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…
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
Click here to listen to Violet wax lyrical about some of the freshest seafood & smoked meats in Singapore!
This long Easter weekend, treat yourself to & the family to a super-fresh, seafood & smoked meat experience! Our Makan Kaki Violet Oon returns this week to share another family story (something that’s very close to her heart, since the success of her current 3 restaurants is also a family affair, with her children Su-Lyn and Yiming hard work and support). David Lee is someone she’s known for years and he has a strong background in F & B. In the late ’90s, he started a seafood business from scratch, at Riverwalk called Blue Lobster. While that business is no longer in operation, his son Alan followed in his footsteps and started Greenwood Fish Market & Bistro in the leafy Bukit Timah suburb of Greenwood Avenue back in the early 2000s. Both father and son enjoy fishing and Violet reckons it’s that passion for fresh fish and seafood – where it comes from, how it’s raised or caught – that makes for a successful business. Father and son still fish together on occasion, when they aren’t running the successful fish shop & restaurant. Actually, that first Greenwood outlet has since grown and now you’ll find a second fish market and bistro on the waterfront of Sentosa Cove, at Quayside Isle.
Over 200 types, from exotic cold water fish and other seasonal seafood, are brought in fresh every week, from Oceans across the globe, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Holland and France. They are able to tell you which is pure, fresh and from which oceans they are sourced, so you are guaranteed top quality seafood, either to buy home to cook, or prepared and ready to takeaway and eat, or to choose and have cooked then and there for dining at their restaurant. Violet recommends any of the cold seafood platters, served on ice in double tiers, very much like dining on the French Riviera! There’s the Cold Platter, featuring an array of fresh seafood served chilled – steamed Boston Lobster, Yellowfin Tuna Tataki, fresh shucked oysters, New Zealand Green lip Mussels & Littleneck Clams, cooked prawns, plus their in-house smoked salmon (more on the smoked dishes a little later). You could also try the excellent Shell Fish Combo Platter, featuring cooked king crab, prawns, mussels, clams, cold-smoked salmon & whole Maine lobsters. If you prefer things Japanese-style, there’s also the Sashimi Platter – a sliced and ready-to-eat mix of the freshest cut salmon, yellowfin tuna, swordfish belly, king fish and snapper.
As for the smoked dishes, everything from seafood to meats are smoked in-house, using traditional methods, Apple Wood logs and the freshest produce, which is delivered weekly. Choose from hot-smoked or cold-smoked Mackerel, Ocean Trout, Mussels or Salmon. Violet loves the cold-smoked salmon that is smoked beautifully without nitrates or preservatives. She believes it’s important that consumers enjoy a product that is healthier and also low in salt, yet fresh and tasty. There’s even smoked mature Cheddar cheese, bacon, spicy sausage, pork cheek and pork belly. What Violet loves is that just like the seafood, the air-flown Australian Pork products are also smoked nitrate-free.
Ultimately, Violet appreciates Greenwood Fish’s attention to quality, delicious artisanal food and the story of the family behind the business. Certainly, those are great reasons to pay them a visit this weekend, whether it’s to buy some fresh seafood or for a hearty meal with the family. And now with 2 different locations, you have more choice too!
HEAR: CLICK for audio of this week’s beefy, fatty episode!
This week, Chef Tim Ross-Watson invites us to revisit a well-known seafood restaurant, not for its seafood, but oddly enough, for its top-notch meat dishes. New Ubin Seafood doesn’t really need an introduction, except to say this place has been consistently good and it’s still making headlines after a recent move from Sin Ming to Hillview.
So the usual suspects like crab, cereal prawn & 3 egg veg aside, Chef Tim reckons the best thing on their menu is their steak, which is juicy and done to your preference.
It comes with crispy and fluffy potato wedges on the side, along with sea salt, caramelised onions, ketchup and english mustard, but really what you want to order along with the meaty platter is their dirty fried rice.
All the pan drippings and caramelised bits at the bottom of the pan (i.e. the “dirty” pan) are used to fry rice to a deep, dark burnished deliciousness. Beef trimmings are added to the hot pan and tossed in the rice and beef fat till crunchy and oh so good.
You get a sinfully rich beef fat fried rice packed full of flavour and texture. Some customers also call it heart attack fried rice, for good reason! Take note though, you need to order the steak to get the fried rice. Remember: no steak, no rice, no joy!
To up the coronary-destroying factor, Chef Tim suggests ordering a side of foie gras egg – essentially, a decadent sous vide egg with generous chunks of goose liver – and then mixing the whole lot in with the fried rice. What you get is a ridiculously luxurious, calorific, fatty flavour bomb in your mouth! Chef Tim’s final recommendation is the Kurobuta pork jowl satay, which is tender and charred to perfection.
So really, you do get the best of both worlds at New Ubin – great seafood, but also really excellent meat dishes that are absolutely irresistible! What also makes this restaurant different is, despite its humble, casual setting, they have a very impressive range of wines and the affable boss Mr Pang has been known to join diners for a glass of whisky or 2!
TASTE: NEW UBIN SEAFOOD
63 Hillview Avenue
Lam Soon Industrial Building
Click this to hear all about the best eats in Boon Lay!
This week, co-author of local food guide Eat. Muse. Love. Toh Mu Qin wants us to check out the many delicious things on offer at Boon Lay Food Village. There, you get all-day dining at its very best. You’ll be spoilt for choice from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, to every other meal in between! Here are a few highlights of Mu Qin’s favourite things to eat there:
First of all, no Westie worth their salt wouldn’t be aware of Power Nasi Lemak (some say the best in all of Singapore), so let’s start here. This is one stall that takes pride in the quality of their food – freshly prepared ingredients, yummy flavours and everything kept piping hot. The deep-fried chicken is particularly good here – well-marinated, juicy and tender on the inside, shatteringly crisp and golden on the outside. The otak-otak (fish paste) is also a must-try, since it comes with a separate coconut milk sauce to drizzle over, cutting through the spice & adding to the creamy richness of the fish. The fried ikan billis & roasted peanuts are also worth mentioning, as is the sensational sambal chilli, which balances a mild sweetness with the heat of the chilli. Power Nasi Lemak is open till late, making it a perfect stop for dinner/ supper. In fact it’s usually open from 6.30am – 3.30am!!! Find it at #01-106.
And if you’re looking for something else to satisfy those dinner cravings, you might also want to try the stall serving up sizzling seafood on hotplates! Be warned – spicy to the max, but oh-so-good! Try the BBQ sting ray, sotong, lala and chilli kang kong at Sin Chew Huat Mei Xiang Hotplate Stingray #01-117.
If you happen to be at Boon Lay Food Village earlier in the day, Mu Qin also recommends the carrot cake or Wanton Mee for breakfast. The latter also comes with the option of stewed chicken feet and shitake mushrooms – yum! Check out Lian Yi Wanton Noodle at #01-161.
Final recommendation: Bak Kut Teh Bee Hoon in a claypot – simple, flavourful and comforting! Kam Hiang Food Stall is at #01-118.
TASTE: BOON LAY PLACE FOOD VILLAGE
221A/B Boon Lay Place
Click HERE for secret egg upon salted egg seafood flavour in this secret off-menu dish!
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!!!!
The 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…
Behold “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!
Take a listen to this week’s sizzling hot cze char episode!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Click here to hear today’s flavour-packed on-air episode!
This week, our Makan Kaki Peter Knipp (the man behind the World Gourmet Summit) suggests we try some chinese food. That alone doesn’t sound very exciting, but we assure you, this place he’s recommending is fantastic and has been causing quite a buzz in the local food scene since it opened its door less than 3 years ago.
Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House is run by Peter’s friend Ricky Ng (who worked with the Tung Lok group for many years before starting up his own place) and his charming wife Chloe. It’s a casual dining restaurant that serves traditional Chinese dishes (sometimes with an innovative modern twist) against the stunning backdrop of the Sentosa Cove marina. Whilst many of the dishes served here remain classics and familiar to our local palates, the dedicated chefs employ western techniques at times to turn out beautiful, tasty dishes of the highest quality. Take their Josper Oven for instance – according to Peter Knipp’s World Gourmet Summit website – it is
a modern piece of equipment invented to cook food at high temperatures of 350 degrees. Using Japanese charcoal, the Josper Oven infuses food with flavours of firewood while the high temperatures work to “seal” the essence of each taste to retain the juiciness of the meats on its fire. The end result is a perfectly textured dish that gives a kick of modernity to Chinese cuisine, showcasing the notion that Chinese food can be prepared using western methods of pan-searing, baking & grilling instead of only on the big black wok”.
Traditional Asian flavours are enhanced, refined, honed and ultimately, savoured by us, the diners! From live seafood to succulent cuts of the finest red meats, noodles to rice and everything else in between, Blue Lotus is doing something really, really special. EVERY. SINGLE. DISH. was a party in the mouth and a taste explosion!
Instead of your usual Sunday Brunch, Peter urges everyone to try their weekend dim sum brunch, which is absolutely delicious and altogether more unique. Just imagine siting on the waterfront, taking in the gorgeous quayside views, wind in your hair, glass of champagne in your hand, tasty morsels of expertly prepared dim sum (traditional and modern) and other Chinese classic dishes flowing…
It’s the kind of place you take your partner or the whole family if you want to score brownie points. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, and pets are welcome. Peter thinks it’s heaven being there on a Saturday or Sunday mid-morning – you have the best of Chinese food, the right beverage, the amazing view… That is about as good as it gets!
Ricky and his team are amazing, so committed to making sure everything served is close to perfection and while you can also do sundowners and dinner at Blue Lotus, it’s all about the weekend dim sum brunch for Peter and in his own words, you’re gonna have “one hell of an experience there” and the food is “super yummilicious”!
I, on the other hand, need to wax lyrical about said sundowners and dinner at Blue Lotus – it’s the perfect not-too-far getaway after a long day at work. It’s just the kind of place you want for a weekday unwind with a glass of chilled white wine, really stunning food and yes, those gorgeous views. Seriously, everything I ate was popping with flavour, nothing disappointed. Have a look at my picture journal of the wonderful feast I had at Blue Lotus just last week…
This moreish starter-snack is crunchy and fragrant, with just enough salted egg yolk (not cloying or gloopy). Elevated by the tangy, perfumed lime zest, this is a winner with a cold beer of chilled white wine!
These skewers of seafoody succulence were enormously satisfying in both size and taste. Juicy prawns mingled with the citrusy, woodsy scent of lemongrass with just a hint of spice to tickle your throat.
One of my favourites – the batter embracing the soft, pillowy egglant was crisp and light. The fresh spices kicked up the flavour spectrum in my mouth several notches. And ooh boy, those dried chillies, toasted garlic, sesame seeds and scallions generously showered all over the eggplant made things even more exciting to the palate.
Can a soup be both light and rich at the same time? This one was! Bordering on a western lobster bisque, this broth was not creamy, but silky and had a certain heft, like it was holding many hidden ingredients inside. Paired with fresh bok choy and a large king prawn ravioli (or wonton), this is Chinese soup with a modern twist. Yum!
Many have recommended it, many have even bet that it’s the best Chilli Crab in Singapore, so of course I had to put my mouth where their money is! Their rendering of this classic local dish will not disappoint, especially since it’s been elevated with a secret blend of spices and a chilli kick that can even make hardcore fans cry. That’s because you can request for spice levels from 1 to 10. Level 10 is a gravy made from 100% chilli padi and isn’t actually recommeded, unless you’re a masochist. The most chilli-lovers will go is level 3 and that already has some tearing and sweating! The gravy is really, really good. I had Level 1 and the chilli left a very pleasant tingle on the tongue and the back of the throat.
Packed with those secret spices and given a surprising fruity adornment of pomelo, you won’t get the usual ketchupy-sweet chilli crab flavour at Blue Lotus. What you get is freshness, spice and that unusual bitter-sweet-citrusy pomelo taste that cuts through all the richness. Plus, there are those gorgeously burnished deep-fried mantou (buns) to sop up said irresistible gravy with. You won’t be able to stop at one, so don’t! It’s messy, tasty good fun. Just dive in with your bare hands and attack the sweet, juicy, meaty Sri Lankan crabs! Blue Lotus’ Signature Chilli Crab is truly a beautiful reinvention of a Singapore classic.
This is very traditional and comforting – tender cubes of peppery Wagyu with fresh veggies (red & green peppers, leek, scallion and red onions) served in a sizzling hot stone bowl. I could eat just this alone with a mountain of steaming white rice!
This is another one of my favourites! I’m a big fan of beef short ribs and was delighted to try the baby lamb version for the first time at Blue Lotus. These short ribs were tender, juicy and delicately gamey. The gentle gaminess was off-set by the dry rub of spices, reminiscent of the kind they use on Yang Rou Chuan or lamb skewers of China’s Xinjiang province. The refreshing relish of fresh tomato and onion was a welcome sweet and sour accompaniment, cutting through the fatty, spiced richness of the meat. Although I have to say, bring on the fatty, spicy richness! Lamb with cumin and fennel is a combination that’s hard to beat. I was stripping meat off bone after bone with just my teeth and fingers! I even took some leftovers home and the meat was just as wonderful a couple of days later heated up in my toaster over and even straight-out-of-the-fridge cold!
Another Chinese classic done well. The beans were sweet and crunchy and I love the wrinkled texture their skins get from all that searing wok-heat!
By now, a full belly might slow down the appetite considerably, but do consider a couple of noodle dishes, both of which are very different, but also very tasty. If you love the crunch of sheng mian or crispy egg noodles and you want a decadent treat of fresh Boston lobster, choose this one.
Or you can choose this other one, which I prefer between the two. Have you even seen such monstrous prawns?! Grilled to rosy perfection and packed with an umami garlic-spice stuffing, these two enormous crustaceans sit atop a slippery mound of tender-braised mee pok, flecked with chive shoots and bean sprouts. I also admit to ripping the prawn heads off and noisily sucking the head juices out like a barbarian.
Stomach groaning, I valiantly tackled dessert, which thankfully, was a refreshing, fruity snow ice that was feathery-light and fluffy to the tongue. I imagine this is what licking a mango-flavoured cloud would be like! The strawberries, mango, blueberries, blackberries and passionfruit were a healthy antidote to everything that preceded. It was a barely-there dessert, the perfect tangy sweet ending to a very filling and outstanding meal.
TASTE: BLUE LOTUS
31 Ocean Way #01-13
Quayside Isle at Sentosa Cove OPEN DAILY
Mondays – Fridays: 6 – 10pm
Weekends: 11.30am – 3pm, then 6 – 10pm RESERVATIONS
+65 63390880 (12 noon – 11pm daily) or email firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook
Today, a new foodie friend joins us and he’s the guy behind the World Gourmet Summit, Mr Peter Knipp! More than 3 decades ago, he came to Singapore to work as a professional Chef at a hotel before breaking out to start his own Food & Beverage Consultancy and 20 years ago, World Gourmet Summit was born! As a man whose carer has been built around and through food and drink, you can trust Peter to have some great makan places to share.
Click here & here to find out more about this year’s World Gourmet Summit – Peter Knipp gives us the insider’s run-down!
Click here for this week’s ocean-fresh makan recommendation!
This week, Peter recommends a wonderful Italian restaurant whose chef hails from Sicily and is dedicated to presenting diners with the freshest, tastiest seafood prepared according to his Southern Italian roots. Chef Lino Sauro’s contemporary Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare on Tras Street will certainly excite your palate, because whilst he remains true-blue to his Sicilian roots, he gives his food a little Asian touch after spending so many years here in Singapore.
When Peter dines at Gattopardo, he forgoes ordering from the menu and leaves it up to Chef Lino to surprise him with between 5 to 7 courses of sublime small plates. From his sea urchin to hamachi to raw marinated langoustin, his focus is on giving diners a gastronomic journey of the palate through the freshest seafood. Let the Maitre D’ help you pair your meal with the right Prosecco or wines and you’ll have a beautiful experience at Gattopardo! This is one Italian restaurant that stands out from the many others in Singapore and Peter cannot recommend it enough.