[ Food Week: Hawker Food ] Moving a little outside my usual sphere of travel by dining at Holland Road this time! (It’s Holland Village Market & Food Centre, not to be conflated with Holland D r i v e Market & Food Centre in the Buona Vista/Ghim Moh area btw.) In terms of sheer variety, accessibility, and affordability, I still find this enclave unmatched when it comes to cheap and quick eats in the estate.

Despite the popularity of other stalls, I always found myself gravitating towards the seafood soup from Li Ji Xiao Chi (李记小吃), a place that serves a medley of unrelated homemade-styled local delights.

While we didn’t get that today, there was an old regular who was recovering from an accident who hobbled to a table near ours. It was only after a brimming bowl of seafood soup appeared in front of him did he visibly relax. In that moment, I felt the comfort of my childhood nostalgia. Amazing what a simple bowl of noodles can do to you, eh!

Forgoing the siren’s call of the beautiful prawns-fish-cabbage combo (darn you, medical diet!), we ended up with a plate of her fried rice instead. Here’s the thing: I’m no fan of fried rice. Don’t like rice, don’t like oil (and thus most fried stuff), but I was fine sampling her variant because throughout the years, she has always been meticulous in her preparation, and consistent in keeping her dishes healthier than the usual bar.

This was no different. Each scoop revealed studs of shrimp, egg, and meat (either char siew or lap cheong, alas, my memory fails me) squirreled within the mound of rice. The rice wasn’t too salty nor oily, relying on the pairing of basic condiments like salt and pepper to accentuate the toppings to impart flavour to the dish. The rice was a lot more moist than I’d prefer, but the glistening, sunny egg was stirred in, the yolk trickled between the grains and masked (complemented?) the wetness, turning it into a much more satisfying lurid affair.

This dish isn’t meant for the ravenous. Think of it as a scoop from the chef’s home kitchen instead — a measured taste of her experience and history that satiates the weary, but not enough for one to surfeit on for an extended day.