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Third time’s a charm with a return to Gar Lok Eating House, a place we’ve visited twice before! Our Makan Kaki Lyn Lee of Awfully Chocolate & Sinpopo brand (check out their gorgeous Lunar New Year hampers, cookies and cakes here!) had such a fascinating time the first time she went for her father-in-law’s favourite Hakka Beef Balls, she had to return to check out the other goodies on offer, including their hand-made Hakka Yong Tau Foo and this week’s recommendation, excellent Economical Rice!
De Ji Shen Cai Fan, serving up hot plates of white rice with a tasty selection of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, is one of the three stalls occupying the small but charming old school coffeeshop (but is of no relation to the other two Hakka stalls run by the same family). The day Lyn visited, she noticed that even though it was lunchtime, many of the dishes had already been snapped up. What was left on display, in large metal pans, were twelve to thirteen dishes and behind them, already plated, were what she assumed were single leftovers from what had already sold-out – tofu, fish, ngoh hiang and veggies. Definitely more a breakfast place, be sure to get there early to guarantee first dibs on the best variety of dishes!
Lyn managed to snag a few dishes that caught her fancy, which she thinks are just terrific. First up, her favourite Nam Yu Crispy Pork Belly. A distinctive deep-pink, orangey hue from its fermented beancurd marinade, the pork belly was deep fried till crispy on the outside and meltingly-tender on the inside. It was almost like eating pork lard, which Lyn says is a good thing! This dish was delicious even though by the time she got there it was already cold. Imagine how heavenly it could be when served fresh and hot!
And then there was the big, bouncy fishcakes. Not the fried kind, but clearly hand-made and speckled with green herbs and red chilli. Lyn was impressed by their large size and thought $1 each was a good price.
The fish eaters in her family were equally impressed with the fried Saito fish, or Ikan Parang, which they say was the real deal and very yummy.
Lyn has already pledged to return for the full economical rice experience at De Ji Shen Cai Fan, but really recommends you take a little time to pay the entire Syed Alwi Road area a visit. Gar Lok Eating House was such a wonderful discovery, with each of its three stalls having enough character (and delicious food) that each visit begs a return. And by the way, if you are exploring the area, keep in mind that the famous Sungei Road Laksa is also just a short walk away!
De Ji Shen Cai Fan (Economical Rice)
Gar Lok Eating House
217 Syed Alwi Rd S(207776)
Open Sat – Thu: 8am – 2pm (closed on Fri)