Thursday, August 28, 2014

Datouxia in Upper Aljunied

The quest for the ultimate prawn noodle continues...with Wah Kee firmly seated at the throne, in my view, many young new challengers arise to take a shot...some fall short, but some, come amazingly close!

This is one of them. Quite amazing, considering that this shop is little over a month old when I was invited to visit. 

Straight into the noodles...first up, the big prawn dry noodle.

The broth is made by fresh sea prawns, and boiled with pork bones, ground prawn heads for hours to create the rather thick consistency, and full flavoured broth. The prawns used were quite large, halved in the middle for ease of eating, and were fresh prawns from the wet market which they buy every day. 

The taste was rather good. The prawns were fresh, crunchy, with a nice crustacean sweetness. The broth was, as mentioned, thick and quite flavourful. I tasted a hint of sweetness, and indeed some rock sugar was used in the preparation. A little of the powdered chilli elimated this altogether, and in my books a game changer. The broth took on a more savoury persona, full of umami, and very flavourful. 

As can be seeen in the pic above, a lot of lard crisps and deep fried shallots were piled on the bowl imparting a wonderful aroma and flavour. Very good in my books. 

My lunch companions had the soup variety

They offer also pork ribs and pig tails with the prawns on the noodles. They also offer a chilli paste which is also quite marvellous. A bit akin to XO sauce, but perhaps with less premium ingredients...the paste is made with chilli, belacan and dried prawns (hae bee). This adds a powerful umami kick to the noodles. 

For me, the soup is rather nice. But Penang Kia at Compassvale has a more flavourful and tasty soup. And Wah Kee has bigger prawns which are just as fresh, and as great tasting, with a broth which is more reminiscent of French bouillabaisse than any Prawn Noodle soup I have tasted. But Datouxia seem to have captured a nice happy medium in between offering an excellent broth and beautiful, fresh prawns. I highly recommend this Prawn Noodle. 

We also sampled the ngor hiang

I thought this plate to be rather average...nothing outstanding. Indeed, when queried, they do not make the ngor hiang but buy from the same supplier who supplies the Beach Road Prawn Noodle shop in East Coast.

The shop is opened by a young fellow, Ah Ann, who learned his craft as a cook doing economy rice, but yearned to venture out to do Prawn Noodles. He was inspired by the Beach Road Prawn Noodle...which he thought had such great potential, with good clientele, but yet, the food falls short of expectation. I agree with this assessment. 

He went back to his hometown of Alor Star and to Penang and Johor Bahru to try and learn how to do the prawn noodle, but even when he offered to pay for the recipe and tuition, nobody wanted to teach him. So he drove to the stalls he admired in Singapore at 4am in the morning, and observed how they made their prawn noodle. With some creativity, some tips from friends, and I guess a good palate, he came up with his own recipe. Enterprising indeed. And highly recommended for Prawn Noodle.

I am sad to report that as of 21 September 2014, Datouxia has ceased business. The owners have decided to stop and reconsider the viability of the business. And I do hope they resurface somewhere with a more viable business model.

383 Upper Aljunied Road,
Singapore 367868
Phone: +65 90622342
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 9.30 pm daily

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dong Po Colonial Cafe in Kandahar St

Last week I talked about an innovative Nanyang Kopi stall in ABC. This week, we explore how another traditional kopi tiam has taken innovation and modernized their offerings.

Situated in a restored shophouse in Kandahar, nestled just a few doors away from Sabar Menanti and Rumah Minang. The shop is rather quaint, with a name like Dong Po Colonial Cafe, it certainly looks the part. The interior is air conditioned, with tables and chairs reminiscent of the good old days. 

An old, Flying Pigeon bicycle is used as a decorative prop by the five foot way and one can certainly sit outdoors. I cycled there on one of my visits there, and sat outside by my bike. 

The coffee is a rather standard offering of Nanyang Kopi. Pleasantly aromatic, with a good mouthfeel and body, but not strikingly unusual.

The toast I have next to the coffee, is something quite special, and which I adore

Called the Bostock, this is usually made with brioche, but the innovation here is it is made with freshly baked (in-house) local style bread. Topped with an almond syrup and toasted almond flakes and dusted with castor sugar. The taste is rather mild...with the toasted almonds providing most of the flavour and aroma. I rather liked it. 

On another occassion, we tried the huge French toast with ice cream

This is truly enourmous. The bread is baked in-situ, and lightly coated with egg, lightly toasted, 
and stuffed with butter, topped with a vanilla ice cream, a dollop of fresh cream on the side and drizzled with honey. Quite nice. The bread was crusty, slight crispy outside but remained soft and moist within. Very nice contrasting textures between the bread crust, bread inside, the ice cream and the fresh cream. 

Nice, quaint place for a cuppa. Highly recommended.

Dong Po Colonial Cafe
56 Kandahar Street
6298 1318
Tue-Thurs 930am-830pm
Fri-Sun 930am-930pm
Closed on Monday

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hylam Street Old Coffee at ABC Brickworks

Nanyang kopi has its own charms, even for one almost totally entrenched in the espresso culture.

I have written about espresso in Singapore and the waves of progress. But quietly, the nanyang kopi scene remains as a constant support to the coffee drinking public. Instead of $4.50 typical for a double espresso, only $0.90 for a kopi-o. Black coffee, made by the immersion method using a sock.

Almost everywhere, these kopi tiams (coffee shops) offer low cost coffee and tea to the masses. Almost all the time, they make the coffee using Robusta beans, often mixed with maize and often roasted with margarine. The roast is usually quite dark, and sometimes some sugar is added during roasting, making a caramalized roasted bean, very dark. This makes a dark brew, black, thick, and for the better ones, with a beautiful aroma.

But this little store, tucked in the corner of ABC Brickworks does something I have never seen in a kopi tiam. The gentleman who makes the coffee, the barista I guess, grinds each pot of coffee on demand. All the other stalls around the island use powdered coffee, pre-ground to make pots which are diluted to make the cups of coffee. I guess each pot making about 10 cups or so. The pot brews thick, and the coffee is diluted as it is poured into a heated serving cup...according to the order. One can order "pok" meaning thin or more dilute like an Americana, or "gao" or thick meaning less dilution.

Note the grinder in the background on the left of the photograph.

The same sock immersion method is used, but for each pot, the uncle grinds his coffee from beans. This alone makes the coffee much more aromatic, and a great difference.

The kopi-o is black, thick, and wonderfully fragrant. Much more than any other kopi-o I have tasted in town. He also makes a nice tea. And of course, kopi, kopi-c, and kopi peng...translated, coffee with condensed milk, coffee with evaporated milk, and iced coffee with evaporated milk.  Along with toasted bread with bread and butter/kaya, and half boiled eggs. The food is not spectacular, rather perhaps just a bit above average, but the kopi is outstanding.

Hylam Street Old Coffee
ABC Brickwoods Food Centre, Blk 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-53 s150006 (Bukit Merah)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sum Kee Food at Yeo's Building Pasir Panjang

I have passed this place often. Often intrigued, but never tried. One of our watch gatherings, we decided to try this place out. And were we impressed!

So the cat is out of the bag...innovative cze char style food, with crazy creative names. Very nice environment, great food, good service. The owner Mr. Sum came up to chat with us after our meal, when we decided to move to the outdoor seating for some cigars and finish our cognac. Interesting fellow. Corkage is nominal $1 per person, and he will gladly provide stemware.

We started with some appetizers...interestingly named Bikini Chicken

Deep fried chicken skin: crispy, and light, not greasy. The taste is very mild, but the crispy texture is wonderful.

Next, Kung Fu Pork Ribs

Quite unlike any pork ribs we have eaten. The pork is lightly battered, and deep fried. The sauce is quite interesting...slightly sweet, slightly sour, slightly salty, and lightly spicy. Very nice. The sauce comes with jullianed cucumber, carrots and bits of onion.

The star for me, was the Wallet Chicken...this item is not on the menu

A whole chicken, totally deboned, and stuffed with glutinous rice, diced chicken meat, peanuts, chestnuts and dried shitake mushroom...every part of the chicken, including the drumstick and wings are deboned and stuffed.

The stuffing is a bit like a bak chang...wondefully moist. Very delicious.

The chicken meat is deep fried till crisp, note the blisters on the skin testament to the very hot oil used for the deep fry. The meat tasted like just any other fried chicken...but for me, the speciality in this dish is the stuffing.

We also had Ultra Man Chicken

Chicken nuggets, coated with salted egg yolk, fried till golden brown. This style is commonly used for prawns, but this is the first time I have eaten this with chicken. Works well...makes me wonder why others have not tried. Nice.

We also had Wa Wa Tofu.

Typical cze char stuff...but very well done. The tofu was fragrant, and very silky smooth...wa wa means smooth in Chinese. The vegetables were fresh, lightly fried, and still crunchy. The gravy, thicken with eggs was delectable.

We needed the all important prawn dish, as one of our members is a prawn Sambal Prawns:

I had expected the prawns to be larger, but other than the size, everything was great. Appropriately spicy, the fresh, succulent prawns had a crunchy bite and had a light fragrance of the sea and the sweetness typical of seafood.

The Jew Her Eng Chye  - cuttlefish with kangkong.

Nice. Reminiscent of the old stall at Gurney Drive in Penang. The eng chye was fresh, young, cooked expertly such that it still full of vigour and crunchy to the bite. The cuttlefish, I suspect is not the fresh variety, but rehydrated from dried cuttlefish, had a nice bite, and a great texture. The sauce was rather special...sweet, slightly spicy. Superb. One of the best I have tasted in Singapore.

Beef with bittergourd was next

The chef did everything right with this dish. But nothing stands out. The beef was tender, cooked just so, the bittergourd was not overly bitter, just a tinge of bitterness on the tongue, and giving way quickly to a sweet and lingering after taste. 

And the requisite spinach with three types of eggs.

Masterfully done. Cooked just right, with fresh high quality ingredients. The broth was very savoury and aromatic. 

Overall, as I had let the cat out of the bag earlier, highly recommended. Plenty of free parking outside. Reservations recommended for weekend dinners and weekday lunches.

Singapore 108942
Tel 1: 6737 3233
Tel 2: 6333 8556
Open daily

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lobster Porridge and other delectable cze char dishes at Maude Road

I wrote about our fondness for lobster porridge, and a very good one near Margaret Drive. But Chui Xiang is no more...the place where it was housed is slated to be demolished, and I understand the owners decided to reduce the operations to a stall in MDIS. So our search for a replacement began in earnest.

This little corner restaurant along Maude Road, near Little India came with lots of bloggers' recommendation...perhaps its because the PR people have been working the blogosphere with tastings. I did not participate in the tasting, but reading the review, decided to have a go at the lobster porridge.

A small portion, good for 2 pax is served with a medium sized lobster...about 450g fresh. Calling it a lobster is a bit of a misnomer, as lobsters have claws, but this was rather a crayfish or a rock lobster, dwelling in warm waters and lacking the said claws. More like a very large prawn, I guess.

The lobsters were nice and rather a bit larger than the Chui Xiang ones, though combined, they probably weigh almost the same. As a result, the Wanhelou ones here were a bit more meaty. The flesh was quite firm, had the requisite seafood sweetness and rather fresh. 

The porridge was cooked Teochew style, more like rice in a rich broth. The broth itself was nice, rich, If I were to make the obvious comparison, we found the Chui Xiang broth to be a bit brighter, so to speak, more flavourful and more robust. The Wan He Lou version was a touch heavy on the ginger...if it were to mask the less than fresh seafood, one can understand, but as the lobster was very fresh, this was not not essential, and I view it as perhaps a bit heavy. But it was still delicious, and made a nice filling meal.

We also had the kurobuta pan fried pork

The sauce was quite similar to what one would use for a char siew, I would imagine. And as a lover of char siew, I found this to be very nice. The pork was fat, tender, and had the slight hint of porkiness which provides a punch and dimension to the dish. Very nice. 

We also ordered the silver fish fried rice.

This was rather superb. The rice was nice and dry. The dish bursting with lots of ingredients, and tossed in a very hot wok with silver fish, scalions, eggs, small scampi, a bit of pork sausage. Scrumptious. Wok Hei was very powerful on the dish. Definitely a very agreeable fried rice.

Having sampled a small number of dishes, I think I can muster this restaurant a recommendation. I will be back to sample more of the rather large menu, and no doubt will enjoy it. 

Wan He Lou Chinese Restaurant
Daily: 11:00 - 14:30, 17:00 - 22:30

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jia Wei White Beehoon near ABC Brickworks

White beehoon is quite an interesting dish. I wrote about the famous You Huak in Sembawang earlier, and found another, much nearer to my home at Blk 2 next to ABC Brickworks.

Called Jia Wei, it is run by an unassuming gentleman, and we have grown to like the home style cooking there...home style but prepared in a manner that is possible in a regular the har cheong kai...needs a literal bucket of hot boiling oil to make these:

Crisply fried in really hot boiling oil...I was told vegetable oil, so, um...a bit less unhealthy. The insides are still very juicy and really tender. The marinade is not as salty as many other HCK, so in that sense kind of home made. We love it. Only the mid-wing is used.

But the namesake of the cze char stall is the white beehoon. 

A really superb dish. The broth is very savoury, almost thick, but not quite...a wonderful umami mouthfeel and very satisfying. The beehoon is kind of springy, and the kind which remain so, not fully absorbing the broth and becoming bloated. The prawns are fresh, crunchy, with a nice breath of the sea. Very nice dish. Almost as good as the famous You Huak in Sembawang. 

Highly recommended for these two dishes. Their other cze char dishes are less spectacular, but still very nice to eat. 

Jia Wei White Beehoon (家味白米粉)
Block 2 Jalan Bukit Merah (Beside ABC Brickworks Market), Singapore

Monday, August 4, 2014

Texas Fried Chicken Jalapeno TXtreme Chicken

I don't normally blog about fast food...this might actually be the first...but I am impressed with this fried chicken.

Newly launched the Jalapeno TXtreme Chicken is an interesting one. With a rather thick crust which is very crispy and crunchy, the thin batter is also very spicy. And unlike many fried chicken from fast food outlets, the chicken is really moist, tender and juicy within. 

The chicken is unique...perhaps...they claim to use fresh chicken, and the cooking and preparation is three step. Step 1 is a mix of jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, garlic, chilli, onion, fennel and seasonings for 12 hours. Next the chicken is hand battered, so that there is no exessive batter and ensure an even coating. And finally a salsa seasoning is sprinlked before the chicken is served...fresh from the fryer...well that is from the publicity blurb.

And on is exactly that. The batter is rather hard, crunchy crispy, with powerful hot pepper notes. As one bites into the chicken, the hot juices spill out, threatening to scald...the chicken is indeed prepared almost a la minute and served while piping hot...unlike some fast food chicken, which in the name of being served fast has been precooked and sitting on the warming tray for a while.

And finally, the chicken is indeed very tender and as mentioned juicy. Thumbs up. 

The biscuit accompanying is nice and fluffy, with a touch of honey on the top and a beautiful fragrance of butter. Accompanied with either french fries, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and a drink, the combination is available for S$8.20 at all Texas Fried Chicken outlets islandwide.

Texas Fried Chicken
Jalapeno TXtreme Chicken 
tasted at Expo outlet
Numberous outlets islandwide