Hawker/Kopitiam Eats

Hawker/Kopitiam Eats

As Singaporeans, we just love food, especially when it comes to our hawker/food court/kopitiam fare. A list featuring not only the conventional for the true local, but also for anyone looking for special finds as well.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Sarawakian cuisine has been pretty much a trend that has been ongoing all across the island especially with the opening of multiple food stalls serving up Sarawak Kolo Mee and Sarawak Laksa in food courts, coffeeshops and hawker centres all around. While most of such establishments do seem to serve up offerings of similar nature, we have recently read about a new stall that had recently sprouted up at Chinatown Complex Food Centre named Sarawak Gula Apong — these folks having taken up a stall unit that is located right beside the original location of Hawker Chan (or also known as 了凡 Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice Noodle) in the red zone. Unlike other Sarawakian food stalls that had opened in recent times, Sarawak Gula Apong is all about their Gula Apong; for those whom are unaware, Gula Apong is a palm sugar similar to that of Gula Jawa / Gula Melaka with potential health benefits as stated in the banner located beside the stall. Considering how they have made one particularly ingredient central to the entire concept, the folks at Sarawak Gula Apong serves up items that allows for the addition of Gula Apong that would hopefully draw patrons to purchase the containers of 100% pure Gula Apong that they also retail — offerings at Sarawak Gula Apong includes Lemonade with Gula Apong, Gula Apong Ice Cream, Grass Jelly with Gula Apong, and a Cold Latte featuring Arabica Robusta Coffee Powder, Fresh Milk, Grass Jelly & Gula Apong.

Skimming through the items which they had to offer, we were a little bit intrigued with the Gula Apong Ice Cream since this was the item that sounded like we could taste their Gula Apong with minimal distractions as compared to some of the beverages which they have to offer. The Gula Apong Ice Cream here costs $1.50, and though the menu does not describe the elements which goes into the Gula Apong Ice Cream, it mainly features a milk-based soft-serve that is drizzled with their Gula Apong. Truth to be told, Sarawak Gula Apong’s primary focus here is on their Gula Apong; the other items which they offer to showcase the Gula Apong are mainly vehicles that are just included to be paired along with it — the milk-based soft serve is of the usual commercially-made soft serve mixes typically used in soft serve / bubble tea shops which sells cheap soft serve. The milk-based soft serve just tastes generically milky and sweet; the texture at times being powdery, overwhelming the notes of the Gula Apong at times. The notes of the Gula Apong only becomes more obvious especially towards the end at the bottom of the cup; the Gula Apong being rich and dense with a gloopy consistency that also comes with deep, earthy notes of sweetness of molasses — one that is not overly sweet that would “bite” the throat, and is much pure as they claim considering its smoothness that is almost similar to pure Gula Melaka. Overall, Sarawak Gula Apong is a stall that offers no surprises — the items that they offer to showcase their Gula Apong aren’t quite things that would bring out the quality of their Gula Apong. We would suggest purchasing the containers of 100% Pure Gula Apong and use them with some home-made desserts and home-cooked food to better taste the Sarawak Gula Apong that they have to offer. An interesting addition to Chinatown Complex Food Centree nonetheless.

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It has been quite some time since we have been to Chinatown Complex Food Centre, and there certainly has been quite a number of changes in the tenancies of the stalls in the food centre of the late. Amongst our more recent discoveries within the said hawker centre would be stalls like Zhu Zhu Zai 猪猪仔 and Sandakan Food 山打根美食 which have seemed to move into the green zone of the food centre not too long ago. Apart from some stalls that specialises in claypot rice having opened in the blue zone around the same period of time, the yellow zone has also seen some changes — this would include a stall named Orh Huat 烏發 肉脞面 that had recently moved into the stall unit that is beside the stall that houses Hill Street Fried Kway Teow within Chinatown Complex Food Centre. From afar, the signboard of Orh Huat does capture quite a bit of attention; the signboard has a black background and white font — the signboard does seem to look similar to that of most new coffeeshops stalls are using as well. There is an interesting detail in the stall — a photo hung from the ceiling just above the fire sprinkler that depicts the scene of an old tze-char stall, with the words 亞烏海鮮樓 on the top; probably suggesting some form of affiliation or relationship to Arh Orh Seafood Restaurant at one point of time. Being a stall that focuses on mined meat noodles, one can expect the usual items to be found at such stalls being served up here — this includes items like Pig’s Liver Noodle and Fishball Noodles as well.

It was needless to say that the item that made us head down to Orh Huat to give them a try would be the Minced Meat Noodles. It is noted that the Minced Meat Noodles at Orh Huat comes in two sizes — there is the smaller portion priced at $5, while there is also the larger portion one that is listed at $6; our order made was for the variant that is priced at $5. It is not being described on what elements are included in the Minced Meat Noodle at Orh Huat, though Orh Huat does have an illustration of the item on the menu that shows the elements included that is pretty consistent to the one actually served up — the Minced Meat Noodle that came with our order features a bowl of noodles that also comes with few chunks of fried pork lard and a single fried wanton that is served alongside with it (rather interesting, since most minced meat noodle-centric stalls would not serve up Wanton Noodles and thus wouldn’t really have included fried wantons); the remaining elements like the minced pork, pork slices, pork liver and fishball would come in the bowl of soup on the side instead. Patrons are allowed to pick between the choice of Mee Pok and Mee Kia; our order was for the former, and with chili added.

Giving the noodles a good toss, it does seem that the flavours of the sauce mix that goes into the noodles are generally on the milder side here; this isn’t quite a bad thing, and makes their minced meat noodles one that would suit lighter palates in general — there isn’t an overwhelming hint of saltishness or tanginess that makes it jelat after a while, with the chili also being rather light and should be manageable even for those whom do not have much of a tolerance to spiciness. The fried pork lard pieces are decently-sized and crisp, while they have also included fried shallots to introduce a little bit of crispness to the Mee Pok that is done to a springy texture. The Fried Wanton that accompanies the bowl of noodles was a good-to-have, though was not necessary for the Minced Meat Noodle here. It does come crisp without being greasy from oil that might have been trapped in there since these were fried in batches and plated on whenever an order is made; that being said, some may comments on how the wantons don’t exactly come with enough meat filling within — not that it matters anyway for us since this seems to be something extra that Orh Huat is doing that is unlike most minced meat noodle-centric stalls out there. Moving to the soup, we did find that the soup wasn’t particularly impressive; for one, there wasn’t much minced meat that has seemed to be broken down here to give the soup a savoury note; the pork slices were decent — not entirely free of a porky stench but nothing too concerning, though some pieces of the pig’s liver can be a little grainy and heavy-tasting amongst others. Fishballs were however soft and bouncy; though we did wish that they could have added some pork balls even if it were to be in place of the Fried Wanton. Overall, a decent choice to go for if dining in the food centre, though not one we would specifically make our way down for.

Was scrolling through social media some time back and came to know about Zhu Zhu Zai 猪猪仔’s opening at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Zhu Zhu Zai is a name that first started off as a home-based business; the brand having first started off as Taste of Memories which serves up a variety of cuisines, though was re-branded to Zhu Zhu Zai with a focus on serving up braised pork dishes instead. Zhu Zhu Zai is located at the green zone of Chinatown Complex Food Centre; the previously more “secluded” zone in the food centre had recently become a little more buzzy of the late, considering how there are a number of new stalls such as Jiakali and Sandakan Food 山打根美食 which had recently moved into the stall units within the zone. This is their first time venturing into a brick-and-mortar operation; the facade of the stall unit is one that is more associated to that of stalls that are run by hawkerpreneurs rather than that of old-school hawkers — the signboard being one that features geometrical designs with the use of black and white, as well as gold for its logo in the middle which is pretty eye-catching. One can also find planks of wood etched with some of the names of the menu offerings alongside the price hanging from the top of the stall; otherwise, the stall does have a rather simple set-up overall. Zhu Zhu Zai mentions on their social media pages that their braised pork dishes are home-style; done specifically in their own way and is not based on a specific style that is in accordance to a particular country or dialect group. Food items in the menu of Zhu Zhu Zai includes rice bowls such as the Braised Pork Rice and the Braised Pork Belly Rice, as well as a couple of items listed in the Signatures section which comprises of meat-only dishes such as Braised Pork Jowl and Braised Pork Knuckle — just to name a few. Daily Specials includes a Soup of the Day and Fried Nan Ru Pork, while there are also a number of Side Dishes being offered as well.

Since we visited Zhu Zhu Zai on a weekday during lunch hours, we were looking for an item that comes default with rice — this pretty much left us with the option of either going for the Braised Pork Rice or the Braised Pork Belly Rice that are both listed in the “Mains” section of the menu; we went for the latter, which was being described as “Braised thick sliced pork belly served with pickled cucumbers over Taiwan Pearl Rice” on the menu. It is noted that the Braised Pork Belly Rice is pretty plain Jane by default if no sides are being opted to go along with it — it simply features the rice and the braised pork belly rice, and is priced at $4.50. For us, we had decided to opt for one side — this would be the Seasoned Molten Egg, while they were also giving a free Side with an order of a Main as part of their opening promotion during the period where we made our visit. This other side which we had opted for would by the Stewed Cabbage. The items on the plate are carefully plated by the owner before being served up, which includes the slicing of the Seasoned Marinated Egg at the point of ordering.

Digging in to the Braised Pork Belly first, we really like the consistency and flavours here; the Braised Pork Belly was all melt-in-the-mouth tender and gelatinous especially around the areas where the fatty parts are. The meat had also pretty absorbed the flavours of the braising liquid; absolutely savoury and comes with no undesirable porky stench. The Taiwan pearl rice was fluffy and slightly sticky; this was drenched with a little bit of the braised liquid that the braised pork belly was prepared with and it turns out that the braised liquid here is actually rather light to the palate — provides a good contrast against the heavier notes from the braised pork belly. There was also a distinct garlicky note that seems to have come along with the braising liquid; this kept things fairly easy to eat for this particular bowl of Braised Pork Belly Rice — a balance of light and heavier-tasting elements that did not make the dish appear too flat where flavour is of concern.

The Stewed Cabbage was definitely well-executed — a Side which we definitely will recommend as an add-on to the rice bowl dishes here since the rice bowls only comes with the braised pork / braised pork belly and the rice by default; the Stewed Cabbage also comes with other ingredients like black fungus and carrots, and was a very homey dish that is sufficiently moist, slightly sweet and comes with a soft bite having been stewed for long enough. The Seasoned Molten Egg is actually marinated soy sauce for a savoury note; does come with a creamy egg yolk typical of Hanjuku Ajitama that one can find being served with Japanese Ramen. Overall, Zhu Zhu Zai does seem to be a spot where the folks know their stuff; despite being a braised pork dish with no distinct roots to any classic variant, they have managed to impress with how incredibly comforting and homey their offerings are — this is also not forgetting how they keep things affordable for their Mains with the two items listed in the section being priced under $5 to suit the demographics of those who dine at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Yet another stall which we would consider dining at again when we are around Chinatown Complex Food Centre!

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Was going around Chinatown Complex Food Centre and chanced upon this seemingly new stall named Sandakan Food 山打根美食 that seem to have sprouted up since our last visit to the food centre a couple of weeks back. Sandakan cuisine does seem to have gained a little popularity around the island in recent times (think establishments like KANTIN at Jewel); Sandakan itself being a city within Sabah, Malaysia on the coast of Borneo. Sandakan Food’s signboard says it well — their tagline being “Traditional SABAH Authentic Taste”. Located in the green zone of the hawker centre, the stall is located fairly close to Jiakali; another one of the newer tenants that have recently moved into Chinatown Complex Food Centre — the said zone within the food centre does seem a little buzzy these days as compared to in the past with more stalls seemingly operating in the zone. Sandakan Food’s stall facade can be said as one that isn’t particularly loud, though the colours are still eye-catching to say the least — the signboard being in turquoise colours with lighting surrounding the borders. Unlike KANTIN at Jewel which features tribal Borneo cuisine and Borneo cuisine with a modern twist though, Sandakan Food is more of a typical Chinese-run stall serving up noodles and boiled soups. Other items available at Sandakan Food also includes sides such as BBQ Chicken Wing, as well as a Fried Pork Rice.

One of the items that had long gotten our attention while we went past Sandakan Food in Chinatown Complex Food Centre on another occasion was the Fried Pork Hor Fun. Malaysian-style Hor Fun to us have always been the Ipoh-style Hor Fun that typically comes with shredded chicken; other variants that come to mind will be the Chicken Chop Hor Fun which can be found served at Amigo and Weng Kee at Changi Village Food Centre — the fact that Sandakan Food at Chinatown Complex Food Centre is serving up a variant with Fried Pork was definitely interesting enough to pique our interest. It is noted that the Fried Pork Hor Fun from Sandakan Food features Hor Fun that is of the narrow sort — something fairly typical of Malaysian-style Hor Fun like the Ipoh Hor Fun that we are all familiar with. The Fried Pork Hor Fun also does come with some blanched vegetables apart from the fried pork as promised, whilst it is also accompanied with a bowl of soup that comes on the side.

Giving everything a good mix before we dug into the Fried Pork Hor Fun, one thing that was significantly different about the Fried Pork Hor Fun from Sandakan Food against the various Ipoh-style Hor Fun that we have tried from other establishments was how the gravy seems to be more sauce-like here — essentially mixed from a couple of sauces that went into the bowl, the sauce was definitely more savoury and less gloopy and dense than most Ipoh-style Hor Fun elsewhere; gets absorbed by the slippery and smooth rice noodles very well too. It may veer towards being a little salty for some, but adding in the chili on the side does add a contrast of savouriness and a slight tinge of spiciness that adds a lot more depth to the flavours of the dish; the level of spiciness being fairly comfortable for those whom are tolerable to lower levels of spiciness. The Fried Pork came at a temperature that is warm, though the temperature contrast between that of the rice noodles and the sauce was a little stark against the fried pork. That being said, the fried pork comes lightly battered; would work better being served hotter since it would have carried a better crispness overall, but we were intrigued with how tender and juicy they were without any hint of undesirable porky stench. There is a particular umami note that seems to hint that there is fermented beancurd used in its marination, considering how there was a very light note that seemed to resemble that of Hakka fried pork somehow as well. Overall, the Fried Pork Hor Fun was definitely a dish that captured our heart and soul; something almost to the same effect that we have had whenever we have the Chicken Cutlet Noodles at Chin Seng Cooked Food at Tekka Centre when that was around the workplace for us — this is not forgetting the $4.50 price tag that the Fried Pork Hor Fun commands for here. Something which we would most certainly develop cravings for in the future!

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Was scrolling through social media one day and found out about 5dot7 Western which is situated at the KPT coffeeshop located at Blk 401 Hougang Avenue 10 — for the uninitiated, this is the same coffeeshop that is best known for the Oyster Omelette within Hougang, and is also within the neighbourhood where is best known for being a spot where Pokémon GO players from all over the island used to gather to catch the Pokémon, Gyarados. It seems that there has been a bit of a revamp done to the coffeeshop some time back, considering how the coffeeshop is pretty brightly lit with fittings that seem to be synonymous with coffeeshops that have been renovated in recent times. 5dot7 Western is one of the stalls that occupies the corner stall units within the coffeeshop; one of their neighbours situated adjacent to it is 晶鱼汤 which is a fish soup stall that also operates at multiple locations around the island. While the bright pink signages of the stall do seem rather eye-catching on first sight, it is worth mentioning that most of the stalls here do have signages with similar colours installed; thus it does take a bit of an detailed eye to actually find the stall here. Being the only tenant in the coffeeshop here to serve up western cuisine, 5dot7 Western does offer a number of dishes that one can typically find at such stalls in coffeeshops — think the likes of Spring Chicken, Fish & Chips and Carbonara. What made us intrigued enough to head down to 5dot7 Western after seeing the post on social media though was how they seemingly also offer some uncommon dishes as well such as the Chicken Corden Bleu and Seafood Risotto. Of course, those looking for something suitable to share across the table can also order items from the “Shareables” section of the menu as well.

Being folks who absolutely love Chicken Corden Bleu and having made the trek all across the island to search high and low for the dish, it can be said that we made a mental note on having to visit 5dot7 Western on the premise that they do serve up the Chicken Corden Bleu after having came across the social media post that mentioned about the stall serving up the said dish — it is needless to say that we that there is no way that we would have made our trip to 5dot7 Western without giving their Chicken Corden Bleu a go. Based on the description on the menu board at the stall, 5dot7 Western mentions that their Chicken Corden Bleu consists of elements such as breaded chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese, and comes with mashed potato, corn cheese and creamy mushroom sauce. We actually quite liked the plating of the dish here as compared to the other Chicken Corden Bleu dishes that we have had at other stalls serving up western cuisine elsewhere — the breaded chicken breast already comes sliced to reveal the stuffing of ham and cheese inside when it is served; this meant that patrons would have a clear view of what they had ordered even if they have never had a Chicken Corden Bleu prior to having this one. Digging into the dish, we would say that the most disappointing element of the dish here was probably the bed of mashed potato that is doused in the creamy mushroom sauce that sits beneath the breaded chicken breast; the mashed potato was decent in flavour but lacking in warmth and seem to have sat around in room temperature for quite a while — the temperature contrast it had with the other elements does somehow stick out like a sore thumb.

Moving on from the mashed potato, the entire dish was pretty much on point; one can already see the beautiful layering of the stuffed ham and cheese within the breaded chicken breast from the way it is plated — as one slices down the breaded chicken breast, the melted cheese stuffed within the breaded chicken breast starts to ooze with that slight cheese pull effect that is a pleasure to look at. As we went for a morsel of the Chicken Corden Bleu, we liked how the golden-brown breaded batter was crisp without being greasy, while the meat remained tender and moist — the oozy and molten cheese adding onto the moisture of the dish while providing a slight savouriness that finishes off with the distinct note of cured meat that came from the ham; nothing too salty, but just aptly savoury to provide a good flavour. Of course, the creamy mushroom sauce provided a briny, savoury and earthy note with thin slices of mushrooms typical of most brown sauces served up at such stalls elsewhere; itself matched well against the Chicken Corden Bleu. Meanwhile, the corn cheese doesn’t really carry the cheese element that it promised, but was otherwise a good choice of side considering how these were just corn nibs that provided a sweetness and a good bite that provided a bit of respite from all the saltish notes that came from the Chicken Corden Bleu — in fact the lack of cheese perhaps being a thing that played well in its favour since it might have added a bit of heaviness to the dish as a side otherwise. At $9, the Chicken Corden Bleu might be a dish that is slightly pricier than the typical western fare elsewhere. That being said, considering the rarity of the dish, it does seem to be pretty much a neighbourhoodly-gem at the location where it is served — definitely a rendition that would make good on any cravings for the dish, and one that we would be happy to have any day especially if they could fix the temperature of which the mashed potato is served.

It wasn’t really by chance that we found out about K.K. Beans at Ghim Moh Food Centre — this was more of a mention by one of our dining partners who told us about the stall, and us having cravings for Beancurd for such a long time that we decided to have it for dinner instead because, why not? Located in Ghim Moh Market & Food Centre, K.K Beans should be an easy spot, considering how the stall it occupies is along one of the rows that faces out of the food centre itself. The stall does have a social media presence on Facebook, and does seem to be in operation for quite a while considering how there are posts being made on the social media page since 2017 (though the last updates were made in 2021). Being a stall that focuses on their soya bean offerings, K.K. Beans does seem to suggest on the packaging of their soya beancurd products that their creations are freshly-made, and that the soya bean products are made from non-GMO soya beans. The menu does include a variety of fairly standard soya bean-related offerings; the Soya Beancurd category comprising of items like the Traditional Beancurd, Pearl Beancurd, Longan Almond Beancurd and more — also on the menu would be some Grass Jelly offerings, as well as Soya Milk and Other Beverages. Interesting Soya Milk beverages which K.K. Beans offer include an Avocado Gula Melaka Soya Milk, and a Matcha Azuki Soya Milk.

What was mentioned to us by our dining partner was also the item that seemed to stand out to us the most when we skimmed through the menu for what K.K. Beans had to offer — it was no doubt that the Osmanthus Beancurd would be the highlight and the reason for us in visiting K.K. Beans. We were initially rather skeptics in whether they would have any soya beancurd in stock considering that we dropped by K.K. Beans at around dinner time, though to much of our surprise they do have soya beancurd in stock (it also can be noticed that diners seated around the tables nearby that they were having soya beancurd for dinner / post-dinner treat). Watching how the lady behind the counter was preparing our order, she ladles the beancurd and layers it one scoop atop another; this is before she opens up a container that is filled with what seems to be Osmanthus petals that is soaked in some sort of syrup / honey, before dousing the beancurd in sugar syrup again. Digging into the Osmanthus Beancurd, we found the beancurd here to be smooth and silken; a very consistent texture throughout the entire bowl that was really enjoyable without any nasty curdled bits around. While the Osmanthus seems to have been doused in quite a fair bit of sugar syrup, we were really impressed with how the floral fragrance and sweetness really pulled through here — it was certainly distinct, and so good on its own that we nearly ran out of syrup for quite a fair bit of beancurd since we were probably going for more syrup than beancurd at one point of time just to savour those flavours. At $2.10, the Osmanthus Beancurd does seem like it comes with a bit of a mark-up from the Traditional Beancurd (aka plain beancurd) at $1.30 — but we would dare say that the Osmanthus Beancurd is the one to go for if one makes their trip all the way to Ghim Moh Food Centre just for the beancurd here!

There always seem to be a change ongoing around the Shenton Food Hall food court situated within Shenton House — it has been seeing stalls come and go within a span of months; it does seem that they had recently lost tenants such as that of The Saigon and a stall serving up Ayam Penyet have pretty much disappeared from the food hall as soon as they had sprouted out. Taking over the stall formerly tenanted by King of Chicken Rice is yet another stall that serves up Hainanese Chicken Rice — this stall being 豐盛 Feng Sheng Famous Dover Market Hainanese Chicken Rice & Steamboat. It does seem like the stall is run by the next-generation owners behind Feng Sheng Hainanese Chicken Rice which used to be located at Dover Market & Food Centre until the estate has been demolished — the owners back then have since retired with the closure of the stall. 豐盛 Feng Sheng Famous Dover Market Hainanese Chicken Rice & Steamboat does seem to be on a roll in its plans for expansion; the opening of the Shenton Food Hall outlet comes shortly after the opening of their main branch at 4 Short Street in the Selegie Road area (it takes over the former premises of the now-defunct Density Frozen Custard) — the Short Street location being an independently-run restaurant-style establishment, which differs from that of the Shenton Food Hall outpost. Considering so, the Shenton Food Hall location carries a more limited menu of only chicken rice dishes — this includes the likes of the steamed and roasted chicken rice, as well as the Lemon Chicken Cutlet Rice. The Shenton Food Hall location of 豐盛 Feng Sheng Famous Dover Market Hainanese Chicken Rice & Steamboat also serves up side dishes; think the likes of oyster sauce vegetables, sesame oil bean sprouts and braised eggs amongst many others.

We actually were pretty clear-headed in wanting to give their steamed chicken offerings a go — but this was until we had seen their chicken cutlet hanging behind the transparent shield segregating the stall’s food preparation from the counter; one look at their fried chicken cutlet and we were rather intrigued by how it does seem to be battered and fried in-house. After all, it does seem like stalls that serve up good renditions of Lemon Chicken Cutlet Rice are starting to become quite a rare find. It is noted that the Lemon Chicken Cutlet Rice does come with Nyonya Achar on the side; patrons can choose to opt for or opt out of the addition of Nyonya Achar as they wish, though the addition of braised egg would be a chargeable item. The Lemon Chicken Cutlet Rice looks quite as simple as it sounds otherwise; just rice that is served with fried chicken cutlet that is drizzled with lemon sauce atop.

Digging into the rice here, the flavoured rice is one that is to die for; we really loved how the rice is utterly flavourful here having absorbed all of that gingery notes and chicken broth that it seems to have been simmered with — the rice is also sufficiently moist without being greasy, and isn’t the sort where a sauce is just drizzled over just to provide for the flavour. In fact, probably one of the more impressive variants of the flavoured rice that typically comes with Hainanese chicken rice that tastes especially old-school. The fried chicken cutlet was also on-point; there are variants where we had tried where the fried batter is a little tough or thick but this came at the appropriate thickness and came all crisp without being greasy — just about right for one to get to the flesh beneath. The chicken meat itself was also juicy, soft and tender — all that whilst being drenched in a lemon sauce that provided a sweet; zingy note. The Nyonya Achar isn’t particularly spicy here — we are also glad that they have excluded the use of peanuts in their rendition, keeping those with allergies to peanuts in mind. Meanwhile, we did find their chili sauce to be a little bit on the salty side; seemingly heavy-handed especially when had with the rice — would prefer it to be a little brighter and slightly more zingy with more prominent notes of Calamansi , while carrying a spicy kick to tickle the tastebuds. All in all though, we did feel that the offerings at 豐盛 Feng Sheng Famous Dover Market Hainanese Chicken Rice & Steamboat is definitely leaps and bounds better than King of Chicken Rice that came before it — with prices of their Hainanese Chicken Rice dishes (inclusive of the Lemon Chicken Cutlet Rice) ranging from $5 to $7, 豐盛 Feng Sheng Famous Dover Market Hainanese Chicken Rice & Steamboat is probably one of those stalls where one would likely be finding us have lunch from at Shenton Food Hall pretty regularly!

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Heard about the new opening of Warong Pak Sapari which had recently just sprouted up at Lau Pa Sat — the stall had taken over the former premises of the now-defunct Lina’s Viet Kitchen and is pretty much eye-catching with its large use of red and a striking stall facade. Warong Pak Sapari does seem to be related to the stall with the same namesake at Adam Road Food Centre — a Muslim stall that is perhaps best known for their Mee Soto and Mee Rebus. While it is not explicitly stated anywhere, we do feel that Warong Pak Sapari’s outlet at Lau Pa Sat might be affiliated with that of Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang — there is some similarity in the way that the stall facade is being designed where it also features neon lighting indicating that they are “The World’s First Michelin Bib Gourmand Mee Soto / Mee Rebus Hawker; something that is very alike the tagline being used by Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang and also lit in neon lighting at Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang’s stall at Lau Pa Sat as well. It is also noted that Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang has also posted about the opening of Watong Pak Sapari’s outlet at Lau Pa Sat on social media as well. Since Mee Soto and Mee Rebus are what Warong Pak Sapari is known for during their days at Adam Road Food Centre, the menu of Warong Pak Sapari has to carry those items as well — interestingly, Warong Pak Sapari does not only serve the regular Mee Soto and Mee Rebus on their menu, but also variants such as one with fried chicken cutlet, fried fish fillet, as well as fried prawns; something quite reminiscent to the menu at Island Curry Rice at TamChiak Kopitiam that shares a stall unit with Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang. One item that is unique to the Lau Pa Sat location at Warong Pak Sapari is the Nasi Soto — again coming with the same meat / seafood options that one can opt for with the Mee Soto / Mee Rebus offerings here.

Skimming through the menu on what they have to offer, we found ourselves eventually settling for the Nasi Soto Ayam Bakar — we had initially wanted to settle for the Nasi Soto Ayam Goreng, though we eventually settled for the Ayam Bakar variant since we weren’t particularly in the mood for fried food. Thank goodness we did so as well; the portion of the Nasi Soto Ayam Bakar can be said as pretty generous with its price tag of $6.90 — definitely more than sufficient to fill up one’s stomach. The menu describes the Nasi Soto as an item that is “created 1st in SG”, and that the Ayam Bakar comes with grilled chicken — it is noted from the portion that we were served that the Nasi Soto Ayam Bakar also comes with fried tofu puff, cucumbers, as well as shallots and coriander above the rice; it is also accompanied with a quite a big bowl of soup (the bowl being the size of what some minced meat noodle stalls will serve their orders in).

We weren’t really told of the way to really enjoy this dish at its best, but we really enjoyed it when we drenched the flavoured rice with the soup and have them altogether — probably also the way it is intended since Nasi Soto does seem like a word play on “Nasi” and “Mee Soto”; the latter translating into “Malay Chicken Noodle Soup” in English. While we aren’t usually fans of Mee Soto since we have had variants that are particularly bland, the soup itself here is especially flavoursome yet clean-tasting; a light savoury note that is particularly refreshing. Pairing up with the rice that comes with a hint of spices, there is a particularly warming effect that goes into the tasting notes of the Nasi Soto. Some recommend adding the Original Recipe Sambal Sauce which consist of soy sauce and chopped chili together with the soup (especially for the Mee Soto), though we found it to be a bit overwhelming and drowns out the flavours of the soup somewhat. We really liked the Ayam Bakar as well; while the meat itself was decent in terms of the texture of the flesh (not really juicy, but not that dry either), we loved that slight crispness of the skin along with the sweetness that the Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce) glaze brought — one can also taste the smokiness from the grilling process as well. For the beancurd puff, we would recommend just dumping it into the bowl of soup to allow it to soak up the soup and enjoying it only some time after — the texture of the beancurd puff was considered rather dry for our liking otherwise. At $6.90, the Nasi Soto Ayam Bakar is definitely something which we will consider having again if we do make a trip to Lau Pa Sat; very comforting whilst flavoursome — something that we never quite have had so far and is a good idea that actually works. Perhaps giving that Nasi Soto Ayam Goreng when the revisit comes along!

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AMK Hub had certainly been seeing a revamp in its F&B offerings and this had pretty much extended to the food court as well — previously a Foodfare food court, the food court has now been branded into a Kopitiam food court and boasts of quite a variety of new dining options that were previously unavailable in the now-defunct Foodfare food court prior to the renovation works being carried out. Notable additions to the Kopitiam food court after its revamp and rebranding includes that of Egg Thai — a stall that is serves up Thai cuisine, Cuo Cuo You Yu 脞脞有鱼 that serves up Minced Meat Noodles, and a few others. One particular stall that we had yet to see being around in other food courts / coffeeshops seem to be 爱面 锅贴 Gyoza • Dumpling • Xiao Long Bao — a stall that seemingly serves up mainland Chinese fare with a slight twist. The menu seems to have an emphasis on their gyoza and dumpling offerings, with the gyoza and dumplings coming in various flavours to choose from; other items which 爱面 锅贴 Gyoza • Dumpling • Xiao Long Bao serves up include Chinese-style ramen such as Yang Chun Noodle with Pork Ribs, Noodle with Minced Meat Sauce, as well as You Tiao and Red Dates Soya Milk for those looking for something on the lighter side.

What really intrigued us enough to give 爱面 锅贴 Gyoza • Dumpling • Xiao Long Bao a try was how we noticed that they were serving up a Laksa Gyoza — they do seem to have quite a number of Laksa-based items on the menu, which includes items such as a Laksa Dumpling Soup and Laksa Steamed Dumplings; other Gyoza flavours which 爱面 锅贴 Gyoza • Dumpling • Xiao Long Bao offers include the Curry Gyoza and Chicken Gyoza. It is worth noting that 爱面 锅贴 Gyoza • Dumpling • Xiao Long Bao serves up their Gyoza in six pieces per portion — while the illustrations does not show it, their Gyoza does come with “wings” (i.e. the crispy batter around the Gyoza” ; something which we weren’t quite expecting and was also pretty impressed with considering how most places would serve their Gyoza without. Picking up one piece of the Laksa Gyoza, the gyoza can be described as well-sized — quite decently filled. Giving it a go, the skin does carry a crisp texture on the underside, while it is delicate enough yet able to encase the fillings within pretty well. As it goes, the Laksa filling did come with a burst of flavours considering how there is some broth being encased in the gyoza as well; that being said, the filling seem to resemble that of Otak-Otak more closely with a very fine meat paste hidden within the gyoza itself. Also, we did find that the flavours were a little “lemongrass”-like; tasted similar to the Muar-style of Otak-Otak that are being sold commercially. At $5.80, the Laksa Gyoza isn’t the most economical item to order — this is especially considering how the Laksa Gyoza is a side and one could easily have something more substantial at the price at a hawker centre. That being said, considering the execution all other aspects, it does seem like an interesting item that is good to give a try if at AMK Hub!

Woodlands is a neighbourhood that isn’t particularly remarkable especially when one takes a look at the variety of food options that are being served in the neighbourhood; that being said, it does seem that there are little surprises hidden in the neighbourhood every now and then. Arabica isn’t a particularly new stall that operates out of a stall at Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre; the oldest Google reviews in existence for the stall having been dated to a time period of about a year ago. That being said, this seems to be one of the few — if not the only stall that serves up Middle Eastern / Arabic / Turkish fare in the neighbourhood. The stall itself should be relatively easy to locate; the stall bearing a brown and white checkered aesthetic that is likely to grab one’s attention when they walking down the area of the hawker centre that is populated with Halal food stalls. The items served up at Arabica are dishes that one would typically find at such food stalls — think Kebab that is served with different types of starches / carbs (rice, fries, wrap etc.), Lamb / Chicken Mandi, Pide, Baked Rice and more; the only dessert being listed on the menu of Arabica would be the Kunafa.

Since we were visiting Arabica for the very first time, we decided to give their Kebab with Fries a go so that we can focus much on the kebabs that they have to offer. There is some language barrier to be expected when making the order here — there was a slight misunderstanding during ordering where they had thought we either wanted the Kebab with Rice or the Quesadillas when we had made our order specifically for the Kebab with Fries; we also noted that we were served with and charged for the chicken variant of the dish despite us mentioning we wanted the Mix that consists of beef and chicken. That being said, we also subsequently noted that they only had one kebab machine that is loaded with only chicken; they probably only had a single type of meat to offer during the day and time we made our visit. On first look, the Kebab with Fries (Chicken) comes in a portion that is slightly smaller than what one would expect from stalls like that — that being said, we were also glad that the portion wasn’t too enormous and hence was slightly easier to finish. Apart from the chicken kebab and the fries, the Kebab with Fries (Chicken) also came with mayonnaise and chili drizzled atop, as well as tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and onions to balance everything out.

Thought they were a little heavy-handed on the sauces though it was also worth mentioning that it did not feel particularly overwhelming; the fries were at best decent being crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, though were nothing much to comment about otherwise. The star here would be the Chicken Kebab though; the Chicken Kebab was moist and juicy — no doubt it does lack some of the smokiness that kebabs from other establishments may come with, but there was never a moment that they felt dry. We also liked the flavours from the marination of the meat as well; tangy and a little sweet — very satisfying. The mix of vegetables provided a good crunch and a refreshing zing that makes a good break between all the fries and meat. Overall, a pretty satisfying affair — we have definitely had less tasty kebabs and this pretty much surpassed those for sure; quite a good find within a neighbourhood that is known for not having particularly impressive food options as well. Even the Kunafa was satisfying — the pastry wasn’t oily and we liked how they had given sufficient syrup and cream to douse it in for more flavours; also came with crushed pistachio for a slight nuttiness. We paid $7 for the Kebab with Fries (Chicken) and $10 for the Kunafa — the prices of the Kunafa especially would not be what one would consider having on a regular basis, though it does serve as a good option to have for a bit of change from the usual hawker fare indeed.

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One of our favourite neighbourhoods to take a walk down the entire estate does seem to Bukit Merah of the late, and it does seem that it is for a good reason — Jalan Bukit Merah is probably a stretch of road that one can walk down to find a number of hawker centres around without having to make a detour to stop by any one of them; think Bukit Merah Central Food Centre, ABC Brickworks Food Centre, and Alexandra Village Food Centre. Pui Pui Heng Hot & Cold Dessert 杯杯兴冷热甜品 is one of those stalls that we had chanced upon whilst going around ABC Brickworks Food Centre; situated just right across from Sin Thor Eunos Bak Kut Teh Kway Chap, the stall features a white signboard with red text that easily captures the attention of prospective patrons that are passing by the area. Pui Pui Heng Hot & Cold Dessert is much like a typical local-style shaved ice dessert stall which one can find operating out of a hawker centre — the offerings at Pui Pui Heng Hot & Cold Dessert seemingly being more limited, and that there is a strong emphasis on cold desserts since the only hot desserts available here are the Sweet Potato Soup and the Cheng Tng.

We were originally really interested to give their Chendol a go but we just could not get over the fact that the Chendol jelly that they are using are those that seemingly looked artificial — one that bears a neon green aesthetic which we aren’t very keen to have. That is also the moment that we ended up noticing that they also do serve up Ice Jelly with and without fruit cocktail; we had been pretty much on a hunt for local-style Ice Jelly desserts that are served without fruit cocktail, so this week to have answered to our search for such items. For $2, the Ice Jelly at Pui Pui Heng Hot & Cold Dessert came with quite a huge mound of ice; the folks behind the stall first layers the bowl with ice jelly before shaving the ice into the bowl — once done, they will then drizzle lime juice and Calamansi syrup over the top. Truth to be told, we still prefer the Ice Jelly that we love from 安记香滑文头雪 at Chinatown Complex Food Centre for how it is being layered; that being said, special mention has to go to them for the shaved ice that comes with a consistently light and fluffy texture that is almost Bingsu-like. Giving everything a good mix to ensure that the shaved ice soaked with Calamansi syrup and lime juice goes with the Ice Jelly, it gives everything a sweet and zingy note that provides some contrast of flavours; overall not too bad an attempt considering that we have some pretty off-tasting Ice Jelly previously from other establishments. Likely to give their Ice Kachang a go next time when we are around the area; noticed quite a number of folks giving this a go and we were pretty impressed with how the texture of the shaved ice is here — probably something that does seem promising amongst the other items that they have to offer!

It’s been a while since we made a visit to Cat in the Hat at Golden Mile Food Centre — we recalled being pretty impressed by their offerings when we had made our first visit there when they had just opened their doors. Since then, we have heard about them having queues and pre-orders with the bakes being sold out pretty early – also have heard about them serving up Mini Caneles which we had also been itching to try for some time. Was pretty excited when we had made our visit to Golden Mile Food Centre and realised that not only was there no queue at Cat in the Hat at the time that we had made our visit, but the Mini Caneles were also in-stock as well.

For those whom are unaware, Cat in the Hat retails their Mini Caneles individually in per-piece format, or in boxes of six pieces at $8. Given its sheer size and how much we like Caneles, we decided to go for a box of six as a post-meal dessert item to pair up with a cup of Kopi on the side. The Mini Caneles do seem to have been made for quite some time before it was sold to us when we made our visit to Cat in the Hat slightly before lunch hour — taking a bit into the Mini Canele, the Mini Canele has a caramalised, crusted exterior that was pretty on-point; the only qualm was how the sticky and chewy it is considering how it can get stuck in the teeth as one tries to chew them apart. The texture within the Canele is kueh-like; a honeycomb-esque texture which is sweet with a note of vanilla. Whilst not the best Canele that was have had, we must mention that that the Mini Canele served at Cat in the Hat definitely answers to cravings for the Caneles in general; one that is already very much worth commending especially since this is ultimately an item that one would never expect to find in a hawker centre setting — the price tag of $2 for one piece of the Mini Canele also makes it rather accessible to the hawker centre-going crowd. Of course, the choice of coffee that we had settled for to enjoy the Mini Caneles with is the Hot Kopi from Kopi More — some may call it a little pricey at $2.40 for a standard-sized cup, but it is one with a very unique twist being Nanyang-style Kopi that is pulled from an espresso machine; comes even with a layer of crema on the top that gives quite a caffeinated kick above what one would expect from a standard cup of Nanyang-style Kopi.

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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