Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pow Sing: not just for chicken rice

with Profs: Horolographer, Massi, Fran

The heartland landed homestead of Serangoon Gardens is a fascination. Small roads leading to some cottage like houses, some renovated by their owners to monsters. Some would say an architectural nightmare with the juxtaposition of old colonial cottages to modern, almost skyscraper like buildings. But I say, more power to diversity.

Serangoon Gardens also is home to some very famous foodie hangouts. Perhaps the only community to be able to support two hawker centers - one, the very famous Chomp Chomp, and the other just a stone's throw away. A town center like place surrounded by shophouses offering all kinds of cuisine. Kin and I used to frequent Grace Cafe and Bar - a dark, slightly dingy bar, serving one of the best mee goreng I have ever eaten. And of course the venerable Pow Sing right next door.

Grace has folded up and retired, and Pow Sing expanded to take over their premises, making a double shop front for Pow Sing.

Pow Sing is famous for their Hainanese Chicken Rice...the rice is fragrant, and quite wonderful, but famous as it is, I feel their chicken is usually a bit undercooked to bring out the tenderness of the meat, but usually with some blood still on the bones.

But they are also famous for their Peranakan cuisine. My mother, the fussy eater and excellent cook has even commended their assam fish as worthy of being eaten...a high praise indeed.

Two fairly generous slices of fish (I suspect ma yau yi), immersed in a sour, spicy curry, garnished with tomatos, ladies fingers. A delectable dish, and an appetite opener.

One of my favourites in Pow Sing, and a must order for me is the crispy squid...

Very fresh squid is sliced, battered, deep fried, and then coated with the most interesting sweet, sour sauce. The squid acquires a crispy exterior from the light batter, and remains tender and fragrant within. The sauce provides the kick and punch to make this my favourite.

Their Ngor Hiang is also quite special:

Prawn and meat balls wrapped in bean curd skin and deep fried. Bits of water chestnut are mixed into the prawns and meat. The deep frying is just right to give a crispness to the bean curd skin, and just cooks the insides.

I also liked their otak otak:

Many varieties of otah otah exist. The Penang peranakan version espoused by my mother is a kind of fish soufle - a light, airy curry with chunks of fish within, and steamed in a banana leaf to curd the curry is one version. Another is a thicker curry with fish chunks, heaped on a banana leaf, and barbequed. Yet another version we found at the old Zi Yean at Stirling Road is the same, but grilled in a hot plate, with tofu in mixed into the sauce. The Zi Yean version is unique to itself, and even they have stopped serving it. The Pow Sing is the barbecued version. Very fragrant, the fish is minced into a paste and chunks are not detected. But the flavour is excellent.

We also had the Pork Rib King

A kind of pork chops, lightly battered, deep fried, and coated with a sweet and sour sauce. This is a mainstay in Cze Char cuisine, and a good cook can whip up a tasty one. Pow Sing's chef, being an accomplished cook did manage a very nice Pai Kut Wang (literally pork rib king).

We also had lemon crispy prawn fritters:

The prawns were very fresh, crunchy, and had a whiff of the sea within. We also had a kankong belachan, but I neglected to photograph that.

All these eaten with chicken rice made a delectable and heavy meal, but we still had to wash it down with some Chendol:

This was no Penang Teochew Chendol at Penang Road...but it was very rich with coconut milk, very sweet and fragrant with the gula melaka (palm sugar). The chendol itself looked factory made, but was reasonably tasty. As was the kidney beans and other ingredients.

A highly recommended restaurant to visit with family...the place is very busy during meal times, with long queues. But service is fast, and cheerful.

65 Serangoon Garden Way
Tel: +65 6282 7972
Daily: 11am - 3pm, 5pm - 10pm
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