Delicious Dim Sum!

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photo via kai garden facebook

This week our Makan Kaki, Chef Shen Tan of Ownself Make Chef returns to catch up with us & share her latest discovery, which actually comes at the recommendation of a foodie friend of hers via Instagram. And she was happy to report, this discovery did not disappoint! Now, when it comes to a whole menu of delicious delicacies, there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t like dim sum, right? And some of the best Chef Shen has had to date, comes from Kai Garden.

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Excellent Zichar Favourites in the East

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Click here to listen/ download podcast of this week’s wokalicious episode!

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Hello Makan Kakis, if you’re looking for comfort cooking that hits the spot and wok-breathed delicacies created with punchy flavour & flair, then you’ve got to try this casual Zichar place in the East, where you can bring your own wines or whiskeys. So says our Foodie Friend, co-owner of Asian Tapas Bar, The Wine & Gourmet Friends, William Seah. Wee’s Family Coffee Shop in Bedok Reservoir has been getting rave reviews for their signature Salted Egg Crab, which William has a weakness for. Very rich, very savoury, very tasty sauce paired with succulent and sweet crab meat – what’s not to love? This Zichar restaurant is the family business of another wine consultant friend of William’s, Milton. That’s why if you love to pair your local dishes with alcohol, this is the perfect setting. Wee’s Family Coffee Shop encourages BYOB, no corkage!

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Superb Salted Egg Yolk Calamari

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Listen/ Download the Podcast to this week’s salted egg-drenched episode!

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When our new Makan Kaki Audrey Lee and her partner were launching their own food menu at Little House of Dreams, she wanted to include Salted Egg Yolk Calamari all because of her amazing experience at this particular Woodlands stall.

Tucked in a small coffeeshop in the North of Singapore, YCC 688 Eating House is worth the trek, if only for their excellent Salted Egg Yolk Calamari. According to Audrey (who is not actually a fan of salted egg yolk), it was love at first bite. It is the best she’d ever tasted and she wanted the entire plate to herself.

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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!

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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!

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

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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No Other Cze Char Stall Will Do

 

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Take a listen to this week’s sizzling hot cze char episode!

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This week, Chef Daniel Tay takes us to his favourite Cze Char stall in all of Singapore. Quite the Geylang institution, this greasy back alley joint evokes a bygone era of dining in Singapore. Tables are set up higgledy piggledy along a narrow alley and you eat alongside the drain and the stray cats. It’s not the cleanest of places and there’s quite a lot of (ahem) night time action – it is Geylang, after all – but the food is worth the colourful experience! Ask any foodie and they will tell you JB Ah Meng is famous for at least 2 dishes – White Pepper Crab & San Lou fried bee hoon. These 2 signatures are certainly on Chef Daniel’s must-try list, along with a few others and I have to agree and add to that list, with my own recommendations, having eaten there a few times myself!

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First up, White Pepper Crab is defintely one of JB Ah Meng’s signatures and you cannot visit without trying it. Some say it’s even tastier than black pepper crab because there is sweet-spicy kick and a tremendous wok hei that can only come from a skilled cze char master! The crabs may be on the smaller side (we’re not talking Sri Lankan monsters here), but they sure are delicious attacked barehanded and with gusto!

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Chef Daniel’s next recommendation are the clams, simply tossed in the wok with garlic, chives and chinese wine. It would seem the sweet, briny clams were made to just soak up all the delicious seasonings & sauce, which is also superb drizzled all over your white rice. Be sure to leave some white rice real estate though, for the next must-try dish.

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Chef Daniel swears by this Chinese-style Curry Fish Head. I completely agree. The meaty fish head is smothered in a rich, thick, coconutty gravy that is just so tasty! The more of it you eat, the more you’ll want, until you find yourself drinking the curry like it’s soup. It’s permeated with earthy, spicy warmth and it complements the mountain of fresh vegetables like lady’s fingers, brinjal, long beans and red chillis perfectly.

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San Lou Mifen otherwise known as chao tah bee hoon, is a beautifully fried rice vermicelli dish that’s pillowy soft on the inside, crispy-charred on the outside and packed with flavours & fragrance from the wok. It’s studded with tiny shrimp, minced meat, egg and that indulgent essential, lots of crispy lard! Look how much they gave us! OMG, Is all we can say! Each bite of the noodles, coupled with a little scoop of lard, is heart attack heaven!

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All that lard may be a bit much for the health-conscious, so how about a simple, yet satisfying soup of egg, mushroom, seaweed, cucumbers and tomato? This is very reminiscent of mum’s home cooking and has that certain comfort food factor.

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As a meal starter, you can’t go wrong crunching through a dish of the deep-fried fish skins, which come with a side of sweet and sour pickle sauce, although I’d rather do without the sauce. The fish skin is good enough on its own.

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Stir-fried snake beans with lotus root – gorgeous contrast in textures, with the spicy creamy-crunchy beans and the crispy lotus root chips playing off each other in the most delightful way.

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One final recommendation is the Deep Fried Fermented Bean with Belly Pork, with a deeply umami taste that penetrates the fatty cut of meat that is both tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

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So Makan Kakis, if you haven’t already discovered the fire-breathed, wok-hei imbued flavours of JB Ah Meng, get there this weekend for some gut-busting, party-in-your-mouth action!

TASTE:
JB AH MENG
New Good Place Eating House
2 Lorong 23 Geylang S(388353)
Tel: +65 67412418
Open Daily: 5pm – 3am

Masterful Crab

George Young & Denise
George Young & Denise

This week, we have a special guest Makan Kaki who really needs no introduction, but what the hey, say hello to George Young – Lipton spokesperson and actor in HBOAsia’s forthcoming original miniseries Grace!

This self-confessed tea-lover has been getting lessons from mixologist Joel Fraser of The Cufflink Club – all the better to mix up delicious tea-based Cocktails & Mocktails, recipes of which you can find here!

As we waxed lyrical about our mutual love for Earl Grey tea and George’s not-so-secret love for boybands (Backstreet Boys, anyone?), we also discussed some of our favourite places to enjoy seafood.

For George, this place really impressed him on a recent visit. Now, with a name like Master Crab, you’d better be able to put your money where your mouth is. Or in this case, put your crabs where our mouths are! Thankfully, Master Crab is not a misnomer or an exaggeration.

In particular, their salted egg crab is a joy and delight to eat. Most salted-egg crab dishes come with a dry coating, but at Master Crab, theirs is a thick, rich, viscous, eggy sauce, made extra fragrant with a liberal sprinkling of curry leaves.

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Saucy Salted Egg Crab!

George recommends you go with friends, order two crabs to share and be sure to add an order of cereal prawns. Why? Because it’s the crispy, deep-fried cereal bits you’ll want to heap into the salted-egg crab sauce for a magical, decadent combination of taste and texture!

Listen to this SAUCY episode again here!

MASTER CRAB SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Block 19 Ghim Moh Road
#01-229
Open Daily: 5 – 10.30pm
Phone:6314 1868