Sunday, September 30, 2012

$13 steamed fish head at Chinatown Food Centre and others...

Cheng Ji (成记), fish head

There's a number of Chinese cooked food stall cloistered at a section of Chinatown Food Centre selling steamed song fish (a freshwater carp) head in a lard bolstered hot sauce of fermented beans, ginger and plum for a very affordable $13. A few of them seemed to have staked their claim to fame by either having appeared on the newspaper or television locally at some time (should one even trust those?).

Here's one from Cheng Ji (Blk 335 Smith St, #02-190, Chinatown Complex Food Centre), a stall that is located one just one fruit juice stall away from what seems to be a competitor, An Ji which I've eaten at once before.

What's common for these steamed fish heads is that one does not only just get fish heads. The dish actually include a generous portion of meat that makes about a quarter to a third of the entire fish. I would have loved for these steamed fish heads to have been done using a salt water fish instead, but the plum and ginger sauce does help mask some of those muddy earthy flavour. I daresay what gets people coming for the steamed fish heads was the freshness of ingredients which might have been a result of a very fast turn over in business for these stalls; which in turn is because of the quality ingredients. Virtuous cycle.
Cheng Ji (成记), prawn paste chicken wings

A very decently fried and fat juicy mid wings they serve with no excessive oil found soaked in their crispy batter. This must have meant that they have fried them in really hot oil? Unfortunately these were also suppose to be prawn paste chicken wings and the flavours from that prawn paste was lacking. Everything else was perfect, especially with a squeeze of lime that added a refreshing zing.

Cheng Ji (成记), cuttlefish kang kong

Like the wings above, the belachan on their kang kong cuttlefish was really mild. Would have liked them more if the sauce had a more robust flavour.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sigue siendo mi número uno del arroz con pollo?

Sin Kee chicken rice

So, I went again over the past weekend for lunch. I'm guessing that it's been at least 10 visits in the past year or so. And I have been making comparisons to the other mention worthy chicken rice stalls that I've eaten at.

I suppose Sin Kee still works for me placed in the top of the list. Chilled tender chicken that one can slurp off the bones while maintaining meat texture. Tangy and semi spicy chilli sauce. Light but well flavoured rice. I wouldn't suppose that they were the best in each, but synergistically still the reigning lead for me. But wait.... I didn't quite like the thick bumpy skins that they have sometimes on the bird. But that's just me being picky.

Strange that I never felt so strongly about them years ago when they were down in Margaret Drive. Nevertheless.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tapas at 126

Wan Tou Sek (126 Eating House, 126 Sims Ave, tel : +65 67464757, +65 67454869) is a local hotspot for rustic dim sum that has managed to evade my mentions even though I've eaten there on a few occasions. What makes the place a magnet is that it's open 24 hours daily and the food options have no lack in variety. Here's a short on one of the visits which just scratches the surface of the menu.

Wan Tou Sek, century egg porridge
century egg porridge

Century egg porridge could be considered a staple in dim sum joints. Find myself liking this bowl quite a bit. What I particular enjoy is the light clarity of rice perfumed with sesame oil and scatterings of the spring onions. There's pretty generous portions of century eggs in there as well.

Wan Tou Sek, char siew bao
char siew bao

Another main stay of dim sums. The taste of the barbequed pork fillings was nicely caramelised with sweetness and slight smokiness. Definitely not mediocre like some.

Wan Tou Sek, pork belly rolls
pork belly rolls

The skins of these are the same flour used for the char siew bao. Those are rolled thinly, draped onto strips of sweet marinated pork belly and steamed to the point where the fat is soft and melting. Definitely to be enjoyed hot.

Wan Tou Sek, chicken claws
steamed chicken claws

These sweet and savoury steamed claws weren't shabby at all. The soft and flavourful skin came off the bone pretty easily.

Wan Tou Sek, chee cheong fun
chee cheong fun

I believe the sweet brown gravy for the rice rolls at 126 are unique. I've never had anything like or similar to them anywhere else and they're the reason why I like them here. Another item to be enjoyed piping hot.

Wan Tou Sek, steamed pork ribs
steamed pork ribs

Pork ribs here bolstered by fatty meat and lots of garlic.

Wan Tou Sek, otah

The steaming otahs here were spicy, lemongrass-y and packed with fish meat. Need I also say, delicious?

Wan Tou Sek, glutinous rice
glutinous rice

I was initially a little wary of the glutinous rice since they appeared dry rather than plump and moist. Upon first taste, I found them to be a very nicely done rendition. The fried shallots added flavour upon flavour.

Wan Tou Sek, steamed chicken
deceptively named as just steamed chicken

This was just described as steam chicken on the menu - which was an injustice to a steamed chicken that was cooked to the point where the meat was tender and easily fell off the bone. There was a balanced herbaceous sweetness that was present in the meat and the jus at the base. Great dish to order with rice.

Wan Tou Sek, deep fried frog legs
deep fried frog legs

Might have found the frog leg rendition of Ikea's deep fried chicken wings here. The flavours on the fried exterior were deliciously savoury.
Wan Tou Sek, deep fried pig intestines
deep fried pig intestines

Crispy, savoury and chewy these were. Definitely one of my favourite things to order here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Cajun Kings, Jalan Riang

This visit to The Cajun Kings (15-1 Jalan Riang, tel : +65 6284 4426) was a first on a few levels for me. For one, I believe that there has yet to be a Louisiana/Creole fashioned seafood boil establishment on our local shores before as I can remember. And I'm eating Dungeness crabs for the first time!

What can one expect from this joint you ask? A focused smattering of shellfish like clams, lobsters prawns and crabs along with Cajun-y sides of dirty rice, spicy gumbo and deep fried okra to name a few for starters.

Wading through our first dips, some of the deeper impressions were their thick, hearty and spicy gumbo which was another first for me. Having no basis for comparison, I would venture to guess that they're probably as good as the original stuff gets since recipes as such are often sundered to myriads of renditions. The chopped liver filled dirty rice gets a thumbs up for flavors and I certainly had no complains for the buttermilk frog legs. Except maybe larger portions?

Seafood was great. Those Red Sea prawns were so fresh that the natural sweetness of the shellfish shone through a rich sambal sauce that had already packed a respectable amount of heat. I think the trade off with Dungeness crabs versus the regular mud crabs are their smaller claws; in comparison with the latter which tends to be "meatier". However, there're loads more meat in the legs. Freshly executed from the tank with dips of lime and salt/pepper to go with.

I hadn't enjoyed eating this messy in a while.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Taka No Tsume from Ramen Champion at T3

Here's a new contender for this year's Ramen Champion, Taka No Tsume from Chiba at Changi Terminal 3 (65 Airport Boulevard, #B2-58 Changi Airport Terminal 3, tel : +65 6214 2958). Or rather a bowl of their Takanotsume Ramen Deluxe with Sichuan styled sauce. In localspeak, spicy chicken chop noodles.

What's loaded in the bowl of milky chicken and pork broth were crunchy cabbages, bean sprouts, wood ear fungus, eggplant, minced meat and the something not usually seen in most Japanese ramen, deep fried chicken thigh cutlet. All these with a wad of chewy yellow noodles of medium thickness. One can definitely imagine the play of textures from all the ingredients. I admit to liking the crispy fried chicken dipped generously with mayo and I can imagine it to become an uncommon guilty pleasure for me there. The challenge of course would be to have them finished before they all turn soggy from the soup.

I had found the broth to be rather flat tasting with a moderate dose of spiciness and aroma from the Sichuan peppercorn flavors. That opinion did not really change by the time I was done with the noodles, but there was something about that broth, that drew me in with each spoonful in spite of the lack of deep impressions. Before I knew it, I had pretty much drained the bowl of it. How did that happen?

They have a Mapo fried chicken don which I don't mind checking out the next time.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Deer murtabak from Zam Zam

Zam Zam, deer murtabak

Having little experience with venison beside the overly tenderized Chinese stir frys, I couldn't tell how the meat tasted after all the spices. What I could tell was that it definitely didn't have the aroma of mutton and in the end, turned out to be a rather ordinary murtabak. Shall stick to the mutton ones the next time. On the bright side, Zam Zam has a rather tasty fish masala briyani which I liked.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Six

Another later than usual annual marker for this year. While there are no actual ends in sight, it's been six years of foodography!