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Locally Good!

Locally Good!

Singapore's local good food!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Opened by the same folks behind D’Good Cafe at Holland Village, Straits Place 1819 is their latest concept situated at VivoCity, occupying a space near Gram Cafe & Pancakes within the mall serving up modern interpretations of local favourites which range from all-day brunch items, to mains as well as pasta alongside a wide variety of beverages such as specialty coffee, tea, mocktails and cocktails etc.

Giving the local Char Kway Teow a modern twist, the Unagi & Salmon Kway Teow here is more than meets the eye; apart from the addition of unagi and cured salmon into the dish, the dish also sees some of the rice noodles being replaced by Shirataki Noodles (i.e. Konjac Noodles) for a slight twist. The Char Kway Teow here does come with a hint of sweetness from the dark soya sauce with a slight hint of savouriness from pork lard; the noodles not being too greasy though lacks wok hei (what were you expecting; it’s a cafe after all!), but still remains pretty slurpy overall especially for the Shirataki Noodles. The addition of unagi and cured salmon is pretty welcome for a modern interpretation of things, though does not seem to be a purposeful addition apart from trying to appeal to slightly more youthful audiences, and perhaps also to substantiate for the more premium price tag here as compared to the usual renditions readily available in food courts, coffeeshops and Hawker centres. Nonetheless, the Unagi comes sufficiently plump; a little scaly in certain parts but not too much to cause a concern, while the cured salmon came all savoury and flaky with a pinkish centre for a good texture — each slice also came at a pretty generous portion for a good bite, all that while the greens help to balance things out and give a slight crunch.

Heard about the controversies about the “Peranakan” aspect of the establishment before they had opened — but that did not quite change my interest on heading down to Lemak Boys to give their offerings a try; after all I am one who is usually all in for great Nasi Lemak despite being not too much of a rice person, but I would not say no to one that is well-executed with finesse and skill.

Given its price tag at $12.80, it’s difficult not to carry expectations even for the most basic version of the Nasi Lemak they have to offer here; after all, one would already be paying for a premium here against those served up at coffee shops and hawker centres. Coming with other condiments such as omelette, Otah, Fried Drumstick, Ikan Bilis, Peanuts and Sambal, it felt like it was lacking that artisan quality that the price tag seemed to have suggest — while the rice was sufficiently moist and did carry a light whiff of coconut aroma, it felt a tad too tame; easily overpowered by everything else on the plate. And then moving on to the condiments, while the Otah does remind me of the thick Muar Otahs which was something I appreciated, the Fried Chicken was served at room temperature; understandably so considering how most of the condiments have been prepared before-hand and placed on the counter only to be picked up and plated upon order, but I do have had crispier chicken drumsticks/wings from mom-and-pop Nasi Lemak specialty stalls, let alone an establishment that seems to suggest that they serve up artisanal Nasi Lemak — a shame considering I liked how it carried a light lemongrass fragrance and a slight hint of turmeric in its marination which was rather flavourful. Thought the omelette felt rather pedestrian; would have much preferred a sunny side-up though I am not quite sure if they are trying to stick to the Peranakan roots here, though thankfully the Ikan Bilis provided just enough crunch and saltish flavour for a good contrast with the other elements on the plate. The sambal provided a light kick of spiciness that should be manageable to most, though may be a little odd for those used to the sweet sambal more commonly found at other places.

Considering the hype built up for their Nasi Lemak, it felt like a mix of hits and misses — a little disappointing for an artisan establishment with a focus on Nasi Lemak. Don’t get it wrong; it’s pretty serviceable and a rather decent plate, though considering the likes of The Coconut Club or even Punggol Nasi Lemak’s more upscale concept at Capitol Piazza, I would have wished that they could have delivered more than it did at that price tag ...

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Think this is the reason why I should perhaps explore my own neighbourhood more often; wouldn’t have known that the fish soup stall near home at Viva Food Court at Vista Point that also serves up pretty legit Dry Ban Mee if not for the Circuit Breaker and Phase One re-opening where hawkers/food court stall owners are finding their way into social media and delivery apps to stay in operations with strict restrictions on dine-in in place.

Not one who is often seen eating Ban Mee; always too afraid of how filling it can get and that the noodles sometimes end up clumpy and all — this is one version that I had no problem finishing at all. Tossing the noodles with the sauce, the noodles are all slurpy and carried a good bite, coated with the savoury sauce that comes even better with chili opted for a slightly spicy kick that should work well for most with moderate (or even below moderate) tolerance for spiciness — what really caught me was the addition of caramalised onions which also helped to add a sweetness to the sauce, providing the bowl of noodles an additional dimension of flavour. Coming with other condiments such as crunchy greens, lumps of minced meat that is soft-to-the-bite and bouncy, as well crispy Ikan Bilis, I absolutely dig how this simple bowl of noodles felt pretty wholesome and well thought out especially with its emphasis on both texture and flavour. Definitely going for this again some day; quite glad that I have found yet another option that I would enjoy having pretty regularly especially given their proximity to me!

Having only opened their newest outlet a couple of days ago, pretty glad that Ah Lock Kitchen’s newest outlet is situated quite near to home this time. Located at the coffeeshop at Blk 573 Woodlands Drive 16 where Yes Nasi Kukus is also situated, Ah Lock Kitchen’s new outlet here now serves up muslim-friendly Hakka Tofu Bowls, replacing the pork elements with chicken instead. Whilst I find myself still needing to get used to the texture of the meatballs; more crusty and firm — a little less juicy that the pork ones that Ah Lock & Co. serves up at Tanjong Pagar Centre. Otherwise, the other elements including the tofu stuffed with meat feels pretty much the same; the sweet leaf provides much of the flavours of the greens here, while the beans provide the crunch — small cubes of tofu sits atop the rice as well, drenched with mayo for a slight savouriness and a creaminess that helps to bind all the elements together. Always preferred to have the Hakka Tofu Bowl with the Chili sauce being poured in — zippy and packing a punch in terms of spiciness; a great compliment to the entire bowl. Not exactly the same, but definitely good enough to get my Ah Lock cravings checked especially considering its location for me!

2 Likes

Had read about Brother Cheng’s Chicken Rice recently, and decided to check it out — opened by the same folks behind Omakase Burger, Brother Cheng’s Chicken Rice is a new concept that serves up the local favourite Chicken Rice within Picnic at Wisma Atria, located just beside Omakase Burger.

This is the set for one, with a price tag of $14.90 before GST; a premium above the many iterations served at hawker centres, but still a version that stays pretty true to its roots and being quite authentic. Only offering poached chicken here, the chicken here is served boneless for easy eating; coming with a slightly yellowish skin, the skin is silken and gelatinous, while the flesh itself is pretty smooth and succulent — fairly tender, whilst being drenched in soya sauce for some flavour. My favourite element from this rendition is however the rice — for a person who usually skips his carbs, the rice comes all fluffy and savoury; very aromatic as it perfumes of an evident note of chicken stock and ginger, packing a punch of flavours whilst being sufficiently moist. It goes well with the Signature Chilli Sauce, which was a nice balance of spiciness and zippiness; not too heavy on the calamari, yet tickles the tastebuds with its heat which should be pretty manageable for those tolerable to moderate levels of spiciness. Felt the accompanying soup was pretty clean in flavour, though slightly bland if compared to others served at hawker centres — liked how it came with quite a generous portion of tofu however. The You Cai with Oyster Sauce is an optional add-on without any extra charge; blanched, leafy greens which is crunchy, whilst drenched in oyster sauce for a savoury note while the shallots provide a crunch and a contrasting savoury note. No doubt the prices here are steep for the type of cuisine it serves; a plate of chicken rice would cost perhaps lower of $5.00 in a hawker centre, but Brother Cheng’s Chicken Rice is very much worth the experience especially for those who do not mind the price tag, which is still pretty accessible to most — one of the better ones around that we might return for in the future!

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Shiitake Mushroom, Pickled Radish, Lava Egg, Ginger Flower. From Slate; a new establishment at Purvis Street which operates as a Aussie-style cafe in the day, and a contemporary tapas-style restaurant in the evening.

An item that is more Asian-inspired than Aussie-style, the Braised Pork Belly is an item off their brunch menu — more of a stew than being braised, the braised sauce carries a savoury note lighter in flavour as compared to the dark and rich sauce typically served up in Chinese renditions of such a dish. Coming with chunks of pork belly and mushrooms, we felt that the portion of mushrooms seem to be more generous than that of the pork belly; no doubt the pork belly was all juicy, succulent and melt-in-the-mouth (though sometimes carrying bits of cartilage), but we felt that it could do with a better ratio of pork to mushroom given how the pork should have been the highlight of the dish. Otherwise, the mushroom does provide a good contrast in terms of texture to the pork belly, while the coriander helps to cut through the savourines; the molten lava egg features a runny yolk and a soft egg white that is a crowd-pleaser. Comes served with a well-portioned bowl of rice on the side, we liked how the rice was just enough to go around the entire serving of Braised Pork Belly and was not too excessive, while the item also comes with sambal and green Chili on the side. A pretty decent item, though perhaps one of the dishes that lacks the Aussie-style influence we were expecting from their concept — still a good dish nonetheless.

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One of my favourite lunches for the sheer convenience and speed that it gets served up. Run by the same folks behind Yu Kee Duck Rice, they had since opened up a few stalls of this “XO 肉脞面 Famous Minced Meat Noodle from Newton Food Centre” around, with outlets at Funan Mall and Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub just to name a few.

This one is from their Wilkie Edge outlet; using XO sauce instead of the usual vinegar-y sauce, the noodles are tossed in a sauce that is all savoury without the sour-ish tang that some may dislike in their bowl of Mee Pok. The noodles are done all springy; thinner noodles than the usual Mee Pok, while the highlight for me is the crunchy meatballs that comes with a golden-brown exterior and a juicy, meaty interior — something that I just cannot resist (always falling victim to fried meatballs here). The noodles also come with mushrooms and beansprouts for varied texture and to balance out the savoury notes, whilst also coming with wanton skin which adds a crispness to the dish, though not something I find necessary but good to have. Usually can’t do with my noodles without having chilli; the chilli here does come with a slight kick of heat that should be manageable to most who have slightly moderate tolerance to spiciness, but it does provide a necessary contrast to the XO sauce in my opinion.

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From Ya Lor, which had recently opened its doors at the basement of Tanjong Pagar, taking over the former premises of Kraftwich. Operated by the same folks behind Pezzo Pizza and Crave Nasi Lemak in collaboration with Sia Kee Duck Rice that is located at Lorong 35 Geylang, this is essentially the same relationship as Crave Nasi Lemak has with Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak; a name that is likely to become more commercial with more outlets possibly opening in the future.

The Signature Braised Duck Rice features other elements of Bean Sprouts, Braised Peanuts, Braised Egg (Half) and Beancurd. The braised sauce is the highlight here; though the flavours of the spices used here is not particularly distinct, the braised sauce is thick, flavourful and savoury as it lends its flavour to the other elements of the dish — a great accompaniment to the rice in particularly which helps to provide flavour and moisten up the rice. Otherwise, much of the other elements were pretty decent, though nothing much to shout about — the duck being not too bad, though could do being more tender and succulent for; thankfully not grainy nor gamey. A decent dining option for office workers in the area.

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Checked out the new One77 Degrees bistro located at Singapore Expo recently; a location that is a little far flung away from the crowds considering how it is situated at the far east, whilst also being located deep within the complex outside Hall 3 of MAX Atria. Offering a set menu, all set meals comes with a choice of starters, mains and drinks — all of that under $20; pretty affordable.

This item features elements such as pan-fried, locally farmed Barramundi, curry leaf-infused pilaf rice, cherry tomatoes, Okra, and eggplant with a tangy and spicy Tamarind (Assam) sauce served at the side. Intended to be enjoyed by pouring in the Tamarind sauce into all the other elements, we were pretty surprised by how the Tamarind sauce carried a punchy flavour that is tangy and refreshing, yet aptly spicy — suitable for those who are able to tolerant moderate levels of spiciness for how it provides a distinct, but not too fiery kick to tickle the taste buds. The pan-fried Barramundi was also pretty impressive; crisp on the exterior, the fish was sufficiently moist within, further enhanced by the Tamarind sauce poured into it. The buttery pilaf rice soaks up all of that sauce, allowing one to mop up all that delicious sauce altogether. Coming with a mix of greens such as eggplant, Okra and cherry tomatoes, the vegetables provide a crunch and a refreshing burst of zestiness that helps to provide more texture and flavour to dish for some balance. Overall, something which felt like it was put together with thought — almost akin to a local fusion variant of an Ochazuke that works; great execution and of a good quality for its price, and somewhere I would be glad to revisit if in the area (because it just takes quite a bit of effort for me to end up here; if only it was nearer to me though).

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From the new Cafe Punggol Nasi Lemak that had opened its doors pretty recently at Capitol Piazza, just right across the Food Republic within the mall. Unlike their Jalan Besar concept which serves Nasi Lemak in a fast-food diner concept, the Capitol Piazza location is more of a cafe concept — serving up Nasi Lemak in both sets and ala-carte format, the Capitol Piazza outlet also serves up a curated menu of drinks and local beverages (i.e. Nanyang Kopi and Teh) as well as desserts such as Kueh-Kueh and Kaya Toast.

Coming with 1 Chicken Wing, 1 Otah and 1 Prawn, Set Meal 5 is the full works, also coming with Nasi Lemak essentials such as rice, egg, anchovies and peanuts alongside the iconic chili on the side. The rice here holds well to that of the standards set by Punggol Nasi Lemak outlets — there are places that serve better Nasi Lemak rice than them, but the rice carries a familiar light whiff of coconut fragrance that is pretty mild and not too moist; something that would resonate well with their fans who prefer their rendition of Nasi Lemak. While the chicken wing was pretty delicious with its crispy exterior and succulent, tender flesh, the fried Prawn was a little disappointing — just straight up mushy and lacking of any bite. Otah was pretty decent; comfortably spicy with evident notes of the Rempah spices being used in its preparation. Really enjoyed the anchovies here; fried till golden brown, the anchovies remained crispy, and comes with a slight sprinkle of sugar for a hint of sweetness amidst the saltishness — prepared in the same way like how my mum would have done. Sambal was also on-point; whilst carrying the signature sweetness of Nasi Lemak sambal, it also provides a spicy kick that should be pretty manageable to most; the sunny-side-up was a little inconsistent though, with one of our orders coming with an oozy yolk while the other was pretty much well-done. Sure; there may be some room for improvement for the Nasi Lemak here, but this holds true to what Punggol Nasi Lemak had been serving — somewhere which I would not mind re-visiting if the craving hits, or if I am actually in the area.

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From the new Bedok Bak Chor Mee at Circular Road; a new establishment that is situated just a short distance away from Yan Kee Noodle House and The Salted Plum that specialises in serving up "Bedok-style" Bak Chor Mee. Apart from serving up Bak Chor Mee in both dry and soup options, Bedok Bak Chor Mee also serves up other sides, as well Ngoh Hiang and a rotating menu of local desserts.

Going with the Crispy Prawn Cracker, Yam Roll, Water Chestnut Cake and QQ Pork Sausage, one could tell how the ingredients are pretty fresh and fried quite well; none of the fried fritters felt overly greasy nor soaked up in oil — items were pretty crisp whilst the meatier items come with a good bite and pretty juicy. The accompanying chili was also great; a good balance of sweetness and mild spiciness that provides a contrast of flavours. Something which is great to share around the table with the Bak Chor Mee that is to be ordered here.

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From Tong Shun at Jalan Kayu, which seems to be a fairly new establishment which had opened along the same stretch of eateries as Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh. Having their focus on their roast meat offerings, it is said that their recipe for their roast meats are from Ipoh, Malaysia.

Between the two, we felt that the Char Siew left a very memorable impression — done in true Malaysian style, the Char Siew was sweet, juicy, tender and succulent; the cut served being fatty and melt-in-the-mouth yet carrying enough bite. Coated in a sweet and sticky sauce on the exterior, the Char Siew is pretty much stellar in its own right — very flavourful and a must-have indeed. In contrast, the Roast Pork was a little less outstanding; no doubt done well considering how it does not come with porky stench. That being said, the Roast Pork came with a slightly leaner cut as compared to the Char Siew; still savoury, though the crackling skin could be more crisp overall. Quite impressed with what we had ordered here for the most part, including the Fragrant Signature Fried Rice that came with loads of seafood (i.e. scallops, sliced fish and prawns) for $8.80 — somewhere which I am most inclined to visit yet again!

2 Likes

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