Self-Discipline at Amoy Street Hawker Centre

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A friend came back on holiday and we went to Amoy Street Hawker Centre to satisfy her cravings for Teochew porridge and kway chap. We made it there just before the lunch crowd, so it wasn’t too bad finding seats. To our amusement, the practice of using tissue paper to chope seats is still going strong.

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Our first stop was at Teo Heng Teochew Porridge (1st floor). It’s quite different from other Teochew porridge stalls which are also chap chye beng stalls in disguise. The choice here is limited to pork and innards, braised duck, squid, fishball products and tofu products. We didn’t see any steamed fish nor stir-fried dishes. Seems like the only vegetable you can get is giam chye.

That certainly didn’t faze us because what my friend really wanted was her giam chye fix. We ordered braised duck, stuffed tau pok, tau kwa and of course giam chye.

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Each bit of the dish was good. The classic Teochew braised duck dipped in chilli vinegar was as it should be, slightly chewy and taking in the flavour of the soya sauce it was cooked in. The stuffed tau pok had a satisfying mix of textures: crisp cucumber shreds, firm bits of pork and that unique spongy-crisp feel of tau pok. The best of the lot were the giam chye and tau kwa. The tau kwa was creamy and soft while the giam chye was stewed till just right. It was salty, slightly sweet and slightly tangy, almost melting into the porridge. Needless to say, the friend was very satisfied. We spent slightly over $8 for the stuff in the picture and two bowls of porridge.

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We moved on to Ah Hing Kway Chap upstairs where we ordered a single portion (about $4) to share: small intestine, tau kwa again and of course giam chye. You can tell that we aren’t big eaters at all. We both liked the soft, slippery kway. The small intestine was pretty decent, though not the best I’ve had. It was a tad rubbery from cooking too long in the hot soy broth. I liked the tau kwa, though it came in second to Teo Heng’s far superior version. My friend didn’t like it, she found it too mushy. The most disappointing part was the giam chye. It was FAIL in so many ways, not cooked till soft, too sour, too sweet. In a word, FAIL.

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By then we only had room for teh halia at Rafee’s Corner. This is one of the best teh halias I’ve ever had. There’s enough ginger to give a throat-tingling kick, the tea is strong enough, it’s just the right sweetness, just the right amount of condensed was added. If there’s any detested evaporated milk in there, I can’t tell. And the best part is that they tarik it for you at no extra charge. 80 cents a cup in the CBD is just an amazing price.

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Because of our great restraint at lunch, I got hungry early in the evening. Luckily I had the foresight to takeaway some bak chang from Hoo Kee on Level 1. I’ve seen rave reviews of it on both Makansutra and ieatishootipost. After steaming to reheat, this pretty sight beckoned.

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It was good! I enjoyed it so much that I forgot about adding the accompanying chilli sauce. The glutinous rice was firm, the pork tender, the chestnuts sweet and floury and the egg yolk perfectly crumbly and fragrant.

I’m not a bak chang fan. I used to hate having to eat it for breakfast when the season came round, but this I’ll willingly have any time of the day! The only complaint I have is that it’s the most expensive bak chang ever. This one with salted egg and chestnut costs $2.80. Madness considering that the same amount could get you a decent bowl of noodles.

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