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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
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“Lao Huang Hakka Niang Dou Fu” is one of the tastiest “yong tau fu” stalls in Singapore in my opinion. I have been visiting it for years, sometimes at least once every week over a period of time.
Located at stall #01-108 inside North Bridge Road Market & Food Centre, this is a family-run gig. At any one time, dad can be spotted busily stuffing the “yong tau fu” ingredients while mum does the cooking and the daughter manages the orders.
Speaking of orders, we paid $15.30 for ours today but I am perfectly happy to do that as their food is very tasty and “yong tau fu” is undeniably labour-intensive, more so with different types of filling - 4 versions in total to be specific: boiled fish paste, fried fish paste, boiled minced meat and fried mince meat.
The highlight for me however, has to be the special minced meat they scoop on your order of noodles or rice. It is so appetising I could eat that on my own.
They start operations in the morning and tend to sell out by early afternoon so go early for greater variety.
One important thing to note is the stall is closed 3 days a week - every Monday, Thursday and Friday. So please remember to avoid those days if you don’t want to make a wasted trip.

The famously crazy-with-“wok-hei” Fried Mee Sua is well worth the many, many calories, contributed generously by the strips of boiled pork belly, prawns and crunchy pork lard.
It is served with a splodge of savoury sambal, fresh cut lime and chilli padi. But to be honest, this is one of the rare occasions I find the noodles so full-blown in flavour, I actually prefer eating it sans condiments.

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Because we happened to be in the Upper Bukit Timah area, we walked along the bustling stretch of eateries facing Beauty World Shopping Mall in search of dinner. That’s how we ended up at “Lao Jiang Superior Soup”. I picked their signature dish - the “Superior Soup with Ipoh Hor Fun (dry style)” and was very pleased with my decision.
The soup was indeed flavourful but I feel it still can’t beat the super concentrated goodness cooked by “Yan Ji Seafood Soup” (the one at Old Airport Road Hawker Centre).
This stall’s did however, contain a good mix of ingredients: two prawns, a few pieces each of fish maw, sliced pork and fish, one fishball, one meatball, a little bit of minced pork plus beancurd skin rolls. Pretty decent for the $9.50 price tag.
Alter having some of my god-daughter’s soup version of the same dish, also with Ipoh Hor Fun, I have to say I prefer the dry. She also shared the same opinion. Not because the soup one wasn’t good but the noodles in the dry version came tossed in an appetising black sauce with pork lard oil. There were even small pieces of crunchy pork lard mixed in too. All of this made the smooth, soft strands of the Ipoh Hor Fun really fragrant and tasty.

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Inside the same corner coffeeshop at 354 Joo Chiat Road that houses “Da Dong Prawn Noodles” and “Mellvin Seafood” is an often overlooked stall that tries very hard.
The aunty who runs it, sells “bak kut teh”, fried beehoon and “ban mian”. She use to manage the drinks stall previously and to be honest, the reason I have been reticent to try her food is because she was very absent minded and often got our orders wrong. I was worried the same would apply to her cooking. But it’s been several months since she set up and she now has an elderly gentleman assisting her too. So I decided to give her a chance. The main reason is because I love “ban mian” and secondly, had spied “mani chye”, a vegetable I love, at her prep area.
The above bowl of dry style “mee hoon kway” was what I ordered and it didn’t disappoint. Cooked al dente, the pieces of noodles were very similar in texture and thickness to the famous stall at Geylang Lorong 32. The dark coloured sauce, thankfully, wasn’t as sweet as the other popular one in Whampoa Road Hawker Centre. It also had a pleasant fragrance of sesame oil and came topped with braised mushrooms, fried shallots and crispy ikan bilis. I had requested for extra vegetable and she’d kindly obliged, filling the accompanying bowl of soup to the brim with it. Also in there was an egg and some minced pork. So tasty!
I am glad I took a gamble and tried aunty’s food. It turned out to be much tastier than I had anticipated. Am planning to return for more soon.
Please note that some waiting is needed for orders to be ready as she takes time to prepare, so it would be better to visit her stall when you are not in a rush.

When it comes to curry puffs, the more talked-about stall at Old Airport Road Hawker Centre is “Wang Wang Crispy Curry Puffs” but I decided to try the ones from “Genie Foods” (#01-157) when my friend Aaron told me he prefers theirs.
Yes, Genie Food’s pastry crust doesn’t look as attractive as the other brand’s cascading layers. But that “mo peng” (Teochew for “pockmarked”) non-flaky exterior is thin and buttery, and has a really tasty filling of curry chicken plus a piece of hard boiled egg. Priced at $1.50, the puff is also pretty big and more importantly, has an ideal ratio of crust to filling.

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When in Tiong Bahru hawker centre, this “chwee kueh” is a must.
That hot mess of steaming, soft rice cakes buried beneath a fragrant pile of finely-chopped preserved radish that’s been simmered for ages in oil, may look plain next to other dishes. However, the taste is anything but.
Minimum order is now 5 pieces (I think it use to be 4).

At “Yummy”, the eye-catchingly designed hawker stall #01-77 inside Blk. 216 Bedok North Market and Food Centre, you can pick your favourite “yong tau fu” to have with “chee cheong fun”. What I like most is that they will deepfry the former to a crispy crunch. Those piping hot pieces are a marvelous contrast with the silkiness of the fresh-from-the-steamer rice rolls. You can choose to have everything doused in either or both the “tnee jeo” (maroon coloured sweet sauce) and traditional chilli sauce.

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I remember, as a kid, it thrilled me whenever my parents mentioned that we were going to Tiong Bahru market to eat. As we travelled there, I would be bouncing in the back seat of their car and couldn’t wait to jump out and rush over to the popular #水晶包 (“jwee jia bao” in Teochew) stall to order the crystal skin dumplings (yes, #ihavebeengreedysinceforever).

But as with all things in life, when time passes, certain things slip out of sight and thus, out of mind.

Recently however, over lunch with a friend, we got around to talking about our favourite hawker food and this particular dumpling stall was mentioned. I was so happy when he told me exactly where the stall is located now.

Earlier this morning, my parents and I decided to drive over to check it out. Fortunately for us, the hawkers didn’t take the day off despite it being a public holiday.

“Tiong Bahru Lien Fa Shui Bing“, unit #01-10 of Alexandra Food Centre, is operated by the two younger sons of the original hawker. Their eldest brother had taken over their dad’s stall previously and ran it for 10 years before deciding he would rather be a taxi driver. I could tell this second generation has kept to the traditional recipe as their dumplings retain the taste I have filed away in my memory.

Everything here is made by hand and steamed fresh on the spot. The thin gelatinous skin has a distinctive kind of sticky chewiness that I adore. To prevent it from easily tearing, oil is applied to the dumplings immediately after they are steamed. Doing this also gives them a lovely slippery mouthfeel. For the savoury version which contains a tasty turnip filling and is served with a saltish sambal, the skin is a few microns thicker than the one used to wrap the sweet fillings (they have two kinds: red bean paste and yam paste).

I was told by the brothers, to avoid disappointment, you can call them to pre-order at 6274 5561 (at least 2 hours in advance is best). While a turnip dumpling costs 80 cents, the sweet ones go for 90 cents apiece. Do note there is a minimum order of 4.

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When it comes to good “ban mian”, there are three stalls that I automatically think of. They are “Geylang Lorong 32”, “China Whampoa Handmade Noodles” (although I need to ask for less of their black sauce as I find their default amount much too sweet) and “133 面粉果“ at Blk. 216 Bedok North Hawker Centre. Visible in my video is the reason why I have been besotted with the Bedok one for many years.
Made by hand themselves, the “mee hoon kueh” is cut large but it is thin and a lot flimsier than others. It is always cooked perfectly al dente for a delectable springy chewiness with no flouriness whatsoever.
The dry version sees the #noodles tossed in a light mix of housemade fiery hot chilli, a little dark sauce and a touch of vinegar for lip-smacking tastiness.
Opened very early in the morning, there is a perpetual queue in front of the stall until it sells out. Their “mee hoon kway” is the fastest to go so if you want to give that a try, remember the saying about the early worm.

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I have always thought of “Kway Chap” as our local version of nose-to-tail dining.
In this dish you can find the less commonly eaten parts of the pig such as the large and small intestines, stomach and skin. They’re braised in a dark sauce along with other more normal items like the meat itself, “tau pok”, “tau kwa” and eggs till tender.
You can pick what you like or leave it to the hawker to mix and match a plate for you (he will do it based on the number of people sharing). Everything is chopped into bite-sized pieces and served with a splash of the braising sauce. The accompaniment is a bowl of “kway” (rice noodles that either come rolled or in broad, flat sheets) and a chilli sauce for dipping.
I revisited “To-Ricos Kway Chap” today after what seems like forever. To be frank, I was a little disappointed with my meal. Granted the innards were cleaned properly and didn’t smell at all but the meat wasn’t tender and the gravy tasted rather flat. I have also always preferred fried garlic and coriander on my “kway” but theirs comes with fried shallots. Guess I will stick with “Feng Ji Kway Chap”, my go-to stall in Jalan Batu Hawker Centre from now on. Besides, their chilli dip is way hotter and has a strong sourish tang that I adore.

While rambling around the old Arcade building in Raffles Place in search of an early lunch, I stumbled upon this four months-old eatery that specialises in “mee hoon kueh”. Their signature is the soup version but their handmade noodles (there are the usual three types to choose from) are available with laksa gravy or prepared in a dry style as well. I ordered the latter with a soft-boiled egg added on for an extra 50 cents (total price: $$6), and was delighted at how good it turned out to be.
The al dente pieces of “mee hoon kueh” were wonderfully soft and smooth with zero trace of flouriness. They also had a nice chewiness that made me think of a rather firm mochi that’s been sliced flat. With the egg broken and stirred around, the noodles became even tastier coated in its lusciousness.
The toppings were blanched “mani cai” (马尼菜 - the dark green bitterish vegetable that I love), some minced pork, sliced mushrooms, fishballs and meatballs. For the price and given the location of this eatery, the amount was good.
In terms of condiments, you can help yourself to sliced chilli padi in soya sauce, a savoury sambal and a thin, sourish chilli dip.
There is very, very limited seating here and it is pretty warm, so unless you go for a very early or late lunch, takeaway is probably a better option.

Check out how the hawker at “Syed Mohammad Drinks” at Amoy Street Hawker Centre “taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrriiiks” (pulls) his “teh” (tea).
Run by the third generation, the teas from this stall (#01-67) are worth a try because according to Dr. Leslie Tay (@ieatishootipost), their technique of aeration is unbeatable. He says he himself had tried replicating the drink using the exact same tea and milk but could not achieve the taste and foamy head that they are known for.
You can also give the “teh halia” here a try because they add grated young ginger that’s imported from Indonesia.

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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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