Lemak, Loaded Laksa & Bak Chor Mee

MasterChef Singapore Season Three winner Johnathan Chew 3 copyHello Makan Kakis,

Meet our new Foodie Friend, Winner of Masterchef Singapore Season 3, Jonathan Chew! We caught up on what he’s been up to since his win and he also recommends some of his favourite makan places in Singapore.

WATCH:

HEAR:

  • Click to listen/ download podcast of Part 1 – Denise’s catch up with Johnathan Chew, the winner of MasterChef Singapore Season 3! We discuss his growth throughout the season & future plans for this dentist-in-training, who has just won over $100,000 in cash and prizes, including a cookbook deal!
  • Click to listen/ download podcast of Part 2 – Denise’s catch up with Johnathan Chew, the winner of MasterChef Singapore Season 3! He answers fun questions like if he was a song, what would he be & describes his fantasy dinner party scenario – it involves optical illusion bakes and invisible cats! 😸
  • Click to listen/ download podcast of Jonathan’s recommendation – a lemak, loaded laksa that he thinks is a cut above the rest! Listen now for the rich, indulgent noodle treat and if you prefer something lighter, this stall also serves up a lovely, light Bak Chor Mee soup!

SEE:

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This week, our new Foodie Friend Jonathan, whose grandmother once sold Kwap Chap & braised meats, further demonstrates that the culinary arts run deep in his family, by recommending a stall run by his aunt. If ever the craving for bak chor mee or laksa strikes, you’ll want to check out Lau Jiang Fishball Minced Meat Laksa Noodles in Tiong Bahru. Alexandrea Eng is the affable, hard-working owner and cook of the family stall first started by her father in 1971. According to Ms Eng, the original stall was located at the HDB blocks behind the current Redhill MRT station. After they went en bloc, Lau Jiang moved to Jalan Membina, where it has been ever since.

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As you can see, this stall gives you lots of variety – choose from traditional Teochew-style bak chor mee, or a newer addition to their menu, laksa! Better yet, get the best of both worlds – as Jonathan puts it, laksa for an indulgent treat, chased by a palate cleanser of soupy mee tai mak (Jonathan’s go-to BCM choice!).

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Jonathan especially likes the laksa from Lau Jiang for its rich and luscious broth, which he describes as the perfect balance of coconut milk – not too thick, yet not too dilute. Creamy and robust, the flavourful broth has a delightful chilli kick, even though I didn’t detect the usual haebee bits found at the bottom of the bowl.

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Prawns aren’t on the list of laksa ingredients at Lau Jiang, but rest assured, Ms Eng’s version comes with lots of other goodies. Fried tau pok (tofu puffs), fish cake slices, cockles, homemade crispy dumplings and a segment of hard boiled egg soak delectably in their luxurious spicy bath, along with generous slices of chicken, despite the local shortage.

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Meat from the drumstick is currently used, because the chicken cutlets Ms Eng usually serves are in short supply. But no complaints, you still get juicy chunks of chicken to bulk up your laksa experience ($6.50 for a large order)! Beansprouts add fresh crunch and be sure to help yourself to a sprinkling of chopped laksa leaf, plus the made-from-scratch sambal that’s savoury, spicy and rounded off with a touch of sweetness that really enhances the already-spicy laksa gravy.

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It turns out that the laksa recipe came from another family member, none other than my previous Makan Kaki Heman Tan of Moonbow restaurant! Ms Eng’s mother, whom she describes as a very good cook, then tweaked it bit by bit, eventually perfecting it for their stall. Another tweak to their dishes is the recent addition of Ms Eng’s crispy-fried dumplings, but more on those later…

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Purists will prefer chu mi fen (thick rice vermicelli) in their laksa, but you can choose any type of noodle you want. Personally, I think it would be really yummy with mee kia (thin egg noodles), or even mee tai mak. Speaking of which, the latter is always Jonathan’s choice, when he’s in the mood for something lighter.

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Minced meat mee tai mak soup speaks of childhood comfort in a bowl. The soup may look clear and clean, yet is very flavourful from pork bones, fishball water and the teepoh (dried flat fish) used in the pork marinade.

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A bowl of classic noodle soup comes with fishballs, a meat ball, minced pork, sliced shiitake mushroom, fishcake and spring onion. Simple, wholesome and satisfying. I found the fishballs to be smooth and bouncy, with a very pleasing snap when you bite into them. The fried fishcake is good too, with a golden brown frilly edge that adds tasty, chewy texture. Jonathan is partial to the mee tai mak because it’s not as common and these fat little “rat tails” are slippery smooth, with a light chew and springiness. Not a soup or mee tai mak fan? The dry version with mee pok is decent too.

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The curls of flat noodles are perfectly al dente and come with a meaty topping of braised shiitake mushroom and minced pork, the latter of which is a deeper brown colour than others I’ve tried. Ms Eng explained that the mince had absorbed the colour of the braising liquid. It also tasted like it had been fried and nicely browned before being braised.

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Crisp bits of garlic and chunks of crunchy pork lard added more flavour and texture as did the ample scattering of spring onion, slices of pork and crispy dumpling. These deep fried and stuffed triangles are a new addition to both the laksa and bak chor mee. Ms Eng’s experiment with dumpling wrappers and a mixture of pork and fish paste turned out to be a success. They are wonderfully crispy bites that retain their crunch even after a swim in the laksa gravy.

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One last observation, Ms Eng has a lighter touch with the seasoning. I personally prefer a heavy hand with saltiness, but this did remind me that without that, all the other flavours – pork, fish, spices – really came through. I also discovered, after taking away 3 packets of the laksa, that the gravy (packed separately) kept very well. If anything, the rich flavours had developed further by dinner time and after I added extra ingredients – leftover pieces of yong tau foo – wow!

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I would agree with Jonathan – the bak chor mee soup is a clean, comforting favourite, but if you visit Lau Jiang, you need to indulge in their laksa, which he says is a cut above the rest!

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TASTE:
LAU JIANG FISHBALL MINCED MEAT NOODLE, LAKSA
18 Jalan Membina (Tiong bahru)
Happy Hawker Foodcourt
Open: 5am – 1pm (Mon – Sat; closed Sun & P.H.)**
Tel: +65 93284568
** Currently closed for a short holiday, reopens Tues 12 July 2022.
*** Note: They only open for breakfast & lunch. A totally different hawker takes over in the afternoon.

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