Cheap and Good – Taste Affair at Amoy

A few months ago, a new stall opened on the 2nd floor of the Amoy Food Centre.It was next to Han Kee Fish Soup and the stall front was permanently blocked by the long queue for the fish soup. It didn’t help that the stall facade was a bit boring and didn’t inspire anyone to patronise the stall. Which was  a pity. I noticed it only because I am a regular at Han Kee.

So one day I had a try. Business was slow and the 2 young men manning the stall came out to have a chat with me and asked about the food. Taste Affair sells “European cuisine” which is actually our usual pasta and grilled chicken but with a twist. I remembered I ordered some angel hair pasta, the chicken and this came with some side of vegetables and a nice poached egg. Unfortunately it also came on a disposable box and they have only plastic cutlery. The food was actually pretty good and when queried about the disposables, the 2 young men explained that the paper box tray was actually made from recycled sugar cane pulp. They have to use disposable as otherwise they will not be able to manage the washing. Which was a great shame as the food was seriously good.

The next round I had the favoured rice which was actually saffron rice. I still prefer the angel hair pasta though.

Every time I queued up for the fish soup, I could see the 2 young men standing around. Not many customers. Poor thing.  And then somewhere in mid March, a string of reviews from food blogger came out and wham, business seems to pick up overnight. Sometime at 1.45 pm, they had already sold out for the day! And if not, there was invariably a short queue.

When I finally got a chance to eat it, I discovered that fame has brought about some changes. For one, they no longer use disposable! Yay! And there seems to be more option now.Business according to one of the young man, had picked out 4 folds since the reviews came out and humble man that they are, they did not unlike other stalls paste them all over the facade. Instead I think they rather let the food speaks for itself.

And at between $5.00 to $8.00, it is a steal. Pity about the heat though… now if only they can change that as well:)

Hill Street Char Kway Teow vs Hill Street Char Kway Teow

Most of us who loves Char Kway Teow will know about Hill Street Char Kway Teow at Bedok South. But how many know that there is another Hill Char Kway Teow in the Smith Street Food Centre in Chinatown?

And unlike my previous piece on copycat stalls cashing in on a famous name, the latter is not a copy cat. In fact, it is as original as the Hill Street Char Kway Teow at Bedok South (HSCKT@BS). Both stalls originated from the old Hill Street Food Centre which is now a vacant plot of land between the Hill Street Fire Station and the MICA building. In those days, there were 2 char kway teow stall there. One facing the road next to the famous Sng Buay drink stall and the other tucked away on the inside. I don’t know which is which now but only that both serves great char kway teow.

HSCKT@BS is now helmed by the son and another lady (presumably the wife) but Hill Street Char Kway Teow at Chinatown (HSCKT@CT) is still helmed by the original stall owner. This is a simple comparison of both.

HSCKT@CT. Short queue even during weekday lunch time. The stall is neat and simple with a display of some giant cockles. Unfortunately they were just for display only and not for adding to the CKT. Each plate cost $3 – $4. CKT is fried individually. This is the drier version but is still full of wok hei.

HSCKT@BS. Perpetually long queue. The lady can be fierce and downright rude at times. Fortunately the son has managed to inherit the father’s cooking skill and the CKT is still as robust and good. It is slightly wet and oily the way I like it.

Hill Street CKT

Question is which is the best? Personally I still like HSCKT@BS. But if in the Chinatown area and hungry for a bit, I will rather have HSCKT@CT rather than join the queue at Hong Lim for the Outram Park Char Kway Teow.

Imitation is the best form of Flattery – Soi 19 Thai Wanton Mee

There is this place in Bangkok where there is a famous wanton mee outlet. The place as I understand it, is jam packed with tourists and locals. It sells Thai style wanton mee and some other side dishes like pork knuckle, fried wanton and vegetables. The stall name is SabX2 Pratunam Wanton Noodles and it is at Soi Petchburi 19 in Pratunam Bangkok.

Over in Ang Mo Kio in a tiny HDB coffeeshop, there is a stall which sells a mean wanton mee. The queue is so long I swear I almost faint from hunger the one time I was there. This stall sells a version of a Thai style wanton mee and some other side dishes like pork knuckle, fried wanton and vegetables. The stall name is SOI 19 Wanton Mee.

So we have 1 stall at Soi Petchburi 19 and one stall named Soi 19 in 2 different countries. Coincidence or a case of passing off? When I first heard about this stall in Ang Mo Kio, I thought maybe the Thai owner had some sort of franchise and opened up outlets in other countries. That was until a friend posted photos on her FB showing these signs all over the place at the Bangkok outlet.

So now we know this is a blatant case of passing off by name association. Just like there is only one famous prata stall in Jalan Kayu but there are many stalls elsewhere in Singapore proclaiming to be “Jalan Kayu” prata. Or Jalan Tua Kong fishball noodles. Or Katong Laksa. Trying to cash in on the reputation of another more famous stall by associating with its locality is something seen very often here. But these wannabes will soon be caught out if the food doesn’t live out to the standard of the more famous counterpart.

So back to Soi 19 in Ang Mo Kio. Because I have not tried the version in Bangkok, I cannot do a comparison. The group of us ordered these:

Thai Wanton Mee

Dumpling

Pork Trotters

Pork Intestines

But perhaps because we had to wait nearly an hour for it, we gulped down everything in double quick time. Was it good? My buddies didn’t really think it was that great. The only one among us who had tried the Bangkok’s stall also didn’t think very highly of this local copy. So perhaps it is more hype than substance and it was smart to cash in on the Thai’s “connection”.

Can someone who has tried both put a comment here and tell me which is better?

The Great Char Kway Teow Makanthon

In 2014, a group of us did a Prawn Noodle shootout or a makathon as we runners liked to call it. It comprise of us going all over Singapore within a day to sample the dish from different stalls. It took that long for me to digest the food but after  26 months, I am back with a Char Kway Teow shooutout/makathon!

Why Char Kway Teow (CKT)? For one, there is now a barrage of blog posts on the top CKT in Singapore and most importantly, next to Chicken Rice, CKT is probably the next most iconic food in Singapore.

CKT is generally considered a unhealthy food filled with deathly stuff like pork lard, cockles and infused with cholesterol inducting vegetable oil. So to avoid overloading our poor heart, we wisely decided to narrow down the list to 7 stalls to be consumed over ¾ of the day.

After much deliberation over Whatsapp, we narrowed down the list to these 7. Dropped from the list were the usual suspects like Outram Park, too long queue;  Zion Road, ate too often;  Heng Huat at Pasir Panjang –out of the way and Marine Parade, too wet. Also dropped were the halal version. What is CKT without pork lard?

Before I go on further, note that I am not going to talk about wok hei and all the mysterious mishy mashy terms about the dish that most food bloggers love to use in their review. Instead I will summarize the main things about the dish and the stall and our personal rating on a scale of 1 – 10 and I will leave it you guys to go down to the stall and try it and see whether you agree with our rating. J

First on the list and on our first stop – the ever popular Hill Street CKT at Bedok South. There is another Hill Street CKT at the Chinatown Food Street but these 2 are totally unrelated and not to be confused.

This is one CKT that I have eaten many times and like a lot. The old uncle has handled the wok over to his son and nowadays it is the son and a lady who does the frying just like this time when we went there.

We reached at around 11.05 am and they were not ready yet but there was already a small queue. After 10 minutes of waiting, we got our CKT. Standard has obviously dropped a fair bit now that someone else is doing the frying but it was still a great plate of CKT. All 3 of us like it a lot.

Hill Street CKT

Prices: $3.50 & $4.00 Generous portion. No option to have no taugey (bean sprout). Very small cockles.

Very fierce lady helper. Scold anyone who too slow to place order or have confusing orders. But shown her softer side when she ordered an elderly customer to sit down and she brought the plate over to him personally instead of making him queue up like us mere mortal.

Our score: 9:8:8 Total 25

From Bedok, we went to Old Airport Food Centre. There are 3 weil known 3 CKT stalls at Old Airport., Lao Fu Zhi; Lucky and Dong Ji. We skipped Lao Fu Zhi because all 3 of us agreed that the standard has dropped so much that it was no longer worthy of eating although by virtue of its past reputation, it still has a long queue. Lucky opens only in the evening and so we were left with Dong Ji which was the one we came here for.  Now this is one CKT that I had never tried before. My past 2 attempts there were unsuccessful-  both time sold out!

There wasn’t much of a queue even though it was already lunch time. It took us minutes to get our plates of CKT and when it came, we were very surprised. This isn’t the usual slightly wet, oily CKT. It was in fact quite dry and it does not have cockles! Instead it comes with a mid size prawn and for $4, one can get cuttlefish as well!

Dong Ji CKT

Prices: $3.00 & $4.00 No cockles but got prawn and cuttlefish. Very small portion.

Sold out pretty early.

Our score: 4.5; 5.5; 5 Total 15

Next stop a trip up North East to Sengkang, Anchorvale for another old stall, Armeniam Street CKT. Despite it being lunch time, there were no queue and we got our CKT in double quick time. This is another ckt that all 3 of us have not tried before despite it being one of the old names from days of old. The stall also sells hokkien mee and carrot cake which wasn’t very encouraging as I generally don’t think of multi-dish stalls of these nature.

However and surprisingly, our plate of CKT turned out better than expected. Maybe it because it has a lot of lards and it was spicy.

Armeniam St CKT

Prices: $3.00 & $4.00 Lots of lard. Very spicy even for default spicy level. Small cockles. Fairly decent portion. .

No queue probably due to its obscure location in Anchorvale.

Our score: 7; 7; 6 Total 20

Our next stop was Lai Heng at Shunfu but unfortunately the food centre was closed for cleaning when we reached so after some deliberation we went over to Ang Mo Kio Central. The stall is simply named Ang Mo Kio Fried Kway Teow.

I was glad to see that the chef was an old man. Usually that means experience and good food and we were not disappointed. This is one very traditional CKT. A bit on the wet side, oily and greasy in fact with lot of cockles and lard. Just the way I like it! But then in this age and time, this is really unhealthy, the type of cholesterol overload food that should be avoided.

AMK CKT

Price: $3 $3.50 Old style CKT oily and wet. Generous portion.

Our score: 6.5; 6;  5 Total 17.5

By now we were getting a bit “jaded” and the 3 of us shared 2 plates. Still we bravely soldier on to our 5th stop – Stall no 91 at Beach Road  food centre. To my horror, the first thing I saw was the word – “No pork no lard”. Now what kind of CKT can that be? But since we were there, we have to give it a try. The consolation was that the plate came with a lot of vegetables and fried silver fish sprinkled generously on top. Actually it wasn’t too bad but lose points for using disposal plates and utensils.

91 CKT

Price $3 $ 4.50 $5 No pork no lard. Plenty of vegetables. Silver fish added.

Our score: 6.5; 6; 6 Total 18.5

By now despite 2 bowl of ginger soup and 1 bowl of grass jelly to wash away the oil, we were getting “jelek”. And it looks like the sky was going to open up and so we decided to surrender/DNF rather than push on for no 6 & 7. Give us the excuse to repeat this another day J

So anyway, after 5 plates of CKT, the clear winner was Hill Street CKT followed by Armeniam; Ang Mo Kio and 91 Fried Kway Teow Mee. Dong Ji came in last not because it is no good but what we were looking for was the traditional type of CKT not this type of hybrid between the morning breakfast type of kway teow and fried prawn noodle. But hey, don’t take my words for it. Go and try out all these stalls yourself!

Happy eating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Uniquely Singapore Sandwiches

Some time ago, some “ang mo dude in the United State of Awesomeness~” mocked and dissed one of our beloved sandwich – the delicious heat busting ice cream sandwich that can be found in street corners all over the island and in Malaysia and Indonesia. Now why is it that I am never surprised at the fucked type mentality of these people who thinks they know what is best for the rest of the world never mind that the guy had never even tried it. For those of us who have eaten this, this must surely ranked as one of the best treat whether you out shopping at Orchard Rd, or at the beach or just walking out of the school compound.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream (photo from foodinmouth.com)

That post got me thinking though. Beside ice cream sandwich, we have some other sandwich that is really shiok and unique and which even the Malaysian and Indonesia cannot claim is their heritage food. Here are 4 of the best. For illustration purposes, the photos are taken with a single slice of bread instead of the usual 2 slices.

Pork Floss Sandwich

Most of us are familiar with the pork or chicken floss bun made famous by Breadtalk and now sold in every single bakery in Singapore and other parts of Asia. But before the pork floss bun, there was the Pork Floss sandwich.

Pork Floss

Pork Floss Sandwich

Seen here is crispy pork floss on a single slice of bread. Best eaten together with a thin spread of butter on the bread. I prefer the non crispy floss but the Mrs prefer the Crispy version. Either way this is great for breakfast.

Barbecued Pork Sandwich

Practically every one of us ie the non Muslim must have eaten barbecue pork or bak kwa before. But how many have eaten it between 2 slices of bread?

dsc_1662

Barbecue Pork or Bak Kwa Sandwich

This is one of the best treat when one is out in the trails and doing a long race or ultra. Oh… the kick that you  get from just biting into one mouth of this when you hot and tired after hours and hours of hiking and running. If you never try this before, pack one for your next hike/race. You won’t regret it!

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is one of my favourite especially if it is my Mum’s version of Hae Bee Hiam or spicy dried prawns. A slightly different twist to this is to use pork instead of Hae Bee.

Hae Bee Hiam

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is best eaten with the Hae Bee Hiam hot. Spread a thin layer of margarine or butter on the bread. Toast the Hae Bee Hiam if it is not hot. And then spread them liberally on the bread. Best as a tea time snack or even a full meal by itself.

Braised Pork Sandwich

Last but not least, my personal favourite. A big piece of succulent braised pork tucked between 2 slices of bread with just a little bit of the black sauce. This is similar to the Kong Bak Pau that is served at Hokkien restaurant and sometimes funerals.

Braised Pork

Braised Pork Sandwich

I usually eat it with the pork steaming hot and sometime throw in the skin or egg that is usually served together with the pork. Best eaten? Anytime!

What other unique local sandwich have you eaten before?

Cheap and Good – Healthy Carbs

Seems like the trend of healthy eating is catching on in a big big way especially in the city area. Just around the Shenton Way area, there are at least 10 outlets selling sandwiches and salads. The latest to pop up is Grain Traders at CapitaGreen but this post is about a more humble little stall at Lau Pa Sat.

Healthy Carbs sell a sort of salad, carbs and protein combo with prices starting from $5.50 for just salad to $7.50 for combo. Basically there is green (a lot of it in fact), an option of either soba or brown rice and choice of chicken, salmon, beef, saba fish …

Salmon with soba which was what I had the first time I was there. I like that in line with the healthy theme, there is minimum cooking and the salmon is not very oily. This cost $6.50 if I remember correctly.DSC_1323

The second time I was there, I had the beef with brown rice. This was a bit disappointing as the beef was stir fried and rather dry. But there was a very generous portion of it to make up. DSC_1343

What I really like is the generous serving and the different variety of proteins available. What I don’t know however is that like all the other stalls at Lau Pa Sat, they use disposal culteries which I absolutely detest!