Reader Request Week: Food, food and more (about) food

TaLieSin and Chandler want me to write something on good food places in Singapore, while limegreenspyda suggests I write about my favourite food. As if I didn't have enough trouble picking my favourite place in the world.

Actually, I do have a favourite Singapore food: char siew wanton mee. Easy-peasy! But rather than write about that alone, here's a list of my personal favourite places for all kinds of local (and some not-so-local) food.

Chicken rice --- Margaret Drive hawker centre, second floor.
I don't know the name of this stall, but the second floor of this once thriving hawker centre's now practically vacant, so just look for the only stall that looks busy. It's a white chicken rice place; you'lll have to look elsewhere for your roasted chicken variety. I prefer white, anyway, especially when it's unabashedly oily and just a touch bloody like they make it here. I've been eating at this place since I was a kid and I doubt the hawker centre building will be upgraded anytime soon, so there's a decent nostalgia factor too.

Char siew wanton mee --- Alex's along Beach Road, opposite Shaw Tower.
A recent discovery (last year), courtesy of Terz. The char siew (roast pork) is actually a little fattier than one should consume on a regular basis, but what I really like area the noodles. A lot of places serve mediocre noodles --- not the right thickness or consistency or elasticity or flavour. This place has good noodles and good chilli sauce and fatty meat and juicy wantons. It all comes together.

Popiah --- No favourite place, and I'll tell you why.
I enjoy popiah but I'm not very discriminating when it comes to popiah. As long as it's got the canonical ingredients and the stallholder doesn't try to stiff me for more than $1.50 per roll, I'm pretty much sold. Nevertheless, among the decent places that I've sampled are the stall at East Coast Park lagoon hawker centre (along the same row as the "famous" char siew mee that I don't find particularly satisfying) and a stall at Bedok North hawker centre.

Beef hor fun (wet style) --- the coffeeshop with white tiles along Keong Saik Road, opposite the nasi padang place.
Nice thick gravy that isn't too soupy, and tender beef slices. Most importantly, they serve it with the right kind of chilli slices (red, not green). The place also seems to do a roaring cze char business at night.

Beef kway teow soup --- #01-33 East Coast Park Lagoon hawker centre.
Rich, fragrant, flavourful. The only problem is the long queues generated by the fact that the old man who runs the stall makes each bowl of noodles not only individually but at a very leisurely pace.

Yong tau foo --- this place on Syed Alwi Road. Yeah, I'm not being very specific, but I know how to find the place if I have to.
This isn't the deep-fried Ampang variety, which I'm not crazy about, but the healthier and, in my opinion, tastier option. Besides the grand variety of items you can pick and choose from, what's really excellent here is the chilli sauce with bits of dried chilli in oil. I'd eat everything with this chilli sauce if it didn't so readily set my tongue on fire.

Claypot rice --- Chinatown Complex, at the stall run by an old couple to the left of the top of the escalator.
No one really makes claypot rice like my mom, but if I'm out and about and craving some, this is a good place. The price ($5) is slightly higher than average, but it comes with good sauce and a healthy portion of chicken and lap cheong (Chinese sausage).

Chicken or mutton murtabak --- Zam Zam restaurant along North Bridge Road, opposite Sultan Mosque.
Another preference inherited from my parents. The trick, really, is to get the flour layers chewy but not in that been-sitting-on-a-plate-all-day way, and not to overwhelm the meat's flavour with too much onion.

Claypot fish head (the Chinese kind) --- Le Wan Tian, at the corner of Telok Kurau and Changi Roads.
Details here.
Black pepper crab and sambal pomfret --- cze char place along Tyrwhitt Road, at the corner of Plumer Road, I think.
Magnificent, just magnificent. One bite and I was sold. We would bring our parents here all the time, except that such regular doses of the food probably wouldn't be too good for their cholesterol or gout levels.
Indonesian food --- Bumbu, without a doubt.
Details here and here.

Thai food --- Depending on budget: Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen (low), A-Roy Thai (middle) or Sabai (high).
It's hard to cough up plenty money for Thai food here, knowing that Bangkok is just a short budget flight away, where good street food may be had for less than the cost of a fruit juice at Sabai. Which is why I mostly eat at a cheapish place like Tuk Tuk. All three places have really good food nonetheless, though as you'd expect, it's served up with the most finesse at Sabai.

Iced lemon tea --- Epicurious, no contest.
I've said it all. On further consideration, I'd give Toast a close second, but theirs is technically a different concoction where they blend the lemon with the tea. Also zealously refreshing, though.

60-cent black coffee --- the coffeeshop at the corner of Keong Saik and Teck Lim Roads.
You can't go wrong with a cup of thick black coffee at this price, whatever time of day it is. They also serve up kaya toast with heaps of butter and my ex-colleague swears by their sliced fish hor fun, but I'm not so crazy about it.

Chwee kueh --- the popular stall at Ghim Moh market (closer to the block 21 side).
Again, it's about the consistency of the rice cake --- sticky, but not too sticky, with the right level of savouriness for the radish topping. I prefer mine without chilli sauce (yet another holdover from childhood days) and I will always associate this with breakfasts at Whampoa hawker centre in the '80s when my brother and I stayed over at my grandparents'.

Tau huey (soya bean curd) --- the stall at Dover Road market.
The Ang Mo Kio version a friend introduced me to last year was pretty good, but I think Dover Road still has the smoothest bean curd around.

Char siew baos --- Crystal Jade, the winner, hands down.
Moist on the inside, light and fluffy on the outside --- it's not as easy as it sounds.

Salad --- There are many salads available in Singapore, but I'm currently in love with Brewerkz's concoction of fresh fruit, arugula and other greens. I'd go there to eat it just for a pick-me-up. I also enjoy their burgers, though I consider my great hunt for the Good American Burger as still ongoing.

Pies (chicken, steak and mushroom, lamb, whatever) --- Big Ben's, no contest.

Ramen --- Megumi, at Siglap.
The ramen with cod in milk broth is exquisite. The one place I'll actually order ramen and try to wolf it down without waiting for the soup to cool because you just can't, can't wait to get more of it in you. The last time we were there, they also recommended brinjal stuffed with prawn in the agedashi tofu sauce, which was rather incredible.

Sashimi --- Hanabi and I can only speak for the Kings' Arcade restaurant 'cause I haven't eaten at the Odeon one.
One of the first Japanese a la carte buffet places we tried, and still my favourite. Their sashimi's always fresh and tasty. I could just sit there all day eating sashimi.

Yakitori --- Damon, at Katong.
So many choices, so many large prawns, and so many glittering bottles of sake waiting for their owners to come finish them.

Teppanyaki --- Shima, at Goodwood Park Hotel.
Too bad we can't afford to eat there more often.

For the record, other food I enjoy that I haven't quite pinned down a favourite place for yet (in alphabetical order, 'cause I'm anal retentive that way):
  • Bak kut teh
  • Buffalo wings
  • Carrot cake
  • Dim sum
  • Fishball noodles
  • Fish head curry
  • Mee siam
  • Nasi padang
  • Olua (oyster omelette)
  • Lasagna
  • Peranakan food --- we loved loved loved Yuen's along Upper East Coast Road, but a change of operators or cooks, not to mention what seemed like perpetual renovations, made me give up on it
  • Pho
  • Steak (obviously there's Gordon Grill, but with its prices, we can't afford to eat there all the time)
  • Teochew moi (porridge), ever since our favourite place at Joo Chiat was inexplicably taken over by an inferior cook
  • Xiao long bao (northern Chinese dumplings, with a squirt of oil and soup inside, different from the southern Cantonese varieties I'm more familiar with)
Suggestions welcome!

Okay, now I'm hungry.


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At 4/25/2006 12:46 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm...... somehow....after going thru' the list (& i couldn't stop reading)..... i'm itching to go book a ticket to fly back to Singapore.
drool drool, guess i'll have to settle for my own homemade chicken rice.

Nice Blog!

At 4/26/2006 1:08 am , Blogger blucat said...

Try Sabar Menanti at Arab Street for nasi padang.

btw thanks for the alfian link, i lost him after he left diaryland some time back.

At 4/26/2006 1:33 am , Blogger Ic3nCok3 said...

Bak Kut Teh -
Rochor Shopping Complex, the place where they sell alot of Chinese stuff (i.e. incense paper, lanterns, candles, etc.). Opposite Sim Lim Sq

Dim Sum -
Dai Dong at Smith Street near Yum Cha

Peranakan Food -
Only know Ole Sayang in Melaka. That's abit far off.

Steak -
Morton's of Chicago...in Singapore

Teochew Moi -
Beo Cresent. There's a stall there that evidently has ties to Andy Lau. They have a huge pic of him at the stall plastered on the wall.

Xiao Long Bao -
Crystal Jade or Din Tai Fung. Many others dun seem to match up as well.

At 4/26/2006 5:21 am , Blogger Ondine said...

Don't forget that the East Coast Lagoon Beef noodle guy takes an average of 30 seconds to do a bowl of noodles. :) Useful information to guess how long you'd be standing in line.

Hmmm, what about fish head curry? Yummm.....

Xiao Long Bao- Ding Tai Fung is where we usually go, but there's one in Bugis that's quite good too. Thing is I can't remember the name. But it is at Bugis junction.

A good lot of help I am. :)

At 4/26/2006 6:28 am , Blogger Mandrake said...

"60-cent black coffee ..."

I know this place, the cze char is much better than the one a few doors away.. Try the black sauce claypot chicken, very nice.

Also, try the french toast instead of the normal toast. Its to die for also. They beat the eggs, add some evaporated milk, sugar and then dipped your toast in. Then its toasted over the fire, not fried.

Also, the uncle has a fixed quota of coffee sold per day. Once over, he won't sell you anymore

At 4/26/2006 3:36 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there read your blog thru ampulet, cool share to good food !!
here's the l&g food bible:

one of our fave restaurant: Naxos@china square. must try: calamari fritti, naxos risotto, greek salad, lamb w gorgonzola sauce, any pizza.

bak chor mee:
toa payoh lor 5 market,neighbor of city satay (also famous for fishball noodle, hokkien mee

chicken rice:
katong shopping center, basement of building, some dodgy aircon eating corner

carrot cake (white):
Newton, Heng carrot cake

crystal jade, good for almost everything actually

Satay (chicken):
Newton, TKR Satay and chicken wing

Prawn Noodle:
Ren Ren @Ernest kopitiam, jalan besar

Kway chap(no contest!!!):
toa payoh lor 4, blk 93 market
6pm to 11pm

Pasta Carbonara:
Angus @ngee ann city

Aglio Olio:

Dim Sum:
East Ocean @Shaw Lido or ritz carlton

Buffalo wings:
TGI fridays @johor bahru (10 mins away from checkpoint) Also good for ribs, nachos, french onion soup, mudpie, oreo milkshake, etc

Club Med, haha, make your own, premium ingredients wowee!

Any ideas for mexican food? Best i ever had was TJ's (since 1984) @ kuta Bali, brilliant sous chef left cafe iguana...

will go try the wanton mee, best i ever had was in hat yai, also home of best fish head curry and bak kut teh.


At 4/27/2006 11:47 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

eh. the margaret drive chicken rice has moved - to stirling road. don't have the exact address but it's at the stirling road / mei ling street hawker centre that is above a market. think it's called sin kee.

the story i heard is that the family quarrelled and split, so the one at margaret drive is somewhat still the same but the other half of the clan moved. still tastes as good har?

i now go to the stirling road one, prob cos the young(er) man there was my mum's ex-student! haha... should try the margaret drive one some time to see if there's any diff...

At 4/30/2006 4:56 am , Blogger Andrew said...

Margaret drive chicken rice still good and cheap, big portions (and popular to boot! sorry kirsten!) you're right, if not for the chicken rice stall the hawker centre would be pretty deserted.

For olua go to whampoa drive market (or am I thinking of o-jian? can never remember)

At 7/12/2006 12:35 am , Blogger Tym said...

Best epok epok (Malay-style curry puffs): Dadi's along East Coast Road, between Marshall Road and Ceylon Road. They have potato or sardine fillings. Best!

At 9/15/2006 12:06 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eh, this Thai place sounds interesting, cheap and good.

The Teochew porridge at Beo Crescent is very near my house but my family has stopped going as it seems very unhygienic. We found a housefly in one of the condiments and other times hair or other nasties.

Naxos - I'm a regular there, I heard their lease is coming up though. Very nice people.

Peranakan - Their food is excellent Peramakan at Joo Chiat. They have a website.

At 10/08/2006 3:58 am , Blogger Tym said...

Best muffins --- Cedele Bakery Depot (I usually buy from the Raffles City or Frankel Avenue outlets) or Werner's Oven at Siglap.


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