Good but Expensive – The Coconut Club

While I do enjoy good food, generally I baulked at paying high prices for what I called hawker food. The few exceptions are when the food in question has got a very good review and the ingredients somehow justify the price. Even then, probably just once to see what the fuss is all about. Which is why it took me a long time to go down to The Coconut Club which is just a stone throw from my office for their famed Nasi Lemak.
One of the reasons is that the few times I pass by , there is always a long queue along the corridor. The other thing was paying $12.80 for a plate of nasi lemak which I can get equally famous and good one from $3.00 at food centre. Still curiosity got me going and I roped in M for a lunch date at The Coconut Club. We reached slightly early and there was no queue! The queue started to form around 12.15 pm. Thank goodness.
We ordered one plate of the $12.80 nasi lemak, 1 otak and 1 spicy dried prawn long beans (haebihaem long beans to share. The waiter didn’t seem to mind that the 2 of us ordered so little. Or maybe he pitied us and thought we were too poor to order more because when the food was delivered, it came with a complimentary bowl of Sayur Lodeh! How about that for great service!

The nasi lemak comes with a chicken leg joint cut into 2 unlike other places that usually just serve the drumstick. There was an sunny side up egg ; peanuts and ikan bilis. That was all but it was a rather big plate. And of course, after tasting the rice, I can understand how it got its fame.
The otak came in the usual banana leaf. It was rather big so I guess they must have made it themselves and the waiter confirmed that later. Although it was freshly made and filled with fish, I think it was overpriced at $10.50.
The haebihaem long beans which incidentally was not on the menu was a tad salty but the serving portion was very big.
I felt that the Sayur Lodeh was a bit too watery but there was a good mix of vegetables in it.

Overall, while a bit expensive, I couldn’t mind coming back for the nasi lemak. I heard the Chendol is good but I didn’t try that so maybe good excuse to go back.

Amoy Food Taste – Salad

When it comes to eating healthy, nothing beat the business district area. Everywhere one goes, there are multiple a salad outlet, Poke stores and now the latest in thing – salad bar masquerading as Health Food. Prices range from $5.00 to a whooping $15.00 for what is essentially some meat (they call them Protein); a little bit of carbohydrates (its always carbs) and a lot of vegetables. For those who don’t mind paying the high prices, there are places like Simply Wrapps, A Poke Therapy; Daily Cut, Grain Traders etc. Interestingly though, the more you have to fork out at the atas place, the smaller portion you get. So for those with smaller pockets and big appetite, there is always the food centre and over at Amoy Food Centre, there are 3 great options. Used to be 4 though but one of them closed down for some unknown reason.

Salad Corner
Arguably the most famous of the 3 with its presence on social media and other outlets at malls. The base set is $4.90 that comes with 5 toppings. Premium toppings range from $1.00 to $2.00. Service is so so. Items are placed in a plastic container be it dine in or take away. Sauces of one choice (and they have at least 13 options) are poured over the final contents and that’s it. Taste wise? Hey, it mainly vegs so what taste?

B Salad Kitchen
A sister stall to the more popular Chef B Pasta (both stalls are next to each other), this stall has been slowly growing in popularity. Each salad is $4.90 and comes with 6 toppings. Different combo are available at very reasonable price. The smallest range of sauces though. Service here is slightly better as the staff here are younger and can banter with customers. Like all the other stalls, the salad are sold in plastic containers and only plastic cutlery are used.

Mr Salad
The stall with a smile. This one got my vote for the most friendly service. Price at $4.90 with 5 toppings like the rest. Guess they do keep an eye out on the competition. Premium topping ranges between $1.00 – $2.00 and the choice of sauces are like the other – overwhelming until you don’t know what to choose. Whatever happened to plain old Thousand Island or French Dressing?

1) Service. The 2 times I went to Mr Salad, I got served by a man. Smiling and very helpful even though I spent what I think is an unreasonably long time agonising over the toppings and the sauces. Because I am a regular customer at Chef B, the only time I went to B Salad Kitchen, the staff there was super friendly. Maybe because the boss is just next door? The service at the Salad Corner was the most basic. Just the pick what you want, pack and go. Efficient so cannot be faulted but no personal touch.

2) Price. All the same. But Chef B has got 6 toppings and the portion is bigger. They also got various options like basic + 5 + 1 main for $5.30. So Chef B gets my vote for value for money.

3) Variety & Quality. Sama sama. All 3 stalls used only lettuce as base although Chef B has some other vegetables as well. The topping including the premium options varies but there is something to satisfy every one craving so no complain either and as long as it not canned, it fresh. And because turnover is pretty good at all 3 stalls with some toppings sold out by the time I eat at around 2 pm, I can only surmised that other customers have no issue with the quality as well.

5) Taste. What taste? Vegetables and greens have no taste at least to me. The only taste comes from the fruits and that is something they can’t control. So we are down to the sauces. Did they prepare it on their own or buy off the shelf? With so many options to try but since I usually only stick to balsamic vinaigrette or honey mustard I really don’t know how different the taste varies from the different stalls.

Final Score: All the 3 stalls are practically identical in terms of prices and variety of options and sauces offered. And since these are salads, there is nothing much to compare taste wise. Portion wise, all are also about the same so at the end of the day, I guess it all boil down to service and which one has the shortest queue so that I don’t have to wait too long. 

Cheap and Good – Chef Ron

People who said our hawker food culture is dying is being proven wrong as evidenced by the number of young hawkers sprouting up in our food centre and especially at Amoy and Maxwell.

But generally most of these young hawkers tend to come up with some more interest modern food like Noodle Story and Different Taste at Amoy but over at Maxwell Chef Ron is sticking to traditional food like braised pork and chicken and his signature, Ipoh Curry Mee.

I had tried the braised chicken previously when it first opened. It was good but not fantastic. In fact I remarked to him that his fried chicken wing for the nasi lemak look so uninspiring. Well, since then he has gone on to create more items and seems to have hit it off with his Ipoh Curry Mee.

Since I have not tasted any original Ipoh curry me, I have no basis for comparison but I do like his version. It comes with char siew, roast pork and chicken. There was a hint of mint which I felt gave a nice balance to the food. And there are plenty of towgay just the way Ipoh food should be like.

Each bowl of curry mee cost only $4 but honestly the serving wasn’t that big. So to keep my stomach happy, I added on a kong bak pau and I must admit, this has got to be one of the best kong bak I ever had!

Judging from the many favourable reviews on social media and the web, their food is a hit although I didn’t see that many customers.  Blame it on the ongoing construction work for the MRT where the hoardings are keeping people away.  What a pity but good for me since there is no queue.

Good but not so Cheap – Gyu Nami

Amoy Street Food Centre is fast becoming a start up for young food hawkers. The latest to join the line up is Gyu Nami, a Japanese Donburi stall set up by 2 cousins or that what I was told.

They served only 1 item – Wagyu Beef Donburi. At $10.00 a bowl, it is not cheap by hawker food standard. The rice serving portion is also rather small as evidenced from the small bowl. But what does not lack for is slice and slice of Wagyu Beef cooked medium well. There is also an Onsen egg and a bit of vegetables. The whole thing is topped with a rather interesting tasting sauce which I figured got mayo and some other stuff which I cannot identified.

Once again, not cheap for a food centre lunch but definitely value for money!

Cheap and Good – Sumo Prawn Noodle

Have heard much about this place at Ang Mo Kio and its prawn noodle that comes with lobster. Finally managed to find time to go there and try it out. There was a short queue when we arrived around 8 pm. Fortunately, the service was fast and the queue moved swiftly.

The four of us ordered 2 bowl of prawn noodles that come with 4 big prawns and 2 bowl of noodles that come with 2 crayfish.

This is the $8.00 prawn noodle. Beside the prawn, there is also clams.

This is the crayfish noodle which also comes with clams and cost $13.00 each.

We didn’t order the Lobster noodle as we felt it doesn’t the cost of dinner at such a place. It is however rather reasonably priced at either $18.90 for Asian Lobster or $24.90 for Columbia Lobster depending on the stock availability.

Regardless of prawn, crayfish or lobster, the stock is the same. Not overwhelmingly sweet but just nice that it will not cause one to get jeilat after drinking it all down. While the prices may seem pricey compared to other prawn noodles out there, considering the quality of the ingredients, I will think that it is cheap and good!


Tian Lai Seafood Garden @ Gelang Patah

Gelang Patah has a few nice dining place. One of them is Star Chef Restaurant. The other is Tian Lai Seafood Garden. I been to Tian Lai twice and so far I been pretty impressed by the quality and quantity of the food served and at Malaysian prices too. Not inflated tourist price.

Their house special is the Pork Rib Curry. This is like a cross between Japanese curry and rendang. It come served is a claypot and the pork ribs are stewed until so tender that they are almost like mutton rendang.

I understand their fish are very fresh but we have made it a habit not to order fish for dinner as they are usually overpriced. Instead we have everyone’s favourite, crab! Black pepper crab.

Not very nice looking but taste is real good. Almost like the Still Road black pepper crab.

Other items that are real good are their hotplate tofu and sambal kangkong. These basic zhi zhar staples are well executed and is a must have side dish.

Prices are very reasonable despite the quality and quantity. Service is good depite the place being packed or at least it was the last 2 time I was there.