Fat, Lucky & Quintessentially Singaporean

Hi Makan Kakis,

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…

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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

 

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3 Crabs, 3 Places

CRABS GALORE!

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Click link to hear about the 3 different places you need to visit for crabs done 3 different ways…

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This week, Cheek by Jowl‘s Head Chef Rishi Naleendra is back to share with us his favourite places for all things crab! As a Sri Lankan – Australian expat in Singapore, he’s had the chance (thanks to fellow local chef’s recommendations) to try A LOT of local crab delicacies and here’s his verdict on where to get the best Chilli, Black Pepper & White Pepper Crab in Singapore. If you’re serious about crab, you’re going to have to go to 3 SEPARATE restaurants for the 3 different types!

White Pepper Crab from JB Ah Meng
San Lou Bee Hoon from JB Ah Meng

Luckily, for White Pepper Crab & Chilli Crab, all you have to do is head over to Geylang Road, starting off with White Pepper Crab at Cze Char institution, JB Ah Meng. Small, but sweet, these crabs pack a unique white pepper punch with a lot of briny flavour. While you’re there, be sure to order Chef Rishi’s other favourites like the famous San Lou Bee Hoon (crispy, crusty vermicelli, almost like a charred pancake!) and the fried eggplant.

For Chef Rishi’s favourite Chilli Crab, it’s got to be a little ways down the road to No Signboard Seafood for arguably one of Singapore’s national dishes. Drenched in a rich, spicy, eggy chilli-tomato gravy, No Signboard’s Chilli Crab is the best because of the careful balance of sweet, salty, spicy and tang.

Chill Crab from No SignBoard
Black Pepper Crab from Sin Hoi Sai

Finally, for the Black Pepper Crab, Chef Rishi heads to Tiong Bahru’s Sin Hoi Sai. Not too sweet, yet sticky, spicy and earthy, these onyx-glazed crabs are pricey, but the best in his opinion.

Notice that these 3 restaurants are all late night eateries, perfect for hungry supper-goers, or famished chefs looking for good food after they finish their own kitchen service and close up shop for the day!

TASTE:
NO SIGNBOARD SEAFOOD
414 Geylang, Singapore 389392
Open Daily: 11am – 1am
Tel: +65 68423415

SIN HOI SAI SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Block 55, Tiong Bahru Road #01-59, Singapore 160055
Open Daily: 5pm – 5am
Tel: +65 62230810 / +65 62243905

JB AH MENG
534 Geylang Rd, Singapore 389490
Open Daily: 5.30pm – 2.30am
Tel: +65 67412418

Try this Seafood Restaurant’s MEAT!

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CLICK for audio of this week’s beefy, fatty episode!

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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
#06-00
Singapore 669569

Open Daily: 11AM – 2PM; 5.30 – 10.30PM

Tel: +65 6466 9558 / +65 9740 6870

Food with the White Attitude!

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Click to hear what Mu Qin has to say about this Sembawang Zichar institution!

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This week, our Makan Kaki, co-author of food guide Eat. Muse. Love. Toh Mu Qin takes us to the north of our little island for some superb Zichar at a Sembawang institution. White Restaurant sees long queues at all its outlets and the original one in Sembawang serves up platter after platter of their signature famous White Bee Hoon. What Mu Qin loves about this classic dish is the light, tasty, milky-white gravy and fresh seafood like prawn and squid. The Bee Hoon is tender and springy without being mushy and the shreds of omelet scattered throughout add another dimension. Their sambal chilli is also the highlight here, very spicy with an extra tangy kick, which pops on the palate and extends your appetite! Essentially, this is a very simple dish using very simple ingredients, but one that White Restaurant takes utmost pride in. Make no mistake, it’s a simple dish, but complex in flavour and it takes great skill from the chef control the fire for the wok and the cooking time to produce plate after plate of white bee hoon perfection! This is a definitely must-try when you pay a visit to White Restaurant.

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Other dishes Mu Qin would recommend include the fried home-made tofu, which sees silky soft mashed tofu encased in a crisp batter and deep-fried to a golden-brown, crusty, more-ish snack. While you really can’t go wrong with anything deliciously deep-fried, it’s that wonderful contrast between the crunchy outside and the soft inside that makes this tofu dish so yummy.

If you, like Mu Qin & Denise, are a fan of the salty, pungent, fermented goodness that is Black Bean Sauce, you’ve also got to order the Leather Jacket fish stir-fried with black bean, chilli, garlic and crunchy veg. The fish is always fresh, tender, yet firm and tasty.img_8722So there you have it, just a few quick and delicious dishes you’ve got to try. White Restaurant has established itself as the originator of the famous White Bee Hoon and it’s definitely worth the trek to Sembawang for a taste of Zichar heaven! If not, check out their website for their other outlets, spanning from Toa Payoh to Punggol!

*all pictures courtesy of Toh Mu Qin

TASTE:
WHITE RESTAURANT
22 Jln Tampang, Singapore 758966
Tel: 6257 2002
Open: 11.30am to 10.30pm (Closed on Wednesday)

Where Chefs Eat: MARCO PIERRE WHITE

15193499_1099079410191279_938305902716050813_nThis legend of the culinary world popped by the Gold 905 studios to have a quick chat, to the delight of Denise, who is a self-confessed Marco Pierre White fangirl – embarrassingly so! But before we get to the good stuff, here’s a quick intro to the original Rockstar Chef: Marco Pierre White, dubbed the “godfather of modern cooking” and a game-changer for British cuisine, was the youngest chef to ever acquire three Michelin stars. His celebrated memoir/ cookbook White Heat is highly regarded as one of the most influential cookbooks for chefs. Chef Marco has appeared on MasterChef Australia Seasons 6, 7 and 8, MasterChef South Africa and MasterChef New Zealand as guest chef. He’s in town to helm the kitchen of the MasterChef Dining & Bar pop-up at Ash & Elm (Intercontinental Singapore), along with other top MasterChef personalities Audra Morrice, Woo Wai Leong, Luca Manfe & Reynold Poernomo.

HEAR:

  • Click here – Chef Marco talks about the best meal he’s ever had, what he likes to cook for himself at home and what he’d do if he wasn’t a chef…
  • Click here for Chef Marco’s current favourite place to eat at in Singapore!

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When asked where & what he likes to eat when he’s in Singapore, Chef Marco was only too happy to share a recent discovery of his located in the East Coast. This no-frills restaurant that only just opened earlier this year is responsible for wholesome, tasty Cantonese classics at affordable prices. Think a zichar joint in air-con comfort! Eat First is a family-run business, with the son cooking up a storm in the kitchen & the mum out in the front taking care of guests. The food here is, as Chef Marco says, “very, very simple, very real and of extraordinary good value” and he mentioned two dishes in particular that he really enjoyed, exactly because of their simplicity and home-cooked authenticity:
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The wok-fried beef and vegetables and the steamed minced pork with salted fish come highly recommended.
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You might be wondering how such basic dishes can impress a chef of Marco’s ilk, but this is really testament to his personal approach to food – keep it simple, real, generously portioned, delicious and piping hot! Add a family passionate about serving diners good food from their hearts, what more could you want?

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EAT FIRST 食之為鮮
891 East Coast Road, Singapore 459094
Open Daily: 11:45AM – 2:30PM; 5:45PM – 9:30PM
Tel: 6443 8434

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!

HEAR:
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!

Good Year = Good Cze Char

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Listen to this week’s wok-tossed episode here!

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This week our foodie friend, food writer & co-author of Singapore food guide Eat. muse. Love. Toh Mu Qin, shares with us one of her favourite places for zi char with her family. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Tampines, the rustic vibe of Good Year Seafood Village has been described as a “mini Johor” and is a great place for classics like Fresh Assam Fish Head & Black Pepper Crab.

In particular, the black pepper crab stands out for Mu Qin, especially since she’s not a huge fan of this messy delicacy. For Good Year though, she makes the exception because of the sauce – a generous, thick, slathering of the peppery glaze with puddles to spare makes sure the crab is not too dry and the tasty sauce packs a heady kick, yet is nicely balanced. It’s the perfect, get-your-hands-dirty dish to share with loved ones!

As for the above-mentioned Assam Fish Head, Mu Qin’s parents have fallen in love with the spicy, tangy gravy with a hint of sweetness. It’s a great dish to get the taste buds going and best eaten with lots of white rice.

IMG_8800 Be sure to order Cantonese-style scrambled eggs, dry-fried string beans as well as their Pontian Bak Kut Teh, which is not the peppery kind, but is pleasantly herbal.

Free parking, charming laid-back kampung ambience and delicious food make for the trek east to Good Year well worth it!

TASTE:
Good Year Seafood Village
15 Tampines Avenue, S529788
Open Daily: 11am – 2pm, 5 – 11pm
Tel: 6583 9515

No Other Cze Char Stall Will Do

 

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HEAR:
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