Chef Aun of Bar Cicheti, an intimate Pasta & Wine Bar in Chinatown, is our new Makan Kaki and this down-to-earth, self-confessed heartland guy says while he’s trained extensively in Italian cooking, especially with wood-fired pizzas and pastas, his personal tastes remain firmly in Asia. He loves Chinese food, especially dishes with a good smoky wok hei (breath of the wok). He popped by the Gold 905 studio this morning to chat about the two kitchens he’s in charge of (Cicheti in Arab Street & Bar Cicheti in Jiak Chuan Road) and also to tell us more about his favourite MEE POK!
Chef Aun keeps returning to this stall in Opal Crescent for his Bak Chor Mee fix because he says their noodle texture is different and outstanding. They know how to cook them just right. Whether it’s Mee Pok (broad flat noodles) or Mee Kia (thin noodles), MacPherson Bak Chor Mee never serves noodles that are under or overcooked. Take it from a chef who makes pasta from scratch every single day – Chef Aun knows his noodles and these are al dente perfection!
Click this for access to audio of this week’s episode!
This week, our Makan Kaki Chef Tony Yeoh takes us back to his Little India/ Jalan Besar neighbourhood for a local noodle treat. There you’ll find a little coffee shop that features Ah Ho Teochew Noodles serving up sublime bowls of noodles with the works – fishball/ fishcake/ fish dumpling/ mushroom/ sliced & minced pork.
Their fish dumpling (or her keow) is just about traditional as you can get – it’s the kind that’s hard to find these days amongst the starchy, powdery, rubbery factory-made imposters. It’s the kind you remember the way they used to be made – glossy, slippery and full of fish/ meat paste. As for the pork-based soup, it’s clouded with yummy bits of minced pork and fried garlic – not overly salty & without that unpleasant MSG taste.
The pieces of dried crispy flat fish (tee por) also add extra flavour and crunch, but the secret is in his outstanding chilli which packs an aromatic, heady punch. We hear that besides chillies, hae bee (dried shrimp) and lard, there just might be a hint of buah keluak for extra earthy depth! Allegedly. What we do know is you get a deeply umami sambal that isn’t too fiery and perfectly complements the al dente noodles extremely well. Tony suggests going for the Mee Pok (the flat noodles offer maximum bite and surface area to grab all that delicious sauce!).
Layers of flavour in the sambal chilli, just not a lot of heat. So add more fresh cut chilli if you like to feel more of a burn!
Ultimately, what you get is years of hard work and traditional culinary experience (this stall has been in existence for more than 4 decades) distilled into one delicious, simple, comforting bowl. We can’t understand why this place isn’t seeing longer queues, not that we’re complaining (no wait time!), so we urge you to try a bowl today! Especially at just $3-$5 per serving, you’re getting a delicious deal!
TASTE: Ah Ho Teochew Kway Teow Mee
Kim San Lee Coffee Shop
12 Verdun Road (Off Jalan Besar, between Sam Leong & Syed Alwi Roads)
Open daily (except wednesdays): 7am – 4pm
Hello, Makan Kakis! We have a brand new foodie friend joining our rolling panel of gourmands – Lee Chin Sin, who is not only a chef (he was behind Le Bistrot for about 10 years) and a restaurant owner (Lolla & Lollapalooza), he also recently won MediaCorp’s SG50 Gift of Song Songwriting Competition. So you could say, he marries music with makan in the most successful way!
For his maiden makan recommendation, we talk about our favourite noodle dish, Mee Pok Tah – it always has to be dry, because “half of the experience is in the chilli sauce”! In Chin Sin’s opinion this place serves up the most perfectly balanced bowl of noodles – the seasoning is judicious, the noodles are expertly cooked and to use technical terminology, the fishballs are “doiing-doiing” (bouncy yet firm)! So delicious are the noodles, that Chin Sin happily rotates between mee pok, mee kia, kway teow and bee hoon – all are great – the seasoning, the sauce, the ingredients remain top-notch. You get bak chor (minced pork), fish balls, fish cake, her keow (fish dumplings), prawn and bean sprouts for a full-blown, earthy, wholesome, ideal bowl of noodles.
TASTE: Katong (Jago ) Teochew Mee Pok Kway Teow Mee
Marine Parade Central Food Centre
When it comes to Mee Pok, there’s your usual bak chor mee or fishball mee, but have you ever experienced the joy of mee pok tah with yong tau fu? This week, our Makan Kaki & Dim Sum Dolly, Selena Tanreveals where you can enjoy the best of both worlds in one glorious bowl!
Selena’s favourite haunt is undoubtedly Tiong Bahru Market and of the many foodie gems there, this one stands out for its awesome combination of fishball noodles AND yong tau fu. Mee Pok Tah (dry) is the gold standard as far as Selena is concerned and the noodles here are served up with just the right amount of bounce & bite (QQ-ness!), along with your choice of the usual yong tau fu ingredients like fishballs, stuffed tau pok (bean curd), stuffed bittergourd and crunchy kang kong. If you’re like Selena, you’ll ask for extra chilli and vinegar for a flavour punch to your mee pok!
TASTE: Hui Ji Fishball Noodles and Yong Tau Fu
Tiong Bahru Market Food Centre
Open Thursday-Tuesday, 7am-2pm
Closed on Wednesdays
A quick roundup is in order for the inaugural World Street Food Congress and Seetoh says:
Above and beyond the meeting of foodies the world over, the networking and the eating, the most important issue to have emerged from the WSF Congress is that street food has the power to fight poverty and create social change! With the right skills, training and passion AND the support of governments, running a street food stall can help the displaced or marginalised create a means of supporting themselves.
And, here are some of Denise’s favourite moments from the WSF Congress:
If you think Bak Chor Mee (minced meat noodles) is best served dry with sambal, think again!
This week, our makan kaki Seetoh challenged Denise’s preconception that mee pok tah is best, by introducing her to the classic, authentic Teo Chew SOUP version of Bak Chor Mee.
This is a dish that as Seetoh puts it, “afficionado Ah Peks” will queue an hour for, because it is so simple, so comforting and so delicious. The cloudy broth is rich with cartilage-and-fat-covered minced meat for extra texture and flavour, and the silky-soft dumplings are packed with meat and the piece de resistance, TEE POR. That’s deep fried, crunchy-crisp salted flat fish. Ground into a fine dust, this smoky, earthy, salty delicacy gives the bak chor mee soup an additional umaminess that’s hard to beat!
You’ve got to try it if you haven’t already!
58 MINCED MEAT MEE
Blk 58 New Upper Changi Road Food Centre
Open from 5.30am, but expect to wait even that early in the morning!