Hi Makan Kakis, MasterChef Singapore Top 4 contestant, Sharlene Tan of Artisome Food, is back with this delectably snacky recommendation – goreng pisang! Or rather, Thai-style fried banana found at Golden Mile Complex. It used to be a one-woman-operation at the entrance of the Thai Supermarket and Sharlene has been going to the little-known kiosk for years.
More recently, after the supermarket was given a facelift, the Golden Banana kiosk was also upgraded and expanded, with several staff in the kitchen churning out golden-fried goodies for the steady stream of customers. While a fried yam version is also amongst the menu items, Sharlene says the best choices are the eponymous fried banana ($4 for 6) and sweet potato balls ($4 for 12). The day I paid the kiosk a visit, those were exactly the only two items available, piled high and still hot from the fryer in two separate baskets.
Hello Makan Kakis, our Foodie Friend Raj from MasterChef Singapore Season 3 is back! This week, he recommends we try a restaurant that specialises in chicken dishes – it’s not called Ayam Penyet President for nothing – but surprisingly, neither of his two favourite dishes of their menu contain chicken.
Please meet our newest Makan Kaki, Cynthea Lam – wellness coach, nutritionist-in-training & founder of Super Farmers, a company focused on helping people to eat well and live well through food and nutrition education. It’s a one-stop-shop for wellness workshops, urban farming kits and restorative herbal teas brand Apoteacary.
Quite by chance, we got to talking at her booth in Boutique Fairs and I ended up purchasing three boxes of deliciously soothing teas and an urban farming trio of microgreens to try growing myself at home (the kang kong, chye sim & gai lan were a success for this noob!).
Cynthea has a great story to tell and a wonderfully engaging personality, perfect for conducting her wellness workshops and dishing out sage advice, so enjoy our podcast and the first of her makan recommendations this week!
Click to listen/ download podcast – In Part 1, Cynthea tells us why she started Super Farmers, what we can expect from her wellness company and shares advice on common dilemmas like getting your kids to eat more veggies and getting over insomnia.
Click to listen/ download podcast – In Part 2, Cynthea answers the usual fun food-related questions, including why Thai cuisine is the biggest influence on her cooking-style, what 3 things she can’t do without in the kitchen, who she’d invite and what she’d serve at her fantasy dinner party (it involves four fiesty females!).
Cynthea takes us straight back to her childhood with this delicious and nostalgic treat. She studied at St Nicholas Girls’ School throughout her pre-primary, primary and secondary school education. And St Nicks’ alumni will relate to this – Cynthea simply cannot forget the one thing she (and so many other school mates) loved to eat at recess time – Aunty Meow Lang’s fried chicken wings.
Cynthea remembers that she once ate 10 chicken wings at a go and ended up with tonsillitis. But she still thinks it was totally worth it! That’s how irresistible those chicken wings were. Crispy, golden-brown and deep-fried to perfection, the wings were coated in a batter that was not too thick, just a thin, crunchy sheath that gave way to a moist, tasty interior. In her opinion, she hasn’t tasted anything better since.
Besides the power of nostalgia, Cynthea reckons the secret to Aunty Meow Lang’s wings was in the way she marinated and fried them with so much love. Sadly, Aunty Meow Lang is no longer with us and her school stall has since closed. However, good news is, her grandson James is now carrying on her legacy at his stall (Coal 3606) and has started selling the same famous chicken wings according to his grandmother’s beloved recipe. Coal 3606’s Facebook page mentions that the wings were sold at at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School from 1972 till 2013.
Interestingly taking the leap from one institution of education to another, Coal 3606 operates out of Republic Polytechnic’s foodcourt, The Lawn. There was a stall in Bukit Merah Lane, but that no longer is in operation and has yet to be updated on their FB. If you don’t fancy a journey into the poly located far North in Woodlands, don’t worry – you can still sink your teeth into the mouth-watering wings by placing an order via text message and have them delivered. Cynthea recommended that, so I did!
I’m happy to report, the wings arrived exactly on time and were still hot as James promised (he stored them in a large aluminium tray surround by tin foil, but not covered, so they wouldn’t get soggy). I wasted no time ripping into one immediately. It was just as Cynthea had described. Crispy on outside, juicy on the inside.
My teeth broke through the crisp batter with an audible crunch, the fragrance of the well-marinated chicken wing making the experience all the more pleasurable. I couldn’t pin point the aromatics, but I think I detected a heady mix of garlic, ginger, soy sauce and honey. Deeply umami flavours played off the hint of sweetness. Crispy skin and meat were thoroughly infused with flavour right down to the bone. And indeed, the flesh remained tender, juices running freely at first bite.
One of Cynthea’s favourite parts (mine too) is the wing tip. Those stayed gloriously crunchy (not burned) and were a delight to gnaw on. Some were so shatteringly crisp that I could devour them entirely, bone and all! I was starting to realise why these wings were near-obsession for Cynthea, who said, “I think I can eat that everyday!”
TASTE: COAL 3606 (Old St Nicks/ Aunty Meow Lang’s Chicken Wings)
Republic Polytechnic The Lawn Foodcourt
9 Woodlands Avenue Block W4/W6 #03-11 S(738964)
Open: 9.30am – 4.30pm (Mon – Fri; closed Sat & Sun)
Tel: +65 98589792 NOTE:
Open to public only during off-peak hours – before 11am or after 1pm.
Best is to call/ text James Ngiam to be sure the wings are available and entry permitted. He takes delivery orders too. I simply texted him to agree on the quantity, date & time, then made payment via PayNow. Easy!
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!
What do legendary actor P. Ramlee & fried chicken have in common? They are the passions of one man – Mr Haswandi Hashim – converging deliciously at his stall in Jalan Besar. After my Makan Kaki Chef Bjorn Shen, judge of MasterChef Singapore and Middle-Eastern restaurant Artichoke proclaimed it “the most amazing ayam goreng in Singapore” earlier in February this year, I hurried down to confirm this and was not disappointed. A few things have changed since February and on my last visit, I finally met the man behind Chef Bjorn’s favourite fried chicken. Turns out, this ayam goreng comes with rice and sambals as colourful as the story behind it.
Mr Haswandi and his wife Nur Hafizah Ahmad launched La Porpo just two years ago with little fanfare, but have quickly gained a still-growing fan base. As a massive fan of film legend P. Ramlee, Mr Haswandi decided to name his stall after a catchphrase from his idol’s 1972 movie Laksamana Do Re Mi.
“It was a hilarious comedy and there’s one part where P. Ramlee was sitting on a flying carpet when he said ‘la porpo’, which sounded Spanish to me,” he explained. “La porpo is a phrase used often between me and my childhood friends. We all watched the same movie, so that’s our connection and appreciation of P. Ramlee. To us, it means something friendly, warm, creative.”
Like a secret password or magic code within his social circle, it brings together their shared love for movies and makan that Mr Haswandi hopes will extend to his customers. “I want them to come and get crazy about our flavours,” he said with a smile.
That’s why he even named his F&B company Rasa Loca (an amalgamation of Malay and Spanish words that means crazy taste) and one of his spicy chilli pastes Sambal Loca. Mr Haswandi is also pleased he has his son’s seal of approval for a greeting he often uses (almost like the stall’s tagline) and can be seen in signage on the storefront, “Yo… What’s good?”
So what is good at La Porpo? Hands down, their ayam goreng or fried chicken, of course. Mr Haswandi’s recipe, “legendary in the family since my grandparents’ time”, has been passed down orally through generations. Combined with Nur Hafizah’s own family recipe, husband and wife have created the ultimate fried chicken, after much trial and error. Theirs is a fundamental fried chicken recipe versatile enough to use in many dishes like their best-selling Kelantan-style nasi kerabu, ayam penyet and ayam geprek. All started off with the same fried chicken foundation, but the difference is in the sambals.
This post is dedicated to a friend, colleague and legend whose sweet nature was only matched by his sweet tooth. Words cannot express the profound sense of loss we feel now that Chris Ho is no longer with us, but here’s to beautiful memories of meals shared together.
For fans who’ve been searching for past episodes of Makan Kakis featuring Chris, here’s a compilation of podcasts and videos:
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.
The best thing about running a fish farm is the access to the freshest produce possible for your own eatery. Case in point, popular-amongst-chefs-and-foodies-alike, Ah Hua Kelong. This week, our Makan Kaki, Ownself Make Chef Shen Tan recommends the restaurant by her regular suppliers to her Sinfully Seafood private dining dinners.
Located in a quiet corner of the Jalan Besar area, Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong is the only fish farm owned restaurant in Singapore. this means all the fish dishes on the menu come direct from the farm to the kitchen to your table. 90% of all their other ingredients are also locally sourced, so it’s worth giving this unique restaurant your support.
While Scaled doesn’t have a large menu, but it’s been carefully curated into a handful of tried and tested sides and mains that bring freshness and flavour to the fore. This is seafood done right, with special Singapore freshness and flair.