie behind the counter — do expect some waiting time involved especially if there is a short queue (she even plucks the vegetables to be included upon order) around. That being said, there is quite just something about their Bak Chor Mee that feels somehow comforting despite its difference from the usual; and that is probably why I would say that this is definitely worth having a go if a trip has to be made to this food centre.

PS: Auntie does give out a coupon for 30 cents off the sugarcane juice at #01-08 (also the nearest drink stall to them) with an order made — like how they are all about supporting fellow stall owners in the same food centre here!

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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