Fat, Lucky & Quintessentially Singaporean

Hi Makan Kakis,

All this month we’re celebrating Singapore’s 52nd Birthday by asking our rolling panel of foodie friends what they consider some of the most unique Singaporean food, so you can really look forward to a very sedap and patriotic August 2017!

This week, I’m thrilled to welcome yet another Makan Kaki, who’s long been an avid cook and entertainer, besides holding down her career as a food writer and award-winning book author. Please meet Annette Tan, who’s been making headlines after her private dining concept took off in a big way! She’s the brains, beauty and brawn behind FatFuku, which offers you the experience of dining at her home as she whips up a menu from her childhood memories. From her family’s Chinese New Year staple of Mee Siam fried into a crispy pancake, to Curry Devil Pie inspired by her Eurasian friends to her Bak Kwa Jam Baklava, Annette is all about re-imagining local favourites that are hearty, witty and delicious. Today, she kicks off our run-up to National Day with her recommendation of a quinessentially Singaporean-style restaurant in the East Coast…

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Annette grew up and still lives in the East, so trust her as she takes us for a deliciously retro feast at Hua Yu Wee, a very traditional, Singaporean Seafood restaurant, which has been serving hungry Singaporeans classic zichar dishes since the 1970s. Annette has been eating there since she was a child and she remembers her cousin’s Grandma living just next door, so they literally used to bang on the Hua Yu Wee’s fence, calling out, “Auntie, chao fan (fried rice)!”. Hua Yu Wee remains a neighbourhood stalwart, operating out of the very same house it began in, one of the last structures of its kind along East Coast Road. It exudes the charm and culinary bustle of a bygone era and its retro, nostalgic atmosphere is probably also what keeps diners flocking back again and again. That, and the undeniably yummy food, of course!

There are a handful of dishes that Annette always orders when she visits Hua Yu Wee and we recommend you do too! Definitely get the Chilli Crab, which Annette says is, in her opinion, one of the best in Singapore.

On balmy evenings, bring your own booze, sit outside in the backyard at one of their stone tables and get your hands dirty digging into this awesome Chilli Crab.

Indulge in crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside deep-fried Man Tou, succulent fresh crab with a thick eggy gravy that’s sweet, but with enough spice to balance things out. This is truly a taste of old Singapore!

Be sure to add the classic Cantonese Har Lok (fresh prawns wok-fried in a sweet caramelised soy gravy with ginger and spring onion) to your order and get that sauce all over some fluffy white rice.

Hua Yu Wee is known for their traditional dishes, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t kept up with times, bringing together classic cooking with little modern twists. For example, try their Lala Clam Hor Fun, which is soft and silky but topped with a crispy garnish of deep-fried noodles for texture. The Feng Sha Chicken is also a wonderful rift on Ayam Penyet.

This is the Chinese version of flattened chicken – roasted to a mouth-watering golden-brown, this chicken is indeed flat (in fact, if you order it as takeaway, it comes in what looks like a pizza box tied with pink rafia string!), juicy and boasts a crispy skin to die for!  Add their sambal or the addictive spring onion, garlic, ginger dipping sauce and fireworks will go off in your mouth!

Hua Yu Wee remains a charming throwback to old Singapore, from the chatty staff still dressed in their “SQ” batik-print shirts & kebayas, to the colonial house it still occupies, to the open courtyard for al fresco dining (although back in the day, it used to be much closer to the beach and the sea!). If you prefer dining in air-conditioned comfort, sit inside the house and also watch out for the “show” – the long kitchen is housed separately and the line of cooks juggle live seafood, roaring flames and hot woks is indeed a sight to behold!


TASTE:
HUA YU WEE
462 Upper East Coast Rd, Singapore 466508
Open Daily: 4 – 11.30pm
Tel: +65 6442 9313

 

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Balestier’s Best #5: Heavenly Har Cheong Gai & Fish Head Bee Hoon

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Click here to listen to this week’s delicious episode!

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881-xo-1Here’s the final installment in our Makan Kaki Shermay Lee‘s guide to the best eats in Balestier and she’s saved the best for last, with a no-frills zi char place that boasts some of the best Har Cheong Gai (Prawn Paste Fried Chicken) she’s tasted. Located in a corner shophouse next to Balestier Plaza along Balestier Road, 881 (XO) Fish Head Bee Hoon is a standalone restaurant that does both its signature Fish Head Bee Hoon & Crab Bee Hoon (dry & soup versions) really well. Shermay recommends you go with friends so you can order more dishes. But yes, the Fish Head Bee Hoon is a must.

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Next, definitely go for the above-mentioned Har Cheong Gai, which really is phenomenal when eaten freshly-fried and piping-hot at the table! Their style is to serve only the winglets, but that’s nothing to scoff at, especially since they are the perfect combination: tender and moist on the inside, once you crunch through the crispy, golden-fried outside. A squeeze of lime and a dip of chilli really enhances the distinctive, savoury, prawn paste flavour of these well-seasoned wings – super-yummy!881-xo-2

Another favourite of Shermay’s is the Cereal Prawns – big, juicy and fried so crispy you can eat them whole – shells, heads, tails and all! The milky-salty-sweet crispy cereal coating is extra fragrant with curry leaves and can be eaten like a snack on its own!881-xo-3

Finally, you’ve got to order the deep-fried fish skins. Salted egg yolk seems to be the trend on everything these days, but 881 Have been doing this for ages – it’s not a trend, it’s undeniably tasty! These crispy fish skins come to the table hot off the wok, having been stir-fried in a rich salted egg yolk and crispy egg white sauce, perfumed with red chillies and more curry leaves. You won’t be able to stop at one. In fact, you’ll probably want a whole portion to yourself!881-xo-4

As Shermay highly recommends, eat in a group for more tasty variety! These dishes, all small portions, fed 4 people for only $49.70. Delicious food, value-for-money, what’s not to love?

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TASTE:
HONG KONG STREET CHUN TAT KEE 881 (XO) FAMOUS SEAFOOD (FISH HEAD BEE HOON & CRAB BEE HOON)
412 Balestier Road
Singapore 329805
Open Daily: 11am – 11pm
Tel: +65 62545768