MasterChef Singapore’s Raj Recommends Beef Pho

MASTERCHEF RAJ
photo credit: Mediacorp

Hello Makan Kakis,

How quickly we’ve crossed the Top Ten threshold for MasterChef Singapore Season 3 and if you’ve been following all the competitive culinary action, you’ll know who just got eliminated.

This week’s guest and Foodie Friend is 58-year-old Raj Shagaran Mahalingam, a creative events producer and groovy grandpa whose colourful personality is matched only by his colourful cooking creations! He certainly spiced up the MasterChef kitchen with his antics and after making it into the Top 9, he’s here to share his experience of the competition and recommend some of his favourite eats in Singapore.

So do read on for where he goes for Vietnamese Beef Noodles (Pho), download/ listen to our lively podcast interview and watch him in action in these clips.

WATCH:

HEAR:

  • Click to listen/ download podcast – Part 1 of interview with Raj (he shares about rising after his literal fall in the kitchen that cost him a place in the Top 8, his “alien” encounter with runaway mud crabs & how joining the competition has changed his approach to cooking).
  • Click to listen/ download podcast – Part 2 of interview with Raj (he reveals his favourite judge – is it Audra, Damian or Bjorn? Why he doesn’t mind if you call him a cockroach – in fact his new brand launch celebrates it! Also, who he’d invite to his fantasy dinner party and what food he’d serve).
  • Click to listen/ download podcast of Raj’s souper beef pho recommendation!

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For his first makan recommendation, Raj came prepared. He highly recommends Saigon Food Street (located in a large, far-flung canteen in Jurong West) for that Vietnamese classic, Pho. Choose from noodles with beef slices, beef balls or chicken. Raj always goes for the sliced beef noodles. For $6, you’ll be served a large bowl with a decent amount of beef – you get 4-5 slices, along with a hearty portion of smooth, flat rice noodles. The pho is smooth and surprisingly al dente, not mushy or too soft.

Continue reading “MasterChef Singapore’s Raj Recommends Beef Pho”

Soup or Dry, This Prawn Mee Hits the Spot!

HEAR:
Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s shrimpy, savoury & soupy episode!

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Our Makan Kakis Lambert Chen (co-owner of Seafood Restaurant Diamond Kitchen & Modern Japanese Izakaya iKO) is back this week to tell us about his favourite place for Prawn Noodles and it’s a stall at Adam Road Food Centre that really needs no introduction. Adam Road Noo Cheng Big Prawn Noodle has been around for decades and Lambert finds himself returning often for a hearty prawn-centric meal.

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Hawker Stall Serves Up Sublime Steamed Fish and Other Restaurant-Quality Cantonese Dishes

DD1Hello Foodie Friends!

Our Makan Kaki, Chef Damian D’Silva of Rempapa and Judge on MasterChef Singapore, returns to catch us up on this third and current season of the reality cooking competition.

Who has impressed him so far?

Why does he think this is the best season yet?

Listen to the podcast now! Bonus: Chef also recommends yet another good place for great food!

HEAR:

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In the last 2 or 3 months, Chef Damian’s favourite place to visit for makan has been Haig Road Food Centre. Chef Chik is a stall he came across, run by an ex-hotel chef who specialises in exquisite Cantonese cuisine, particularly steamed dishes and double-boiled soups.

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Continue reading “Hawker Stall Serves Up Sublime Steamed Fish and Other Restaurant-Quality Cantonese Dishes”

Super-Nostalgic St Nicks Crispy Chicken Wings!

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Hello again Foodie Friends!

Please meet our newest Makan Kaki, Cynthea Lam – wellness coach, nutritionist-in-training & founder of Super Farmers, a company focused on helping people to eat well and live well through food and nutrition education. It’s a one-stop-shop for wellness workshops, urban farming kits and restorative herbal teas brand Apoteacary.

Quite by chance, we got to talking at her booth in Boutique Fairs and I ended up purchasing three boxes of deliciously soothing teas and an urban farming trio of microgreens to try growing myself at home (the kang kong, chye sim & gai lan were a success for this noob!).

Cynthea has a great story to tell and a wonderfully engaging personality, perfect for conducting her wellness workshops and dishing out sage advice, so enjoy our podcast and the first of her makan recommendations this week!

HEAR:

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Cynthea takes us straight back to her childhood with this delicious and nostalgic treat. She studied at St Nicholas Girls’ School throughout her pre-primary, primary and secondary school education. And St Nicks’ alumni will relate to this – Cynthea simply cannot forget the one thing she (and so many other school mates) loved to eat at recess time – Aunty Meow Lang’s fried chicken wings.

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Cynthea remembers that she once ate 10 chicken wings at a go and ended up with tonsillitis. But she still thinks it was totally worth it! That’s how irresistible those chicken wings were. Crispy, golden-brown and deep-fried to perfection, the wings were coated in a batter that was not too thick, just a thin, crunchy sheath that gave way to a moist, tasty interior.  In her opinion, she hasn’t tasted anything better since.

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Besides the power of nostalgia, Cynthea reckons the secret to Aunty Meow Lang’s wings was in the way she marinated and fried them with  so much love. Sadly, Aunty Meow Lang is no longer with us and her school stall has since closed. However, good news is, her grandson James is now carrying on her legacy at his stall (Coal 3606) and has started selling the same famous chicken wings according to his grandmother’s beloved recipe. Coal 3606’s Facebook page mentions that the wings were sold at at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School from 1972 till 2013. 

IMG_4334Interestingly taking the leap from one institution of education to another, Coal 3606 operates out of Republic Polytechnic’s foodcourt, The Lawn. There was a stall in Bukit Merah Lane, but that no longer is in operation and has yet to be updated on their FB. If you don’t fancy a journey into the poly located far North in Woodlands, don’t worry – you can still sink your teeth into the mouth-watering wings by placing an order via text message and have them delivered. Cynthea recommended that, so I did!

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I’m happy to report, the wings arrived exactly on time and were still hot as James promised (he stored them in a large aluminium tray surround by tin foil, but not covered, so they wouldn’t get soggy). I wasted no time ripping into one immediately. It was just as Cynthea had described. Crispy on outside, juicy on the inside.

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My teeth broke through the crisp batter with an audible crunch, the fragrance of the well-marinated chicken wing making the experience all the more pleasurable. I couldn’t pin point the aromatics, but I think I detected a heady mix of garlic, ginger, soy sauce and honey. Deeply umami flavours played off the hint of sweetness. Crispy skin and meat were thoroughly infused with flavour right down to the bone. And indeed, the flesh remained tender, juices running freely at first bite.

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One of Cynthea’s favourite parts (mine too) is the wing tip. Those stayed gloriously crunchy (not burned) and were a delight to gnaw on. Some were so shatteringly crisp that I could devour them entirely, bone and all! I was starting to realise why these wings were near-obsession for Cynthea, who said, “I think I can eat that everyday!”

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TASTE:
COAL 3606 (Old St Nicks/ Aunty Meow Lang’s Chicken Wings)
Republic Polytechnic The Lawn Foodcourt
9 Woodlands Avenue Block W4/W6 #03-11 S(738964)
Open: 9.30am – 4.30pm (Mon – Fri; closed Sat & Sun)
Tel: +65 98589792
NOTE:
Open to public only during off-peak hours – before 11am or after 1pm.
Best is to call/ text James Ngiam to be sure the wings are available and entry permitted.
He takes delivery orders too. I simply texted him to agree on the quantity, date & time, then made payment via PayNow. Easy!

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Old-School Fried Carrot Cake To Queue For!

chef jeremy ngueeGreetings Makan Kakis!
We have yet another new Foodie Friend to get acquainted with this week – 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!
We chatted about all the fun events to enjoy at The Dempsey Project, including culinary nights that take you around the world (Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, India and more to come), Italian-style Monday & Tuesday happy hour Apertivo with affordable drinks & small plates, as well as the everyday luxuries like olive oils, vinegars, spreads, chocolates, cheese and more on sale in their gourmet pantry.
Chef Jeremy also recommends a childhood favourite – Chye Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake) you should definitely try!
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Feast your eyes on these beauties, Foodie Friends! Our new Makan Kaki Chef Jeremy Nguee takes us for a fried carrot cake experience right out of his childhood. Growing up in the Keppel area, his top choice for hawker delights was Telok Blangah Food Centre (Block 79) and to this day, the famous chye tow kway stall there remains a favourite. Granted, everyone has their favourite place for their fried carrot cake fix, but Chef Jeremy says it’s always really nice to just try different expressions of the hawker dish, so do give this one go!
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At Yuan Cheng Carrot Cake, the Auntie fries up batch after batch of fragrant, smoke-kissed chye tow kway, but Chef Jeremy warns their opening hours can be a bit of a lottery. They are sometimes closed on a Tuesday and sometimes on a Thursday, so if unsure, go on any other day of the week! To him, some dishes may appear super-simple, but when a Master is cooking, there are small nuances and skills that go into it and with each bite, you really can feel their life experience and dedication to craft. They may be very casual and flippant about the amout of effort they put into their dish, but when you taste it, you know they are actually very serious. This is what Yuan Cheng Carrot Cake is like for Chef Jeremy.

Continue reading “Old-School Fried Carrot Cake To Queue For!”

Iftar Special & Fresh Min Jiang Kueh

277765467_5207668099291574_4465447023535688273_nHello Makan Kakis!
 
There’s only a few more days of Ramadan left and whether you’re looking for a good place to break fast, or just on the hunt for excellent local food in a surprising location, how about a visit to The Fabulous Baker Boy Big Love Bakery & Soul Kitchen on Aliwal Street?
 
Known for his Western-style bakes, from layer cakes (42 flavours!), to sourdough breads, to croissants and pies, Chef-Owner Juwanda Hassim is just as adept at the traditional foods of his heritage. Enter his seasonal Iftar Special, available for dinner only till this Saturday (30 April):
 
FAB IFTAR SPECIAL $25.00++
(2 courses + 1 Drink)
Lontong Kering (rice cakes) served with Sambal Goreng, Kampung Vegetable Curry, Ayam Masak Merah or Beef Rendang. Followed by a 4 kueh selection and Bandung or ice Tea.
 
Today, Juwanda also recommends one of his favourite tea-time snacks, available for takeaway to keep for buka puasa – local pancakes stuffed with sweet fillings!
 
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Perfect for a tea-time snack with your favourite brew, this is one of Juwanda’s top picks. Don’t be fooled by the stall’s name, Pancake King doesn’t serve American style pancakes or European-style crepes, this popular chain is the purveyor of traditional, local-style stuffed pancakes, better known as Min Jiang Kueh.
 
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Also known as apam balik or martabak manis, these rounds of batter made from flour, eggs and sugar are carefully steam-cooked in a lidded pan to create its unique texture. No pork or lard is used at Pancake King, but beautifully crispy, lacey edges are created, contrasting with a springy, fluffy interior. Within the golden brown exterior of the min jiang kueh is a soft, moist, slightly chewy cake that has a near honeycomb texture resembling kueh bingka ambon.

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Fresh, Flavourful Fish Soup & Delicious Duck Porridge Too!

HEAR:
Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s bowls of old school comfort!

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This week, our Makan Kaki, Judge of the forthcoming third season of Masterchef Singapore, as well as co-owner & chef of Rempapa, Damian D’Silva returns with another excellent recommendation. In his line of work, he confesses to indulging in a lot of naughty food, that’s why once in a while, he craves a healthier option to feel cleansed and virtuous. For him, the perfect choice is Teochew-style fish porridge. One of his favourite stalls to visit is Ng Soon Kee Fish & Duck Porridge at Geylang East Food Centre. 

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Run by a very friendly old couple who told me that they’ve been in the business for more than 60 years, Ng Soon Kee is extremely popular with residents of the area and when I arrived at 2.30pm (they open at noon) for a taste of the porridge Chef Damian was raving about, the queue was already 10 people deep and 3 more customers joined the line behind me. Thankfully, I waited less than 20 minutes and was amply rewarded with a large $5 bowl of fish porridge (as well as duck porridge, which Chef Damian also enjoys when he’s feeling more indulgent).

Continue reading “Fresh, Flavourful Fish Soup & Delicious Duck Porridge Too!”

This Penang Char Kway Teow Hits The Spot!

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

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IMG_2848Our Makan Kaki, the guy behind premium online seafood delivery platform Ooster Bay, as well as restaurants Uni Gallery & Caviar, Jason Ong is back with another yummy recommendation and this time, it’s for a quick & tasty dish conveniently found at a mall! Great World, to be exact. How appropriate, as the mall brings the flavours of the world to you, so you don’t need to travel for a taste of Penang Char Kway Teow!

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Usually, a thinner flat rice noodle is used in the Penang-style, which is lighter and much more savoury because it doesn’t contain the thick, sweet, dark soy sauce used in our local version. It’s for this reason that Jason prefers the Malaysian version, which isn’t sweet. Even when ordering local Char Kway Teow, he asks for the dark sauce to be left out. So really, Penang Char Kway Teow is perfect for his palate.

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Continue reading “This Penang Char Kway Teow Hits The Spot!”