Hello Makan Kakis, we’re back to Phase 2 Heightened Alert in Singapore, so while we go about getting ourselves something good to eat, remember to stay safe and spare a thought as well for hawkers who need our support through yet another hurdle in our fight against COVID-19.
No dine-ins are allowed, but we can still pop out for a quick takeaway, so here’s a good one to consider. Get ready to indulge this week with our foodie friend, Gelato Chef & owner of Momolato, Sharon Tay. For something spicy, creamy & deeply satisfying, you’ve got to try her favourite Chinese-style Fish Head Curry! Take it from Chef Sharon, who grew up in the area enjoying the signature dish of this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stall at Old Airport Road Food Centre. Tucked away in a corner at one far end of the renowned hawker heaven, you’ll find Yi Lu Fa.
Today, our Makan Kaki is Host of Talking Point, Steven Chia, who has previously regaled us with tales of his investigations into bread, instant noodles and bubble tea. This time, he joins us to talk about FRIED CHICKEN!
Why can’t Singaporeans get enough of it? Just how many varieties are out there in the market? Is there such a thing as healthy fried chicken? And what happened to Steven when he subjected himself to a Talking Point experiment to eat fried chicken everyday for 2 weeks straight?
Steve gives us a little taster of what to expect in his 2-part Talking Point special – catch it this week (15 April) & next (Thurs 22 April), 9.30pm on Channel 5 or via CNA!
And with all his food adventures, we had to ask him – where he goes for his favourite foods. Keep reading for his makan recommendation!
One of Steve’s family favourites is a Malaysian-Chinese restaurant in the West Coast area that serves up classic Penang-style dishes. In particular, Steve loves Penang Island Kitchen’s char kway teow ($12). It’s not too oily nor sweet, has lots of wok hei and is fried with lots of egg and bean sprouts, just the way Steve likes it. Packed with a generous poriton of lup cheong (chinese sausage), sliced fish cake and prawns, this noodle dish really hits the spot!
SEE: Hi Makan Kakis, this week brings a double-whammy of deliciousness with not 1, but 2 makan recommendations from MasterChef Singapore judges Audra Morrice & Bjorn Shen! First, authentic, quality Nasi Padang from a renowned restaurant that has been in Singapore since 1920. Chef Audra loves Sabar Menanti II, right across from Sultan Mosque. The Nasi Padang is so good you need to bring reinforcements to navigate the queues. For the best time, make sure you have someone to line up for food, and someone to “chope” a table!
Last time Chef Audra went, her group tucked into “divine” Tahu Telur (crispy, fluffy tofu omelette in a peanut dressing), Lontong (compressed, steamed rice cakes served in a rich coconut vegetable curry), Ikan Bakar (grilled fish, or in this case, fried in turmeric flour and doused in a thick kicap manis and sprinkled with cut chillis, onions and a squeeze of lime) and fried eggplant smothered in a sambal that takes you to a totally different place.
Chef Audra also raves about the Kueh-Kueh, which are a great sweet finish to your Nasi Padang feast. From Ondeh-Ondeh to Kueh Dadar, these are really very good, so order a variety!
Sabar Menanti, which loosely means “good things come to those who wait”, is definitely one of Chef Audra’s favourite places to visit in Kampong Glam and that’s just scratching the surface! Remember to go in a group (of legal size) – that way, you can order and try lots of different delicious dishes to go with your hot, white rice!
Next, Chef Bjorn recommends the perfect pairing of rich salmon head with tangy, spicy asam pedas. Remember his last recommendation of Ayam Geprek from La Porpo? You’ll find the Salmon Head Asam Pedas at a stall right next to it in the same coffeeshop along Jalan Besar, right across from Sim Lim Tower.
Full disclosure, Masmidah’s Kitchen is run by the mother of Chef Bjorn’s restaurant manager, but hey, the family that works in F&B together, stays together, right?
And fish-lovers, if there’s one thing you must try at Masmidah’s Kitchen it’s got to be her Salmon Fish Head Asam Pedas. As Chef Bjorn explains it, salmon is such an oily, fatty fish, but the head is even fattier and gelatinous to boot. All that richness needs to be balanced by some acid, which is where the sour and spicy tamarind gravy that drenches the fish head comes in. Lots of vegetables accompany the salmon, including tomatoes, brinjal and lady’s finger. This is one fish dish that’s big in flavour and aroma.
But that’s not all! Take a look at the rest of Masmidah’s menu. Chef Bjorn calls this good old soulful Malay home cooking. Together with the fried chicken at La Porpo, you’re going to have a very good time at these two neighbouring stalls!
TASTE: MASMIDAH’S KITCHEN 29/31 Jalan Besar, S(208798) Open: Mon – Sat (best to go at lunchtime)
As we hurtle towards 2020 and a brand new year of feasting, let’s take a little look back at the best of 2019 – here are the most popular makan places that really caught your attention. Click on each for details & enjoy!
If you like what you hear on air and what you see here, do share the good food with your good friends and tell them about Makan Kakis on Gold 905! Cheers to another year of yumminess – may your 2020 be bursting with the best things to eat and drink – Season’s Eatings!
This week, Honorary Secretary of the Indian Restaurant Association of Singapore, S. Mahenthiranreturns to share more of his favourite places to eat at in Singapore. Also, all this month of August, in honour of our nationa’s birthday, we’re speaking with the people behind home-grown brands – Mahen also is the Director of Gayatri Restaurant – and coming from this culinary legacy, you can rest assured that he knows his curries! Today, he tells us about a place he loves visiting, just round the corner from Gayatri, for his Chinese-style Fish Head Curry fix!
Makan Kakis, Chef Shen Tan is back with another surprising and delicious recommendation this week! Chicken Rice is arguably one of the most tasty and popular local dishes and while Chef Shen loves chicken rice too, when she visits Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Restaurant, it’s not usually for their chicken rice! While theirs is very good, the dish that has captured Chef Shen’s heart is the FISH HEAD CURRY! Continue reading “Super-Fresh Fish Head Curry”→
This week, we continue with celebrations of Singapore’s birthday month, so we’re featuring both a Uniquely Singaporean stage icon AND dish, brought to you by the one and only Broadway Beng, actor Sebastian Tan, who’s currently performing in SRT’s epic musical, Forbidden City – Portrait of an Empress. Sebastian has been Makan Kakis with Denise for a very long time, sharing their love for both theatre and food. The two really go hand and hand – rehearsals and performing on stage are such communal activities and what do you do to bond with fellow actors? You eat together! From hotpot to Hamburgers, Steaks to Soto Ayam, these Makan Kakis have eaten their way through a lot of Singapore, but surprise-surprise! Seb has been holding out on his favourite Fish Head Curry Restaurant – in his neck of the woods, no less! A Sembawang-Yishun native through and through, he maintains there’s a lot of delicious food to discover in the North. And coming from a family of food-lovers and restaurateurs (his brother runs the first Chinese Restaurant ever to open in Stoke-on-Trent in England, The Arch and a second brother also opened its sister restaurant here in Singapore for 2 years) who know their Fish Head Curry, it just might be worth following Sebastian way up North for a taste of his go-to comfort food.
So as mentioned, when Sebastian is in need of comfort food, he goes straight for his beloved fish head curry. To him, it’s a complete, full dish – spicy, lemak, yet “healthy” (fish is healthy right? :D) and packed full of vegetables like brinjal & lady’s fingers. There’s just something very hearty and heart-warming about a curry, spiced up with just the right amount of chillies. Slathered over a steaming plate of rice, you’ve got all you need in a meal. Not far from where he lives is a place that specializes in the Chinese-style fish head curry Sebastian is describing.
Located just off Sembawang Road, Chye Lye (which means come again!) has been serving tasty fish head curry and zichar since 1970 and what Seb loves about their fish head curry is how well-balanced it is. The gravy has just the right amount of spice and coconut milk for that luscious lemak richness. Also, you’ll always get a fresh fish head that’s of a good, meaty size. Perhaps what makes it more Chinese-influenced is the addition of tau pok (deep-fried beancurd puffs), which adds another layer of texture and more surface area with which to soak up the yummy curry gravy!
At just $30 for a medium-sized fish-head that feeds 4, you also get pretty good value-for-money. Ultimately, what makes this a uniquely Singaporean dish is how it actually carries Chinese, Malay and Indian influences -everything Singapore eating is about! In fact, it’s been said that Fish Head Curry was invented in Singapore, so hooray for our delicious invention. If you want a sedap pot of fish head curry that’s truly Singaporean, you’ve got to head north to Chye Lye Curry Fish Head Restaurant – one of the best in Yishun and some say Singapore and JB!
Click here to listen to this week’s delicious episode!
Here’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.
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!
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!
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!
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?
TASTE: HONG KONG STREET CHUN TAT KEE 881 (XO) FAMOUS SEAFOOD (FISH HEAD BEE HOON & CRAB BEE HOON)
412 Balestier Road
Open Daily: 11am – 11pm
Tel: +65 62545768