It might seem cliché to describe Maddie’s Kitchen as a ‘hidden gem,’ but that’s exactly what it is. Tucked in one corner of Far East Plaza, not only is Maddie’s located in a place that’s a ‘has been,’ but its pedestrian facade also betrays the care and attention the owner puts into the dishes.
The best way to describe the dishes here is “Popular Zi Char dishes as cooked by a housewife”. The owner, Mui Leng, is the aforementioned housewife who decided to open the restaurant in 2018 at the persistent prompting of her husband. She doesn’t actually handle wok, but directs how the dishes are to be done. So, you can expect popular Zi Char dishes here but with a touch of home. One good example is her very popular Oyster Omelette which is light and crunchy instead of being heavy and gooey. My lunch kaki, Chef Willin Low, is a big fan and it’s one of his must-order dishes. Personally, I like a certain amount of gooeyiness in my oyster omelette, so I am not as big a fan and that is why I would list it under the “Can Try” category. But there are some dishes which really resonated with my tastebuds which I look forward to going back to try. Here’s my breakdown of the dishes we had:
Must Try Dishes
I was pleasantly surprised by the beef hor fun. Firstly, the hor fun is redolent with Wok Hei and the black bean sauce compliments it really well. Mui Leng uses beef tenderloin which is quite unusual for this dish, or any Zi Char dishes for that matter, but it worked well in this case. She’s also added bittergourd which which is unusual for beef hor fun but it worked well and added a touch of bitterness to the dish! It is one of the more memorable beef hor fun I have had in recent memory and it’s Chef Willin’s favourite. 4.25/5
Unlike most Zi Char places that use canned pork trotters, they actually make their own pork trotters at Maddie’s. The texture of the skin is excellent and the braising sauce has that slightly tacky lip-smacking feel. It does lack the canned “Kong Bak” flavour, but if you are after homemade pork trotter bee hoon, here is one of the best versions I have come across. 4.25/5
Maddie’s har cheong gai is quite special. It comes with a mound of crust which you can spoon onto your rice like you do with tempura. The marination is very good. The prawn paste flavour is quite evident and they have marinated it long enough such that it has penetrated through to the bones. It is also freshly fried so that it arrives piping hot and bursting with umami juices. It’s one of the best har cheong gai currently on the market and would have been perfect if the crust were just slightly thicker. 4.5/5
Can Try Dishes
Their string beans are done very nicely. The beans are perfectly fried and have a nice crunch when you bite into them. The minced meat is also very fragrant. A hint of spice would be great to lift up the flavour. 4/5
Their hae zhor is good, but it was just a tad dry on the inside. But the good thing is that the pieces of prawn are quite prominent so it has a good crustacean flavour. 4/5
Try If You Must Dishes
Chef Willin would always order a serving of the crispy wantons whenever he visits, I didn’t find them to be anything to shout about. For me, the skin is an important part of the dish and I have had wanton skin that is very addictive before, so this one pales in comparison. It is, however, fried till it’s nice and crispy and is still a very competent snack. 3.5/5
Their mango sago pomelo is ok if you need something sweet to end the meal but it wasn’t as creamy and smooth as I would have liked. 3.5/5
This place is really crowded during lunchtime as they offer many one-dish meals like curry rice and hor fun which cater to the office crowds. It is quieter in the evenings, making it a lovely place to organize a zi char party. There are enough dishes that stood out for me to plan a return trip with more people so we can try some of their other offerings! It is also a place where you can easily strike up a long-term relationship with the friendly lady boss, making it a regular go-to spot.