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Hawker Delights

Hawker Delights

One of the best things about living in Singapore is our hawker food. Even though prices have risen over the years, I still count myself lucky to be able to enjoy such variety in freshly-cooked dishes that are easy-on-the-pocket.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

I suffered from “grab-a-phobia” when I was young. It’s a condition in which the sufferer has a fear of the claws of a chicken feet clamping the face when attempts are made to eat the fleshy palm part. At least, that’s what I named my phobia 😂😂😂 I got over it some years later and after that, dimsum wasn’t dimsum without an order of “feng zhao” or “Phoenix Claws” (it’s the romanticised name for steamed chicken feet).
However, the tastiest version for me, isn’t found in a Chinese restaurant but at a humble hawker stall that happens to also be one of my all-time favourites for wanton mee.
“Joo Chiat Ah Huat Wanton Noodle”, stall #01-04 at Dunman Food Centre, does one that’s terrifically delicious. I have witnessed customers ordering only that to enjoy on the spot or as takeaway.
The style of preparation at this stall involves frying the chicken feet before braising which makes the skin flavourful and puffs it up for extra texture. The sauce is thinner than the usual thick, unctuous sort of midnight-coloured braising liquid but it is wonderfully aromatic with garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Shown above is the $3 serving and it is good for two persons to share. There is the option to have it with noodles too.

My much-anticipated second dinner by @division_sg, this time with a bigger group of friends, was at a different “secret location”, still in the central part of Singapore. In accordance with their practice, we were served a different menu.
The opener was a beautiful and exceedingly fresh creation of sweet Kegani (horsehair crab), Bafun uni, Murasaki Ensui uni (the sea urchin stored in salt water), fruit tomato and Chef and co-founder Tariq Helou’s audacious soya sauce vinegar jelly.
Course number two was a genius take on our local prawn noodle and my second favorite of the evening. The vivid orange prawn head oil was the magical component, enveloping strands of Somen and the raw Botan Ebi with a slick of intense umami-ness as they broke the surface to head to my waiting lips. I can’t overemphasise the creativity and deliciousness found here.
Fishes headlined the next two courses. Bearing in mind Chef Tariq isn’t a sushi chef by training, I thought he prepared the Katsuo (skipjack tuna) and Amadai (tilefish) admirably well. Anyway, in my humble opinion, it was what he served the premium fishes with that gave them distinction: Month-long-pickled onions for the seared tuna and shiso salsa verde for the tilefish. Both were unerringly appetising.
However, without a shadow of doubt, the night belonged to the carbs.
And I dare say, it was the aromatic Matsutake mushroom rice paired with jiggly ribbons of A5 Ito Wagyu sirloin and finished with a splash of Nama Kosho sauce that reigned supreme for all of us.
Almost as heavenly was the Megumi Gold sweet corn rice that had French beurre salé (salted butter) and fresh kinome mixed in just before being served.
Dessert was choux puffs filled with a savoury-sweet vanilla and miso pastry cream. Chef wasn’t 100% pleased with it himself but I had no issues making it disappear all the same.
Co-founder Aidan who’s in charge of front-of-house, business development (basically everything but the cooking), presented each creation, kept our glasses filled (it’s BYO here) and ensured the evening ran without a hitch.

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Rave reviews by the Burpple community about the noodles here had always triggered the drools. I had no luck on my first visit in the early evening, missing out on their last bowl by mere minutes. So for my second attempt, I made sure to arrive earlier and was rewarded for my effort but still had to settle for “you mian” (fine noodles) instead of my preferred “mee hoon kway” (flat, torn pieces) which had sold out.
Their noodles are the firmest of any handmade noodle stalls I have tried. Don’t get me wrong - I am not complaining because I prefer all manner of noodles cooked al dente. The dry version I chose came with a fragrant sauce of sesame oil, dark soya sauce and some chilli to toss the noodles in. On hindsight, I should have asked for extra chilli because the default didn’t have enough of a kick for me. Their murky soup, so sweet and tasty, was definitely way above average. I guess that’s why T.H.‘s bowl of “mee sua” soup was also a cut above in shiok-ness. Something worth considering if you are in the mood for something comfortingly soft and soupy.

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Previously his was the voice you would hear when you were anywhere close to the popular Xing Long Cooked Food “chap chye png” stall, calling out to customers for their orders. Since the reopening of the stall after many months of renovation, this gentleman has moved on and started his own stall at #01-30 inside the same hawker centre.
Named Emmanuel, it is stated on the signboard that he sells Peranakan cuisine. I notice a few dishes are very similar in appearance to the original stall’s which by the way, has been taken over by new people (supposedly family from what I was told). Having tried the “otah” and “ngo hiang”, I can vouch they taste pretty much identical to the original stall’s, so in my opinion, this means they’re good. The French beans were decent but you can skip the eggplant.

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In 7 out of 10 discussions with my parents on where to eat, the name of this eatery is brought up.
Sprawling across a few units in the basement of the Golden Mile Tower, “Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat” is the perfect place to tackle cravings for Hainanese chicken rice, steamboat, “zi char” and freshly-grilled satay in one fell swoop. A family-run establishment, the friendly and vigilant bosses can always be seen hovering, ready to lend a hand where needed.
The chicken of their chicken rice is decent but it is the rice that I really like. It is on the oily side but it sure is tasty. In fact, I’m happy to spam it with their lip-smacking, slightly salty chilli sauce and have it just like that.
They do their steamboat the traditional way. So forget about selecting a broth because there is only a standard clear one. As for the ingredients, there is no choice involved. Only elimination. Unless you tell them what to leave out, the standard mixed plate of prawns, sliced fish, sea cucumber, fish maw, sliced pork, pig’s liver and cockles will land on your table. Ditto a plate piled with Chinese cabbage and a small bowl with a raw egg still in its shell. One such set is suitable for two, so a party of four should double it. Of course, nothing complements the ingredients cooked in the steamboat better than the chicken rice chilli dip.
We like to supplement our meal by getting on a stirfried vegetable from the “zi char” menu. Sometimes, an omelette too.
Although we didn’t order on our recent visit, this eatery also serves satay that we find tasty. Their grilled meats are consistently well-marinated and tender.

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This turned out to be a really satisfying bowl because it ticked the boxes of being healthy yet it also brimmed with good flavour. I was pleased with the truckload of vegetables piled on top but for a boost of protein, I felt it was necessary to add an egg. The tonkotsu (pork-based) broth though was easily the star here. Opaque in richness, it felt very smooth on the tongue and was so tasty I drained every drop of it.

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My mum and I enjoyed our order of “Ma La Xiang Guo” from stall #01-42 at Alexandra Village Food Centre. Operated by a mainland Chinese couple, their spectrum of spiciness is on the bolder end, so our bowl of 中辣 (medium level of spiciness) had me panting and continually reaching for a sip of my drink. We found their version really fragrant - definitely a notch above many out there. It also has a distinctive element of curry in its flavour profile. We were fine with it but if you are fussy about having only the “ma” and the “la” in your hotpot, then this might not be suitable.

One of the better spots for chicken rice in the Orchard Road area is “Hainanese Delicacy” located at #05-116 in Far East Plaza. Their version of the iconic Singapore dish seems lighter which is good news for those of you who are more health-conscious.
Acceptably fragrant, the rice here is not oily (although I love the unabashedly rich style myself) and thus, you’ll need to be ok with the slight clumpiness.
Their chicken always looks and tastes clean because they also go easy on the seasoning and oil for it. Hence, I consider it vital to add on a lot of the sauces - chilli, ginger and dark soya, for proper shiokness.
FYI - our above order of half a chicken, blanched beansprouts and two bowls of rice came to about $24.

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The seed was planted when I saw Chef Alan Chan (Instagram: @malaccamakanking) post about this stall on his Instagram Stories. It took root and budded after I learned from @cyrenedelarosa who visited with @kfseetoh that she really enjoyed it too. I finally made my way down to the stall at 37 Changi Road today as my curiosity could no longer be contained. I did come close to missing out on tasting the laksa though because a couple of bulk orders were put in. Fortunately, I had heeded Chef Alan’s advice and called ahead so I managed to “chope” a serving. After digging into my portion, I get why George Katong Laksa has ardent fans.
To me, it tastes like a cross between Janggut Laksa and the Sungei Road one located at Jalan Berseh (my all-time favourite). George’s gravy has an obvious sandiness from finely-minced dried shrimp which gives it more savouriness and an almost meaty taste.
Being a friendly gentleman, he shared with me how he has tried to perfect every aspect of his version too. For eg. the thick “beehoon” (rice noodles) is washed twice and left to soak so they can soften and be able to absorb the laksa gravy better.
To be frank, I prefer this much more than 328 Katong Laksa which is too “lemak” (rich) for my personal taste. A $5 serving which is what I got, comes with a generous amount of noodles, small prawns sliced lengthwise, strips of fishcake, small cockles, a heap of laksa leaves and if you like it spicier, a dollop of George’s homemade sambal.

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This usually sells out very quickly so if you happen to see it in the display case, don’t hesitate to order.
The fish roe is cut up and fried till crispy so it is really addictive eaten by itself or thrown into your bowl of porridge.

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Felt like having something simple, so off we went to “Ah Chiang‘s Porridge” in the charming neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru.
It had been at least half a year since we dined here so I decided to have their basic Mixed Pork Porridge which comes with sliced lean meat, minced pork, liver and intestine. On a side note: Weirdly enough, as much as I love eggs, I have always felt they have no place cracked into a bowl of porridge. Does anyone share the same view about this?
Anyway, we rounded off our order with a plate of watercress stir-fried in garlic, fried fish roe (this usually sells out fast so I was glad there were a few plates of it left) and some 油条 (“you tiao” or fried dough sticks).
Hmmm... I guess in the end it wasn’t that simple a meal after all 😆.

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Decent but not quite as good as when I use to have it on an almost weekly basis more than a decade ago. The main reason being the fried pieces of pork are much thinner now which means a less satisfying mouthfeel when you chew but at least, they are still tasty from the marinade. I don’t see the point of getting the small serving because it only has two slices of the meat. Makes more sense to opt for the large and add a fried egg.
Actually, this isn’t even the signature dish at this eatery. It is, like their name suggests, the fried wanton mee (they do it with a dark sauce) that most people come here for. I haven’t eaten it myself in years but judging by the tables of customers having the #friedwanton noodles that day, I’m guessing it is still very popular.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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