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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3 Crabs, 3 Places

CRABS GALORE!

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Click link to hear about the 3 different places you need to visit for crabs done 3 different ways…

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This week, Cheek by Jowl‘s Head Chef Rishi Naleendra is back to share with us his favourite places for all things crab! As a Sri Lankan – Australian expat in Singapore, he’s had the chance (thanks to fellow local chef’s recommendations) to try A LOT of local crab delicacies and here’s his verdict on where to get the best Chilli, Black Pepper & White Pepper Crab in Singapore. If you’re serious about crab, you’re going to have to go to 3 SEPARATE restaurants for the 3 different types!

White Pepper Crab from JB Ah Meng
San Lou Bee Hoon from JB Ah Meng

Luckily, for White Pepper Crab & Chilli Crab, all you have to do is head over to Geylang Road, starting off with White Pepper Crab at Cze Char institution, JB Ah Meng. Small, but sweet, these crabs pack a unique white pepper punch with a lot of briny flavour. While you’re there, be sure to order Chef Rishi’s other favourites like the famous San Lou Bee Hoon (crispy, crusty vermicelli, almost like a charred pancake!) and the fried eggplant.

For Chef Rishi’s favourite Chilli Crab, it’s got to be a little ways down the road to No Signboard Seafood for arguably one of Singapore’s national dishes. Drenched in a rich, spicy, eggy chilli-tomato gravy, No Signboard’s Chilli Crab is the best because of the careful balance of sweet, salty, spicy and tang.

Chill Crab from No SignBoard
Black Pepper Crab from Sin Hoi Sai

Finally, for the Black Pepper Crab, Chef Rishi heads to Tiong Bahru’s Sin Hoi Sai. Not too sweet, yet sticky, spicy and earthy, these onyx-glazed crabs are pricey, but the best in his opinion.

Notice that these 3 restaurants are all late night eateries, perfect for hungry supper-goers, or famished chefs looking for good food after they finish their own kitchen service and close up shop for the day!

TASTE:
NO SIGNBOARD SEAFOOD
414 Geylang, Singapore 389392
Open Daily: 11am – 1am
Tel: +65 68423415

SIN HOI SAI SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Block 55, Tiong Bahru Road #01-59, Singapore 160055
Open Daily: 5pm – 5am
Tel: +65 62230810 / +65 62243905

JB AH MENG
534 Geylang Rd, Singapore 389490
Open Daily: 5.30pm – 2.30am
Tel: +65 67412418

This Zichar Takes the KEK!

timdWe have a new Makan Kaki, everyone! Chef Tim Ross-Watson is from the UK, but has been in Singapore for almost a decade now and is the owner of a funky little Modern European Restaurant/ Bar on North Canal Road called PYXIEMOSS, that serves cocktails, small sharing plates and late night treats. Check back here soon for Denise’s take on the PYXIEMOSS experience – suffice to say if a chef can get her to eat & ENJOY an entire dish made from celery (and she hates celery), he needs to be a part of the Makan Kaki gang!

HEAR:
Click to hear parts 1 & 2 of our intro to Chef Tim – he talks about his new restaurant, his rebel approach to food & memories as a kid raiding the cabinets for Sherry and learning to make satay on the streets of Indonesia.
Click here to listen to his first Makan Kakis recommendation, or read on for the details!

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When Chef Tim first arrived in Singapore 10 years ago, this was one of the first restaurants he visited. Since then, he’s gone back again and again because you’ll get quality local food there and once they get to know you, the staff are just awesome (especially the old auntie who’s taken a shine to him). Keng Eng Kee Seafood, or KEK, has been a Bukit Merah Zichar stalwart for many years, first starting out in the 1970s at Havelock Road, before establishing themselves in Alexandra Village. This family-run restaurant continues their tasty trade through to the third generation with many mouth-watering signature dishes that shouldn’t be missed. Here are just some of Chef Tim’s favourites:

kek-coffee-pork-ribsCoffee Pork Ribs – they certainly don’t skimp on the coffee powder coating here! The oyster sauce & coffee marinade gives the crispy on the outside, tender on the inside pork a gorgeous caramelised glaze. This dish packs some caffeinated punch!

marmite-chixMarmite Chicken – sticky-sweet and savoury, with that unique, yeasty, umami flavour from its love-it-or-hate-it essential marinade ingredient!

1654480_593566227391234_1658888347_nSteamed Sri Lankan Crab with spring onion & ginger. A simple, clean dish that lets the natural meaty sweetness of the crab shine through.

salted-egg-crab-kekSalted Egg Crab – for when you don’t want simple or clean, but you wanna get down & dirty with a decadent crab dish that’s full of rich, creamy, salted egg flavour.

773731_408397185908140_2139325282_oAdding to this list of must-try dishes, Denise (who also goes quite regularly) loves their classic signature dish, the Mingzhu Rolls. These crispy little addictive bites are essentially Tau Kee (dried beancurd skin) stuffed with prawn, ham, mushrooms, salted egg yolk and greens, then rolled and deep-fried. Grab, crunch, drool, repeat. Chef Tim also recommends the claypot frog legs, deep-fried seafood youtiao with mayo and beef bee hoon in gravy – all are very, very good, if you want to order more. And why not? Go in a big group and order the whole lot! That’s what KEK & Zichar is all about – lots of dishes, lots of sharing and lots of full, but satisfied bellies after!

11088853_815490398532148_3208758887333391615_nTASTE:
Keng Eng Kee Seafood 瓊榮記海鲜
Blk 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1
#01-136, Singapore 150124
Open Daily: 12:00pm to 2:30pm; 5:00pm to 10:00pm
Reservations: +65 6272 1038

P.S. The younger chef, Wayne, has started his new spin-off KEK restaurant in Pandan Gardens, where he is serving up his own progressive version of the Zichar classics you love from the original KEK, all in air-conditioned comfort. You might want to check that out too!

Majestic Cantonese Dim Sum

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Listen to this week’s episode here!

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This week, our Makan Kaki, hotelier, restaurateur & judge of Eat List Star, Loh Lik Peng shares with us his weekend dining ritual. Every week, without fail, he takes his family to Gardens by the Bay for a day of fun in the children’s park, then for a hearty meal at Majestic Bay, which does classic Cantonese Dim Sum with a local twist. The food here is refined, delicious and surprising.

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Case in point, their signature Chilli Crab bao – a tender, yet crisp sesame-studded bun encasing a rich chilli crab filling. Peng describes it as the perfect snack for lazy chilli crab lovers, because you don’t have to get your hands messy cracking and peeling the saucy crabs yourself! Other dim sum favourites Peng recommends are (his favourite) carrot cake and (his wife’s favourite) cheung fun (his family are partial to the shrimp and scallop ones).

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SaveTASTE:
MAJESTIC BAY
18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-10
Gardens By The Bay
Singapore 018953
Located below the Flower Dome, next to escalator
No entrance fee required for dining at Majestic Bay.

Tel: 6604 6604

Open Daily
Lunch 11:30am – 3:00pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 9:00pm

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Secret Off-Menu Dish at Palm Beach!

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Click HERE for secret egg upon salted egg seafood flavour in this secret off-menu dish!

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This week, Chef Daniel Tay reveals his favourite place for seafood and in particular, a secret dish that can’t actually be found on its menu… Exciting!!!!
8b698c6caaaa395cb42e0ab094a05081The famous Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant is Chef Daniel’s go-to place, but he lets us in on his favourite off-menu dish that he actually created himself. Being close friends with the owner, he even has kitchen visiting privileges and is often in close communication with the chefs to critique and improve their dishes. And that’s how this secret dish came about…
b6313113c23b631a06ad54a30083d89fBehold “MR TAY’S HOR FUN”! A Wat Tan Hor – wok-fried flat rice noodles in a rich fragrant egg gravy – that is elevated with a layer of big, fresh prawns. If you ever want to try it, Chef Daniel suggests you go from Wednesday onwards, since the chef who makes this secret dish is in then and yes, you can go ahead and order the dish. If the waitstaff aren’t sure what you’re asking for, just consult their Manager, Doris!

Before we thank Chef Daniel for this tip, he has more! If you’re feeling like a splurge, add a fresh lobster over your Mr Tay Hor Fun. The taste of this luxurious dish is amazing! Also, do order the Salted Egg Crab, pour that unctuous sauce over your secret Hor Fun, combine well and slurp up the mind-blowing goodness!

TASTE:
PALM BEACH SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
1 Fullerton Road
#01-09
One Fullerton
Singapore 049213
Tel: +65 63368118
Open Daily: 12 – 2.30pm; 5:30 – 11:00pm

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Good Year = Good Cze Char

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Listen to this week’s wok-tossed episode here!

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This week our foodie friend, food writer & co-author of Singapore food guide Eat. muse. Love. Toh Mu Qin, shares with us one of her favourite places for zi char with her family. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Tampines, the rustic vibe of Good Year Seafood Village has been described as a “mini Johor” and is a great place for classics like Fresh Assam Fish Head & Black Pepper Crab.

In particular, the black pepper crab stands out for Mu Qin, especially since she’s not a huge fan of this messy delicacy. For Good Year though, she makes the exception because of the sauce – a generous, thick, slathering of the peppery glaze with puddles to spare makes sure the crab is not too dry and the tasty sauce packs a heady kick, yet is nicely balanced. It’s the perfect, get-your-hands-dirty dish to share with loved ones!

As for the above-mentioned Assam Fish Head, Mu Qin’s parents have fallen in love with the spicy, tangy gravy with a hint of sweetness. It’s a great dish to get the taste buds going and best eaten with lots of white rice.

IMG_8800 Be sure to order Cantonese-style scrambled eggs, dry-fried string beans as well as their Pontian Bak Kut Teh, which is not the peppery kind, but is pleasantly herbal.

Free parking, charming laid-back kampung ambience and delicious food make for the trek east to Good Year well worth it!

TASTE:
Good Year Seafood Village
15 Tampines Avenue, S529788
Open Daily: 11am – 2pm, 5 – 11pm
Tel: 6583 9515

Classic Peranakan – Magnificent Matriarchal Meal!

guan hoe soon

HEAR:

  • We talk about Peranakan cuisine and the importance of food heritage with Awfully Chocolate’s Lyn Lee here!
  • Click this for this week’s Mothers’ Day meal recommendation – a treat for the whole family!

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Mothers’ Day is just round the corner and what better way to celebrate than with a marvelous matriarchal meal at the oldest Peranakan restaurant in Singapore? Our Makan Kaki, Awfully Chocolate’s Lyn Lee, shares with us her family’s favourite place and also her ideas for sweetening mum’s special day with a chocolatey gift set (scroll all the way down for Awfully Chocolate‘s Mothers’ Day selection)!

Lyn is a busy working mother of 3, but always finds time to find us great places to try, because she believes food is a huge part of being a mum. But on this special occasion, apart from feeding the family, it’s time to feed yourselves with something really spectacular. In Lyn’s humble opinion, nothing comes quite close to the complexity and depth of flavours wrung from traditional Peranakan cuisine, with its complicated preparation and balancing of both Malay and Chinese ingredients. Lyn married into a Peranakan family (in fact, her husband’s grandmother used to sell Satay Celup many moons ago!) who swear by this particular restaurant for authentic Nyonya food. It’s true that everyone claims their own homecooked Peranakan food is best, but for those occasions where it’s simply too much work, this Katong institution is a sedaptastic MUST!

Guan Hoe Soon has been around since 1953 and claims to be the oldest Peranakan Restaurant in Singapore. With decades of food heritage under their belt, you can be assured of quality dishes here. Lyn can’t get enough of their addictive appetiser (she’s not sure of the name, but she is 100% sure of the taste!), which beats a packet of peanuts anyday:

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The addictive appetiser!

This is a wonderful combination of chicken gizzard, liver and heart chopped up and tossed in a fiery sambal and balanced with crunchy-cool cucumber. Don’t be shy to ask for more! Her family always does! When it comes to Peranakan food, there are just some classics you absolutely need to have, one of which is of course Ayam Buah Keluak:

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Classic Ayam Buah Keluak!

To the uninitiated, the black nut is an acquired taste – earthy, almost like a pungent tabacco, but once you learn to love its heady bitter-sweet richness, you’ll be digging in with bare hands to “gorek” the goodness out of the shells!
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At Guan Hoe Soon, they do it a lovely way by mixing minced meat with the black gold filling before stuffing it back into the shells for a texture with more bite. This is a must-try with a mountain of rice!

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Chap Chye

Nyonya Chap Chye, the classic saucy mixed vegetable dish is another must, for freshness, crunch and the wonderful sauce, which mixes so well together with everything else on your plate! Be sure to contrast your meal with something crispy and deep-fried. Lyn recommends their delicious Noh Hiang. And next, even though it’s not necessarily Peranakan, you’ve got to order the Crab Foo Yong!

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Crab Foo Yong

This beautiful golden eggy omelette with chunks of sweet crab is a hit with the kids and adults alike. Plus, it’s such an old-fashioned dish, it’s rare to find a place that does it well. Luckily, Guan Hoe Soon does!

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Bakwan Kepiting

While they also do a wonderful Itek Tim (salted vegetable duck soup), Lyn’s family favourite is the Bakwan Kepiting, a clear broth studded with bamboo shoot meatballs, that her children absolutely love. Lyn has managed to convince them that our local version of meatballs are far more impressive than the western variety!

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Dinner Crowd at Guan Hoe Soon

So there you have it, the favourites of Lyn & her family, after which they always wash everything down with a light, sweet dessert of old-fashioned Gula Melaka Sago or Chendol or Bubur Chacha.

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Antiques displayed at The Oldest Peranakan Restaurant in Singapore

For a hearty, traditional Mothers’ Day meal, you really can’t go wrong with Guan Hoe Soon – Lyn urges everyone to go and try it, support it & be very proud of our Singapore food heritage, of which Peranakan food holds an important place. Its complexity, labour-intensive preparation and unique flavours are worth celebrating and preserving!

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Step in for a really fantastic meal!

TASTE:
GUAN HOE SOON RESTAURANT
38/40 Joo Chiat Place S(427762)
Tel: 6344 2761
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm; 6 – 9.30pm

MAKE MUM’S DAY EVEN SWEETER WITH THIS GIFT SET FROM AWFULLY CHOCOLATE!
If you happen to be in the Katong Area for the Nyonya makan at Guan Hoe Soon, you might also want to pop across to the Awfully Chocolate outlet there to grab Mum a lovely sweet gift!
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M-Day 2016 Gift Set

To purchase this for mum, visit any of their stores, including their brand new outlet at Marina Bay Link Mall!

 

Where Chefs Eat: David Myers of Adrift

Denise with David Myers at his MBS restaurant, Adrift

This week, I had the chance to catch up with LA-based chef David Myers, while he’s in town to check in on his gorgeous restaurant Adrift at the Marina Bay Sands.

Chef Myers is all about fresh produce from California and Japan, and at Adrift, small plates, healthy salads, seafood, and grilled meats all come together beautifully Izakaya-style. It would be hard to pick favourites, but Chef Myers recommends you try the King Crab Melt, Hamachi Salad with Ponzu Sauce & the special Omakase menu.

For bookings, visit marinabaysands.com or call 6688 5657.

Click here for more on our conversation about Adrift, the must-try dishes, what inspires Chef Myers’ cooking and interesting projects he has in the pipeline.

So when Chef Myers is in Singapore, where does he like to eat? Here are a few of his favourites:

Every time he’s in town, Chef Myers has one go-to place – he makes it a point to stop by before he heads to the airport. He can’t get enough of the  Black Pepper Crab at Long Beach. For him, it’s that combination of the spicy pepper and the incredibly sweet, almost buttery crab that is breath-takingly delicious.

Long Beach Black Pepper Crab

Long Beach @ Dempsey
25 Dempsey Road
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm / 5pm – 1am

Another chef favourite is the ever-popular Tian Tian Chicken Rice at Maxwell. Chef Myers has tried many others, but Tian Tian remains his favourite because he feels that the chicken is done just right – poached simply and when served with the pandan-scented, chicken-fat-flavoured rice with chilli, it’s a combination that is out of this world.
TIANTIAN
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (天天海南鸡饭)
1 Kadayanallur Street
Maxwell Food Centre
#01-10/11
Open daily except Mondays: 11am – 8pm
Tel: +65 96914852

When it comes to Western food, Chef Myers is partial to Angeleno, an Italian restaurant by Chef David Almany, formerly of Osteria Mozza fame. Using fresh produce from California, signature dishes include carpaccio sliced thinly from American ribeye steaks and eggplant parmigiana, Pasta is made in-house and there’s a wood grill for their amazing steaks and chops.

Angeleno’s Iberico Tomahawk Pork Chops, Summer Beet Salad and Spaghetti of Maine Lobster, roasted tomato and tarragon.

Angeleno
Open Mon-Sat 12 noon – 11pm
20 Gemmill Lane
Tel: 62216986

Burnt Ends also remains another chef favourite and for David Myers, it’s no different. He loves the atmosphere, the food and says it’s always guaranteed a good time when you dine at Dave Pynt’s modern Australian Barbeque restaurant.
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BURNT ENDS
20 Teck Lim Road
Lunch: Wednesday – Saturday 11:45am to 2pm
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 6:00pm to Late
Closed Sunday and Mondays
Tel: 6224 3933
For more on Burnt Ends, check this & this out!

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of Makan Kakis & Chef Myers’ recommendations.