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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

When I visited this hawker stall for lunch yesterday, Bossman Lawrence recommended a mix of “Pei Dan” and Pork as the filling for my made-to-order Chee Cheong Fun. Glad I listened to him because it was really good. I especially enjoyed those pieces with the century egg yolk - its slightly funky creaminess waltzed most gracefully with the silky-softness of the freshly-steamed rice roll.

For me, the exceedingly fresh tasting minced pork and dumplings are what sets Old Airport Road Food Centre’s “Bedok North Minced Pork Noodles” apart.
Manned by two ladies, one does the cooking while the other who deftly uses a single chopstick to push lumps of pork from a bowl onto wanton skins to form the dumplings, takes orders and collects payment. She seems to do all of that rather effortlessly.
I am partial to the dumplings here because they add quite a lot of “ti poh” (dried sole fish) to the minced pork which gives a tasty umami-salty kick.
Located at #01-25, this stall does both dry and soup versions of the popular #noodles but I have only ever had the latter here. Can’t seem to break the habit but it’s not like I want to either.
Do drop by early if you wish to give their food a try because they start in the morning and usually sell out by around lunchtime.

I got my fix with liver added this time because I was told it’s especially good for those who’ve recently recovered from Dengue. Not that I need any prompting since I already love how young hawker Watson is a master at cooking liver. Every piece tastes really clean and practically melts in the mouth.
If you are a lover of liver, you need to add it to your prawn noodles too.

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Took me three attempts before I got to enjoy the Hakka yong tau foo at “The Beef House” coffeeshop in Syed Alwi. The stall which is named after what it sells, is linked to the beef stall next to it, and on my first two visits, had either sold out or was closed.
It opens daily (except for Fridays according to Google Maps) at 7am, so by the time I arrived at 11.15am last Monday, the yong tau foo looked quite visibly reduced to anxious me. And the moderately long queue which was already in place, ended up stretching out onto the pavement by the time I got my food about half an hour later. My advice: Reach early to avoid disappointment.
But was it worth the wait? I believe so.
There is nothing fancy about the Hakka Yong Tau Fu here because it looks a little rough around the edges but it is its old-school taste that’s the big draw for me.
Not that you get to choose but the variety of items on offer (which is impressive considering the hawker doesn’t seem to have any assistants) is divided into those best enjoyed dry and those meant to be served in soup. Every piece of YTF I got tasted fresh and was appetisingly seasoned. My order of two large portions for TH and I cost only $10 which is a steal. I did think the serving of noodles was a bit on the modest side but the yong tau foo certainly wasn’t. In the bowls of soup were a generous amount of soya beans too, something I consider important for the proper enjoyment of this dish.
While eating, we were already in discussion about our next visit. That should say plenty about how good the food here is, right? 😊.

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I have never not eaten at least one of these when I visit Jalan Berseh Food Centre.
“Fu Zhou Poh Hwa Oyster Cake” (stall #02-34) does the traditional Fried Oyster Cake very well. Shaped like a big round cushion, the exterior which is studded with crunchy peanuts and tiny ikan bilis, is extremely crispy while everything within remains tantalisingly moist and juicy.
What I love most about this stall is that they make their oyster cakes only upon order. However, there is no need to stand in a queue as you get a buzzer that goes off when your order is ready for collection. How thoughtful and convenient, right?
Biting into the piping hotness of a freshly fried #炸蚝饼 must be one of life’s great pleasures. As you break through the deep golden-brown crispiness, the steam that is released is rich in the intermingled aromas of oysters, prawns, minced pork and coriander. It’s the momentary tease before said ingredients storm your tastebuds and trigger a gamut of joyful facial expressions.
I highly recommend paying for extra ingredients because it amounts to only $2.50 but the additional surf and turf filling takes this humble snack to another level.

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@ahhengccm on the second floor of Hong Lim Food Centre is my long-time favourite for #currychickennoodles but “Sheng Kee Curry Chicken Noodle”, a stall on the upper level of Japan Berseh Food Centre comes a close second.
Their red chilli oil-swirled gravy is a little less “gao” (thick) than others and tastes more like a fragrant curry-flavoured chicken broth at first sip but one second later, it hits you at the back of the throat with a pleasant spicy burn. Well, assuming you stirred in their housemade savoury sambal chilli. Otherwise, it stays pretty mild and easily slurpable.
For noodles, I suggest a mix of thin beehoon and yellow mee as there’s more texture in each bite, plus the former is particularly effective at absorbing the curried chicken broth.
Instead of simply chucking in beansprouts as default, the hawker at Sheng Kee makes it a point to check if you want them or not. My affirmative answer garnered a generous serving of plump and crunchy ones which had me smiling.
You get to choose your preferred part of the chicken, and it is chopped up only upon order. By the way, I was told by the lady helping out at the stall that they don’t use frozen meat.
Besides the chicken, there is sliced fish cake and what I deem the best thing in my $5 bowl - the “tau pok”. Every bite of their spongey softness had the curry broth gushing out and flooding my mouth. Biggest reason why I like this hawker dish so much.

I just found out today that the stall is being taken over and it will be business as usual even as Uncle and Aunty retire.
My usual order of Fried Mee Sua was cooked by the new hawker this afternoon, with Aunty’s guidance (yes, she was there watching over him). First impressions: the portion appeared a tiny bit smaller but plating was neater, and the noodles looked a little less oily.
After hoovering it up, I would pitch it at between 95% to 97% of the original version fried by Aunty or Uncle. It was ever so slightly less oily and salty but once I mixed in the sambal chilli, the taste balanced out nicely. Most important of all, there was no compromise to the potent “wok hei” which is a signature of the #FriedMeeSua here. I did feel there was a small reduction in the amount of “liao” (ingredients) in my $5 plate but didn’t mind that at all, to be honest. The two main improvements were that the noodles were pleasantly fluffier and the cubes of pork lard, fried to a deeper golden-brown, were crunchier than before.
Would I continue to patronise “Yong Huat”? Yes because the overall is still damn shiok. I just hope the original taste can be maintained by the new stall owners as time passes.

When you watch the elderly uncle at the stall fry his “Orh Luak” (oyster omelette), it’s a huge clue that Xing Li Cooked Food does one that is unlike others.
Most hawker stalls that sell this popular dish have a massive wok or pan over a fierce fire and a cacophonous soundtrack of clang-clang-clang. Not to mention, they tend to also include fried carrot cake and sometimes, fried noodles in their repertoire. The oyster omelettes they churn out tend to be quite thin, broken up, and have loads of crispy bits (which is of course, enjoyable in their own way).
Xing Li Cooked Food’s on the other hand, is single-minded and serves just the one dish and it’s all about fluffiness. The uncle stands with his back to customers while cooking, his eyes mostly locked on the small flat round pan where a blend of egg and tapioca starch bubbles away. Time seems to slow down when you order from here because a relative calm and quietness reigns at the stall. He does the cooking in small batches, so patience is needed if you wish to try this. But let me assure you, it is worth waiting for because what you get is “Orh Luak” that is thick with an amazing soft and even light fluffy fullness (there are hardly any blobs of rubbery starch to be found). Elevating it further are the large, plump oysters tossed in towards the end of the cooking process, and the dip of a bold vinegary chilli sauce.

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Do you sometimes wake up and get a strong craving for a particular dish, and feel restless and distracted until you get your fix of it? I do. Most recently it was for chicken rice and since I knew I was going to be in the Balestier at midday to collect my order from #hunterskitchensg, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by putting in an order at @loykeebestchickenrice too. It had been too long since I last dined there.
Anyway, I was very satisfied with Loy Kee’s chicken rice. While the rice was tasty and didn’t clump, the steamed chicken was wonderfully tender and flavourful, even for the tricky breast section. The chilli sauce appealed very much to me because it’s spicy and possessed a sourness that’s fresh and fruity (which I’m guessing comes from limes rather than vinegar). No matter, it paired deliciously with the chicken and the rice and that’s what counts.
The extra items I ordered were good too. Plump-by-Singapore’s-standard, the beansprouts managed to remain quite crisp after I brought it home. And the “crystal” boneless chicken feet served in a light, tangy-sweet chilli sauce, something I hadn’t eaten in a long while, was enjoyable for its gelatinous crunch.

(Heart)-Breaking News: The hawker stall selling my favourite Fried Mee Sua will be closing for good at the end of this August.
Uncle told me his health issues makes it difficult to continue running the business. I am happy for him that he will be finally getting a proper rest after working so hard for the last 50 years, but I know I am going to miss his food very badly. So over the next two months, you bet I will be a more-than-regular regular there.
If you are into noodles fuming with “wok hei” that can knock you over at 20 paces, is oily but in the best possible way because it’s pork lard oil that’s used, packs such a bounty of fresh “liao” (think prawns, braised pork belly, fish cake and eggs) it’s a struggle to pick up a mouthful that comprises of only noodles, and positively reeks of garlic, their Fried Mee Sua is unbeatable satisfaction for $5.

If you can, do go and show some love to this hawker stall located inside AlibaBar coffeeshop just across from the Katong 112 Mall. I am sure Uncle and Aunty’s hearts will feel extra full to have all the support they can get before they call it a day.

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T R E A T
After fellow foodie K.S. (@chanksters) dropped me a text from out of the blue to say he was sending over Assam Laksa, I did a little happy dance. Coincidentally, he timed it to arrive on the same day I had read @wongahyoke’s article about the dish in @straits_times.com and was curious how it would taste. Well, my curiosity (and belly) were satisfied because I enjoyed the “Super Star Original Famous Penang Laksa” thoroughly.
K.S. shared that they import the thick rice noodles from Penang because unlike the smoother, whiter type you find at most stalls here, the Penang-made one can absorb the gravy better, so it’s tastier. Speaking of gravy, only fresh Kembung (Indian mackerel) and premium quality Assam fruit go into the making of it. The flesh of the former, shredded very fine, was mostly broken down, adding a thickening effect rather than substantial pieces of fish to chew on. I love the tangy-ness the latter contributed - it tasted clean, sharp and bright rather than muted and murky. You can tell authenticity is prized by this stall because they source the “Hae Gor” (fermented shrimp paste) and Belachan from Penang too.
I like how they pay a lot of attention to the garnishes, providing customers with an ample amount of fresh mint leaves, sweet pineapple, sliced onions, cucumber and “bunga kantan” (ginger flower). The surprising addition of fresh green chilli padi infused the gravy with a kick of heat that I enjoyed very much as well.

Orders can be made via WhatsApp:
9836 6616.

Payment is upon delivery according to the taxi metre.

Prawn-lovers, you will feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven when you sip the broth by @oneprawnnoodle. It is probably the most intense in prawny-ness (had to invent a word to do this justice) I have ever come across, and what’s more, it feels shockingly silky in the mouth and not at all greasy.
Owned and run by ex-colleagues (Chef Gwyneth and Chef Kun use to work together at @burntends_sg), One Prawn Noodle sells prawn noodles with different toppings. Prices start at $5 for a “Sliced Pork and Prawn” and goes up to $8 for the “Abalone and Prawn”. What I find interesting is the menu of add-ons they offer which lists the parts of a pig: lean meat, skin, intestines, tail and ribs, as well as novel items such as beancurd skin rolls (it is the same kind as you get at #BeautyInAPot and is brilliant dunked in the broth), prawn balls, abalone, vegetables and a whole egg. Despite this, there’s no denying it is their hypnotically rich-to-the-point-of-opaqueness broth that is the be-all and end-all. So the commonsensical thing to do is to order the soup version, right? However, what if I told you that the dry-style is the one I think you should get? You see, this pair of young hawkers make their own sambal chilli too and it is astonishingly tasty. When noodles are tossed in that savoury spiciness, the strands become aromatic and mouthwateringly shiok. To pair, you get a big packet of the magical prawn broth. See? Their dry version really lets you enjoy the best of both worlds 😄.
The stall is open 7 days a week (yes, Gwyneth and Kun are extremely industrious), so do support them and give their food a try. To order, please WhatsApp:

9639 8668.

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Follow me on Instagram (@veronicaphua) for much more content! 😊

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