Sunday, December 7, 2008

Traditional Cze Char? Or unusual? Old Mother Hen

with colleagues

Recomendations from champagne and reading a few blogs, we decided to adventure at this seemingly traditional eatery in Geylang.

Many proclaimed the KL style Black Fried Hokkien Mee to be the best in Singapore...perhaps the rival to the one served by The Big Eater. I have tried the BFHKM at The Big Eater, but found it to be a lame excuse for the intensity and power of its namesake in KL.

When it was served, it showed great promise...a rather large heap of lard bits signified potential greatness. The glistening black sauce invites a second look...but on closer examination, one finds the sauce to be not black, or thick enough. The noodles were close to the right kind...fat, thick, egg noodles. But the taste was disappointing if one was looking to relive the KL experience. On its own, sans reference, it was quite good tasting, but in comparison to the wonderful stuff one can easily get in KL...this one pales. The bits of lard were not the crispy kind, but rather the softer.

The attraction, as recommended by champagne was the pig's fallopian tubes...a curious dish. Exotic. I have never even contemplated eating fallopian tubes or other reproductive, yes, the closest I have tried is Whale and fish sperm in Tokyo.

When I suggested the menu to my esteemed colleagues...they raised eyebrows, and joked that eating the dish would make it easier for the ladies to get pregnant. I must admit, the thought of eating the organ was at the same time intriguing (especially after the reports that it indeed tasted excellent), curiosity mixed with a bit of disgust.

A closer look at the fallopian tube dish...showing the curly bits.

Each piece...looked like it was sliced from a larger piece...though I cannot imagine how large the entire fallopian tubes can be. Crunchy is perhaps the best way to describe the organ. Good bite, and like intestine or stomach, it seemed to have absorbed some of the flavours from the spicy, sweet sauce. The crunch, and taste was similar to that of escargot.

Maggie is a great fan of petai, and on seeing it on the menu, she wildly exclaimed that this is a must order.

This was indeed an excellent choice. The petai was fresh, with a nutty, slightly crunchy, but slightly rubbery texture. The sambal sauce was rich, and wonderful tasting. The deep fried anchovies provided a nice crisp balance to the dish. I would rate this excellent.

We also ordered the butter fried squid:

Squid was sliced into rings, and battered, deep fried in hot fat and butter. Crispy bits batter, curry leaves, chilli complete the dish. Very tasty.

We also tried the herbal pork leg.

It came in a rather large claypot, black soup, and a piquant, herbal fragrance. Slices, rather chunks of pork leg was swimming in the black soup. Rather unusual ter ka, after being raised on braised pork leg and deep fried varieties. This was rather more like Bak Kut Teh with ter kar. If one thinks in terms of BKT, then the dish was rather tasty. The cut of leg was very fat, with skin.

Next up, for me the best tasting dish...the House special Tofu.

Home made fragrant tofu is carefully deep fried till it retains a crisp crust. A rich sauce made from minced prawns, minced chicken meat, and carrots, and garnished with spring onions smother the tofu. I found this very delicious. The crunch of the crust, the fragrance and silky softness of the tofu within, and the intoxicating sauce all collaborate to produce a taste sensation. Wonderful!

Ken ordered the sweet potato leaf.

For me, this dish was less remarkable...a bit unadventurous. But it is in line with my theory that if you start with a good cook, with excellent feel of ingredients and how to mix and match the flavours coupled with ability to control the fire...almost anything within his genre ability will be good. Indeed this was the case. This simple dish, typical peasant fare, was superb. The chilli sauce had just the right amount of zing and punch. The vegetables themselves were right - not too young (too firm) or too old (too chewy), and cooked just so.

As one enters the restaurant, one would observe the claypot cooking my first picture on this post shows...claypot over charcoal fire.

This is not your short-cut claypot rice. But rice cooked in the pot, with this case preserved Chinese pork sausage, and boneless chicken. I also tasted bits of dried shrimp and perhaps a hint of salted fish.

The claypot kept the dish piping the contents slowly, but with great intensity. A beguiling thick, sauce - very slightly sweet, but mostly salty adorns. Stirring the rice when it arrived caused plumes of fragrant smoke to rise and meet the nostrils...engaging and teasing. Rice cooked in the claypot tastes different from those cooked in a rice cooker and transferred to a claypot just for show.

The rice had a glorious smoky flavour, and was rendered al dente...somewhat like the Italians do their risotto. This was a winning dish, loved by all in attendance.

A thick crust of rice formed at the bottom of the pot, and this made for a super crisp, super smoky treat.

Overall, a visit worth the journey...yes, this is Singapore, and the "rather long" journey is about only 10km from our office. A few of my colleagues said they enjoyed it so much, they will return for another visit.

Old Mother Hen Traditional Herbal Soup
136 Sims Ave (between Lorong 17 and 19)
Open daily 11am - 2.30pm; 5pm - 1.30am
Tel: 9128-2793


KennyT said...


Smoque said...

They are now located at 96 Sims Avenue, junction of Geylang Lor 13. They do not sell claypot rice due to lack of space.