Thursday, February 12, 2009

Race for best char siew: Singapore fights back: Alex Eating House

with Prof. Horolographer, Prof. Massi, Dr. Mycroft and SJX

I have written about Meng Kee...the superb char siew from KL, and the recent revisit. Meng Kee is still king in my eyes and tastebuds. But a recent revisit with some good friends to Alex restores faith in Singapore.

Roasted to a bright red exterior, the initial reaction is mixed...the red suggests that the meat is not caramalised or Maillarded sufficiently, but the glistening fat shows promise. But on closer examination, there appears to be parts of the char siew which exhibit charred, crisp sides. And tasting those parts, brings my mind back to Meng Kee. Close. There were sufficient fats, well browned, caramelised, Maillard reactants. But just a bit held back. I suspect this is because Meng Kee, in Malaysia has access to fresh pork, whilst Alex has to settle for chilled pork. I didn't ask where the pork originates, but in an earlier discussion with Fatty Cheong, he said his pork was frozen from Brasil, and fresh pork was impossible to get in Singapore. I would suspect Alex uses Indonesian chilled pork, because it taste a bit sweeter than Fatry's.

The roast pork...siew yoke, was also something to behold.

The skin was scored/scoured, very very crispy. Dr. Mycroft approves. As one bites into the pork, the crisp skin delights, and the layer of fat just below explodes, releasing flavours into the mouth. Superb.

The roast duck was also a significant achievement.

Prof. Horolographer loved the duck. Crisp skin, almost no fat below the skin, and nice, juicy tender meat. The meat has a powdery mouth feel...this is how roast duck is supposed to taste like. No gamey taste, as some duck is apt to be like. Mycroft, of course was less than orgasmic because of lack of fat, but generally approves. I loved the taste...soft, tender meat, counterpointed with a crisp skin. Nice.

We ate with noodles.

The noodles were not as good as those found in KL...Malaysian noodles, and Hong Kong ones are probably hand made, and have a texture and springiness that the factory made Singaporean noodles lack. The spectacular roast meats were let down by a mediocre, pedestrian noodle.

We also had a bowl of sui kow.

The dumplings were plump, sweet. The filling was tasty enough, as was the broth. But the skin of th sui kao, lacks the texture and elasticity found in those in Hong Kong. The HK varieties are so much better. I don't know why this is so, but no local version even compares.

This certainly puts Singapore on the map again for roast meats. Fatty Cheong and Kay Lee were the only challengers, and I had placed both below Meng Kee and Overseas in KL. Now Alex joins the fray. Still a bit behind in the taste, but I think the trio of Kay Lee, Alex and Fatty Cheong (my ranking), Singapore should be proud of our roast meats. I will blog about Kay Lee soon as a revisit is in the works.

Alex Eating House
87 Beach Road

Tel: 6334 0268
Open: 9am till 6pm (or until they are sold out)
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