Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pin Xiang Noodles

It was supposed to be a quiet scene in the market hawker at 5am, but the peaceful morning was peppered with a chirpy female voice. A voice that signaled the start of a busy day ahead for the stall owners of 品香 Wanton Noodles.

My word, the lady boss of this famous stall talks non-stop, akin to her business that is never short of a long queue, even in the early part of the morning.

Looking at the stall display, you know you are at the right place. Photos of celebrities and awards are seen prominently featured. And if that does not sound convincing enough, then the fact that 品香 was featured in a TV programme, must surely strengthen the belief that they really serves top notch wanton noodles. The queue says it all!!

Originating from Malaysia, what makes 品香 noodles ooh so good is undeniably the generous amount of rich tasty sauce that bathes the noodles. Other than the usual black sauce that blends with most wanton noodles, they never fail to add a scoop of gravy that cooks the chicken feet. Ah....this also explains why I will always order their wanton noodles with added chicken feet. I am a keen lover of chicken feet, and this one is braised till soft. Each bite allows the meat and skin to slide out easily. And the tasty feet is a testament to how they absorb every ounce of juice from the various ingredients in the pot. Chicken feet lovers, please note that their chicken feet can be sold out even by 9am on weekends.

品香's noodles are also crunchy and smooth, a fine texture that offers a perfect match with the tender char siew. The wantons also deserve a big mention. Within the silky wanton skin is a wonderful mixture of succulent pork and some other ingredients that gives a strong hint of the presence of lard.

And that is not all, 品香 serves a thick bowl of tasty soup, cooked with enormous amount of soy beans and ikan bilis. I could easily finish the soup even before I have my first mouthful of noodles. Trust me, the soup is really that good.

Now, there is something really unique about the lady boss. Other than her non-stop chattering, she has this really awesome memory that allows her to remember all her orders. To top this, she remembers individual customers' order too!! The best part is that she would address older male and female customers as '帅哥' and '美女' young adults as '小弟' or '小妹'.

If you wanna enjoy a good bowl of wanton noodles and getting someone addressing you 10 years younger, then this is the place, alright.

Pin Xiang Noodles 
Blk 93 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh
Singapore 310093

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Chuan Heng Fish Ball Minced Meat Noodle

It was early morning. I could barely see anything in the room except for the flickering light on my mobile phone.  I saw a sign, a notification from some whatsapp messages.   Lying on the bed awake, I heard another sign. This time, it was a rumble from my stomache.  Oh my, it is time to get my butt up and fulfill the craving I had since late last night.

I made a short drive to Serangoon Gardens Market & Food Centre to visit Chuan Heng. This stall sells various noodles; from laksa to fishball noodles, to beef noodles and lor mee. It is famous for their beef noodles.  The number of reviews on this dish from food critics serves to justify that. However, my favourite food from this stall is definitely their lor mee. I am a Hokkien, perhaps it is no wonder why I just love lor mee so much since it is a Hokkien dish.

Every time I am there, I like to watch the owner of Chuan Heng's cook my bowl of noodles.  As she boil the noodles, she would also re-fry the fried ingredients to ensure they have a fresh crispy texture. Please note that not many food stalls that sell lor mee will do this.  Perhaps, this is one of the reasons that I keep going back for more. For $3, imagine a layer of sticky gravy submerging thick noodles cooked to perfection, topped with pieces of fresh fried dumpling, fried fish, slices of yam roll and ngoh hiong (meat roll), That is not all, you will also find tasty braised egg and tender thick slices of pork belly. 

Before serving, the lady owner will always ask customers an almost identical question, whether we prefer to have garlic, chilli and vinegar added. You see, lor mee is normally best served with a dash of vinegar, a tea spoonful of garlic and chilli, so it is imperative that they are added.  Other than chilli paste, I would always add a spoonful of cut chilli in soy sauce on my own for extra taste.

Other than the fried ingredients, the gravy is also a winner.  It has a nice blend of texture and taste. As you lift the noodles to eat, the sticky gravy ensures it clings on to the noodles for optimum taste in the mouth. Gravy which is too watery will not be able to achieve this. 

If I could give a prize to one ingredient, it has to be the braised meat.  In my years of eating lor mee, I have never come across a braised meat serving to be so thick and chunky, tender and flavourful. Nothing like the thin and dry ones that I have tried in most lor mee stalls.  Trust me, Chuan Heng's braised meat really reminds me of homecooked ones every time.

I am a sentimental and nostalgic person. Maybe that is why I just love this lor mee.  Try it, even if you are not that nostalgic. Go for the $4 bowl. You won't go wrong with this one.

Chuan Heng Fish Ball Minced Meat Noodle
Address: #01-03, Serangoon Garden Market and Food Centre
49A Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555945.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Durians Galore

"Tis' the season to be jolly."

Yea, X'mas is fast approaching and many are getting ready with festive goodies. A foodie like me may say: "Tis' the season to be heaty." And I am getting ready with liang teh and salt water.

Of course, I am referring to the durian season! Other than the Barclays Premier League (football) season that commences every August, this has got to be the other most anticipated season for me.

Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian

I had a conversation with my mummy about how it wasn't too long ago that we last tasted durians, but tell that to my tummy, it would have seemed like eternity.

I tried to contact my regular supplier at a makeshift stall in Ang Mo Kio, but I was disappointed each time.  You see, he only runs his business when there is good harvest and when the price is good enough for him to make some extra cash.

As the hunger for durian grows each day, I finally pestered my friend enough for a lobang (good deal) that he once had.  It was a deal that he had to purchase durians in bulk, from a plantation in Pahang. The purchase has to be in the form of large baskets and each basket would weigh 50 kilos.  The price for each durian would be significantly cheaper than most durian stalls but there would also be a significant risk since the durians are unopened and some may not be up to standard.  I gave in to my craving and rounded up a few of my friends and relatives to try.

The delivery was due yesterday.  I had to travel a few km to receive them. As the driver of the delivery truck was not familiar with SG roads, delivery could not be made at my residence.  Other than arming myself with boxes, gloves, plastic bags and cash,  I also had to bring along my mummy who "boleh cakap melayu" (conversant in Malay language).

The delivery was smooth and swift as the driver unpacked the durians from the baskets and re-packed them into my car boot. The boot was so full, it contained a good 90 durians. Of course, it smell very full of one heavenly aroma too. One that a durian lover would certainly crave for. Till now, I still wonder how my daughter would sit in the car and not complain vehemently.

As I opened the durians last night, I had the same feeling of anticipation that I used to have when I was a young kid, unwrapping the X'mas presents that stood in front of me. Each time I opened one durian, my eyes lit up, seeing the bright coloured Mao Shan Wang (Musang King) durians nested nicely in their place.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.  To my negligence, I had forgotten to take a snap of this moment. Thankfully, my cousin did.

Photo Credit: Keith

A picture often tells a thousand words.  I shall complement that with just a few of my own.  Each seed was soft and creamy, though I felt was lacking slightly from the usual Mao Shan Wang buttery taste. I checked the base of the durians and I saw the star shapes, so they were authentic. Perhaps, the ones I got were the more bitter ones.  And it is no wonder I felt intoxicated by the strong bitter seeds.

Actually, I was surprised when I tasted both bitter and sweet seeds from the same durian.  Is that common?  I need to ask around. To be honest, my preference for durians are the slightly sweeter ones, but still I wallop 10 seeds at one go.  I must have craved for it far too long.  And I slept like a baby last night too!

My friend, Danny and his family who loves durians, commented that he had the "heaty sensation" instantly as he felt his "throat burning after the first 2 seeds."  "Good grade" and "thick flesh" were his other feedback.  Another friend, Joseph said it was "really solid" and "worth the $$$".  However, there was a friend who unfortunately received 3 bad ones, ones he said were inedible.  This is the risk that I mentioned about. Purchasing from durian stalls can more or less guarantee durians bought are of a certain standard.  Those that are found rotten, stale or not ripe will normally not be sold. Since we purchased by the baskets directly from the plantation, it would not be possible for us to ensure that.

Nevertheless, it was a good deal and I would be purchasing again this weekend, for a JC friends' family gathering. For now, after all that makan (eating) and fun, I better disinfect and get my car cleaning done.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Yan Ji Seafood Soup 炎记

Where do you buy a bowl of seafood soup that always gives you only a meagre amount of soup? Perhaps you may think the soup has run out or is tasteless.  But no, the soup is so full of flavour, so good you will be asking for more!

Photo Credits:http://ieatandeat.com/yan-ji-wei-wei-seafood-soup/

The place I am referring to is Yan Ji seafood soup(炎记).  The small amount of soup in every bowl has become a signature trademark for the past 30 years.  Of course, no one would buy seafood soup just to drink the soup.  The ingredients must be a top priority too. And you can be assured that all the food in that bowl is fresh and delicious!

Now, each bowl has a good mix of  ingredients such as prawn, fish slices, minced meat, mushroom and tomato.  The fish slices are so soft, they will literally melt in your mouth. As you savour the minced meat, you will realise it is tender, peppered with a tinge of buttery taste and BBQ fish.  For me, the downside to the meat is probably there is a little overdose of fats in the mixture and eating too much meat may seem jelak.  Luckily, there is tomato and mushroom to complement too.

Normally, I would save the best detail for last, just like how I would save the best ingredient for last. To be honest, I have never eaten prawns at a hawker stall so fresh it seems like I am having poached prawns in a Chinese restaurant.  The sweetness and savouriness clearly defines how fresh the prawns are.  They also reminds me of the times when I would go to Senoko Fishery Port during ungodly hours to buy prawns to cook for the family. 

Now, the whole package is complete with the soup that is boiled from various ingredients, including Hokkaido scallops.  Each bowl starts from a base price of $6. Every increment of price will get you more ingredients, but not necessary more soup. Try asking the boss, Ah Hui or his staff if you happen to catch them on a good day.

Alternatively, you can have the crayfish seafood soup which includes crayfish amongst the ingredients from $10.  I have not tried the premium bowl because I feel the prawns are already a winner.

Photo Credits: http://www.burpple.com/wei-wei-shi-ping-hai-xian-tang

Yan Ji also sells pig trotters as a side dish from $7.  Once, I decided to try it with a colleague when I had a huge craving for it. I brought my colleague and he was just raving about the soup and not the trotters. Frankly, I shared the same sentiments and feels it isn't one of the best around.

For an awesomely excellent bowl of seafood soup, with delectable ingredients and rich tasty soup, this is the place to visit.  Avoid the lunchtime crowd if you can, don't be surprised to see many fans of Yan Ji from across the causeway too.

Yan Ji Wei Wei Food Stall 炎记威威食品
Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road #02-11 Singapore 731004 (Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre)
Blk 19 Marsiling Lane Broadway # 01-283 Broadway Coffeeshop Singapore 730019
Tel: 97985886
Opening & closing Hours 10.30am - 11am till 8.30pm or while stocks last
Closed on Mondays

Preview of similar dish
Mei Xiang Black and White Fish Soup @ Berseh Food Centre, Akan Datang!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Teochew Minced Meat Noodles (Bak Chor Mee)

The sun was barely out as it peeked shyly along the horizon.  As the missus disembarked at her workplace, the MILLION DOLLAR question began throbbing in my sleepy mind. "Where shall I have my breakfast?"

Before I could spend the next minute making my important choice, my hands seemed to be in cahoots with my taste buds, I was driving my way to Sembawang Hills.

Photo Credit: Wen's Delight

This place holds fond memories of my childhood.  Some of the food vendors have been around for the past thirty odd years.  The popiah uncle and auntie began business in their humble stall when they were still "Mr Manhunt" and "Miss Universe" wannabe. And there is this evergreen fruit stall which is always open only when the sun sets. The iconic Taxi Services Hut is still present.  Those were the days where I was a little boy roaming the streets in that area.  A tinge of nostalgia crept in my mind even as I type this. 

Photo Credit: The Lion Raw

Now, one "newbie" stall that sells minced meat noodles surfaced a couple of months ago.
However, upon checking out the background of this stall, it definitely does not fit the newbie tag. I was told the boss hails from the famous "Tai Hwa Minced Pork Noodles". It is with blessings from Mr Tang Chay Seng, the boss of the famous stall at Crawford Lane that the recipe is similar and the taste is superbly good!

Each bowl starts from $4, a mean price from a hawker stall. However, it has a variety of pork ingredients such as minced meat, sliced meat, dumpling, liver and meat balls.  Topping the bowl are ingredients such as dried sole fish, pickled lettuce, cripsy lard bits and a dash of spring onion. The noodles is normally springy but can be soggy at times. It depends on whether the boss feels the mood to talk to his regulars like me while cooking. As for the sauce, it is overpowering with a strong taste of vinegar (a trademark of teochew BCM).  Watch out for the chilli sauce because it can be quite an adventure for some.  For a start, try asking for a little of that.  Perhaps, this boss knows his counterpart at Sunset Grill.  

All being said, the biggest drawing power that entices me to this stall has to be the liver slices. Each piece is cooked to perfection, succulent, tender and most definitely tasty! My regular breakfast kaki could literally feast on a bowl of noodles with just liver!

If you are a fan of soup based noodles, then you may be disappointed.  The famous noodles from Macpherson should be the one to go to instead.  See the review for Macpherson Minced Meat Noodles soon.

Each time I visit the stall, the boss would always sit and chat with me when he is not cooking (remember I visit the stall when the sun just woke up?)  Once, he asked me to sample some of the various dried sole fish and asked me for opinions.  Sometimes, we would just chatted casually and he told me about how his son refused to succeed his business.  Any takers?

I remember vividly when he proudly said before, "A minced pork noodle shouldn't be mixed with other ingredients such as fish ball or fish cake.  If you wanna serve the best bowl, all ingredients have to be fresh and tasty." 

I attest that he keeps true to his words.  A master like him is far and few between.

Teochew Minced Meat Noodles
Stall 01-29
590 Upper Thomson Road Sembawang Hill Food Centre SINGAPORE 574419