Quick Eats: Ayer Rajah Food Centre

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

DC was told to try out Hasan Rabit’s nasi briyani and we realised that it was at Ayer Rajah Food Centre. We took the excuse of visiting a friend in the area to try it out. It was too bad that Hasan Rabit itself was closed but the place was chock full of Malay stalls, worthy contenders to fill our stomachs that night.

Two dishes stood out. One was the ayam penyet from the amusingly named Boombastic Penyet stall (#29). The chicken was well fried so that it was very crispy. DC even managed to chew up some boney bits, it was crispy enough. I liked the rice, done chicken rice style. It was made with plenty of chicken broth and was tasty enough to eat on its own, yet wasn’t overly oily like how the Chinese style chicken rice can be. Last, but definitely not least, the chilli sauce was rich, tomatoey and incredibly spicy, just the way it should be!

IMG_3137

DC ordered another dish that’s not very common. He ordered not the mutton soup but the mutton tongue soup from A. Rashid Khan (#59). The tongue had a great texture, firm and slightly chewy, going extremely well with the highly spiced and peppery soup. Excellent stuff.

IMG_3142

We’re returning soon to try out more stalls.

Ayer Rajah Food Centre
503 West Coast Drive

Advertisements

July in Vietnam: Boats on the Mekong

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

A tour of the Delta was incomplete without a look at the boats populating the Mekong. There were lots of boats filled with junk (rather than real junks like the tourist ones up-country at Ha Long Bay.

00387

But a far cry from the North, here the inhabitants were incredibly friendly, waving warmly at the tourists passing by.

00394

Seeing as the river was so full of traffic, there were plenty of signs governing boat movements.

00412

Good luck in trying to decipher them all though!

00420

Here, there were bona fide floating markets that were there for true commerce rather than purely tourist commerce as in other more famous floating markets. Here, goods seemed to be traded in bulk as heavily laden boats plied up and down the river. How to figure out what each boat sold? Easy, just look at what was displayed on the poles.

00388

This boat was selling all sorts of vegetables and fruit.

00414

Another sold yet another mind boggling array of local produce.

00416

And here the boat sold an assortment of melons and pumpkins. I wonder what would happen if a boat wanted to sell pork or beef though.

00433

To make a sale, the boat owner had to catch the attention of the derelict little sampans and row the produce out to the buyer, whether on shore or on another boat.

00423

Some of the more enterprising boats sold banh mi (baguette sandwiches) from their floating stalls. Life here, it seemed, could be lived exclusively on the water.

00431

Even colourful wardrobes of clothes were brought onto the boat. The owner was never too far from a clean change of clothes.

00429

And of course, they lazed in their hammocks in the setting sun, exactly the way to end a long day on the river.

00438

Quick Eats: Sembawang Hills Hawker Centre

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

DC and I thought we’d do something a bit healthier and go for the HSBC treetop walk at Macritchie Reservoir. Before that we of course had to stop somewhere for sustenance. The Sembawang Hills hawker centre nearby did the trick. I did a very unwise thing and queued for the famous “inventor” fish soup where the owner had lots of little contraptions for serving his customers better. There was a curved dispenser so that we help ourselves to spoons hygienically and a coin sorter that helped him with his change. Needless to say, the queue was horribly long and DC said he’d go for the salted duck noodles instead. I persevered and got my fish soup with instant noodles (everyone else seemed to be ordering that too) and added some fish roe to it.

My verdict? It wasn’t worth the queue. While the fish was decent, there wasn’t a great deal of flavour and the noodles were a bit too soft for my taste. I could have done better cooking it myself at home.

IMG_2103

DC was prescient enough to take this shot before he started. By the time I got back to the table with my fish noodles, most of the duck and noodles were gone! Still, I managed to wrangle some over from him. Oh my, the duck was very good! The salt had cured the duck somewhat and intensified the flavour of the duck, also giving it a firm, smooth texture. And the noodles! I’m not normally a fan of yellow noodles (sek mee) but this version was still very much firm to the bite. DC had to restrain me from buying my own set of duck noodles after the disappointing fish ones.

IMG_2101

Next time we go to Macritchie I know what I’m having!

Fresh Fish Soup
#01-36

Ah Ee Traditional Hokkien Salted Duck
#01-28
590 Upper Thomson Road
Sembawang Hill Food Centre

Quick Eats: Tekka Market

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I like going to Tekka Market. Both the market and the hawker sections have such great stalls. The market side always has stuff open all the way into the afternoon on Sundays, making it ideal to catch some fantastic lunch and then buy groceries for dinner. The vegetable stalls have such a variety of ingredients that each time I go I find something I haven’t seen before. It’s a great place to get ingredients for Vietnamese or Thai food. It’s so easy to find Thai basil and other herby leaves here.

Now the hawker side is chock-full of nasi briyani stalls. Yakader is the place I go to. This was the place I had my briyani epiphany. Before this, I never understood why one would cook nuts and raisins with savoury rice. The nuts would just be soft and the raisins pulpy and sweet, which I don’t fancy in savoury food. It all became clear when I had my first spoonful of their rice. The cashews, though not crunchy, gave a lovely fragrance to the rice, and the not-too-sweet raisin gave it extra interest and texture. Now let’s get on to the mutton. It is amazing how tender this stuff is. At first, it seemed deceptively unyielding to the fork, but once a morsel was hacked off, it fairly melted in the mouth. Spiced just right, this stuff is briyani heaven.

IMG_2112

DC spotted some sup tulang at Hanifa’s nearby and ordered some mutton bone soup. It was very peppery and quite nice to gnaw at. I’m not super keen on chewy tendon (I like mine soft and melting), but the soup was nicely flavoured, though a bit of a shock to the system with the amount of pepper in it. It was so good that the family at the next table asked us where we got it and happily slurped up their order. I’d go back to try the mutton and tongue next time.

IMG_2115

Yakader
#01-324

Hanifa’s
#01-256

Quick Eats: Bedok North Hawker Centre

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I like Bedok North Hawker Centre quite a bit because while there’s plenty of good food, it’s also unpretentious and doesn’t have super long queues. I like the ban mian a few stalls down from Joo Chiat Chiap Kee. It has a clear, robust stock that tastes like there’s both pork bone and chicken in it. They use round spinach (bayam) in it, giving the soup a special fragrance. The noodles are decently chewy and don’t get too soggy after sitting for a while. I also like how the ikan bilis and onion bits taste like they’re fried in-house rather than taken from factory-made industrial-sized packs.

IMG_1614

For dessert, I love the taufa quite a few stalls down. It’s soft and silky and slightly creamy at the same time. I couldn’t ask for more.

IMG_1616

Bedok North Hawker Centre
Blk 216 Bedok North St 1

Pek Kio Market Yummies

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

It was about time we tried Pek Kio Market after hearing from Hypodermically how good the prawn noodles were. The minute we got there we fanned out, each having separate missions. DC was despatched to queue for the legendary prawn noodles, while others got other stuff to fill our stomachs for the long wait ahead. Forgettable:   Hokkien mee; decent: kway chap.

The chwee kueh from Pin Le was worth a mention because it’s just so darn huge! Each goes for $0.80 and is almost as big as the plate. It’s generously filled with chai poh and the chilli has kick. I’d have it again as a stomach filler even though it doesn’t quite make my love list.

DSCF7270

Taking things a notch up was the oyster omelette from Tong Siew. I know the picture looks awful, like someone had puked over the omellete, but do not be deceived by looks! It was one of the best oyster omelettes I’ve had. This is different from the usual orh luak, it’s call orn neng instead because it doesn’t have distracting starchy goo. Here, it’s just egg and oyster. The egg was fluffy and the oyster fresh and yummy. Together with the chilli sauce and the coriander topping, it was egg and oyster heaven for me.

DSCF7272

When DC finally bore the prawn noodles triumphantly to our table, we oohed and aahed at how big the prawns in the $15 version were. C&S had a bowl each of the regular ones and they were impressed already. After all the preamble, DC and I settled for sharing one $15 portion, divvying up the 3 prawns in our usual democratic fashion: he got the head of the last one and I the body. DC adored the soup, though I was sure at first. It wasn’t as punchy and in your face as expected, but after a few sips, I realised that the clear soup had a very clear taste of prawn with no distractions. The jumbo prawns were great too, plenty of coral and the flesh was firm and sweet. Excellent.

DSCF7277

The noodles were done very well too. I enjoyed it much more than expected as the chilli was very flavourful, plus it was augmented by crispy lard bits and plenty of crunchy veg. Thumbs up!

DSCF7281

Pin Wei (#25)
Tong Siew(#23)
Wah Kee Prawn Noodles (#15)
Blk 41A Cambridge Road Hawker Centre (Pek Kio)

Chronicles of MPT: Opera

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I’ve been a regular at Bedok South Hawker Cenre’s Opera for a long time. The auntie who took order would take one look at me and tell me my order immediately. It’s too bad she’s not there anymore, but the auntie who makes the noodles is still there.

What I love about this stall is how healthy and clean everything tastes. It’s not your usual fishball noodle nor bak chor mee. It’s invariably full of fresh ingredients like baby romaine lettuce (which other stall uses baby romain?), sprightly beansprouts and incredibly fat free minced pork. Coupled with homemade fried shallots, good chilli sauce and excellent vinegar,  the dry version is heavenly. I could eat here every day. In fact, I see lots of old-timers order their daily fix from this stall. (For the record, it’s not the one with the queue, I personally can’t see why people like the famous fishball stall with the long queue.)

DSCF6892

I also ask for extra vegetables for $0.50 more and they give me a much bigger bowl of soup plus extra fishballs and other ingredients. This is worth my while because it’s the only accompanying soup worth drinking. At other places I invariably leave the soup untouched because it’s just msg and water. Here, things are quite different and I always finish every drop of the soup. It’s fantastic.

DSCF6893

What’s not so great about it? The meatballs are only a notch above run of the mill and the meepok can sometimes be soggy. Go for the meekia or meesua, both the dry version. Both are excellent.

Opera
#01-175
Blk 16 Bedok South Road Hawker Centre