Hawker Hits

Hawker Hits

In a land full of glorious hawker nosh, it's hard to find the best of them. This is a list of my best finds.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

TRIGGER WARNING: Italians, look away now.⠀

Okay, now that the Italians have left for their own sanity, it’s time to introduce Indulge @ Tanglin Halt’s carbonara. I strongly suspect that it’s made with cream as many other ‘carbonaras’ are, but did you really expect to get the traditional blend of egg yolks, parmigiano reggiano, and guanciale for eight bucks?⠀

What I do know is that this is a sufficiently satiating plate of pasta. Unlike the alfredo, there’s a complexity to this from the bacon, extra egg yolk, and of course, the cream sauce. Bacon makes everything better, and that applies here as well. The saltiness from the bacon has bled into the sauce, giving it a meaty, slightly smoky saltiness. The extra egg yolk adds an extra silky smoothness to the pasta, plus an additional richness that’s a little unnecessary but I ain’t complaining.⠀

Y’all already know about the excellence of the grilled dory fish fillet, and you can add one of these palatable pretties to your carbonara for an extra custom of four dollars. For twelve bucks, this is most definitely a very inauthentic taste of Italia, but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t gratifying.

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I promised y’all a pasta review today so y’all getting a pasta post today. This isn’t my first visit to Indulge, which was formerly @ Tanglin Halt but is now @ Commonwealth. The funniest part about all this is that they relocated from Tanglin Halt Market to...Tanglin Halt Food Centre. Yeah. Don’t ask, I don’t know either.⠀

Besides the name & location change, then intervening years seem to have mellowed out the chef/owner as well. Long gone is that notorious ‘don’t you dare order until we acknowledge your existence’ warning sign, and the owner was amiable enough to chat with us as we devoured his pastas. ⠀

So, about those pastas. I ordered the grilled dory with alfredo pasta for a grand total of $8.50. That’s it, that’s the ingredient list. I agree, it’s a little too simple and would benefit from an extra ingredient or two. However, the pasta is amazingly al dente, and even though the alfredo was lacking in salt, the pasta was delicious enough to demolish in short order.⠀

The real winner here is the grilled dory. In contrast to the alfredo sauce, it was seasoned splendidly, and is pan grilled with expert precision. The exterior sports a scintillating sear, while the inside is criminally flaky & moist. That’s really all you need for a fabulous fish, but the mayonnaise on the side augments the delicious dory by adding a rich, tantalising creaminess to the fish.⠀

I don’t know how I managed to wax lyrical about a simple dish of fish & spaghetti, but I suspect the four pints of beer I just pounded down might’ve turned me into prime Oscar Wilde. What I do know, however, is that I need to get back there to have myself more affordable, piquant pastas. Stat.

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An An Roast, which recently got down to business last month at the long deceased Salute coffeeshop, isn’t actually new. It’s a rebranding of the old Weiqiang Roasted Delights from 628 Senja Road. So, this ain’t their first rodeo, and the meats certainly prove that point.⠀

While I would’ve appreciated the delicious duck a bit more if they’d properly rendered the fat from underneath the skin, it’s still a damn delectable duck drumstick. Sure, it’s a lil too fatty under the skin but hey, aren’t we all. However, the salt & spices used in the preparation & marination had absolutely permeated every molecule of meat, resulting in some fantastically flavourful fowl.⠀

The roast pork belly (siobak) was a bit of a letdown, as the rind wasn’t particularly crispy, instead being a little limp. Sure, the pork was sufficiently seasoned with spices & the like, but the crackling failed to live up to its name. The char siew, on the other hand...hoo mah gawd.⠀

It had a ludicrously luscious marinade/glaze slathered all over, and the pork was impregnated with all that mellow tastiness. It was roasted just right, and was about a 60/40 split between fat & meat. That’s a goddamn heart attack waiting to happen, but hey I’m here for a good time not a long time. It’s not quite on par with Fatty Cheong’s char siew, but it will give Fatty’s a damn good run for its money.⠀

The fried chili sauce was way too salty, and I left it out of my demolition of this redolent plate of Chinese roast meat. An An may not be a world beater, but all this delicious decadence only cost me $8.50. Now that’s what I call value!

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Full disclosure: I’ve never been to King of Fried Rice’s flagship eatery in Golden Mile Tower because I could never be arsed to go that far. Beers & booze? Sure. Fried rice? Nah fam, pass. However, their second stall in Sengkang is a damn sight nearer to my home, so it was finally time to pass judgement on these fried rice merchants.⠀

The XO Fried Rice with pork chop was $6.80, which is about average for hawker alternatives to DTF (the Taiwanese xiao long bao restaurant, not the phrase to signify that you’re done with No Nut November). I don’t quite remember if King’s competition used short grain Japanese rice, but that elevated King’s XO fried rice. The felicitously fried rice was infused with a respectable amount of wok hei even though it could do with a little charring on the grains of glory.⠀

There’s an abundance of eggy goodness in the chaos of carbs, which does tamper the umami of the XO sauce that’s been fried with the rice, resulting in fried rice that’s a little less satisfying than expected. What is most definitely satisfying is the pork chop. It’s been pounded thin, and tenderised with baking soda. ⠀

Unlike many other places which leave the protein to tenderise for too long, King does it just right, producing pork that’s tastefully tender with a decent chew & resistance to it, instead of pork that feels like chewing a wet foam ball. The piece of porcine is seasoned satisfactorily, and it pairs quite well with the oily, mildly spicy fried chili.⠀

For $6.80, it’s hard to get renditions of pork chop fried rice that are better than King’s. They’re rice royalty for good reason, and a certain orange polo shirted uncle would probably agree.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had Wow Wow West’s fish & chips since the letdown last time, and they’ve pulled off a remontada (for those not in the know of football twitter lingo, a remontada is a colossal comeback) that’s as gargantuan as these fish fillets.⠀

The breading is as crunchy as I used to remember it, and the fish within was firm, flaky and perfectly fried, albeit a little lacking in salt. Yup, two of these fabulous fried fish fillets, a mountain of crisp fries, a heap of coleslaw that leans towards the sweeter side of the spectrum, and baked beans costs eight dollars. Oh, don’t forget to ask for more of that housemade tantalising tartar sauce, because that magical elixir makes the fried fish absolutely ambrosial.⠀

Eight buckaroos for a gut busting, fantastic food coma is pretty cheap, and you can take that to the bank. That’s right, these fantabulous fish & chips are doing their thing again. Wow Wow West is back!

Woong Kee is a new claypot rice purveyor in the former Salute coffeeshop that once housed all the hipster western cuisine hawkers. It lay fallow for years after all the stalls went bust or something, but the coffeeshop has experienced a new lease of life in the last month. A multitude of other new stalls besides Woong Kee have also started operations from the newly renovated coffeeshop, and I might just head back to try another stall.

Besides the regular claypot chicken rice, Woong Kee does a unique unagi claypot rice ($9.80). Sure, it’s just a couple of bok choy strands and a fillet of freshwater eel adorned with seaweed strips on a claypot of rice, but it’s pretty far from being a commonly found dish. While the rice could’ve done with more sweet soy sauce, the teriyaki glaze on the sizeable slab of unagi was spot on. The unagi was firm & flaky, with a delectable sweet & salty balance flavouring the fish. The rice was moderately moist & fluffy, with the best bits being the charred grains at the bottom of the claypot.⠀

It’s a simple dish (or claypot in this case), but it’s a welcome change from the usual hawker dishes one would expect.⠀

On a considerably happier note, @cultsliders WFL’ N CHKN’ slider was a lot better than the mac & cheese. It’s classed as a slider, but it doesn’t obey any of the rules of a standard slider aside from the size rule. At seven bucks, it’s pretty steep for a slider, but the deliciousness definitely delivers.⠀

Two halves of a waffle sandwich a diminutive yet tastefully thick fried fillet of chicken and a strip of turkey bacon. The waffles are glazed with a decent dose of maple syrup, and are slathered with garlic honey butter. While the chicken is not the most well seasoned bird around town, it’s fabulously fried to perfection, with a comely, crunchy cocoon of batter encasing the exceptionally juicy chicken fillet.⠀

Most of the sodium content actually comes from the turkey bacon, and the sweet/salty divide is really amped up by the maple syrup & the sweet, slick garlic honey butter. It’s a scanty slider, but the tremendous taste is utterly outta sight. I didn’t regret paying $7 for this delectable odyssey of deliciousness, but I probably wouldn’t have it again. Instead, their full sized sandwiches look like much better value.

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Chinese herbal soups are rarely ever insta-glamorous, but they are certainly instantly comforting. He.Brews, the brother outlet of, SALT at Old Airport, brews up herbal double boiled soups. Their herbal chicken soup is a warm, comforting hug when you’re down and out. It’s a little too sweet for my palate, but there’s no denying it’s wonderful wholesomeness.⠀

It’s heartily herbal and ravishingly redolent, and the soup isn’t too oily despite it’s excellent flavour. According to the old guy manning the stall, the herbal chicken soup is slowly simmered low & slow for thirty six hours, which is why the depth of flavour is immense.⠀

The chicken leg was sous vide separate from the soup, which is why the meat is tender instead of mushy, which would be the case if the chicken was simmered in the soup. Overall, it’s a simple soup, but quite wholesome for the body.

The world famous Liao Fan/Hawker Chan has been touted as the cheapest Michelin starred meal, which is true. However, it’s not the cheapest soya sauce chicken around town, but it’s definitely one of the best.⠀

$8.40 gets you a pretty big bowl of soya sauce chicken hor fun, and I added on a portion of char siew & roast pork for $4.20 each. The chicken skin is beautifully brown, sumptuously smooth & seasoned splendidly. The meat itself was moist & undeniably umami despite being a top quarter cut, and it’s quality was on par with the best in the business.⠀

Oddly enough, the char siew was the real rockstar here even though the soya sauce chicken was excellent. It was sweet & salty in all the right amounts, the char was just right with little spots of burnt crust, and the meat was majestically marbled with fantastic fat. Every bite was boundless bliss, with the tastefully thick slices of juicy pork providing plenty of pleasure with every bite.⠀

The roast pork was rather redolent as well, with a decently crackling rind, a flavoursome amount of well roasted fat, and superbly salted & spiced meat. It’s a piquant piece of pork that’s perfect for pigging out on, and I’m glad I ordered it.⠀

I never had the patience to try the original stall at Chinatown Complex. However, the franchises are decent enough despite a reported slump in standards compared to the original stall.

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Look man, all I’m saying is that @veronicaphua posts are highly dangerous. Why? Well, her posts about @haikeesg are the reason why I decided to get me half a soya sauce chicken ($16), a hearty serving of char siew ($10) and sio bak (roasted pork belly, also $10).⠀

But what about their food? Well, unfortunately, their soya sauce chicken was average at best. It was a touch overcooked, and was dry at the breasts. It relied a little too much on the accompanying sauce for flavour, and the meat itself wasn’t particularly memorable. The silky skin was a nice touch though.⠀

What you’re really here for is their palate perfect porcine. The char siew was delightfully fatty in all the right places, and was stupendously sapid with just a little touch of sweetness in that caramelised crust. The spice rub & glaze on the char siew was already awesome, but the sio bak was on another plane of existence altogether.⠀

The five spice fragrace was pleasant & perfumed the pork perfectly, and the pork itself was juicy, moist and sumptuously stellar. As for the skin...oh brother. It was crispy as a cracker, and so, so good. Incredibly enjoyable and irresistibly indulgent, I tell you what. Best yet, it was probably the sio bak with the least grease within that I’ve ever had.

As for the rice, it was fabulously fragrant and utterly unctuous. Cooked to perfection and bustling with the aroma of the chicken fat & stock it was cooked in, Hai Kee has elevated plain ol’ white rice into an ascended form of carbohydrate. The chili was subtly sour & savagely spicy, and had enough garlic in it to kill Count Dracula. In short: that’s some good chicken rice chili, fam!

While @haikeesg certainly have a long way to go with their soya sauce chicken, they’re definitely one of the premier pork merchants in Singapore right now.

Havelock Blk 50 Fried Hokkien Mee (which is in abc market instead of havelock, ironically enough) is open from 8 in the morning till 1430 in the afternoon, while the more famous Yi Sheng takes the night shift from 1600 to 2200. Makes me wonder if they’ve got some kinda gentlemen’s agreement going on...

Ah yes, the important question. Which is better? Well, Blk 50’s Hokkien mee is drier and more savoury than Yi Sheng’s, and has more wok hei. However, Yi Sheng’s chili is clearly superior, but Block 50 ain’t no slouch in the chili department either.

Taste wise, both are rather redolent & soul satisfying. The biggest difference between the two is that I didn’t have to queue a full hour for Block 50, so I might just be a little more partial to Block 50.

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White House Teochew porridge is not situated within a white house, ironically enough. However, what is certain is that their food is rustic yet redolent.

Their most famous dish would certainly be their braised duck, and after a quarter of a duck I can certainly see why. It’s not quite as tender as Soon Kee’s braised duck, but it’s tender enough and it’s splendidly savoury. Plus, the slices are cut satisfyingly thick and it’s a real joy to chew on. Really gives a whole lotta satisfaction, especially if you’ve got stress issues to chew through.

The other delicious dish they’ve got is their steamed squid. It’s fantastically fresh & it’s perfectly steamed, and it’s got the satisfying springiness of a fresh & competently cooked sotong to boot. Dressed with a splash of their homemade sour chili that hits all the right notes of sour, salty & spicy, it’s sumptuously sublime.

It may not be presidential level, but it’s definitely good ducking food.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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