There’s this place in Choa Chu Kang called Farmart that bills itself as a farmer’s showcase of sorts. DC and I went there to check out the fresh produce as I was going to cook Sunday lunch for the usual suspects. It wasn’t quite the fruit and veg bonanza I expected as only one measly store sold sweet potato leaves and another one sold two types of fruit. The rest of the stores sold eggs, fresh fish, honey, quail and quail eggs, local pastries and wheat grass juice. There wasn’t a huge selection but the offerings were all very fresh, particularly the live fish on sale.
We stumbled across a small stand selling incredibly sweet Silver Valley pineapple and excellent mangosteen. The pineapple came from the same man selling pineapple at the goat farm in Lim Chu Kang and it’s sweet and aromatic, better than the Sarawak varietal. The mangosteen came in large net bags with the dark purple skin glistening brightly at us, beckoning us to buy. These were very good too. The seller claimed that they were so good only one in a hundred were bad. True enough, all of the ones I had were excellent, just the right balance of sweet and sour.
We then proceeded to Cheng’s Seafood Village within the same compound for lunch. DC’s idea of a simple lunch was horfun, stir-fried vegetables and a large heap of butter prawns. The cooking here is good. They use good stock liberally in the food. The vegetables were fragrant with lots of yummy stock and the horfun noodles were pre-fried so that each ribbon of noodle was slightly charred. Very well done. I also quite liked how there were some little surprises such as the mussel in the horfun. What DC didn’t like was a mushy prawn. You win some you lose some I guess.
DC claimed that it was good enough that he ordered butter prawns as the unhealthy alternative would be the oat prawns. I think I can safely say that DC is rather insatiable, perhaps more so than me. The moreish prawns were coated in an almost sweet butter crisp and were fried till just right. They were excellent even eaten shell on.
Cheng’s Seafood Village 67 Sungei Tengah Road Unit 43 Tel 6892 5590
Lee Tong Kee Ipoh Sar Hor Fun is one of those old school places that modernised into an air-conditioned coffeeshop but still retains the same gruff, I-know-exactly-what-you-want-and-when-you’ll-get-it service. We had fried wanton ($6) for starters and they were fried to crisp perfection on the outside and bursty juiciness on the inside. Either that or I was too hungry to be discerning.
The standard Lee Tong Kee horfun dry ($4) came swimming in its own private pool of delicious dark brown gravy. I guess people like to drink it like soup, but not me. I liked the fresh prawns (completely peeled, without even the tail, what a rarity!) and tasty tender chicken but wasn’t too keen on how the horfun stuck together. Texture-wise, the noodles were fine. They were quite delicate, so it was a pity that they were pre-assembled and practically glued together. But overall, it was very good. The sprinkle of homemade fried onion (not factory-made) really completed the dish.
Go try this place if you’re in the area. It’s reasonably priced considering that you get aircon and you don’t have to queue.
Lee Tong Kee Ipoh Sar Hor Fun
278 South Bridge Road
Tel 6226 0417
Tanjong Pagar Hawker Centre isn’t the most famous, but it’s got lots of good food. One of them is the Ipoh horfun stall at #02-21. In my excitement I forgot to take down the name, but it’s run by smiley duo who cook their food with love. My friend recommended ordering the macaroni instead of horfun, which wasn’t the best move because it was overcooked. Some of them were so soft the pasta actually split down the middle. Oh well, next time I’ll order the horfun version.
The mushrooms were plump and juicy while the chicken came in generous strips that were rather juicy for breast meat. The dollop of chilli gave a good kick to the dish though I found the brown sauce itself lacked a bit of oomph.
The soup really clinched it for me. It burst with clear, fresh flavours yet was light and almost refreshing. A big plus were the wantons which were stuffed with pure prawn and nothing else. It’s a good deal for $2.50!
(Sorry I forgot the name of this stall!)
Blk 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza
#02-21, Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market & Food Centre
At the same hawker centre is Annie’s famous peanut ice kachang. While I’m not an ice kachang fan, Annie’s version is perfect for a hot day. Super soft and mushy red beans, sweet corn and of course ground peanuts lavishly cover a tower of sweetened shaved ice. Underneath lies black chinchow cubes and green chendol strips. The grainy, crunchy, chewy textures work very well with the bland, sweet and cold. Good stuff for $1.50.
Annie’s Peanut Ice Kachang
Blk 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza
#02-36, Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market & Food Centre
Chinese New Year is running its course, tomorrow being the last of the 15 days: You have one more day to get your yu sheng (raw fish salad).
Zhenjie’s version is pretty decent. The stall is in the central area of the newly refurbished Chinatown hawker centre. It’s hard to miss with the bright lights and garish signs, even if you can’t read Chinese characters.
I was out with my mum and aunts and we had the $24 ikan parang version. I liked that they gave enough lime to give a good sour kick and plenty of ground toasted peanuts for a satisfying nutty taste. This is one unhealthy salad, with too much oil from both the dressing and the crispy flour bits, too much sugar from the plum sauce and the candied wintermelon, and too much food colouring from the almost fluorescent red and green bits. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of this unhealthy salad, it’s one of the better yu sheng I’ve had this season.
We moved on to lunch proper at An Ji (Stall #02-194). Lucky thing we had a late lunch. The crowds had cleared by then and we saved ourselves a 30-minute wait. While this place is famous for steamed song fish, we’ve never ordered that. None of us like the muddy taste of the freshwater fish.
We went for the yu peen sang meen (fish slices with crispy noodles) and the ngau hor (beef with flat rice noodles) instead. The yu peen sang meen is amazing stuff. They deep-fry the sang meen to order and they use the finer version too. The effect was seriously crispy noodles crumbling in my mouth with a satisfying crunch. Even after sitting for a while in the sauce, the noodles were still crunchy and didn’t collapse into a soft mass like inferior versions. The black bean sauce was smoky and yummy, with plenty of wok hei and the sang yu (snakehead fish) was of course fresh. It would’ve been even better with cut chilli, but they only provided chilli padi and I was too lazy to ask for normal chilli. The only grouse I had was that the sauce was on the salty side. Will have to remember to make a special request next time.
An Ji really knows how to treat its noodles. I’d initially had reservations about the horfun because it looked too white, they hadn’t dry-fried the horfun beforehand. On the first bite, I was sold. The horfun was soft and yielding as my teeth sank into the noodle yet had a bouncy bite towards the end. The only term to describe is really with the Taiwanese coinage “Q.” It was a revelation that horfun can be this good. The sauce had a robust beef flavour and got extra depth from the black bean sauce. It was smoky with wok hei as expected. The downside was that they’d marinated the beef slices in bicarbonate of soda, giving them an odd spongy texture.
Go grab your noodles from here, though don’t rush because they’ll sell it past Chinese New Year.