Bak chor mee has always been an understated Singaporean dish. At least it was until last year when Hillstreet Tai Hwa Minced Pork noodle become one of the first street foods to be awarded a Michelin Star! Suddenly, this beloved Singaporean dish which had never quite been a poster-boy for Singapore food is thrown onto the world stage.
I think the challenge for anyone entering the zi char business is to be able to come up with one or two signature dishes with the ability to capture people’s attention. You Huak managed to do it with their seafood white bee hoon, New Ubin with their beef fried rice and Royal J with their fried porridge. Just being competent in the usual compendium of zi char dishes will only get you so far.
Hong Kong Style Kitchen (港式小炒): Cheap and Good Zi Char
Cheap and reasonably good zi char food. You can't really complain when the steamed grouper costs only $15 and the fish handpicked by the chef from the wet market every day. The food may not be the tastiest we have come across but it is good quality and you will be more than happy with the portion size and the price.
The first thing that strikes you about the lapis is how many layers there are. Then as you peel the layers, just how stretchy they are. Then when you eat them, how chewy and yummy they are. The guys were having fun peeling off each layer, then twirling each layer around the finger before popping the whole finger into the mouth!
I really hate to be a naysayer, I really do. But just as I said that it is "The End of Char Kway Teow", traditional kuehs like png kueh and soon kueh are also facing an uncertain future. Consider the following questions:
The food at Hana-hana is very good value. I am not saying you will get top class Japanese food, but for a Japanese omakase meal, this is as cheap and good as it gets and you should leave the place feeling that you will want to go back again.
This version of white beehoon is quite different from the wet version we are all familiar with in a similar way that wet hokkien mee is different from the dry type. I liked the texture of the thin beehoon and how it had absorbed the flavour of the stock.
About four years ago, I picked up a book from the library that was simply titled "Steak". There are very few single words that have the power to command my immediate attention and this is one of them. The other is "Monnnnng!" which is what my Teochew name sounds like when it is uttered by my wife in an ascending tone. It usually signals an ominous change in the weather pattern which requires a drastic course correction.
Sinn Ji Chicken Rice: Young, Innovative Next Generation Hawkers
There has been much debate about how to preserve our hawker culture. One idea was to set up hawker "schools" where courses are offered on how to prepare certain dishes. On paper, this seems to be a good idea.
Leslie’s Char Siu Recipe: Finally perfected it after 9 years!
After 9 years of research, trials and failures, I have finally succeeded in making charsiu at home. This is, by far, the most frustrating and difficult dish to get right. I started experimenting in 2008 with a recipe from Fatty Cheong whose charsiu is still the gold standard for me. The tender, bouncy and juicy meat melts in your mouth and melodiously melds with the sweet crimson lacquer!
Soon Heng Hot and Cold Desserts: Hawkers we grow up with
I get a lot of different reactions whenever I pull out my DSLR camera. Some hawkers ask why I am taking photos. Others continue to work as if I wasn't there. But when Mrs Yang saw my camera, she quickly struck up her kawaii pose!
I remember the very first time I had a slice of Japanese wagyu. It was one of those gastronomic moments that probed deep into the inner recesses of my soul to invoke that sense of childlike wonder. How can a slice of beef, or any meat for that matter, be so sublime, so ethereal, so..... shiok?