Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring – Putu Piring (Kueh Tutu) Something New and Delicious For Me

When I was planning where to eat in Asia, I intentionally looked for a few rare dishes that I wanted to try because 1) I can’t get them in the US and 2) they were the types of old school stuff that is likely to disappear one day or at least be difficult to find made properly.

In Hong Kong, I ate at dai pai dongs and in Singapore I decided to try some interesting desserts.  The three I came up with were mi chiam kueh, muah chee and putu piring.  I didn’t end up having enough time to try all of them and only got to try the mi chiam kueh at Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake and putu piring at Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring.  I’ll save muay chee at Hougang 6 Miles Famous Muah Chee for next time.

So what is putu piringPutu piring is a steamed cake made out of rice flour dough filled with gula melaka (carmelized palm sugar) and topped with freshly grated coconut.  It’s also called kueh tutu in Singapore, but I believe that’s basically the Chinese version where they mix the coconut with the gula melaka inside of grating it on top.

According to various blog posts I read many people consider Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring the best in Singapore and a couple of posts said the best ever.  So I decided that I needed to try this place as I’ve only had kueh tutu once when I lived in Singapore a long time ago.

The stall is located in a mainly Malaysian part of Geylang.  As with much of Geylang, the area feels much different than most of Singapore as it’s chaotic, dirty and there are tons of street stalls set up.  It actually feels much more like Malaysia than Singapore.  Also, it’s located inside the Mr. Teh Tarik; I got kind of lost and had to ask some people where it is, so hopefully this saves you some time finding the place (there is a picture of it below).

Putu Piring:

The outside cake is soft and has a very similar texture to an Indian idli if you’ve ever had that.  The inside is sweet and tastes similar to brown sugar.  The grated coconut is very fresh and I was slightly surprised because they lightly salted the coconut so it was very slightly salty, which I was not expecting.  Overall, I thought these were really tasty; they are the type of thing that I would get all the time if this place was close to where I lived.  8.75/10

Overall, I enjoyed this and I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.

#01-02 Mr. Teh Tarik Coffee Stall
970 Geylang Road
Phone: 94229017

Annie’s Peanut Ice Kachang – Excellent Ice Kachang With A Twist

Singapore sits right on the equator and if you’ve never been there then you might not realize exactly how hot and muggy it is.  During the day you end up sweaty and wanting something refreshing.  After finishing eating at Outram Park Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh, which you can read about here, I decided ice kachang sounded pretty good and walked over to check out Annie’s Peanut Ice Kachang.

Almost every country in Asia has their own version of shaved ice, but they all are the same basic premise of a mound of shaved ice with sweet toppings.  In Singapore and Malaysia, it’s called ice kachangIce kachang is a mound of ice that usually has colorful sweet syrup (sometimes even gula melaka), condensed milk and a variety of toppings that can include red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly, cendol and attap chee (palm seeds that look like weird eye balls) among other things.

Annie’s is a hawker stall located in Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre, which is a small hawker center located on the 2nd floor of a huge residential building in Tanjong Pagar close to Chinatown.  This hawker center is kind of old school as its cramped, run down and quite hot; definitely a very local vibe.  At the stall you’ll immediately notice the amount of media clippings and awards she has as it’s a fairly well heralded stall.

The lady (presumably Annie) who runs the stall is really friendly and was very happy that I liked her ice kachang.  Not sure how well she speaks English, but the whole menu is in English so you’ll have no problem.

Ice Kachang:

The ice at Annie’s is quite fine; it’s not total powder like the best shaved ice desserts I’ve had, but it’s definitely more fine than average, which is great.  Now as I mentioned before ice kachang can have a lot of ingredients in it, but Annie’s keeps it’s pretty simple with ground peanuts, red beans, sweet corn and the little green worm shaped jellies you get in cendol.  So what’s the twist?  The twist here is that she adds ground peanuts, which is not common at all, in fact this is the first time I’ve ever had it on ice kachang.  According to some blogs Annie actually started this (I don’t know whether that is true or not).  Anyhow, the peanuts are not factory made and are roasted and ground at the stall.  You can really taste the difference as they are very fragrant, have great crunchy texture and really add a nice dimension to the ice kachang.  The other thing is that while it looks really sweet because of the syrup, it’s actually not that sweet, which I like.  You almost felt like you ate nothing after finishing this.  While it’s not as good as the best shaved ice I’ve had in Taiwan (I think they make the best shaved ice) it was very good and certainly an above average ice kachang8.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed the simplicity of the ice kachang here and it was very refreshing on a hot day.  I don’t think it’s a destination type place, but if you in the area I’d definitely check it out.

Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre, Stall #02-36
6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza

Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha – Amazing Bak Kut Teh (If You Like The Peppery Bak Kut Teh)

Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is an old and famous bak kut teh restaurant in Singapore.

Bak kuh teh is a soup made from simmering pork ribs for many hours with various spices.  It directly translates to “meat bone tea” (rou gu cha 肉骨茶).  There is also more than one version; there is the Teochew version that is very peppery and has more garlic in it, there is the Hokkien version which is darker because of soy sauce and has a more herbal flavor and there are also other versions in Malaysia particularly in the Klang Valley, but I’ve never been there so I can’t really comment on what the difference is with their bak kuh teh.  Most people have a strong preference for one kind versus the others; I prefer the Teochew version as I love the peppery flavor.

The restaurant is located off Keppel Road on the ground floor of this residential building.  There isn’t too much décor to the place as it’s kind of a coffee shop setting, but it’s not rundown and it’s clean.  The service was fast and efficient and my server was nice as well.  I’m not sure how good or not good their English is, but the menu is totally translated into English and they give you a paper checklist, so you just check off what you want.

I found this video of the restaurant which you can see here.

Stewed Peanuts:

I love boiled peanuts; I never understood why they aren’t more popular in the US.  Anyhow, these are stewed in a lu wei 鹵味 sauce, which is a braising technique uses a master stock that is constantly re-used (i.e. they keep filling it up).  The peanuts were very soft and had a nice flavor from the lu wei sauce which was slightly sweet and salty.  These were a nice condiment.  8.25/10

Salted Cabbage:

This is called kiam chye in Teochew I believe. It’s diced up salted that cabbage has been boiled.  It’s a bit salty and sweet.  It’s a nice condiment as well. 8/10

Bak Kut Teh:

They serve the Teochew style bak kut teh here, which is peppery (think black pepper not like spicy pepper) that I really like.  However, some people find it too peppery, so not everyone may like this as much as I do.  The broth is very light, not oily or heavy at all and has a great flavor that you can only get by simmering bones for hours.  The ribs were quite tender and tasted good although I did sort of mess up because I forgot to ask them for long ribs (chang gu 長骨) as it’s not on the menu and you have to specially ask for it, but the ribs were still nice anyhow.  They give you a you tiao (fried crueller) and a dark soy sauce with cut up chili in it.  The you tiao wasn’t very good because it wasn’t fresh, so it was a bit soggy.  I liked the dark soy sauce with chili in it, but I tried not to use it too much since I thought it overpowers the soup a bit.  Overall, I really enjoyed this a lot as it’s the type of thing I could eat every day and be totally happy.  Fyi, there are free re-fills of soup.  9/10

Ter Kah:

Ter kah are pigs feet braised in a lu wei sauce.  Here you have the option of getting the lean or fatty kind.  Since it was pretty early in the morning I decided to get the lean version. The lean version is much less collagen-y / fatty and had more meat as opposed to collagen.  The meat was nicely tender and I like the lu wei sauce which was a bit sweet and salty.  This was a nice accompaniment to the bak kuh teh, it would’ve been really good with some rice, but I was going to other places that day so I didn’t want to fill up on rice.  Overall, this was quite good and I’d get it again.  8.5/10

I’m not a bak kut teh or ter kah expert, so it’s totally possible there are better places that this (and please tell me if you know them), but I really enjoyed my meal here and this was one of my most satisfying meals this trip along with Sin Huat and Nam Sing.

7 Keppel Road
#01-05/07 Tanjong Pagar Complex
Phone: 6222 9610

Lee Tong Kee – Famous For Ipoh Hor Fun, But Come For The Chicken

Lee Tong Kee is famous for being one of the first places to bring Ipoh hor fun to Singapore from Malaysia (it moved to Singapore in 1948).

Ipoh is a predominately Chinese city in Malaysia that is known for its Chinese food.  I remember when I lived in Singapore people used to always tell me that I needed to go to Penang and Ipoh for great food.  Unfortunately (and stupidly) I never went as I always got sidetracked going to other cities in Asia, so I’ve still never been although I’ll make it one of these days.

Anyhow, Ipoh hor fun is flat white rice noodles (he fen 河粉) that can be served in soup or a brown gravy and can have different toppings such as seafood, beef and wontons.

Lee Tong Kee is located in Chinatown and is very close to Maxwell Road Food Centre.  We actually came here after eating at Old Airport Road Food Centre and Hong Lim Food Centre (if you’ve been following my recent posts you’ll realize how gross it is that two people ate all this food in one sitting…I literally didn’t eat dinner that night and still wasn’t hungry the next morning).  Anyhow, I haven’t been here before, but I’m sure they must’ve renovated recently as the restaurant looks brand new and the décor is supposed to be old school Chinese décor, which I liked and thought was a nice touch especially in Chinatown where most places are pretty sparse in decor.  The service was fine and our server was nice (believe she was from mainland China).

Wanton Hor Fun:

The wontons were excellent, nice skins and good fresh shrimp filling.  The vegetables on top were cooked perfectly and the noodles were also cooked nicely.  The light brown sauce was light and clean tasting although it was a bit on the bland side although I always find the gravy in Ipoh hor fun to be a bit bland.  Overall, I liked it, but didn’t love it as I find Ipoh hor fun as a dish is a bit bland for me.  8/10

Lee Tong Kee Tender Chicken:

This was boiled chicken, prepared very similar to how the chicken in chicken rice is prepared with oyster sauce on top.  This was a total surprise, it was really good.  The chicken was very tender and the skin was perfect and separately nicely from the meat.  It was very flavorful and I really liked it with the oyster sauce, which gave it some extra flavor.  Surprisingly, this was as good as the chicken at Tian Tian Hainan Chicken Rice, which I had eaten the day before (I love Tian Tian).  If this was a free range chicken with a bit more chicken-y flavor this would be a 9.25 or 9.5 for me.  I would come back just for this chicken. 9/10

Overall, I enjoyed the food and would like to come back to try more when I haven’t eaten at like 7 places beforehand!

278 South Bridge Road
Singapore 058827
Phone: 6226 0417

Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wan Ton Mee – Famous, but Ultimately Disappointing Wonton Mee

Hua Kee was another famous stall I went to at Old Airport Road Food Centre.  They specialize in wonton mee and there are actually three famous wonton mee stalls all in the same row; one with a red sign, one with a yellow sign and one with a green sign.  We decided to go to the one with the red sign (#01-02) which is covered in various news articles and awards.

Wonton mee is wonton noodle soup and you can order it “dry” or “soup”.  The “dry” version has noodles that are tossed in sauce with broth on the side and the “soup” version has noodles in broth that are not tossed with sauce.  In Singapore, the “dry” version noodles are tossed in a sweet chili sauce that I believe uses ketchup as well although you wouldn’t be able to tell if you didn’t know.  This is different than in Hong Kong where the noodles are usually tossed in oyster sauce.

I found a video of the stall which you can see here.

In the video, he talks about how they used to make their own noodles, but now they don’t and basic stuff about the history of the stall and his technique.  This stall is also very old as it started in the 50s, but the owner’s father.  I also believe the owner is a Teochew (I actually heard you have to be Teochew to have a stall at Old Airport Road, but I’m not sure if that is a myth or not).

Wonton Mee:

I got the “dry” version which I usually prefer to the “soup” version.  I found the noodles to be pretty decent, they were reasonably al dente and had decent flavor.  I also thought the wontons were pretty good as well.  The cha siu was not good at all; it was sliced incredibly thin, was very dry and had no flavor (looks nothing like the cha siu in the video).  The chili sauce was also too sweet and I didn’t think it had that great of flavor either, which was a disappointment because the reviews said the sauce was great.  Now the video says that it was is suited to Teochew tastes and I think Teochew people like their food a bit on the sweet side, so maybe it’s just a difference in taste, but I just found it be pretty mediocre.  The broth on the side was okay, but nothing special and it was a bit too salty as well.  Overall, I found this to be a pretty mediocre bowl of wonton mee.  Now I will caveat this with the fact that I much prefer the Hong Kong style wonton mee to Singapore wonton mee.  However even with that said I’ve definitely had better bowls of Singapore style wonton mee than this one.  7/10

I wouldn’t bother with this place if you happen to be at Old Airport Road Food Centre.

Old Airport Road Food Centre, #01-02
51 Old Airport Road

Toa Payoh Rojak – Famous and Delicious Rojak at Old Airport Road Food Centre

Toa Payoh Rojak is where I went at Old Airport Road Food Centre to get my rojak fix.  Rojak can mean many different things depending on where you are as there are many different versions that are very different from each other.  They are all basically a type of salad, but today we’re talking about the normal Singaporean fruit rojak that has cucumber, pineapple, jicama, bean sprouts, deep-fried tofu puffs and cut up you tiao (fried crueller). This is topped with ground peanuts and a dressing is made up of water, belacan (shrimp paste), hae chor (shrimp paste), ginger bud, sugar, chili, lime juice and maybe a few other spices.

Now, I knew this was a well-known stall.  However, researching later I found out that a lot of people consider this the best rojak stalls in Singapore.  As such there is a long line here and they actually have a real numbering system where your number pops up on an electronic sign when you’re rojak is ready, which I liked as it was a lot more efficient.

I found this video on youtube of the chef at work, which you can see here.


The sauce here was quite good; it was sweet as it normally is, a bit spicy because of the chili paste and had a good fermented flavor from the shrimp paste.  The ingredients were all fresh and good tasting.  Another thing I liked was that the you tiao was crispy as they toast it before you serve it so you don’t get a soggy you tiao.  Overall, it was a very solid version.  Now I will caveat my rating in that I don’t love fruit rojak as a dish, it’s pretty decent, but not something I really crave.  It’s more a side dish to me, so while I thought that while this was quite good for rojak, but it’s still just rojak to me.  8.25/10

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Stall #01-108
51 Old Airport Road
Phone: 69589380

Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow – Very Good Char Kway Teow At Old Airport Road Food Centre

So this was another place I ate at Old Airport Road Food Centre.  This stall is pretty well known for its char kway teowChar kway teow is one of the most famous hawker dishes in Singapore and Malaysia. It is made from flat rice noodles (he fen) stir-fried with soy sauce, chilli, shrimp, bean sprouts, chives, egg, Chinese sausage and sometimes cockles.  The traditional places use pork fat to fry it and put in crispy bits of pork lard.  However because of health concerns a decent amount of places in Singapore don’t use lard anymore or only use it on request (I generally prefer it with lard).  If you’ve never had it before it is similar to beef chow fun, but a bit sweeter.

This stall is one of two well-known char kway teow stalls at Old Airport Road (Dong Ji being the other).  It has a constant line, so be prepared to wait a bit.  They have several sizes, but we got the smallest version because we were eating at so many places.

Char Kway Teow:

I described what char kway teow is made out of earlier, but the real key to good char kway teow is someone who really knows how to stir fry it well.  In Chinese cooking wok hei is when you stir fry food at a very high temperature and effectively smoke the food.  The flavor is amazing and it is definitely one of my favorite aspects of Chinese food done properly.  Experience seems to be one of the key things to learning how to create good wok hei, so it’s really a matter of finding a talented and experienced chef to get wok hei correct.  Anyhow, the version here was very good; it had good wok hei and nice flavor.  It was a bit on the sweet side and I don’t think they used lard because there weren’t any crispy bits and it was on the lighter side for char kway teow.  They did use cockles which I liked as the cockles were good and fresh tasting, not fishy at all.  Overall, while it was probably not the best char kway teow I’ve ever had in Singapore, it was certainly a very good and certainly above average rendition.  8.75/10

If you’re at Old Airport Road Food Centre this is a place worth checking out.

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Stall #01-12
51 Old Airport Road
Tel: 83334828

Geylang Lor 20 Banana Fritters – Pretty Good Pisang Goreng (Banana Fritters) At Old Airport Road Food Centre

As I just discussed in my Nam Sing post, I ate at many places at Old Airport Road Food Centre.  Another place I stumbled upon was Geylang Lor 20 Banana Fritters.  Here they serve pisang goreng, which is a Malaysian dish that is just fried plantains except here they used pisang raja which are a type of sweet banana.  The batter was nice, it wasn’t overly thick and wasn’t oily whatsoever.  The banana inside was sweet and this was a very nice fritter.  8.25/10

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Overall, this isn’t a destination type place, but if you’re at Old Airport Road Centre it’s worth trying out.

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Stall #01-57
51 Old Airport Road

Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee – Does This Famous Hokkien Mee Live Up To The Hype? Yes, Yes It Does

Nam Sing maybe the most famous or certainly one of the most famous Hokkien mee places in Singapore and it is also considered by many to be the best.  It’s located at Old Airport Road Food Centre, which also happens to be considered one of the most famous and best hawker centers in Singapore.  I’d never been to Old Airport Road Food Centre, so I was excited to go there.  Fourseasons from chowhound was meeting me there later that day to go try a bunch of the places.  I got there early and went to Nam Sing by myself since I heard the line can get really bad (I think I was actually the first plate he served that day).

Now Hokkien mee can mean different things in different places.  There is the Malaysian style one, which is what you see in the US.  That one is thick yellow noodles in a thick dark soy sauce with pork, squid, fish cake and crispy pieces of fried pork fat (there’s also a Malaysian soup-y version that I’ve only heard of, but never tried).  Then there is the Singapore version which does not use dark soy sauce and instead is in a semi-clear gravy with yellow noodles, bee hoon (rice vermicelli), shrimp, pork, squid and crispy pieces of fried pork fat.  And to make this more confusing there is a dry version and a wet version meaning one has a lot of gravy and the other doesn’t.  Anyhow, Nam Sing is famous for the dry version.

I didn’t talk too much with the chef or the guys working there and it’s a hawker center so it’s kind of quick service anyhow, but they do speak very good English, so if you don’t speak Chinese you’ll be fine.

Hokkien Mee:

So as I explained earlier this is yellow noodles and thin bee hoon (white rice vermicelli) stir fried in a clear sauce.  However, unlike other places they don’t use any pork or pork lard, it’s simply a prawn and ikan bilis (anchovy) based gravy.  It also has shrimp and squid in it as well.  Also, instead of the sambal chili paste they normally give you, here they just give you soy sauce with cut up chili in it and a lime.  It’s not the prettiest dish in the world, but oh man it was really good.  The gravy has a wonderful savory flavor, the noodles were perfectly cooked and al dente and it had some nice wok hei (the smoky flavor you get from cooking in a hot wok) as well.  The gravy was really addictive.  I thought that not having the sambal chili paste was going to be a letdown, but you can really taste the flavors a lot better with the soy sauce and chilis, which I liked.  One other thing is that this is lighter than normal since it doesn’t have any pork or pork lard in it, which I also liked.  This is probably the best Hokkien mee I’ve ever had.  Now I will caveat that with the fact that I hugely prefer the Singaporean version over the Malaysian version.  If I wasn’t about to stuff myself with a bunch of other food at Old Airport Road I probably would’ve gotten a second plate.  9/10

I’ll be posting several more posts about Old Airport Road Food Centre (it’s kind of gross how much I ate there), but I definitely recommend coming to Old Airport Road and if you do you must try this place.

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Stall #01-32
51 Old Airport Road
Phone: 64405340

Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake – Old School Tasty Mi Chiam Kueh (Peanut Pancake)

Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake is a stall at Tanglin Halt Market that specializes in mi chiam kueh (mian qian gao), which are pancakes with various fillings that I believe are Hokkien (southern Fujian) in origin.  However, this stall is specifically famous for their peanut mee chiam kueh.

Tanglin Halt Market is a very local hawker center where you will see no foreigners at all.  When I told the cab driver I wanted to go there he told me in his Singlish “wah you really must like the local taste lah, not for foreigners lah, why you want to go there?”, I explained that I was going to try the mi chiam kueh at Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake and to which he responded that it was very good and that he used to live right next to Tanglin Halt Market and used to get these all the time.  I felt pretty good after that that I was in for a treat.

Anyhow, the hawker center has two parts to it and I actually ended up in the wrong part at first and was searching for stall 16 for probably 10-15 minutes before I found it.  It’s located in the part that has a wet market connected to it and is one long strip of hawker stalls as opposed to the other part which is like a bunch of clusters of stalls.

There is an old husband and wife couple who run the stall with the husband doing the cooking and the wife doing prep work and serving customers.  The old lady was really nice and sweet.  I don’t know whether they speak English or not, but everything is translated into English so you shouldn’t have any problems either way.

I found this video of the stall, which you can see here.  It’s cool because you can really tell how much pride they take in their work when you listen to him talk; he talks about how he does his prep work and how he is really happy to see his customers come back.

Here’s what I got:

Peanut Pancake (Hua Sheng Mian Qian Gao):

I’ve only had this once before at the place at Maxwell Road Center and it was so long ago that I don’t even really remember what it was like, so this was effectively like my first time trying it.  It’s a pancake that he fills with a mixture of ground roasted peanuts and sugar and then folds it over and cuts up.  The interesting thing about the dough is that he uses a yeast culture instead of the usual baking soda, which gives it a different texture.  I found the texture of the dough to be more gummy than I was expecting (it’s not like an American pancake or breadlike at all), but it was good and mine was pretty warm and fresh, which definitely makes a difference.  The peanut and sugar mixture is really good, they roast their own peanuts (he says he takes a day off to do prep work such as roasting peanuts) and you can really taste the difference.  The peanuts are crunchy, flavorful and sweet without being overly sweet.  They also give you a lot and I was eating the left over ground peanuts out of the bag because they were so good.  Overall, I thought this was pretty good and I’d definitely come back.  8.5/10

Yam Pancake (Yu Ni Mian Qian Gao):

This was the same dough, but it was enclosed and looks exactly like a Japanese imagawayaki that you find in Japan and Taiwan (I grew up eating imagawayaki).  However, again the dough was more gummy than bready.  This was not as good because it had been sitting around longer and when it cools down the dough gets harder and doesn’t taste nearly as good as the fresher warm peanut pancake I had.  The sweet yam filling was pretty good though as it wasn’t too sweet and had good flavor.  This was decent, but nothing special.  7.75/10 (this probably could’ve been a lot better if it was fresh)

I enjoyed coming here as the peanut pancake was very tasty and this is the type of place that I’m sure will not exist in 10 years and you won’t have people making this the old school way where make everything from scratch.  I’d recommend coming and trying it out before it’s gone.

Also, they are open 5am to 11am and closed on Mondays and Fridays (I came here at 8am to make sure I didn’t miss it).

Tanglin Halt Market – Stall 16
48 Tanglin Halt Road
Phone: 97123653

Sin Huat Eating House – An Amazing Seafood Food Nazi in Geylang, Singapore

Sin Huat is a famous seafood restaurant located in a coffee shop type setting in Singapore.  Now by coffee shop I’m not talking about Starbucks, in Singapore there are open air restaurants that are referred to as coffee shops and inside there are usually a few different places to eat there, the main place and then some semi-hawker stalls set up as well.  So I guess they are some sort of cross between a real restaurant and a hawker center.  Anyhow, Sin Huat is one of these except that instead of your normal cheap simple cze char fare (cheap homestyle food) they specialize in expensive seafood.

The restaurant has become very famous with the likes of Anthony Bourdain dining there and the owner / chef Danny Lee has also become famous for being sort of a food nazi.  What makes him a food nazi?  Well, first you are not allowed to order at other stalls otherwise he’ll refuse to serve you.  Next, there is no menu at this restaurant and he is pretty quick to tell you what you should order.  Lastly, he speaks fairly quickly and assertively.  So did he meet up to his reputation?  The other stalls were closed that day and I wouldn’t have taken my chances anyhow, so I can’t verify that, but by all accounts it’s true.  He didn’t have a menu and was fairly quick to tell me that I should order the shrimp that day.  He was pretty fast in talking, but I thought he was actually a nice guy and was pretty receptive when I was talking to him about the food later and seemed really appreciative when I told him how good I thought it was.  So it’s probably just the case of a chef who is very passionate about his food.  Also, he is an ex-pig farmer, so I don’t think you’d expect him to be a polished white shoe type of guy anyhow.

The restaurant looks like a typical Geylang coffee shop meaning that it’s run down, has little to no décor and actually looks kind of shady, which is in stark contrast to most of Singapore.  If you’re not familiar with Singapore, Geylang is home to two things: 1) the red light district and 2) some of the best food in Singapore.  The service was brisk and I get the feeling they don’t speak English too well although I think Danny does speak English to some degree.


These were provided at the beginning of the meal for free.  It was just typical peanuts and then peanuts with a sweet coating on outside.  Nothing out of the ordinary, but the peanuts with the sweet coating were kind of addictive.  7.75/10

Scallops in Black Bean Sauce:

These were live scallops in the shell and came in a surprisingly thick black bean sauce that had some vegetables in it.  The sauce was excellent with a nice black bean flavor although not nearly as strong as you would think looking at it and was slightly sweet.  I thought the sauce was really nice and the scallops were great fresh scallops.  The only thing is that the sauce overpowers the scallops, so you don’t fully enjoy the good quality of the scallops.  Overall though this was an excellent dish.  8.75/10

Sauteed Kailan:

Sauteed kalian is definitely a favorite dish of mine to eat when I’m in Singapore.  Its leafy vegetable that somewhat similar to spinach, but has a more firm texture than spinach does.  They sautéed it in a light brown almost clear sauce with golden fried onions on top.  I’m not sure what it was about that sauce, but it was so good that we ended up getting two orders of this.  8.75/10

Gong Gong:

While the restaurant is known for its crab bee hoon, which I will talk about later, the gong gong turned out to the star of the night.  Gong gong is a shellfish that I believe is a type of conch (anyone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).  They come in the shell and you use a toothpick to pull them out, but don’t worry they are very easy to pull out.  You then dip them in this spicy sweet brown sauce that has lots of diced chilis and green onions in it and I’m just going to call it “crack sauce” because it has to be one of most addictive sauces I’ve ever tried.  Gong gong are similar to eating snails or maybe a clam, but much bigger and more awesome.  We couldn’t get over how good these were; this is a “must try” dish not only at this restaurant, but if you are coming to Singapore in general.  9.25/10

Steamed Shrimp with Minced Garlic:

Danny basically told me I must order these, but it sounded pretty good, so I obliged.  These were live shrimp, butterflied and then steamed with a lot of garlic and a light sauce.  The shrimps were good quality with good sweet meat and the garlic tasted great with them.  The only compliant I had about the dish is that the garlic somewhat overpowered the really nice flavor of having good fresh shrimp meat although that said the garlic was pretty good.  8.5/10

Crab Bee Hoon:

This is the signature dish at Sin Huat is known for.  Bee hoon (mi fen) and is a thin white rice noodle.  He steams the crab with the bee hoon in a clear sauce.  It doesn’t sound like much, but wow this is really really good.  The crab flavor with this amazing sauce all combine with the bee hoon and the bee hoon is the perfect medium because it soaks up all the flavors.  It’s almost hard to explain if you haven’t had it, but it’s amazing and probably one of the best dishes I’ve had in Singapore.  Also I thought the crab meat might end up being drained of its flavor from the steaming, but surprisingly the crab meat still tasted good.  9/10

Overall, I thought the food was really excellent here and it’s probably one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve eaten in Singapore.

659/661 Geylang Road Junction of Geylang Lor 35
Phone: 67449755

Tian Tian Hai Nan Ji Fan 天天海南雞飯 – My Favorite Hai Nan Chicken Rice in Singapore

Hai Nan chicken rice is probably my all time favorite dish in Singapore.  I literally ate chicken rice 4-5 times per week for lunch when I studied abroad in Singapore.  Tian Tian Hai Nan Ji Fan (天天海南雞飯) is located in Maxwell Food Center, a well known hawker center.  It is very famous in Singapore and probably even somewhat known in the US know since Anthony Bourdain went there on his trip to Singapore.  There is always a line in front of it even when we went which at an off hour (the lunch line is crazy).   You can see a video of the line in full effect here.

Hai Nan chicken rice originated from Hai Nan 海南, which is a Chinese island province in Southern China.  I believe that Singapore has quite a few immigrants from Hai Nan.  Hai nan chicken rice is based on an original dish called wen chang chicken 文昌雞 although I heard that it tasted different than what you get in Singapore.  The chicken is cooked by boiling in water flavored with garlic and ginger with the resulting stock used in the preparation of the rice and also in the accompanying soup.  The chicken is then immediately put into ice cold water and then hung up, it results in the skin separating the meat.  The rice is sautéed in garlic, ginger and chicken lard then they boil the rice in the chicken broth they got from boiling the chicken.  You can see the whole process here (go to about 1:30).

So, I always separate the rice from the chicken when thinking about how good it is.  The rice here is unbelievable. It’s so light, fluffy and flavorful, not oily or heavy or stuck together.  I can’t say enough about how good the rice is.  The condiments are very important as well.  You drizzle a dark very thick soy sauce, homemade chili sauce and a ginger sauce on it.  Each of these condiments is exceptionally good here as I believe they make all of them.  The chicken itself is good clean chicken, given the way it is prepared don’t be expecting some bold flavor, but just good chicken.  I like the chicken, but to me the rice has always been the star and the chicken is effectively a condiment in my mind.  You also eat it with sliced cucumber slices that are served cold and really go nicely with the dish.  This is a mind blowing dish for me and it was so good that we came back twice. 9.5/10

This is a must try dish and a must try place in my mind when you visit Singapore.

77 Maxwell Road Food Centre
Stall 10

Jin Hua 金華- Great Fish Bee Hoon at Maxwell Food Center in Singapore

Maxwell Food Center is a hawker center.  In Singapore, street food has been organized in a very efficient manner whereby you go to a center that has tons of stalls with communal seating and people that will clean up after you.  These hawker centers maybe one of my all time favorite styles of eating because there are so many choices and there is some really amazing food.

We had just gotten off the plane from Hong Kong and were starving, so I decided to make our first meal at Maxwell Food Center specifically to go to Tian Tian Hai Nan Ji Fan, which I think is unbelievable.  However, since we were there I decided I should try at least one other place.  After looking around the center, Jin Hua 金華 looked like it was a good candidate as there was a reasonably long line which is always a good sign and I like fish bee hoon.  Bee hoon is I believe the chiu chow name for mi fen (米粉) otherwise known as rice vermicelli although maybe it’s the hokkien name (I can’t remember because I don’t speak either of those languages).

Fish Bee Hoon (Yu Pian Mi Fen):

I wanted to try the fish head bee hoon, but the vendor told me they were out of it and to try the fish slice bee hoon as it’s exactly the same except with fish slices instead of fish head.  It came out and it was a bowl of rice vermicelli with gai lan (Chinese broccoli), crispy golden fried onions and lightly fried slices of fish in a milky broth.  It looked a bit different than most fish bee hoon I’ve had as the broth was more milky than usual.  Wow was this good, the broth was actually a little bit milky, which I wasn’t expecting, but it was really good, the flavor of the fish broth was really clean, not even remotely fishy in a bad way.  The noodles were excellent and really complemented the broth.  The pieces of fish were perfectly cooked, I’m not sure what type of fish it was, but the meat was perfectly flaky and delicious.  The vegetables and fried onions were a good complement as well and didn’t overpower the soup at all.  This was really good, probably one of the best noodle soups I may have ever had.  I really liked this. 9/10

I’d highly recommend coming here if you’re in Singapore

77 Maxwell Road Food Centre

Eng Seng 永成餐室 – Great Black Pepper Crab and Chili Crab in Singapore

When I studied abroad in Singapore a local buddy showed me this place.  I liked it so much that we started coming here once every other week.  So coming back to Singapore for the first time in 8 years, this was a place that I really wanted to come back to (I still remembered the cross streets after 8 years).

Eng Seng 永成餐室 (yong cheng can shi) is pretty famous specifically for it’s black pepper crab.  However, when I lived in Singapore I also really liked their chili crab.  The place is very well known and you need to make a reservation and show up early as the lines can be really long.  They also sell out of crabs fairly early like by 7 or 8pm.  The lady who runs the place makes things run very efficiently, but is kind of a food nazi-esk and is a bit gruff.  She came by and I flagged her to take our order, I started ordering food and then told me in Chinese “my English is better than your Chinese, your Chinese is bad, you talk to me in English” haha and her English was surprisingly good.

I think the place might’ve been a small hawker center before, but now Eng Seng takes up the whole place.  There is no real décor to speak of, but you’re not here for a service and décor you’re here for one of the messier and delicious dishes in Singapore.

Mee Goreng:

Mee goring is basically a Chinese-Indonesian-Malaysian version of chow mein.  It is made with thin yellow noodles fried with garlic, onion, prawns, calamari, bean sprouts, chili, vegetables, tomatoes, egg, and acar (pickles). You can have it with other ingredients as well, but that’s how they serve it here.  It’s a bit on the sweet side and they serve it here with a chili sauce you can dip it in.  It’s not my favorite dish, but she recommended it so I ordered it.  I thought there version was good, but wasn’t mind blowing although I am probably the wrong person to ask as it is not something I all that keen on. 7.75/10

Sotong You Tiao:

I loved this dish when I used to come here, so I was excited to order it again.  This is a you tiao (fried crueller) filled with sotong (squid paste), I actually always thought it was a fish paste, but someone corrected me and told me it was sotong.  They then top it with the asian mayo (it’s sweeter and lighter than the US mayo) and I actually hate mayo, but this is one of a few dishes that I make exception for.  It’s definitely not a healthy dish, but it is really good and it’s not remotely fishy or anything like that to those who are worried about that.  I really like this dish. 8.75/10

Baby Gai Lan Sautéed with Garlic:

I love gai lan (jie lan 芥蘭) also known as Chinese broccoli.  I particularly like the way they cook it in Singapore.  It’s a pretty simple preparation just stir-frying the baby gai lan in some oil, garlic and ginger then topping it with tiny golden fried onions that are completely crispy (I found out from a Vietnamese restaurant in CA that you actually need to fry them for 45 minutes to get them so crispy).  The version here was good and complemented the meal well. 8.5/10

Black Pepper Crab: 

This is one of the signature dishes at Eng Seng.  This dish is large Sri Lankan mud crabs that have been stir fried in a jet black pepper sauce that is slightly sweet and not too spicy.  I like the Sri Lankan mud crabs as the meat tastes good and there is so much of it.  Even though I like chili crab better, the black pepper crab is excellent here. 8.5/10

Chili Crab:

This is still one of my all time favorite Singaporean dishes.  It is the same Sri Lankan mud crabs that are stir fried in a semi-thick sauce that is a bit sweet and tangy made from chillis and tomato sauce. It’s also flavored with garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce and eggs are beaten into it creating yellow ribbons in the sauce.  It’s really good and I really like to slather the sauce on every bite.  At the end you ask for bread and they bring you out sliced white bread to dip in the sauce which is awesome.  This dish was great and I still love the version here. 8.75/10

Overall, it was excellent although I will say that I don’t think it was as good as it was when I was here 8 years ago, someone told me the food quality had gone down slightly although it was still very good and I would agree with that statement.  That said I’d definitely recommend coming here if you’re in Singapore.

247 Joo Chiat Place
(Joo Chiat Place and Still Rd)
Phone: 64405560

Fu Cheng Shi Pin 富城食品 – Pretty Good Popiah in Chinatown Food Center in Singapore

We were walking around Chinatown and decided to stop by the Chinatown Food Center to grab a snack.  Chinatown Food Center is a cool looking hawker center that is on the second floor that has a huge amount of hawkers, I used to come here pretty frequently when I lived here.  It’s actually pretty funny that Singapore has a Chinatown given it’s a country that is 75% Chinese.

We first stopped by Wu Shi Nian Dai for kaya toast and since it was one of our last meals, after walking around I decided that my gf should try popiah as I really like them and it is impossible to get decent quality popiah in the US.

Popiah (bao bing 薄餅) is a sort of non-fried spring roll type of dish that is thin paper-like wheat crepe  that contains grated turnip, cooked bean sprouts, lettuce leaves, grated carrots, Chinese sausage, sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts and shredded egg and fried pork lard.  You eat with a sweet sauce that sort of tastes and looks like hoisin and chilli sauce.  They are awesome when done right, I could eat them everyday as they aren’t that heavy and have a great texture because some of the interior is crunchy.

It happened that one of the only places I could find it that day that was open (we were there at an odd hour) was a place called Fu Cheng Shi Pin 富城食品 (no English name), which means “rich city food stuff”.  They specialized in popiah and so I decided to give them a try.


The popiah turned out to be pretty good, nice skin, good flavors and nice pieces of crunchy stuff in the interior with a sauce that I believe was homemade.  We both thought it was pretty good and my gf was really surprised as she had had it in the US and thought it was a crappy dish, but I told her she needed to have it in Singapore because the difference in quality would be huge. 8.25/10

I’d definitely come back here again.

Blk 335 Smith Street
#02-04 Chinatown Complex Market S050335

Ya Kun – A Chain, But Still Tasty Kaya Toast

Ya Kun is a chain of Singaporean breakfast restaurants that are all over Singapore and also has branches in Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the Philippines.  They serve a variety of different types of toasts, coffee, tea and soft boiled eggs.  All these are fairly staple Singaporean breakfast items.

As I mentioned in my post on Wu Shi Nian Dai kaya toast is one of my all time favorite breakfast items to eat.  Kaya is a spread made of eggs, sugar and coconut milk and flavored with pandan.  You spread it on toast with butter.

We were walking around Orchard Road and decided to stop by the branch at Far East Plaza as my gf had eaten kaya toast there on a business trip her first time to Singapore, so she wanted to go back again.

We got the following:

Kaya Toast:

This was pretty good, not the best kaya toast I’ve ever had, but I’d be very happy if they had a branch in NY.  The toast was crispy, the kaya was pretty good and they put a little bit more butter than I like, but overall it was pretty decent especially for a chain. 8.25/10


The coffee was standard coffee with condensed milk in it, still very good though.  If you’ve ever had Vietnamese coffee it tasted pretty similar. 8.25/10

Soft Boiled Egg:

I love soft boiled egg, they are simple, but taste really great with the kaya toast and coffee. 8.5/10

Overall, a pretty decent place and surprisingly good for a chain.

Far East Plaza
14 Scotts Road #01-16 Far East Plaza S(228213)
Phone: 6341 9554

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle – Great Bak Chor Mee in Singapore

Bak chor mee (rou cuo mian 肉挫面) is a great dish that was one of my “must have” dishes on my latest trip to Singapore as I remember it very fondly from when I studied abroad in Singapore.  It is a chiu chow (chao zhou / teo chew) dish that consists of flat yellow noodles called mee pok (mian bao 麪薄) that is garnished with minced pork, pork slices, pork liver slices, sliced mushrooms, bean sprouts, bits of deep-fried lard and a piece of sliced fried fish.  It’s usually served “dry” meaning the soup is on the side and you can get it with or without chili sauce.  There is also a really good vinegar on it.  It’s a pretty popular dish in Singapore.

Tai Hwa is a really old vendor that I think started in 1932 according to their website.  It’s very famous and I decided that I would try this place as my one place to get bak chor mee (unfortunately, I was only in Singapore for 3 days, so I had to pick wisely).  The restaurant is located in a hawker center that is sort of in an apartment building, it’s not really close to anything so we took a taxi there.  The place seemed pretty local and is totally jammed, I had to wait around 20 minutes to get to the front of the line.  A guy comes and takes your order in line, they don’t really speak English from what I can tell, but you could definitely just point if you don’t speak any Chinese.  It’s quite an interesting scene once you get close enough to watch them as there are four guys going at a break neck speed preparing the ingredients and cooking the food (you can see it around 2:20 of this video).

Bak Chor Mee (Rou Cuo Mian):

The noodles here are awesome; they were perfectly al dente and springy.  The version here is a bit different than other versions as it’s not sweet whatsoever; other versions that I’ve had were slightly sweet.  You really just taste the vinegar and the chili oil, both of which are excellent (the chili sauce is particularly good).  The pork slices, minced pork and pork liver slices were good although they were a bit drier than I like.  The soup on the side is quite good as well, a pork stock soup that is sort of cloudy, goes really well with the noodles.  My gf didn’t like it that much as she was turned off by the liver, but I like liver so it suited me well.  Overall, I thought this place was very good. 8.75/10

Blk 466 Crawford Lane
phone: 62927477

Wu Shi Nian Dai 五十年代– Great Kaya Toast and Coffee at Chinatown Food Center in Singapore

Kaya toast is one of my all time favorite breakfast items to eat.  Kaya is a spread made of eggs, sugar and coconut milk and flavored with pandan.  You spread it on toast with butter.  In Singapore, there are lots of “kopi tiam”, which are small restaurants or hawker stalls that serve Singaporean breakfast items like kaya toast, soft boiled eggs, coffee, tea, Milo etc.

Wu Shi Nian Dai 五十年代 is a small hawker stand in the Chinatown Food Center that serves typical kopi tiam items, but they specifically specialize in kaya toast.  They do not have an English name (it is only written in Chinese.  It literally translates to 50s, referring to the 1950s.  We noticed it because there was a fairly long line and whenever you see lines in Singapore there is a high probability that you’re going to get some good food.

Kaya Toast:

At Wu Shi Nian Dai they use thick toast that I really liked and the kaya was very good.  If you’ve never had kaya before, its sort of hard to explain, but its a sweet and thick spread made up of coconut milk and pandan leaves.  It that has a pandan flavor to it (if you’ve never had pandan I can’t explain to you what the flavor is like). Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the actual toast.  Pretty self explanatory, but it was awesome.  I could eat kaya toast everyday if it was readily available in the US. 8.5/10


Their coffee was also really good.  In Singapore, you get coffee served with condensed milk.  8.5/10

Blk 335 Smith Street
#02-48 Chinatown Complex Market S050335