Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s trio of good eats!
This week, our foodie friend Lyn Lee of Awfully Chocolate & Sinpopo Brand is fresh from her visit to an East-side haunt of hers, a place that’s been around for decades and was once the “hippest mall” in Katong. Eastsiders are no doubt familiar with Katong Shopping Centre, once full of tailor and dress-making shops, now filled with maid agencies and tuition centres, along with even a Ghostbuster shop! But this historical mall is probably best known for its culinary delights, found especially in the basement food court. Many swear by the chicken rice found there, literally called Delicious Chicken Rice, but there are many other yummy dishes to try, which Lyn recommends. The day she was there recently, the chicken rice stall was shut so she managed to snag a hard-to-find table in the always-busy food court, the better to enjoy her favorite dish from there – LAKSA YONG TAU FOO!
Located in the corner, Katong Yong Tau Foo sells a variety of dishes, but Lyn’s go-to is choose-your-own yong tau foo in laksa gravy, with your choice of noodles. She always goes for the instant mee, which are cooked to al dente, QQ perfection.
A basic bowl of Laksa Yong Tau Foo costs $5.60, including noodles and six other ingredients (your choice, see the selection in the photos above).
According to Lyn, what she loves is that that the Laksa gravy is tasty yet not too overwhelming that you forget you’re actually eating yong tau foo.
Indeed, when I stopped by to give it a try myself, the gravy was mellow and creamy from coconut milk, but not cloying or overly rich. Mildly spicy, you can ask for more sambal chilli if you prefer more kick. A sprinkle of finely-chopped laksa leaves add that quintessential fragrance and flavour to the dish.
My portion cost $9.80 because, greedy me, I chose 11 ingredients, including fishpaste-stuffed tau pok, beancurd skin, brinjal, chilli, capsicum, mushrooms and vegetables.
This made for a very hearty, belly-warming meal that was full of umami and spice you like from laksa, combined with the freshly-made goodness of yong tau foo.
Lyn also found a stall in the food court she reckons hasn’t been there for very long. Specialising in Malaysian-style Chinese delicacies, Ipoh Tuck Kee Son’s Dai Loke Mee was a marvelous discovery that she highly recommends.
For just $5, she got a fresh-from-the-wok serving of fried noodles in a dark brown sauce that looks very similar to the famous KL-style Hokkien Mee. The noodles were thick, tender, yet with a pleasing chewiness, stir-fried in a silky dark soy-based sauce.
Juicy whole prawns, fresh cai xin, pork slices and (most unusual but welcome) sections of small powder intestine made up the ingredients of the Dai Loke Mee.
The distinct metallic offal taste of the small intestines delighted, along with the crunchy slivers of fatty pork slices.
And dotted here and there, were crispy little gems of pork lard, adding texture and flavour to an already tasty dish. The saucy, garlicky noodles had that coveted wok-hei and you could really taste the char from a well-seasoned pan.
For even more flavour, don’t forget to add their house chilli sauce and pickled green chill slices!
We’ll soon be hurrying back to sample more of the dishes from their extensive menu, especially since this seems to be a well-oiled set-up, with the kitchen equipment of a zichar restaurant and signature noodle dishes that look very enticing.
One last honourable mention from Lyn is the fried carrot cake, which sadly, was sold out when I visited (it must be that good!).
Lyn says that this is an excellent carrot cake – generously fried with egg and particularly impressive because of the extra topping of chye poh (preserved radish). Look at those giant shavings of the salty-sweet pickle on top of the black version!
And there you have it, besides the famous Delicious Chicken Rice in the basement of Katong Shopping Centre, there are quite a few more wonderful stalls to check out in the same food court. So whether its Laksa Yong Tau Foo with Maggi Mee, or Malaysian-style fried noodles, or Chye Tow Kueh, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Katong Shopping Centre Basement Food Court
#B1-85/87, 865 Mountbatten Road, S(437844)
- Katong Yong Tau Foo, open 9.30am – 8pm (closed Thursdays)
- Ipoh Tuck Kee Son (怡保德记仔), open daily 11am – 3pm; 5 – 9.30pm
- Wah Soon Kei Carrot Cake, open 10.15am – 7pm (weekdays), 9.15am – 7pm (weekends & public holidays), closed Tuesdays.