Orchard Rd Yong Tau Foo: 2 Must-Try Ingredients

Hi Makan Kakis!

This week, we welcome back Mum of 3, nutrition & food science teacher and the cook behind home-based Artisome Food, Sharlene Tan, who was a Top 4 contestant in Masterchef Singapore Season 3. Relive all the culinary excitement – catch up on Season 3 again and if you’re feeling inspired, why not register for Season 4? Auditions are now open. Details here!

Now when it comes to food, Sharlene’s tastes lie along the lines of dishes piled with crispy lard and comfort food that doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. She looks for flavours and textures that go together and make you feel warm inside and make you happy. Case in point, one of her favourite things to eat – Yong Tau Foo.

HEAR:
Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s souper-stuffed episode!

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IMG_5655In particular, Yong Tau Foo soup really appeals to Sharlene because it’s the most basic building block of the dish and it needs to be rich and umami. Sharlene enjoys visiting  different stalls, depending on her location and when she’s in the Orchard Road area, Lucky Plaza is where she heads for her fix. At My Favourite Cafe on the 6th floor, they serve up delicious Yong Tau Foo at affordable prices and their soup is as she likes it – flavourful and tasty from ikan bilis and soy beans, but not heavy on MSG.

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Run like a well-oiled machine, the casual eating place features a display counter where you grab a bowl and tongs to pick whatever ingredient you want. I was there near closing time, but there enough tantalising morsels to choose from, like stuffed tofu products, fishcakes, fishballs, deep-fried dumplings and vegetables.

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Mee Rebus & Soto Ayam with Super Sambal!

Our Makan Kaki, The Fabulous Baker Boy  Fabulous Baker Boy, Juwanda Hassim returns with a recommendation straight from his growing-up years – a stall that sells his father’s favourite mee rebus at Haig Road Food Centre.

HEAR:
Listen/ download podcast for this week’s satisfyingly spicy episode.

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Juwanda’s maternal grandparents were once mee rebus street hawkers, so his family really appreciates quality when they taste it. At Afandi Hawa and Family, their mee rebus is the real stuff, made from a good meaty stock thickened with sweet potatoes.

Continue reading “Mee Rebus & Soto Ayam with Super Sambal!”

Luscious & Lemak x 2 – Laksa & Chicken Curry!

Back with us is MasterChef Singapore judge, Chef Damian D’Silva of Singapore Heritage restaurant Rempapa (check out their Deepavali specials below) . A while back, he took us to one of his favourite stalls for Cantonese-style steamed dishes – Chef Chik at Haig Road Food Centre. We return to the same food centre to visit another stall for “Chinese-style lemak laksa” that Chef Damian really enjoys!

HEAR:
Click to listen/ download podcast of this doubly lusicious & lemak episode!

SEE: 

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At Goody N Jolly, their laksa is prawn based, with a rich coconut broth and a rempah that has Chef Damian’s seal of approval.

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This is the Prawn + Cockle version ($6), which comes with thick vermicelli, taupok, sliced fishcake, hard-boiled egg as well as prawns and cockles, of course!

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Laksa gravy was indeed rich and coconutty, yet light but not cloying. Gentle heat came from the large dollop of sambal on top, which was  unusual and delicious – tangy and full of savoury umami!

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Not a fan of cockles? There are other versions of the laksa to choose from – prawn + taupok ($5.50), shredded chicken + prawn ($6) and shredded chicken + taupok ($5).

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Another must-try at Goody N Jolly is the curry chicken ($7), which you can enjoy with bread (local-style French loaf) or rice. I went for the laksa, but will return for this delectable curry, which turned out to be a complete revelation!

IMG_4982It came served piping hot in a large ceramic bowl filled with generous chunks of chicken that featured fork-tender meat and creamy-soft potatoes.

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And you’re gonna want to drink up ALL the delcious gravy! Robust, deeply savoury & lip-smackingly tasty, the curry was rich in spices but not too hot. Lots of curry leaves added even more depth of flavour.

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If ever you’re craving for a luscious, lemak and spicy meal, double your pleasure with the local delights served up so well at Goody N Jolly. By the way, if the name sounds familiar, they used operate from B1 of Parkway Parade, so if you’ve ever wondered where they went, they relocated 10 years ago to Haig Road Food Centre! Conveniently, they also run the drinks store (of the same name) right next door, which means a thirst quencher right after your hearty meal is literally just a step away.

Just note that they only open for laksa and curry chicken business only 4 times a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday. Also, their curry is often sold out before 3pm so get there early!

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TASTE:
Goody N Jolly (CDC VOUCHERS accepted here)
Haig Road Market & Food Centre
14 Haig Rd, #01-71, Singapore 430014
Open: 9.30am – 6pm (Closed Mondays, Thursdays & Fridays)

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BONUS!
This Deepavali season, Chef Damian D’Silva continues his Cultural Celebration Series at Rempapa with 2 special dishes – one South Indian and one Northern Sri Lankan – which Chef Damian D’Silva learned from his beloved Grandad.

rempapa_deepavali_kool_4Kool ($80++, serves 4), a Northern Sri Lankan specialty follows a recipe belonging to a neighbour of his Grandad. The hearty soup consists of fresh seafood such as fish, crab, prawns, and cuttlefish; as well as vegetables such as long beans, sliced tapioca, and jackfruit seeds. Cooked brown rice and odiyal flour (from a root of the palmyra tree) are added to thicken the soup. Spicy and tangy, this robust stew takes 3 days of preparation, so it be sure to order 3 days in advance!

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Lamb Dhalcha ($60++ serves 4) is Chef Damian’s Eurasian interpretation of a traditional South Indian lentil stew, using his Grandad’s recipe that features smoked bacon bones. Lamb ribs, lentils and potatoes are spiced with cumin, fennel and coriander and cooked in coconut milk and tamarind juice for a rich, hearty, meaty treat to be eaten with chapati.

Only available till Monday 24 Oct – book ahead & get more info:
Tel: +65 9459 1603
Email: papa@rempapa.sg
Online: Click to reserve.

 

Continue reading “Luscious & Lemak x 2 – Laksa & Chicken Curry!”

CDC Voucher Best Eats – Nostalgic Local Desserts

This is Part 5 of our Makan Kakis x CNA Lifestyle series featuring some of the best eats to spend your CDC vouchers on.

Singaporeans love a food fad. We’ve witnessed the proliferation of insta-worthy cafes offering up rainbow-coloured, glitter-sprinkled, unicorn-inspired confections. We’ve gone gaga over artisanal gelato, made in small batches and rising in rabid popularity. We’ve queued hours for all-manner of baked goods, from cinnamon rolls to cream puffs to donuts to cruffins. We’ve been enthralled by Taiwanese bubble tea, Korean bingsu and Japanese souffle pancakes.

But sometimes, all you want is the sweet relief of something familiar, comforting and local. When it comes to desserts, I’m in agreement with my Makan Kaki, co-owner of Seafood Restaurant Diamond Kitchen & Modern Japanese Izakaya iKO, Lambert Chen. He’s a big fan of the ice jelly at Teck Kee Hot & Cold Dessert, which has been serving residents in the Bukit Timah area for almost thirty areas, myself included. He heads there right after his prawn noodle fix, a cool chaser for a spicy meal. He calls it his “happy meal combo”.

I remember the same stall for treats from Grandpa, quick after-school stopovers and late-night supper sessions with Uni friends. I hadn’t been in a while, so when I was reminded of its charms, I made a beeline for the stalwart stall of my youth. It was also great news to discover that I could use my CDC Vouchers for the sweet treats and childhood comforts…

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CDC Voucher Best Eats – Restaurant-Quality Handmade Ban Mian Noodles

Hi Makan Kakis! Welcome to Part 3 of our Makan Kakis x CNA Lifestyle series featuring some of the best eats to spend your CDC vouchers on. Our Foodie Friend, Business Director of Preparazzi (luxury catering & culinary concepts) and Strategic Partner of The Dempsey Project / All-Day Dining & Gourmet Grocery on Dempsey Hill – Chef Jeremy Nguee loves Telok Blangah Food Centre and recommends new kid on the block Yanan Ban Mian Noodles for their outstanding handmade bowls of quality ingredients.

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There’s regular ban mian and then there’s ban mian distilled through the creative minds of professional chefs with decades of experience between them. The result? Loaded handmade noodles from new kid on the block Yanan Ban Mian Noodle at Telok Blangah Food Centre. Opened little over a year ago by Mr John Yeo Eng Woon and Ms Na Yanan, what they lack in hawker experience, they more than make up for in professional culinary experience, having cut their teeth in five-star hotel kitchens over the last two decades.

Continue reading “CDC Voucher Best Eats – Restaurant-Quality Handmade Ban Mian Noodles”

Our Fave National Eats Revisted Part 3 – Laksa Lemak

We complete this 3-part National Day series for the month of August by revisiting a special feature on a creamy, spicy, local noodle favourite. Over the years, different hawkers have found fame with their own special version of laksa lemak, so whether you prefer your laksa with or without hum (cockles), or noodles eaten with a spoon instead of chopsticks, here are three places recommended by Gold 905 listeners that we think are noteworthy:

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

1. Katong Laksa

First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, there are several laksa stalls all bearing the name of the East Coast area from which they started, each with their own fanatical following. But let’s not argue which is the best or the most original. This is just one of many delicious laksa experiences worth enjoying, especially when you meet the chatty man behind Katong Laksa, located at a row of shophouses along Changi Road, Mr George Ng. It was started in 1955 by Mr Ng’s father, who learnt the recipe from one of the original purveyors of the dish, nicknamed Janggut, aka Bearded One.

photo by Kelvin Chia

Second generation hawker George said he has three secrets to preparing laksa, based on Janggut’s orginal recipe, but he won’t share those with anyone. He was willing to reveal this little nugget though – he refuses to use pre-packaged coconut milk. He extracts it himself daily with a special machine that saves him time and effort. He told me proudly, “I bought it for $8000 from China. Coconut milk must always be fresh, otherwise the laksa gravy won’t as rich or tasty.”

Indeed, it was exactly as he said – a really enticing bowl of steaming hot laksa that carried the glorious fragrance of spices & shrimp. It had good colour, brightened by shiny orange spheres of oil floating atop a creamy broth that was absolutely jam-packed with goodies.

In my bowl, I could see the rempah had cooked down, leaving a fine sediment that mixed beautifully with lots of umami ground hae bee (dried baby shrimp) to really thicken the coconut milk. Little curds had formed, white specks dispersed throughout the broth, which George said is deliberate, “My fresh coconut has a lot of good fats and I want to see all those little white dots forming.”

For $5, a medium-sized bowl was filled with beansprouts, 4 slices of prawns, a spoonful of cockles and thinly-sliced fried fishcake. To finish, he garnished with a generous portion of fresh shredded laksa leaf and a dollop of his homemade chilli paste. It had a very pure chilli taste and a slight tang to lift the richness of the gravy. George was happy to disclose his simple recipe, “It’s just dried red chilli, season, add a little bit of the laksa rempah, grind to a paste and that’s it.”

Rich, creamy and super flavourful, George Ng’s Katong Laksa puts the luxe in laksa. You don’t need extras like lobster or abalone for that touch of luxury, it’s all in his lemak gravy, baby! Also, as he explained, “Passion. You don’t have that, forget it!”

TASTE:
Address: 307 Changi Road, S(419785)
Opening hours: 8am – 3pm (closed on alternate Tuesdays).
Tel: +65 90237360 to order in advance or for pick-up.

2. Sungei Road Laksa

For those who want a lighter, milder laksa, Sungei Road Laksa is a name that really needs no introduction. Honed from years of experience, this is an extremely well-oiled machine, run with absolute precision and calm. The day I visited, three ladies were hard at work preparing for the start of business. Bowls were being portioned with thick bee hoon, ingredients carefully laid out, large battered silver pot full of their famed gravy at the ready, sitting over a charcoal stove that was being stoked.

Served in light pink bowls on dark blue trays, the Sungei Road Laksa was cut into shorter strands and eaten with a spoon. Their gravy had a thinner, soupy consistency, with a hint of coconut milk. At first, I thought it wasn’t anything to shout about, but the savoury crustaceous broth base really developed in natural sweetness with each spoonful. The flavour took a more subtle approach, gently coaxing tastebuds awake. Then said tastebuds came roaring to life when their hae bee-heavy chilli paste was mixed in, along with finely julienned laksa leaf, which was by far the freshest and most aromatic I had tasted.

Ingredients like cockles, thick slices of fried fishcake and beansprouts were included in generous portions. For an additional $1, I ordered extra cockles, which were really plump, juicy and very fresh. Those little jewels of briny-sweetness were definitely a highlight.

Ultimately, Sungei Road Laksa is a great choice if you appreciate a more delicate, less cloying experience. This is a good bowl you can slurp down to its last drop without feeling guilty or uncomfortable. And at just $3 per dainty serving, it was easy on the wallet and the stomach.

TASTE:
Address: 27 Jalan Berseh, #01-100, S(200027)
Opening hours: 9.30am – 4pm (closed on Wednesdays)

3. 928 Yishun Laksa

Head to Yishun Central for what many say is the best laksa in the North of Singapore. And after enjoying two bowls in one day, I have to agree. 928 Yishun Laksa gets its name from its location at a block of flats. The 20-year-old family business operates out of a ground floor space tucked away in a corner. You might miss it if not for the persistently long lines. So make sure you know your orders well and pay up as briskly as they serve you – they have a never-ending stream of customers to feed.

At just $3.30 for a big, delicious bowl, I was pleasantly surprised at how many ingredients they packed in. Besides the hearty portion of chewy, al dente thick bee hoon (yellow noodles and thin bee hoon were other options), I found thick slices of fishcake, cockles, half a boiled egg, surimi (imitation crab stick), beansprouts and my favourite fried tofu puffs. Add $1 for extra cockles and fifty cents for all other ingredients.

Their laksa gravy had the boldest seasoning of the lot, aromatic with herbs, spices and dried shrimp, which were amplified by the superb chilli paste. This was the most significant component, showcasing the deep, funky brine of hae bee chased by a spicy kick. Though not as lemak as some Nyonya laksa, there was enough coconut milk in the gravy for it to have a silky richness.

928 Yishun Laksa’s affordable prices, punchy flavours and plentiful ingredients keep customers coming back and so would I. Even after a 25-minute drive to Yishun and 20-minute wait in line, I would return to empty two solid, satisfying bowls in just ten minutes again!

TASTE:
Address: 28 Yishun Central 1, #01-155, S(760928)
Opening hours: 8.30am – 7pm (closed on Wednesdays)

Spice Queen Recommends Awesome Appam!

Rempapa_National Day 2022_Vasun and DamianThis National Day season, Chef Damian D’Silva collaborates with local culinary talents to present a series of exciting ‘4-hand’ experiences marking Singapore’s birthday. At his restaurant, Rempapa, he showcases local food traditions through what he calls Singapore Heritage cuisine and in his first multi-cultural collaboration, we met guest chef Marvas Ng (Executive Chef of Path) last week. Continuing Rempapa’s Cultural Celebration Series, today, we meet new Foodie Friend Vasunthara Ramasamy (Vasun), MasterChef Singapore Season 2 contestant, passionate home cook and the Spice Queen behind private dining experience Cutlery Optional. Scroll down for her awesome appam recommendation, or read on for what’s cooking in her collab with Chef Damian!

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When Damian was a judge on MasterChef Singapore Season 2, Vasun was a contestant whose thosai he became a big fan of. Vasun’s made-from-scratch thosai stand out because of her years spent perfecting the recipe and studying the science of fermentation. She has developed a time-honoured method, involving a long and slow fermentation period of up to 16 hours, which captures the deep and complex nuances of the thosai she grew up enjoying. Now, we get to enjoy her labour of love on 13 August, when Vasun and the Rempapa team will present a heritage South Indian set lunch featuring a spread of thosai, chutneys and sides, as well as an assortment of kuehs for dessert.

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Here are some highlights of the menu, starting with this unique appetiser. Kuzhi Paniyaram with Chutney & Podi is a well-known snack in the Chettinad region.

The ball-shaped crisp dumplings, studded with ginger, coriander, and green chilli, are made with a fermented batter of ponni raw rice and topped with green coconut chutney.

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Offered on the side is peanut podi – this specialty from Andhra Pradesh is made with two types of chillies, white sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, jaggery, asafoetida, and toasted dried coconut meat. Each Indian household has its preferred podi variation; Vasun has fond recollections of her grandmother preparing the condiment, which lends distinctive aromas, textures, and flavours to dishes.

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The golden brown Masala Thosai is made with parboiled rice and Vasun’s personal blend of dried lentils, then stuffed with a flavoursome potato palya. The spiced filling is made with waxy potato, onion, green chilli, coriander, turmeric, curry leaves and mustard seeds cooked in coconut oil, then finished with a touch of ghee.

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The Egg Podi Thosai is served as an accompaniment to Rempapa’s Sri Lankan Chicken Curry. Made with the same batter as masala thosai, this thosai variation is served with egg, minced onions, green chillies, coriander, and peanut podi. The curry is prepared with dry spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and star anise tempered in ghee, followed by a wet spice paste of Bombay onions, Bentong ginger, and garlic. Kampong chicken thigh and meat curry powder are added, then a touch of coconut milk is poured in just before the chicken is cooked through and fresh calamansi juice is added to finish.

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Vasun presents three chutneys – Green Coconut Chutney, Tomato Thokku, and Kaara Chutney – that offer layers of texture and flavour to accompany the thosai. Mildly spicy, the Green Coconut Chutney highlights the refreshing profiles of coriander and green chillies, while the Tomato Thokku features tangy notes from fresh tomatoes and tamarind, along with a myriad of spices and herbs. Smoky and spicy, the vibrant Kaara Chutney is a Tamil Nadu-style chutney made with dry red chillies, garlic, and shallots.

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This Indian set lunch by Rempapa and Vasun is priced at $68++per pax for a minimum of 4 diners. Served communal style, it comprises 3 thosai, 3 chutneys, 3 sides, and 1 dessert. Available only on 13 August, Saturday, for 2 seatings – 11am to 1pm and 1.15pm to 3pm.
Online Reservation here.
Tel: +65 9459 1603
Email: papa@rempapa.sg

HEAR:

SEE:

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Vasun often spends her early mornings shopping in the Tekka area for her Private Dining groceries and recently, she reconnected with Little India tiffin stalwart, Madras New Woodlands Restaurant. In particular, she really enjoys their appam, which she describes as “how it should be”.

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These cute, curved UFO-shaped fermented batter “pancakes” are thick and spongey in the middle, yet light and springy, with a pleasing tang you can really taste, thanks to the gentle fermentation of the rice flour, yeast and coconut milk.

Continue reading “Spice Queen Recommends Awesome Appam!”

Simple, Soupy, Satisfying Fishball Noodles

This week, we welcome a new Makan Kaki, Chef Marvas Ng of Path Restaurant who’s getting together with another one of our Makan Kakis, Chef Damian D’Silva of Rempapa for a special National Day collaboration.

The sumptuous, one-night-only Chinese dinner is on Saturday 6 August only ($168++ per pax, min. 4 pax), showcasing their interpretations of heritage and innovation.

Menu highlights include the incredibly flavourful, lip-smackingly rich Chicken Collagen Soup, Chef Marvas’s 16-day dry aged duck crown (a Chinese twist on the French Duck a L’Orange), Iberico Pork Jowl Char Siew with a smashed cucumber salad dressed with Teochew chilli sauce (made from scratch and fermented for one month to allow the flavours to mellow) and Asparagus slathered in the punchy, umami Sambal Juliana.

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He may be classically trained in French culinary techniques, but Chef Marvas Ng remains firmly rooted in his Teochew Chinese heritage and his favourite local dish describes him in a bowl – “I’m a simple person, you know?” he told me with a laugh. Clean, comforting, delicious and a great way to start off a busy day – Fishball Noodle Soup is Chef Marvas’ firm favourite and he needs to have it 2-3 times a week to satisfy his constant craving!

For his soupy mee fix, Chef Marvas frequents 85 Redhill Teochew Fishball Noodles. Now a string of branches across malls in Singapore, the brand started as a stall in Redhill Close belonging to the grandfather of Mr Tan Kim Siong, the managing director of Fei Siong Group.

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