Taiwan Eats!

Taiwan Eats!

Craving for XXL Chicken Cutlets, Braised Pork Rice or just some Taiwanese light bites? This is where you can solve your Taiwanese cravings!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

It seems that establishments specialising in Taiwanese cuisine is sprouting up around various corners in Singapore pretty recently — Big Mouth Eat 大口吃 is one of those recent openings that is hidden within the basement of Havelock II; a rather non-descript spot considering how the mall isn’t particularly filled up with tenants even at the ground level.

Just going by the minced braised pork belly, the Braised Pork Belly Rice is something worthy of a mention — the cuts used for the meat here comes with a good proportion of lean and fatty parts; all that coming together for a good texture that doesn’t require too much bite, yet melt-in-the-mouth. Really enjoyed how the meat has absorbed all that goodness from the braising liquid that is exceptionally savoury and rich — very flavourful without being overly salty. The only qualm here is how the rice feels like it could do with more of that sauce — no doubt it may seem to be served this way to circumvent the issue where the rice may get overly salty, but we felt that the rice felt a tad dry and could do with more flavour from the braising liquid; probably just a small douse would help. Really liked the preserved vegetables that they add to the bowl here which provided a contrast of texture by adding a crunch in between morsels of minced braised pork belly and rice, whilst also providing a light hint of spiciness that tickles the tastebuds. The braised egg was also decent; feature a solid yolk within, though some may yearn for the molten egg yolks typical to that of ramen egg that some places do serve up.

Whilst operating as a kiosk with a rather simple set-up featuring IKEA plastic chairs and metallic outdoor tables as their dine-in furnishings within the basement of a quiet mall, Eat Big Mouth is a hidden gem for those who love their Taiwanese cuisine — pretty authentic iterations of favourites ranging from the Braised Pork Belly Rice to more uncommonly found dishes such as the Taiwan Egg Pancake Crepe (would recommend the Ham variant which we also had), the Homemade Vegetarian “Blood” Cake and the Taiwanese Style Meatball. While there are still areas of improvement to be made for the Braised Pork Belly Rice, the setup does feel earnest and non-pretentious; something which we loved for how they seemingly focus on the food itself — itself being off for a good start. Looking forward to return for the Shredded Chicken Rice and other items some day too!

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Visited the new Abundance at Lengkok Bahru over the weekend — the fun, Asian fusion neighbourhood bar is situated just a couple of units away from Maison Sucree at a HDB block just a short walking distance from Redhill MRT Station.

A bit bummed by how the buns weren’t out when we went for lunch service (was told that they were only available for dinner during our visit), but found ourselves going for the Niu Yolk Fried Rice which was recommended to us by the staff. Featuring elements such as Beef Short Rib, Onsen Egg and Beef Fat over the Din Tai Fung-style egg fried rice that they attempt to serve over here.

Digging into the bowl of rice; the portion of which works great for two to share, and especially so for those who are looking to share at least a side, we noticed how the rice here seems a tad too moist for our liking — perhaps an attempt to achieve that fluffy texture of egg fried rice that was slightly overdone in this case. But otherwise, the rice was actually rather flavourful; wafts of an eggy fragrance that perfumes throughout the entire bowl. We were actually more impressed with the beef short ribs — the portioning of which may be a little small if one is attempting to share the item with two others just like how we did here, but we loved how the beef was absolutely tender and cooked in its own fat; not particularly gamey, but so melt-in-the-mouth good and savoury especially considering how marbled the meat was. The Onsen Egg is the crowd pleaser here — runny egg with a molten egg yolk that bursts of a creamy, golden goodness that provides for a silkier touch when one mixes it into the fried rice; talk about all the egg that is going on in here. Folks who prefer not to have beef can also opt for the “Classic” variant, and then go for the various add-ons here — think Crispy Chicken Cutlet, Pork Chop, Prawns, Crab Meat, Fried Beancurd Skin (aka 斋鹅)(!) and Tobiko.

Abundance doesn’t attempt to hide about its identity and character — it is exactly that fun Asian fusion gastrobar and the void deck it sets itself to be; the food here seemingly being of a Chinese/Taiwanese influence. Don’t come by looking for exceptional artisan fare; instead, just something more light-hearted with a playful touch. Whilst the location may seem a tad odd, we do reckon this is a spot that young families around the newer areas of Queenstown and Redhill may love having around — somewhere casual and hip with drinks with the convenience of being in their neighbourhood.

So ever since my first visit made to Ho Jia Ga for the Sausage with Sticky Rice, I have been actually craving for more — tried some variants from other establishments but found theirs to be perhaps the best I could find in Singapore (though I will like to think that I have yet to try every single version from the various establishments around).

Managed to have got my parents to try them out since we were around the area (and I was heavily craving for one), but mum got hooked and wanted to return a second time. Given how we loved their original variant, we went for the spicy sausage this time round — still very enjoyable given how the glutinous rice is sticky and encased in a snappy casing similar to that which comes with the Taiwanese sausage which gives it an extra chew; all that whilst also coming stuffed with pickles and minced garlic and sauce for a savoury, tangy flavour that compliments so well with the Taiwanese sausage. Their house-made sausages are very well-executed too; chunky and sufficiently thick, whilst coming with a sweet note typical of the type of sausage that it is and seemingly encased in the same sort of casing that comes with the glutinous rice — the spicy variant of the sausage comes with piquant hint of spiciness that tickles the tastebud, and is relatively manageable for those who can handle moderate levels of spiciness which gives a further contrast of flavours as compared to the original variant.

Being made from a 60 year-old recipe as claimed by themselves on a poster that is hung outside the kiosk, Ho Jia Ga’s Sausage with Sticky Rice is possibly the best it can get given how travel restrictions are in place with the pandemic still being a concern all around the world. Whilst I have not been to Taiwan and thus cannot comment on the authenticity of their variant, I can’t deny how theirs is probably the most well-executed version that I have come across — one that I would most certainly crave for and have again. Whilst seemingly a kiosk that have gained quite a fair bit of popularity with the residents around Potong Pasir these days, Ho Jia Ga is still much of a hidden gem worth going for.

Came across the Facebook page of 角头台湾早餐店 GATAO Taiwan Breakfast over the Chinese New Year weekend — thought it was pretty intriguing to have a spot that serves Taiwanese fare such as toasts, braised pork rice, and egg crepes just around the workplace and was pretty compelled to make it a lunch destination on a week where I return to office for work.

Housed within MEME Bistro Bar at a non-descript corner of Mackenzie Road, GATAO Taiwan Breakfast takes over the morning and lunch operations of the bar until 3pm. We were told that the Braised Pork Rice is a heirloom recipe inherited from the grandma of the chef’s spouse whom is also a Taiwanese. While I am still more into the fatty bits of minced pork that Eat 3 Bowls does spectacularly well in, the variant here features leaner bits of pork — overall a more homey rendition in general with its flavourful braised sauce; one could find bits of Star Anise within that is used in the making of the braising liquid. The braised vegetables do provide a good crunch for a varied texture, while the pickles on the side do provide for an adequate tanginess to cut through the savouriness; all that’s whilst also providing another dimension of crunch with the fluffy rice. Only qualm for us would be the inconsistency of the braised egg across the three bowls we had; ranging from a molten yolk akin to an Onsen Egg to one that is fully-cooked like those served at our local chicken rice stalls. Would also wish for the rice to come warmer for a better consistency in terms of temperature of the rice against the braised meat.

Having tried their other items such as the Egg Crepe, we do feel that we would return to give their breakfast toasts a try — the Pork Chop Toast does sound like something that could compare against Fong Sheng Hao’s signature offering, especially when paired with their Taiwan Special Breakfast Beverage; a silky and fragrant milk tea that comes with a mellow sweetness. Looking forward to give their toasts a try the next time I am here!

Had always been wanting to try 黑轮食堂 Hei Lun Shi Tang for quite a while; but i guess I never really had it in mind whenever I visit Queenstown because I often get more distracted by the hawker stalls at Alexandra Village Food Centre instead. Pretty glad that they had opened a new outlet at Wisteria Mall at Yishun, which I made it a point to visit since it had landed up north — though the space does seem smaller occupying a kiosk that seats around 15 pax.

Not sure if they had the Scallion Oil noodle at the Wisteria Mall outlet, but I still found it hard not to go for the Signature Braised Pork Rice given this is one of the items that most do seem to go for there. Felt that the braised pork rice here is definitely of a different league as compared to the ones served at Eat Three Bowl at Crawford and Really Something at Chinatown Complex; the version here does feel less spruced up — perhaps more homey even for how the minced meat still remains moist, but retains a good bite overall for some texture. The other elements such as the preserved vegetable helps to cut through the meat and rice; the rice aptly drenched with enough sauce for a slightly saltish note, while the braised cabbage and soft chunks of carrot provides a more wholesome feel and a fresh and slightly sweet note — the braised cabbage also adding a bit of crunch. Overall, not a bowl of braised pork rice that attempts to sweep one off their feet, but more of a simpler, hearty variant that comforts the soul.

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Came across the social media account of 非同小可 Really Something recently, and made a point to give this newly-opened stall at Chinatown Complex Food Centre a visit after realising that they actually do serve up Chiayi Chicken Rice — a dish that I was introduced to at Eat Three Bowls; a variant that I actually very much loved ever since my very first try of this slightly less common Taiwanese dish in Singapore.

Simple as it always looks, I actually liked how the Taiwanese chicken rice is absolutely flavour —something that the variant here is nothing short of. Liked how the shredded chicken here retains moisture — pretty succulent whilst being drenched in a savoury sauce together with the rice, making the pearly rice not only just easy-to-have, but also fairly addictive especially with the crispy shallots over the top; one just simply wants to go on and on, until the entire bowl is finished in no time.

Must say that 非同小可 Really Something’s name is something that evokes expectations beyond the usual — a somewhat playful choice to name a stall with. That being said, we were left more than impressed still; pretty authentic Taiwanese fare that’s pretty worth making the visit for — all at a time where overseas leisure travel just does not seem to be a viable option. Really wishing these folks all the best in their hawker journey; a stall that is worth keeping a lookout for!

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From the new Ho Jia Ga at The Poiz Center; a hole-in-the-wall takeaway kiosk that serves up Taiwanese cuisine. Apart from serving up rice sets, various light bites such as fried snacks, Ho Jia Ga also serves up this Taiwanese delicacy that is somewhat of a rare find.

Essentially glutinous rice encasing Taiwanese sausage, I enjoyed how the one here is a medley of sweet and savoury notes — the rice being smothered with a savoury sauce that matched well with the signature sweetness of Taiwanese sausage; the sausage also giving the snack a good bite amidst the soft, chewiness of the glutinous rice. Pickles and coriander come in between the glutinous rice and Taiwanese sausage; the pickles giving the item a good crunch and a slight zing that refreshes the taste buds amidst the sweet-savouriness going on. Had not managed to try the actual renditions of this item in Taiwan, but this does feel like somewhat of a pretty decent rendition that is worth a try!

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From the Taiwan Food stall at Koufu Enterprise One, which is a short walk away from Ubi MRT Station. Having opened for two months, the stall is run by a couple; the husband being in the F&B industry for 31 years, coming from Kaoshiung, Taiwan, having his experience working in various kitchens of multiple restaurants before opening his own stall here. Whilst offering quite a variety of bento options alongside a good selection of sides that are all freshly-prepared upon order (yes, sweet potato fries being fried only when one orders them).

The Braised Pork Rice is the most affordable item here at $3.50, and is one that I absolutely enjoyed being one of the better (if not the best) that I have ever come across. Claimed to be one of their best sellers, the portions are generous here; quite a fair bit of rice for the price, considering how Braised Pork Rice often come in smaller portions at the same price elsewhere. Coming with minced meat that comes with the braised sauce, the flavours are savoury, yet comes with a distinct note of spices such as cinnamon and a lingering hint of slight sweetness — very subtle, yet comforting without being too faint to detect, which works great with short grain rice that it comes with. The minced meat was delicious; a good balance of lean and fatty bits that created a meaty bite, yet carried some chewy bits that melts in the mouth. Simple as it sounds, but this is a bowl of finesse for a dish that many places tend to mess up. Really impressed with how the stall also keeps a secret menu, where regulars can quote them the names of various Taiwanese dishes and they may be able to whip up those items if the ingredients are available (the Sakura Ebi Fried Rice is actually pretty delicious too). A place I am likely to return to for more delicious Braised Pork Rice, and also to try more Taiwanese delicacies that may be a rare find elsewhere!

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Returned back to Monki Cafe after my first trip a couple of years ago to try out their mains. Couldn't give the Taiwan Chiayi Chicken Rice a miss considering how much I like Eat 3 Bowl's rendition of the Taiwanese-style Chicken Rice. Thought the version here was palatable though certainly not the best I have had; while there was a decent portion of shredded chicken topped over the fluffy rice beneath, the chicken would have been even better being more moist — still provided a decent meatiness and savouriness nonetheless. Coming with preserved vegetables, it provides a slight tang for some contrast in flavour, while the Braised Egg comes drenched with the same sauce that comes with the Braised Minced Meat Rice for an enhanced note of savouriness with some bits of minced meat to chew on. A pretty decent place to get those Taiwanese cuisine cravings sorted out especially for the Westies; all in a pretty chill, cute and laid-back environment that's great for catching up with friends or dates.

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Paradise Gastronomy had recently opened a new branch at GV Yishun, taking over the former premises of now-defunct Sweet Tornado Dessert.

Have always liked their version of this dish since their days at The Bencoolen; the braised pork rice coming with a good proportion of lean and fatty meat that provides both melt-in-the-mouth, juicy chunks of meat amidst some that provide a bit of bite. There was also ample meat and sauce to go around the portion of rice; savoury with a hint of the cinnamon, star anise and other spices used in the sauce — all that whilst not resulting in the rice being all soggy. The salted pickles gives a refreshing crunch, while the fried shallots helped to add a bit of crispness — provides a break from the meatiness. A more convenient location in the North to settle those Taiwanese cuisine cravings.

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From Hook on Food at Oxley Edge; part of Hook on Books which retails Chinese books mainly for children but also has a space dedicated for adults for book exchanges or just for quiet reading. Hook on Food serves up takeaway Taiwanese fare — the Braised Pork Belly Bento usually comes served with braised pork belly and egg, pickles and shredded chicken; our order came with onsen egg instead for the braised egg was not available on the day of visit. The pork belly was tender; fatty but with just enough bite, whilst flavourful from the braised liquid which was pretty balanced — not overly strong or salty. The pickles helped to cut through the meatiness; slightly saltish with a tang and a spicy kick, while the shredded chicken, being pretty fine and consistent in texture, provides a contrasting meatiness to the braised pork without stealing the limelight from the main character of the show. Liked how the portions are pretty generous; just enough sauce goes around the rice beneath, whilst all the elements were seemingly proportionate as well. Pretty delicious; something which I wouldn’t mind having again!

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Chanced upon this new Taiwanese stall at a S-11 Coffeeshop at Ang Mo Kio (the one beside Jubilee Sq) and was utterly impressed with what is being offered here. The Lu Rou Fan, despite being less meaty than what is offered at other places, is absolutely delicious — flavourful braised liquid that’s all savoury with chunks of a good mix of fatty and lean meat that is tender yet comes with a bite; all atop pearly rice. Coming with the 13 Spices Crisp-Fried Tofu on the side as a default item for this set, the tofu is light and crisp on the exterior, yet totally soft and silken within — all smooth without being curdled or having too much liquid released within. The set also comes with a bowl of soup (which I eventually finished; a rarity), kimchi and braised egg. Totally enjoyed everything here — it’s brilliant execution made everything enjoyable, not to mention how value-for-money it is at $5.80 nett. Would certainly go for this again; and wholeheartedly so!

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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