Best Eats At People’s Park Food Centre

Best Eats At People’s Park Food Centre

Featuring Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo (People's Park Complex Food Centre), Dao Ji (People's Park Complex Food Centre), Yong Xiang Xing Tau Foo (People's Park Complex Food Centre), Bai Nian Niang Dou Fu (People's Park Complex Food Centre), Poy Kee Yong Tau Foo (People's Park Complex Food Centre), Tiong Bahru Pau (People's Park Complex Food Centre), Loh Mei Specialist (People's Park Complex Food Centre), Teochew Bakso
Gregory Leow
Gregory Leow

Watch the video review of the stall here: https://youtu.be/bA7_WtnbUyg

This yong tau foo (ytf) stall has been in existence since the food centre began operations in the 1970s and at the exact same spot.

You’ll know which stall it is by the long snaking queue of people that queue up for it before its opening at 1pm. You don’t get to pick and choose the ytf items, but they are all excellently well-made as the fish paste is wonderfully smooth and springy. Tofu items have a certain smoothness, and the soup has a nice blend of pork and soybean stock flavours.

They also serve their ytf as a set with no changes and with soup and with no rice or noodles ($4.50). A tip: if you want a second bowl, you don't have to re-queue. Just ask one of the staff (usually a lady) who will take your order and money.

The other interesting fact here is that chopped fermented beans are added into the spicy-and-sour chilli sauce which explains its complex savouriness.

A big thing to note is that every item — the taste of the soup and the fish paste — comes more savoury as compared to the other ytf stalls here, so if you’re a bit sensitive towards saltiness, you might want to stay clear. When you look at the average age of their clientele, you’ll understand why. The majority of patrons are in their 50s, 60s and older (biologically speaking, food tastes blander the older you get). So Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu is not upping the savouriness on purpose, they are simply catering to their clientele.

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Watch the video reviews of the stall here: https://youtu.be/fqyY5O9axMg
https://youtu.be/BeS7V6WO-Z8

If you’re a fan of Cantonese baos, these are the must-try items at Tiong Bahru Pau

The bao business started operations in the Tiong Bahu area in 1969 and are known for their very high quality streetside Cantonese-style baos

They now have about seven outlets scattered across the island with a central kitchen located in a shophouse on Outram Road

Their char siu bao comes with a full-flavoured thick barbecue sauce that is not too sweet, and has big chunks of pork inside.

Their siew mai is stuffed full of meaty chopped pork and water chestnuts.

Their leng yong and tau sar baos are thick, oil-rich and are incredibly well-balanced with very present bean and seed flavours.

A definite must-try is the rou pau (meat bun). There are two varieties — pork and chicken — and the chicken version is by far a big favourite as it comes with immensely soft and juicy meat.

If you’re a big eater, they have the da bao which is twice the size of the normal rou bao

Their spring rolls feature chunky strips of vegetables, spring onions and chicken strips. It’s a combination that is hard to get in Singapore, and if you buy them early in the morning, the rolls are still nicely crispy.

Some people swear by the fei huang dan (phoenix puff) which is boiled egg and minced meat wrapped in a fried pastry ball

Try their loh mai kai (steamed chicken and glutinous rice) and fan choy (steamed rice with char siu, egg and Chinese sausage) as they come with very generous chunky meat fillings for the price.

Prices range from $0.80 to $2 a piece.

Watch my video review of the stall here: https://youtu.be/NDRN65dk87M

One of four yong tau foo (ytf) stalls in People’s Park Food Centre (yes, the crowd here is mad for ytf), Poy Kee is arguably the third most popular stall after the insanely popular Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu where you have to queue like crazy to get your order and the hot newcomer, Bai Nian Yong Tau Foo.
Here at Poy Kee, there are queues, but it clears within 15 minutes which is why it's a favourite among office workers. Every order is also served as a complete meal — ytf items comes with soup, vegetables and a bowl of noodles — another attraction.
You can't choose what goes into your order, so a set ($3.30/4.30/5.30) gets you fishballs, steamed stuffed beancurds, fried stuffed beancurds and fish paste rolls wrapped with beancurd skins. The fish paste is flavoured a bit sweeter than what other stalls serve, but you get less of it as compared to when the stall was in its heyday some two decades ago. The items have shrunk in size, but they're still several notches better than factory-made ytf.
The other nitpick is the less than silky steamed beancurd but we’re really splitting hairs here
The other attraction is still the well-dressed dry noodles that have a dominant spiciness, as well as lightly sweet and savoury supporting flavours. And of course, every order comes with boiled soy beans and larger-than-normal crunchy ikan bilis. The noodles come fairly springy, though we have had them overcooked on occasion.

Watch my video review of the stall here: https://youtu.be/HYllO1mNmwU

A relatively hot craze which started some three to four years ago, People’s Park is a hotbed for Sichuan dishes. In particular mala xiang guo (hot numbing fragrant pot) where customers choose raw ingredients (meat, vegetables, beancurd) and they are stir-fried in a spicy gravy. It is distinctly different from mala hotpot where people dip raw meat and vegetables into a spicy soup. 
Hugely popular in China, Ri Ri Hong was the first to open in People’s Park Centre in 2012 and is arguably the most popular here having opened a second outlet within the food centre, to cater to the demand. 
The reason why it’s popular is because it’s relatively cheap for mala xiang guo. all these ingredients and it’s $11. normally you pay 15-20 in a food court?
If you’ve never eaten fragrant pot before, the process is fairly simple: there is a fridge portion of the stall where you choose your raw ingredients, then you move along, and you are asked how spicy you’ll want it and if you want rice with it. Pay for your order, and you are given a number; then you wait for your completed meal (upwards of $11 and more)
The raw ingredients are chopped up and are fried in a potent mala sauce that is made with over 20 different herbs and spices. There are three levels of spiciness — level one is relatively unspicy, while most will be comfortable with level two. Level three is really catering for the workers from China, and if you order level four, you’re hardcore. You can tell the level of spiciness by how numb your tongue gets.
Also, be warned that they work on a sell-by-volume principle, so they will give you a lot of one item — so if you order meatballs, don’t expect just two or three. They’ll give you six to eight, and you can’t ask for less. So before you know it, you’ll have a huge amount of food on your hands, especially for those of you who are used to having a lot of variety in your meals.

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Watch my video review of the stall: https://youtu.be/HaepIhXvQVw

With almost a 90 to 100-year history, Toh Kee is possibly the longest surviving Cantonese roast meats business in Singapore, but it has an uncompromising old-school taste which you’ll either love or hate, with less sweet accents and hardier meaty textures. The business started out about 1918, when the original proprietor walked around the Chinatown area, selling his roast ducks on poles. The family business proper started in 1926 and has been in existence ever since.

For many decades, they were touted for having some of the best roast ducks in Singapore, but that reputation has somewhat faded due to better roast ducks from other stalls and whispers of inconsistent management and rotating chefs of late.

The roast ducks here come darker and more charred, and it is partially due to the over 60-year-old charcoal steel roaster that is apparently impossible to build these days (they didn’t say why). Ducks are marinated in garlic, spring onions, salt and five-spice powder for about one and a half hours, then immediately after roasting, malt syrup is brushed on the skin to crisp it up.

The roast duck is still supremely good with a nice crisp skin and a robust, meaty texture that still retains its moisture. Compared to other stalls, the texture of the meat here is meaty as opposed to it being soft which is something you’ll either love or hate. The meatiness is intentional as the older generation prefer their meats with a bit more bite.

The same applies to their char siu which has gotten a lot of flak as it comes relatively lean and not a lot of fat. It comes with a fair amount of red colouring and taste-wise, more savoury and not as sweet. Texture-wise, there is still a fair amount of juiciness even though the meat is lean, which is impressive, to say the least.

The siu yok (roast pork belly) is pure perfection with a slightly charred, crispy skin, juicy meat and is cut into thick pieces. A soy reduction — made with fermented soybeans — comes on every plate has an old-school intensely savoury taste with a thin consistency and a prominent five-spice powder aroma. No plum sauce is available, but the smooth chilli sauce comes well-balanced with a fresh sweetness and a slight amount of tang.

Interesting bit of trivia: they used to serve sliced cucumbers with their roast meats but switched over to roasted soybeans as they felt the moisture from the cucumbers affected the crispness of the duck skin.

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Watch my video review here: https://youtu.be/Da6y0nM0J44

Also known as loh kai yik, Lo Mei Specialist is probably the only stall in Singapore which has been consistently selling this old-time Cantonese dish since the 1990s. You usually find this dish home made but commercially the dish does pop up in stalls here or there but it usually closes down shortly after, or they stop serving it because its not popular.

The central ingredient to the stew is nam yu a red fermented soybean paste that has a very distinctive taste. The name of the stall “lo mei” is a general term referring to any sort of braised meat or tofu, so presumably even among those who speak predominantly dialect, “loh kai yik” is very fast becoming a forgotten dish.

It was actually a common hawker dish in Singapore In the 1950s and 1960s. Back then you would see many street hawkers on bicycles, typically elderly cantonese selling it in the HDB estates, shouting “loh kai yik” “loh kai yik”!

People will remember hawkers selling it in joo chiat and tiong bahru.
That has since fallen out of favour probably due because it is time-consuming to prepare ( so many ingredients) and people being more health-conscious perhaps.

The beauty of this dish lies in the sauce which has a robust bean taste so you scoop a bit of it with your rice and it balances out the taste nicely.

Sadly, the standard of the dish from this stall has been falling over the years. The gravy used to be thicker, had a redder hue and a stronger fermented bean curd taste to it but it seems that they use a lesser amount of nam yu (red fermented bean curd) in it, probably because of cultural changes, people don’t like the strong taste of nam yu.

They also used to sell intestines but that’s gone now.

But do patronise this stall because, it’s so hard to find this dish and it probably won’t be long before you won’t find it any more.

Watch my video review of the stall: https://youtu.be/__kNCscOLvM

Bai Nian yong Yau foo | A stall with only two years of history and located at People's Park Food Centre, they do a version of yong tau foo that is distinctly different from what you get elsewhere. They only serve yong tau foo pieces with soup and bee hoon, and instead of the normal tofu items, their pieces are emphasised around fillings such as soft meatballs with crunchy black fungus, prawn balls made with pure prawn paste and deep-fried bittergourd stuffed with fish paste.

They have only one tofu item which is a non-fried tofu puff that is denser than the usual tofu puffs you get. The broth has a nice stock richness that is slightly sweeter than usual. Big eaters take note: bee hoon is free flow here. The sauces on the side are the standard sweet bean (similar to hoisin) sauce and a chilli sauce which is incredibly spicy. If you’re not used to chilli, use with restraint.

The original stall is in Albert Centre, and the branch here at People’s Park is their second outlet. They used to have a branch in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur called Century Bai Nian Niang Dou Fu, but that has since closed down. They also only offer a soup version, no dry offering and all the yong tau foo items in every order are set, no alterations. Still, that doesn’t deter the immense popularity of this stall as the lunchtime queues can be insanely long.

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Check out my video review here: https://youtu.be/DWfbh4FqeMY

Teochew Bakso | The Indonesian word for "meatball" is bakso, and the immediate assumption is that this stall must be Indonesian in some way but you’d be sorely mistaken.

They just sell Teochew fishball noodles here.

According to the stallholders we spoke to, they decided to name their stall as such because they were getting a lot of Indonesian and Indian tourists at People’s Park Food Centre over the weekends.

They gave the dishes names like mi bakso kering (fishball noodles dry) as they thought tourists would immediately identify with what they were selling. 

Beyond the quirky history behind the name, the fishball noodles here ($3/4) are extremely well done with a robust sauce that's big on savoury flavour, nice accents of smoky chilli and a subtle sweetness. 

There is a definite oil richness, and you can taste the fried dried prawns and onions in the sauce.

The savoury fishballs are handmade, large and come with a dense, meaty bite that is not common in many handmade ones these days. 

The downside is the noodles having a slight alkali smell to them, indicating that they purchased a non-premium grade noodle.

An interesting side point: Indonesian bakso is typically beef balls but depending on the region, you can find all kinds of varieties like chicken bakso and of course, fish bakso (fishballs).

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