This place is closed!
“This reminds me of a story, looooong before your time, in the Southern province of China……”
I am sure that many of us are familiar with this line from “Under One Roof” which was made famous by Moses Lim’s character, Tan Ah Teck waaaaaaay back in the 90’s!
Somehow, I still think of the 90’s as quite recent. Not like the 70’s and 80’s which feel like a long time ago. But when you watch episodes of “Under One Roof” you begin to realize how time flies!
Moses Lim, as you know, went on to become quite a gourmand and you can see standees of him recommending restaurants across the island. He also organizes food trips overseas and has recently been made ambassador for Korean food and was even conferred an award in a certain province of Korea. So much for the Southern province of China!
With such a refined palate for good food, one would expect that his restaurant would serve up food that would satisfy us “Live to Eat” types.
That would be quite a safe assumption.
Singapore Style Porridge is a restaurant that is opened by his daughter Grace together with her husband who is the chef. They started off last year as an air-conditioned place for “Jok”, the Hainanese style porridge that we are all familiar with. What makes the porridge different is the way in which it is prepared.
Traditional Hainanese porridge is made with a plain rice porridge which is made by boiling rice and water until the rice is just broken. When you place your order, this plain rice porridge is then cooked in a small pot and this is the stage when the ingredients and seasonings are added. What Singapore Style Porridge has done differently is to take it up a notch by using some of the techniques used for Cantonese style congee. Unlike the Hainanese porridge that uses water to cook the rice, in the Cantonese version, the rice is cooked in pork stock. This extra step produces congee with extra umami. So you can say that Singapore Style Porridge is an Canto-Hainanese porridge that combines the best of both worlds.
The flavour of the jok was very good but I thought that the liquid component lacked a certain level of smoothness. I guess what I was looking for is a a smooth jok ala Cantonese style, with broken rice, ala Hainanese style. Another thing on my wish list is some You Tiao (fried dough sticks) to go with the porridge. To me, that is a very important component of jok! 4/5
It was a good idea to use stock to cook the porridge but the problem is the lay person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference immediately. The usual response is that the porridge is very nice, but $6.50 is double the price you pay at the hawker centre! It is because of this and the fact that Singaporeans are not used to going to a restaurant just to eat porridge that they have decided to bring in the Cze Char dishes.
The one dish that really stood out for me was the poached beef short ribs with bean sprouts. Unlike a lot of other Cze Char that use mediocre beef cuts, they use a nicely marbled USDA beef short ribs here which makes a whole world of difference to the dish! The beef goes very well with the bean sprouts and is will also go well with a bowl of jok. 4.5/5
I liked the beef so much that I just had to try their beef hor fun, but when it arrived it was their normal beef hor fun ($8) which was not made with the same beef! So I asked them why they didn’t use their excellent USDA beef short ribs? Their response is as much the same as every other hawker stall owner and it is that they are afraid that their customers won’t be willing to pay so much at a Cze Char place. So I re-ordered a plate of beef hor fun using an extra portion of their beef short ribs ($15) and it was very good! It would have been perfect if the hor fun itself had a bit more wok hei! 4.25/5
NB: The $15 USDA Beef Short Rib hor fun is not on the menu, you need to ask for the “Leslie’s Special”
Moses Lim’s wife is Taiwanese and so when they added a braised platter to their menu, they just had to use a Taiwanese style braising sauce. That meant that they had to specially procure the soy sauce and herbs just to make this dish. The resulting dish is something that has a distinct flavour not usually found locally. Cactuskit loved the dish and especially like the braising sauce over the jok. I am not so used to the Taiwanese flavour, but it was a good braised platter which I wouldn’t mind ordering again. I think that it is the kind of thing that would grow on you. 4/5
The prawn rolls here are excellent. I know that I have said before that I have never really had a bad prawn roll, but neither have I had one that really stood out. Well, I take it back because the prawn rolls here do stand out. Firstly, they are really big, unlike most other places where you can pop one into your mouth, you will need two bites for this. The meat and prawn filling also has a very nice texture that is tender, yet has a good bounce to it. Moses tells me that they make extra effort to get the bouncy texture by slapping the meat with their hands. They also do the same for the pork balls which they use for their porridge which I thought were also very nice. 4.25/5
If you are looking for a snack that is crispy and full of yummy umami, then the salted egg crispy eel skin is what you are looking for. This is the kind of dish that I would have preferred to take with plain porridge but it goes well with the jok too. Their salted egg sauce is pretty good and it doesn’t come with a pool of melted Planta margarine at the bottom which is the problem with a lot of other Cze Chars that I have come across. A nightmare for the health promotion board and certainly not for those who have been chided by their doctor, mother, wife about their cholesterol levels! 4.25/5
The quality of the food here is very good. You can’t expect any less from Moses Lim. The simple and comfortable settings make it a conducive place for the family and the combination of Hainanese style porridge with Cze Char is quite unique. I am just not sure how long they will keep calling themselves Singapore Style Porridge? The name is very creative because 真粥道 (Zhen zhou dao – lit real porridge flavour) sounds like its sounds exactly the same as 真周到 (good hospitality) so I am sure they would like keep it. But now that the Cze Char is such a prominent feature, the name just fails to capture the essence of the place!
Singapore Style Porridge
228 Tanjong Katong Road
12am to 2.30pm,
5.30pm to 9.30pm