MasterChef SG’s Mel Lim – Fave Dark Soy Sauce Wanton Mee

Hi Makan Kakis!

This week, we welcome Hotel Operator Melissa Lim, who most recently exited the MasterChef Singapore competition. She tells us about that fateful episode, gives us insights into the MasterChef experience and also recommends her favourite wanton mee in Singapore.

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Passionate about French Patisserie & Japanese Cuisine, Melissa is usually based in Manila (The Philippines), where she is a hotel manager. But when she’s back in Singapore, it’s all about all the local hawker favourites she misses when she’s away. She loves this East-side stall for their unique wanton noodles.    

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photo via bei-ing wanton noodles facebook.

Mel swears by Bei-Ing Wanton Noodles at Roxy Square, which offers up delicious and affordable options like Chicken Katsu noodles, Katong Otah and more. But the most outstanding of all is their insta-worthy, artistically-presented wanton mee. Each serving is presented with a stylish swoosh of dark sauce painted on the side of the bowl. Such flair, Mel observes, is worthy of a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Bei-ing Wanton Noodles 2
Notice the artistic brush swoosh of sauce on the plate rim! Photo courtesy of Melissa Lim.

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Masterchef SG Judges Recommend Unique Asam Pedas & Nasi Padang

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Click here to listen/ download podcast of this week’s doubly-delicious episode!

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Hi Makan Kakis, this week brings a double-whammy of deliciousness with not 1, but 2 makan recommendations from MasterChef Singapore judges Audra Morrice & Bjorn Shen! First, authentic, quality Nasi Padang from a renowned restaurant that has been in Singapore since 1920. Chef Audra loves Sabar Menanti II, right across from Sultan Mosque. The Nasi Padang is so good you need to bring reinforcements to navigate the queues. For the best time, make sure you have someone to line up for food, and someone to “chope” a table!

Clockwise from top right: Lontong, Ikan Bakar, Ayam Penyet, Tahu Telur & Sambal Brinjal. Photo courtesy of Chef Audra Morrice.

Last time Chef Audra went, her group tucked into “divine” Tahu Telur (crispy, fluffy tofu omelette in a peanut dressing), Lontong (compressed, steamed rice cakes served in a rich coconut vegetable curry), Ikan Bakar (grilled fish, or in this case, fried in turmeric flour and doused in a thick kicap manis and sprinkled with cut chillis, onions and a squeeze of lime) and fried eggplant smothered in a sambal that takes you to a totally different place.

Kueh Kueh photo courtesy of Chef Audra Morrice.

Chef Audra also raves about the Kueh-Kueh, which are a great sweet finish to your Nasi Padang feast. From Ondeh-Ondeh to Kueh Dadar, these are really very good, so order a variety!

Sabar Menanti, which loosely means “good things come to those who wait”, is  definitely one of Chef Audra’s favourite places to visit in Kampong Glam and that’s just scratching the surface! Remember to go in a group (of legal size) – that way, you can order and try lots of different delicious dishes to go with your hot, white rice!

TASTE:
SABAR MENANTI II
737 North Bridge Rd, S(198715)
Open: 6am – 4.30pm (Tues – Sun, closed Mon)
Tel: +65 6291 0109

Next, Chef Bjorn recommends the perfect pairing of rich salmon head with tangy, spicy asam pedas. Remember his last recommendation of Ayam Geprek from La Porpo? You’ll find the Salmon Head Asam Pedas at a stall right next to it in the same coffeeshop along Jalan Besar, right across from Sim Lim Tower.

Full disclosure, Masmidah’s Kitchen is run by the mother of Chef Bjorn’s restaurant manager, but hey, the family that works in F&B together, stays together, right?

And fish-lovers, if there’s one thing you must try at Masmidah’s Kitchen it’s got to be her Salmon Fish Head Asam Pedas. As Chef Bjorn explains it, salmon is such an oily, fatty fish, but the head is even fattier and gelatinous to boot. All that richness needs to be balanced by some acid, which is where the sour and spicy tamarind gravy that drenches the fish head comes in. Lots of vegetables accompany the salmon, including tomatoes, brinjal and lady’s finger. This is one fish dish that’s big in flavour and aroma.

But that’s not all! Take a look at the rest of Masmidah’s menu. Chef Bjorn calls this good old soulful Malay home cooking. Together with the fried chicken at La Porpo, you’re going to have a very good time at these two neighbouring stalls!

TASTE:
MASMIDAH’S KITCHEN
29/31 Jalan Besar, S(208798)
Open: Mon – Sat (best to go at lunchtime)

MasterChef SG Judge Audra Morrice Loves This Appam!

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Appam photo courtesy of Audra Morrice.

Hi Makan Kakis! This week, it’s our great pleasure to have MasterChef Australia alumni and MasterChef Singapore Judge Audra Morrice with us! Based in Sydney, Australia, Audra was in Singapore for the taping of the current season of the culinary competition and during her time here, she was also able to revisit some of her favourite makan places.

One of them holds tremendous nostalgia for her – of trips back to Singapore with her father and her sons for feasts at this Little India stalwart. Madras New Woodlands Restaurant has Tiffin, Mini Set Meals & Tea-time Specials that can’t be beat. In particular, Audra adores their Appam, which she describes as “phenomenal”. Indeed, she isn’t the only one raving about their culinary delights (hi Sashi Cheliah & Violet Oon!).

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MasterChef SG Judge Bjorn Shen’s Favourite Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken)

Hi Makan Kakis!

This week we welcome back Masterchef Singapore Judge, Chef-Owner of Artichoke & Small’s, Bjorn Shen! With the brand new season of Masterchef Singapore back, Bjorn returns to catch us up on the fierce culinary competition and he also shares where to find what he thinks is the best Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) in Singapore. One look at his photo to the left and you already know Bjorn in a massive fried chicken fan and he’ll let us in on not one, but TWO types of amazing Ayam Goreng, both of which come with different, but no less killer sambals!

Delicious details are below, but first…

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OK Makan Kakis, here it is! Chef Bjorn’s favourite Ayam Goreng. In his opinion, this stall in a coffeeshop along Jalan Besar (just opposite Sim Lim Tower) does the most amazing fried chicken in Singapore. He had tried Laporpo’s Ayam Penyet several times before and thought it was simply mind-blowing, until he tried their Ayam Geprek, which he describes as in another universe! Chef Bjorn’s mind was blown all over again with his first taste of the Ayam Geprek.

For the uninitiated, Ayam Penyet is an Indonesian-style fried chicken that’s coated in a lightly-spiced crispy batter, then smashed and served with sambal on the side (see picture above).

Ayam Geprek (pictured above) is also a smashed fried chicken, but the sambal is smothered on top and according to Chef Bjorn, they “smash it even further into the fibres of the chicken.” 

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Succulent, Smoky, Charcoal-grilled Pork Belly Satay

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Click here to listen/ download podcast of this week’s charcoal grilled episode!

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Hey Makan Kakis! Our foodie friend Lyn Lee of Awfully Chocolate & Sinpopo Brand joins us to recommend an incredible accompaniament to awesome Fried Hokkien Mee – SATAY. Not just your regular grilled meats on a stick, but luscious, decadent, chargoal-grilled PORK BELLY SATAY! Served side-by-side to the folks behind the famous Geylang Lorong 29 Hokkien Mee, which we’ve previously featured here.

Said Hokkien Mee is charcoal-fried for that deliciously smoky wok hei and the same charcoal-smokiness is front and centre in the pork belly satay, which comes with gorgeous charred marks seared in stripes across the succulent meat.

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Awesome Abacus Seeds for the Festive Season

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Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s QQ, springy and festive episode – support local F&B!

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Happy Chinese New Year! This week, I have something deliciously festive to recommend – suan pan zi (算盘子), or Abacus seeds, which get their name from the ancient calculating tool, the abacus (also called a counting frame). This traditional Hakka dish is a labour-intensive, time-consuming delicacy whose main ingredient is yam. It’s usually eaten during special occasions (like Chinese New Year) because its signature shape signifies wealth and prosperity.
 

Yam and tapioca flour are kneaded well together to form a dough which is then divided and rolled into little balls. Little indents in the middle of the dough balls are made from pressing them between thumb and forefinger, which give it its distinctive abacus bead shape.

Scrolling through instagram, I recently discovered a local home-based business whose specialty is handmade abacus seeds. Madam Yam is available for delivery or pickup and ordered via instagram or facebook. It looked so good, I just had to give it a try.

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Japanese Mini-Mart’s Yummy Mentaiko Pasta

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Every is a Japanese Mini-Mart on one side and a Cafe on the other!

Hello Makan Kakis! This week, our foodie friend Audrey Lee of Little House of Dreams returns for a catch-up (her cafe has moved to Tiong Bahru!) and tells us all about her new F&B concept EasyFood – gourmet meals & pastries at wholesale prices that are quick, convenient & wholesome. Scroll down for details! She also shares her favourite picks for festive goodies from the Little House of Dreams bakery, which you can hear all about in the podcasts above.

Audrey also recommends her favourite Mentaiko Pasta ($9.50), found in a little corner of Havelock Road, better known for the bak kut teh. Surprisingly, the pasta (and other Japanese fusion dishes) can be found, in of all places, a Japanese mini-mart called Every. It stocks food, drinks, cooking sauces, toiletries and lots of bits & bobs imported from Japan in their retail side and then the other half of the space houses a little cafe. They do great set meals, from rice bowls to noodle dishes and also have an ala carte menu featuring sides, snacks and yes, Audrey’s favourite pasta.

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Fluffy, Fragrant, Boneless Lamb Biryani

HEAR: Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s spicy, fluffy episode!

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Mask on and Denise can still smell the deep aroma of this Biryani!

Chef Shen Tan of private dining experience Ownself Make Chef & Thank Goodness It’s is back for another delicious round of makan and this time, she’s taking us to a Little India restaurant that serves up a wonderful Hyderabad-style Dhum Biryani. Marinated meat is layered with rice and meticulously cooked in a unique dough-sealed pot to lock in the juices and flavours, for maximum meat tenderness and rice fluffiness.

Chef Shen went for the easy-to-eat Boneless Lamb Biryani ($14.90), which did not disappoint. The rice was fluffy and aromatic; the lamb was beautifully seasoned, moist and tender with lovely, spicy, complex notes. Cherry tomato, a hard boiled egg and fried shallots garnished the dish, which was generous enough for 2-3 people to share. Every mouthful brought bags of punchy flavour! And when Denise decided to order some for home delivery, the dish was just as Chef Shen described and the extra tub of curry was very much appreciated, perfect for slopping all over the meat and rice.

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