Hawker Hunting

Hawker Hunting

Always out to hunt for the best hawker food in town and those hidden gems that have yet to be discovered.
Terence Ong
Terence Ong

It’s been quite some time since I posted a review of our beloved national dish, chicken rice. Decided to go off the beaten track and give Lam Bee Restaurant chicken rice in MacPherson a try.

We had both the steamed chicken and roasted chicken (half and half) to share. The meal was about $31 for 3.

CHICKEN 🐓

Chickens here are relatively plump and each bird weighs about 2kg.

Roast chicken was relatively succulent and the meat pretty tender. This was better than the steamed chicken.

Steamed chicken had a beautiful exterior with the velvety looking skin. I felt the meat could’ve been a little more tender as it was on the dry side.

Had an egg cause I like boiled eggs with chicken rice.

RICE 🍚

While the rice was fluffy, it was unfortunately a little bland for my liking. The fragrance from the ginger and garlic were lacking, so was the rich flavour profile of the chicken stock.

CHILLI 🌶

Chilli was slightly spicy and tangy. Nothing to shout about.

SOUP 🍲

Soup lovers will enjoy their selection of Cantonese double boiled soups. We had the watercress and pork bone soup.

If you happen to be in MacPherson, you can give this a try but I won’t make my way out for it again.

One of the stalls that has the longest queue at Maxwell Food Centre is Fu Shun Shao La Mian Jia (01-71). Be enticed by the hanging display of roasted meat from the likes of char siew, roast duck, roasted pork and spare ribs. Have it with rice or noodles.

Char Siew - Thick, meaty cuts of char siew that are irresistible from afar. How can you not notice the glistening, caramelised char siew glaze that gives it that sweet savoury taste. A fairly good balance of fat and meat as I like fatty char siew.

The edges are slightly charred but not blackened that makes it great for those who dislike the burnt flavour. One good thing about this stall is that you can opt for either lean or fatty cuts of char siew.

Roasted Pork - For hawker standards, expect thicker than average slices of tender roasted pork belly. The crackling is super crispy and you can hear the crunch while chewing on it. Meat is fairly juicy but don’t expect it to be as good as Imperial Treasure’s. Pretty good for a weekday lunch if you’re back in office.

Roasted Duck - Beneath its slightly crispy skin lies a thin layer of fat and tender pieces of duck meat. A fairly good roasted duck that serves as a motivation for you to work harder in the afternoon.

Price - Starts from $3 a plate. A three meat combination (三拼饭) sets you aside $7.

The uncle is quite friendly and will make an effort to make some small talk with you. That may be why the queue moves rather slowly. But if you go at an off-peak timing, you wouldn’t need to wait too long.

Haven’t tried the wanton noodles before. Will make a mental note to try them next time.

Some say that 925 Chicken Rice is the best chicken rice in Yishun. Do you agree? Well, read on to find out what I think.

Only steamed chicken is served here. Sorry, roast chicken fans. It’s quite reasonably priced for what you get for $4 (1 person). You get to choose your chicken parts (breast, thigh, drumstick). I chose drumstick as they were still preparing the thigh meat at the time I went. And it’s served with a tiny serving of achar, a side soup (it’s translucent and not clear).

The rice was reasonably fluffy and fragrant where it doesn’t clump together. But not exceptionally flavourful. The chicken itself was tender (it’s drumstick after all) but not as silky and juicy as what I would expect. I like the special sauce as it added a bit of flavour to the dish.

I expected the chilli to wow me over. But it didn’t had the tangy kick or the garlicky punch. And doesn’t have the spiciness factor too.

It didn’t taste the same as when I had it back at its sister outlet at Ang Mo Kio 722. Do the food at the Ang Mo Kio outlets taste better than the OG at Yishun? I feel that the standards have dropped slightly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good plate of chicken rice. But is it worth the detour? Probably not.

Chilli mee is of the less common hawker dishes you can find. In fact, this was the first time I had it in my entire life. You can check out Chung Cheng Chilli Mee (01-59) at Golden Mile Food Centre to try this dish. If chilli mee isn’t what you fancy, get their prawn mee and laksa.

Golden Mile Food Centre will be closed from December 2020 till March 2021. So head down soon if you wanna try this.

The minimum order for a bowl of noodles is $3. If you want more ingredients and noodles, go for the $4 or $5 one.

What stands out here is the homemade chilli paste that's with sambal belachan and other spices. You can ask for as much chilli as you want.

Despite its name, the sambal isn’t incredibly spicy. But it lean towards the sweet and savoury side. As I prefer my chilli paste to be spicy, I found this to be a bit mild and bland for my taste buds.

We opted for yellow noodles mixed with bee hoon (rice vermicelli), but you can choose other type of noodles such as kway teow and mee pok.

You’ll get some prawns, pork ribs, fish cake, beancurd puffs (tau pok) and beansprouts. I found the ingredients to be decent but nothing Terryfic. Probably I was full (as we had Hokkien mee too), but I didn’t find the soup to be memorable either.

Not really my favourite noodle dish. Given that Golden Mile Food Centre has many other stalls, I’d rather try them first before returning. But do give this a try if you never had their chilli mee before.

Can you believe it’s my first time eating Sarawak Kolo Mee? Where do you go for Kolo Mee in Singapore or Kuching even? Being very curious, I joined the short queue at Sarawak Kolo Mee by Jin’s Noodle at Amoy Street Food Centre (02-110). They have opened a couple of outlets including the Kopitiam at Tampines Mall.

Let me tell you what’s inside their Kolo Mee. For $4/5, be treated to a bowl of thin and springy yellow noodles with minced pork, char siew, boiled wanton, fried wanton and cai sim/ choy sum. It’s finished off with an aromatic mixture of fried onion and lard although for some reason there’s a bit of water that’s collected at the bottom of the bowl. Help yourself to the sambal chilli and green chilli. You can opt for spinach noodles too.

There’s a good amount of meat to give you enough protein for the afternoon. It was great that the fried and boiled wantons that’s filled with a good amount of minced pork. And the char siew was meaty and not of the lean and dry variety.

It’s a pretty good bowl of kolo mee although I don’t have a benchmark to compare it against. I found the portions to be reasonably filling but not food coma inducing.

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Being my first time to Geylang Bahru Food Centre, I decided to join the stall with the longest queue being the Singaporean in me. Cheok Kee Boneless Braised Duck (01-35) serves duck rice and porridge. A plate of duck rice sets you back $3, although you can also opt for a set meal if you’re sharing this with a friend.

We queued for half an hour on a weekend afternoon. Pictured here is the set meal for two ($11). It’s a relatively good deal given that there’s a good amount of duck meat and there’s duck gizzard included (if you eat them). Unfortunately, they don’t sell egg and tau kwa (firm beancurd).

DUCK 🦆

Love how there’s so much meat even after it’s been deboned. Texture was decent but not the most tender I had. It could’ve been softer.

Gizzards were fresh and thoroughly cleaned. No funny smell or taste. I’m not someone who would order gizzards on its own though.

SAUCES

The braised sauce (lor) was fragrant with a unique herbal taste that can’t be found elsewhere. Consistency wise, it can get rather watery after awhile. I wished it retained its thickness throughout my meal.

I must say I like their chilli sauces. Make sure you get the tangy garlic chilli sauce which is mixed with vinegar and the sambal belachan. Some people enjoy mixing the two together.

RICE 🍚

Nothing spectacular. It was rather dry and clumpy. At least it wasn’t just white rice but brown rice that’s infused with soy sauce.

All in all, it’s fairly decent but not worth the half an hour queue.

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If you’re at Ghim Moh Food Centre for breakfast, why not have some thosai (dosa) or appam (hopper)? Heaven’s Indian Curry (01-15) serves pretty legit hoppers that are made to order. You can also order putu mayam and idly. It sells out pretty fast on weekend mornings so go early.

Masala Thosai/ Dosa ($2.50 per piece). Truth is I prefer thosai to prata. For a potato lover like myself, I usually go for the masala thosai. Within this fermented rice flour pancake is a decent serving of spiced potatoes. The final product is slightly tangy and on the softer side. It’s not crispy like paper thosai.

Served with dhal sambar, tomato chutney and coconut chutney made with fresh coconut, I like to mix the condiments together for maximum pressure.

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If you’re at Ghim Moh Food Centre for breakfast, why not have some thosai (dosa) or appam (hopper)? Heaven’s Indian Curry (01-15) serves pretty legit hoppers that are made to order. You can also order putu mayam and idly. It sells out pretty fast on weekend mornings so go early.

The appam/ hopper ($2 per piece). Cooked to order using griddles imported from India, it’s not easy to find appam in most hawker centres. Each piece is like a thin and crispy fermented rice flour and fresh milk pancake (it’s usually coconut milk) with a soft centre.

Eat it asap as it gets soggy pretty fast. Remember to eat it with the orange sugar and grated coconut.

I enjoyed the egg hopper too although I wished the yolk was runny.

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Sometimes what you need is just a simple bowl of fish ball mee pok after all the rich festive food. If you’d like something old school, try Ze Ji Fishball Noodles at the rustic Choon Guan Coffee Shop at Block 21 Old Airport Road. Popular with local residents, the owners start work in the dead of the night to make their fish balls by hand.

A generous serving of noodles sets you back $3/4. Choose a noodle of your choice, soup or dry. Then you’ll get a clear, savoury soup of fish ball, fish cake, fish dumpling (her keow) and sliced pork.

The highlight here is the fresh, bouncy, soft handmade fish balls that give a nice bite. Somehow handmade fish balls taste better, don’t y’all agree?

Since the fish balls are handmade, I’m assuming the fish dumplings and fish cake are too. The fish cake was sliced thickly that helps me to appreciate the springy, bouncy and slightly uneven texture. Enjoyed the fish dumplings too which are made from fish skin and contained a good amount of minced pork filling.

I went with my usual choice of dry mee pok with chilli. I noticed that beansprouts are added to the noodle which isn’t very common. Noodles were springy as they were cooked al dente (a must), while the chilli mixture was tasty in its own right.

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Stoked that Singapore’s hawker culture was inscribed into @unesco intangible culture heritage list. And it’s great to try food served by hawkerpreneurs such as this piping hot bowl of mee hoon kway from @jiak_song at Block 11 Telok Blangah Crescent Food Centre (01-108).

Having heard so much about them and considering how it isn’t the most convenient of places, we decided to go big and have the Signature All-In Combo Mee Hoon Kway Soup ($5). Basically, mee hoon kway with minced pork, pork balls, prawn balls, soft-boiled egg, vegetables and fried ikan bilis (anchovies).

The mee hoon kway is made in stall using a noodle machine. What I like about them is the chewy, doughy noodles that’s cooked al dente, though it’s firmer than what you’ll get elsewhere.

What stood out is the handmade prawn balls which isn’t something you usually find in mee hoon kway. I enjoyed how bouncy and fresh the prawns were. The meat balls on the other hand could’ve a little more flavour.

My take on the ikan bilis soup is that while it was pleasant and comforting, it didn’t wow me over. The flavour could’ve been stronger and didn’t have that umami I was looking for.

The piquant, tangy, flavourful chilli sauce that has some fermented soy beans (tau cheo) is a noteworthy mention too.

Would I make the journey down? Not really.

Unless I happen to be in the area and I’m looking to satisfy my ban mian/ mee hoon kway cravings.

Love white carrot cake? Give Hup Huat White Carrot Cake (02-35) a try when you’re at Hainanese Village Food Centre. Only serving white carrot cake, it’s presented differently from your typical carrot cake as it’s cooked in squares, has a pancake like thickness and presented in a flower shape.

The homemade carrot cake cubes are soft and you can actually taste the radish itself. I noticed the cubes are relatively tiny compared to the ones you can find elsewhere.

The carrot cake is well coated with eggs. In fact the egg is pan fried till crispy and nicely coats the carrot cake cubes. And this gives it a nice oomph. This is different from most carrot cake where the egg is cooked till fluffy and doesn’t shape the flavour profile of the dish.

We added chilli sauce to the carrot cake for a spicer touch. As the chilli is well spread throughout the dish, I felt it blended too well into the dish and couldn’t taste it. Perhaps it isn’t too spicy for me to make a difference.

There’s a queue number system in place and you got to wait for a good 15-20 minutes at most. It’s a good carrot cake but I wouldn’t make the special journey out to Hainanese Village for this.

Has anyone tried Mdm Leong Ban Mian at Amoy Street Food Centre (02-109)? Absolutely love their Dry Chilli Ban Mian ($4.50/5.50) which is based on a Hakka recipe. And the noodles are made in stall and no MSG is used.

What I enjoy about the ban mian here is the handmade noodles. The noodles are of the right thickness and are cooked al dente (or QQ). This results in a chewy and springy texture.

The chilli that’s served with the noodles is also worth an extraordinary mention. The dried chilli is fried with dried shrimp to give it a mildly spicy, savoury and flavourful kick to the noodles. Do mix it together with the noodles and dark sauce for maximum flavour. The chilli could’ve been spicier though.

For the ingredients, you’ll get some minced pork, mushrooms, black fungus, fried egg and choy sum. It’s then topped with fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and fried shallots. A small bowl of lightly flavoured soup is served.

Decided to add on the braised pork belly ($2) and I didn’t regret it at all. It was soft, tender and balanced in terms of meat to fat ratio.

If you do a bit of Googling, you can read Mdm Leong’s inspirational story on her life and the beginnings of this stall.

P.S. Y’all could probably guess by now that I have a penchant for eating noodles at the hawker centre. 😂

The camera always eats first. Instagram: @eaterries

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