Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Penang Kitchen: good for Penang food cravings?

with Patrick and Andy

I blogged about Anna's Kitchen in JB as a viable alternative to going to Penang to sample the hawker delights. Not quite the same level as available in Penang, but a good alternative. What about within Singapore...afterall JB is still an hour plus drive, and another country.

With reduced expectations as we are not actually in Penang, I am fairly impressed with only 2 establishments in Singapore which can approximate and somewhat satisfy cravings. These are Penang Kitchen, the subject of today's review and Penang Place in Jurong East.

Four benchmarks are established. Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee. Penang Laksa. Penang Char Kway Teow. And Penang Lorbak.

First up, my personal standard to judge...and a favourite. Penang Char Kway Teow.

Visually, the CKT looks less enticing than Anna's. The noodles look a bit pale having taken on the colouring of the chilli is tainted slightly reddish. The prawns are a bit shrivelled and dried. A whiff of the CKT confirms lack of wok hei, as also evidence by lack of charred bits. Taste wise, it is reasonable. My mom's home cooked CKT is about similarly good. Anna's creation tasted more authentic. But nowhere near the magic output from the wok of the goggle lady in Lorong Selamat and the Sisters at MacAlister Road in Penang. If I had rated Anna's at just above average in a typical coffee shop in Penang, I would then place Penang Kitchen's version as just below the standard in Penang.

Next, Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee

The Penang HKM fares a bit better. The soup was robust, thick and had a crustacean flavour. Fortified by pork bones and a concoction of pork, the soup tasted authentic and nice. It tasted more authentic than Annas. And quite close to my reference standard of Kek Seng in Penang. The beehoon mee was slightly overcooked, as was Anna's and most stores in Penang. The prawns were a bit too was small, dry and not succulent at all. But overall, judged to be quite nice, and can be a satisfactory substitution.

The Penang Laksa

Penang laksa is totally different from the Singapore version. The best of Singapore is the Depot Road Zen Shan Mei Claypot as well as the various Katong Laksa shops. While the Singapore version is sinfully rich and savoury, the Penang laksa is sour, and fortified with fish flakes, sliced cucumber, pineapples, mint leaves...altogether more healthy and wholesome. The soup is made from fish stock and bones, and boiled with more fish. No coconut milk is used, but the stock is enhanced with a generous dollop of hae ko...a fermented prawn paste.

The Penang Kitchen version did not have a soup which is not as hearty as the best examples in Penang - examplified by the very famous Ayer Itam market store, or the Balik Pulau market store. Again, it fails to measure up against the best in Penang, but perhaps if this laksa was served in Penang, most Penangites would think it rather pedestrian.

Patrick also tried the Herbal Duck Mee Sua (in Penang Hokkien, known as Ark Thwee Mee Sua)

I remember eating this with my father in one coffee shop along Carnavon Street, and at a tender age, found it too herbal for my liking. Though years later, when I returned to Penang, I did re-sampled the Ark Thwee Mee Sua, and found it delightful. I had a taste of the soup served at Penang Kitchen, and it tasted fairly strong of herbs, and a rich savoury stock which can only result in hours of boiling on the stove.

So overall, what is my verdict on Penang Kitchen? I would rate it as one of the top two serving authentic Penang Hawker cuisine in Singapore, but would place the standard of cooking slightly below that of Anna's in JB. If we were to transplant Penang Kitchen to Penang, it would be rated only average.

Penang Kitchen
5 Coronation Road
#01-05 Coronation Arcade
Tel: 6466 6193
Mon - Fri 11am - 9pm (Wed Closed) Sat- Sun 10:30am - 9:30pm

Monday, July 27, 2009

Soon Soon Huat: innovative pork chops

recommended by Kennard...lunch with Kennard, Ken, Dean

Henderson Road...block 94...sits in mature HDB estate, complete with leafy trees, a large car park, a small park right next door...perfect neighbourhood place. But at one corner of a coffeeshop marked "The Old Place", we find a cze char with a different signboard - "Soon Soon Huat Restaurant - branch" Hokkien meaning smooth prosperity...the main restaurant is somewhere in Bedok.

A search on the usual blogsites and hungrygowhere came up with nothing. The only article on block 94, was Leslie's 1A Curry Puff article.

We tried 4 dishes, and I would highly recommend the butter pork chops

As it was served, it didn't look anything like the butter pork ribs from Two Chefs. But more like Siang Hee's pumpkin prawns.

Smothered in a buttery sauce, and garnished with curry leaves, the pork chops were very tender although it showed a remarkable lack of fat. The slices of pork chops were fried till browned and slightly crisp on the outside, while the insides remained medium doneness.

The sauce provided a rich, smooth base to allow the pork a platform to fully develop in fragrance, flavour and taste. There was no porky smell, but just meltingly good tender pork. Very nice. Unique dish and highly recommended. If I were to make a small change to this dish, would be to add more slices of powerful chilli padi for added punch.

The other dishes were also very good. The sambal kangkong was a good example of how this dish should be done.

I might have preferred a bit more spicy, but the balance of salt was great. The kankong was also young, tender.

Their black bean sauce fish slices were also excellent.

Slices of song fish, complete with skin (I love the springy texture of the skin), stir fried with condiments, spring onions and a thick black bean sauce. The fish was fresh, clean and tasty. The sauce was excellent.

Their House tofu was also very good.

Homemade tofu is deep fried to a crisp exterior. Zi Yean does an examplary version of this dish, and sets the benchmark. Soon Soon Huat's version is very good, but not at the same level. Eaten with the sambal belachan, it was very nice.

Overall, a very nice cze char find. Relaxed environment, easy of parking. I will definitely come back to sample other dishes...the menu is rather extensive.

Soon Soon Huat Restaurant
94 Henderson Road

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beef Ball Noodles and Popiah

with office makan kakis

A bowl of rice noodles, smothered in a rich black sauce, and decorated with beef slices, beef balls, tendons, and tripe. Sound like a delectable meal? How about adding a dollop of chin cha lok?

This interesting beef ball noodles is smack right in the HDB heartland...and serves up a storm - long queues almos perpetually adorn the store. The stall is manned by 3 rather senior citizens...and despite the long queues, they seem unhurried, and had time to have a smile and nice word for each customer. This was excellent service, which is apt to be overlooked, especially when the shop is popular and busy.

The ingredients used were superb. The beef slices were tasty and tender. The tendons sublime - so well cooked, it almost disintegrates in the mouth, giving the wonderful mouth-feel. The, I don't realy fancy them, but they tasted fine. The rich sauce was a great complement to the beef. The beef balls are factory made, so while reasonably tasty, I would have preferred home made beef balls - more punch, crunchy, springy texture would be a great enhancement to the dish. The chinchalok, an unusual addition, was a masterful touch, and added another dimension of punch and taste. This made this beef ball noodles truly superior!

We also ordered some popiah from a very famous popiah stall just a couple of shops down.

The popiah skin was dry, which is the way I like it. I cannot stand the skins which are so wet, they practically fall apart. And the ingredients were very nice. A sprinkling of crystal sugar provided the sweetness and crunch.

But popiah in many hawkers lack the punch afforded by home made popiah. Premium ingredients like fresh crab meat, prawns, deep fried shallots provide a much better popiah. Also the communal act of wrapping, and eating together appeals to some ancient need within to bond. As hawker popiahs go, the one served up by Old LongHouse is above average. But I'd rather make my own popiah at home.

Nan Xing Zhou Beef Noodles AND
Old Long House Popiah
Block 22 Toa Payoh Lorong 7
(p.s. while the stores are near each other, they are not next to one another as the picture suggests...the photograph is an amalgam of two shots)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bak Chor Mee: Singapore's contribution to the culinary world

with Eddie Sng

Eddie is a good friend, a colleague in the air cargo industry and a fellow traveller in horology. Like most (all?) Singaporeans, he has a love for food. And for his AMK neighbourhood. So one Saturday, I drove to AMK to have breakfast with him, and contemplate the meaning of life.

Mee Pok Bak Chor Mee is one of Singapore's contribution to the great culinary dishes. As I grew up in Penang, I did not have the opportunity to sample its delights until I arrived at NUS, and initially got a shock at the use of strong black vinegar in a flattened yellow mee (as I perceived mee pok then). But as the years pass, I grew to love it. The pork bone enriched soup. The pork balls and sliced pork and sometimes fish balls. The mee pok.

I used to satisfy my cravings (yes, the initial shock turned to love) at a store at the Alexandra Point. When they moved to Tampines Mall, it was timely as well, because my office then was just across the road. But when I moved office to the city, I missed my Bak Chor Mee Pok.

Anyway, in comes Eddie to re-introduce the mee pok stall in AMK.

As we placed our order for the noodles, one lady cooks the noodles and the other the soup.

The noodles were cooked al dente...firm to the bite, but tender enough. The flat surface provided area for the pungent, spicy vinegared sauce to cling on. The ingredients were very nice, well cooked, but the speciality has to be the soup. Braised mushrooms adorn the noodles, and provide a nice complement to the meats.

They use pork bones for soup and cook it with red dates and wolfberries. As a result, the stock is very savoury sweet.

Nice BCM.

Sin Kian Heng
Block 226
#01-26, Ang Mo Kio Street 22
Open mornings only.
Closed on Tuesday.

Friday, July 17, 2009

San Low: JB Cze Char

with ASG

JB is famous as a playground for Singaporeans...a short drive North, cross the border, and suddenly everything is about 50% cheaper (including petrol). As a result, many Singaporeans flock to eat seafood, cze char and restaurant food.

San Low, a place somewhere near the Causeway at JB is one such place. On a typical evening, one sees many Singapore plated cars parked on the sides of the restaurant. The place was quite busy, patrons on almost every table...the staff buzzing.

We started off the meal with their famous San Low Char Bee Hoon.

This style is similar to the one I ate at JB Ah Meng. Bee hoon, infused with seafood stock, pan fried, egg, chives, prawns; flattened at the wok under high heat, and served. The Ah Meng version seemed to have a bit more flavour infused, perhaps due to better stock. While the San Low one is not nearly there in terms of flavour, it makes up in terms of the more springy texture of the noodles.

We also ordered a Sting Ray in Assam sauce:

This dish was quite special. Very fresh stingray, cut into nice steak slices, cooked in a piquant - salty, sour, spicy sauce. The stingray was fresh and fatty, especially just under the tender skin. And the meat was smooth, almost creamy texture, and very nice tasting. The smothering sauce provide a counterpoint which not only complemented the fish, but brought it to a separate whole level above. Very nice.

Even the tapiocal leaves in sambal belachan was nice:

A pet peeve of mine regarding the sambal sweet potato leaves dish is that somehow, store owners select very old leaves. The older leaves might be more flavourful, but they are less tender, and do not have the bite and succulent taste of younger leaves. San Low's serving that evening was excellent...nice young shoots, tenderly fried in a concoction of sambal and belachan. Excellent.

We also ordered a yam ring.

This is a fairly typical cze char dish. A cylinder made of yam is deep fried till a crisp crust envelopes the mashed yam insides. Within, the pot is filled with chicken, peppers, onions, prawns, French beans, carrots and the whole mixture is stir fried on the hot wok. Deep fried crispy vermilicili is used both as a garnish as well as to provide a neutral platform to taste the yam and insides. The San Low version is good, but not above average.

As the final dish, we decided to try the fried rice.

The fried rice looked very promising...each grain is individual, no clumping, each grain seemed to be coated with egg. The fragrance was exceptional. Bits of salted fish seemed embedded in the strategic positions within. On tasting, it confirms powerful wok hei, and wonderful fragrance and flavour. But it lacked salt. Easily fixed, though with a sprinkling of soy sauce. On second thoughts, perhaps salty fish sauce might worked better, but we were blissful with the soy sauce. As you chew the rice, each bite on the salted fish seems like a mini-explosion of flavour in your mouth. Fried rice paradise?...maybe...

San Low Seafood
Jalan Biru, Taman Pelangi,
80400 Johor Bahru.
07-332 3869 / 334 3623
Business Hour : 4.30pm - 1.00am

Latitude = 1°28'21"
Longitude = 103°46'29.7"

View Larger Map

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aroy Thai, Singapore

with family

Aroy Thai restaurant is a firm favourite of the family and friends for years. The restaurant is bright, cheerful, and very cozy and comfortable. Run by an Thai family, so I guess its as authentic as it can be. I also find the taste of the food to be similar to those I have sampled in Bangkok.

The owner's son took our orders on June 28, he recommended the Lemongrass salad.

The Thais love their salads, and they love the combination, though a bit unusual to me, sounds perfectly logical. In the streets of Bangkok, vendors sell all varieties of som tam, a kind of papaya salad which seems to be a staple, especially amongst the ladies in Thailand. The sour, sweet, crunchy and spicy hot salad is appealing to the tastebuds on several planes at the same time.

The lemongrass salad presented by Aroy (btw, Aroy in Thai vernacular means delicious!) was exactly that. Thinly sliced Thai lemongrass (which is stronger in fragrance than local lemongrass), onions are tossed with tiny grilled crispy prawns, dried chilli, fresh chilli and cashews and topped with a sour, sweet, spicy, hot sauce. Eaten with a pocket made by folding a leaf of lettuce, the explosion of tastes, and refreshing flavour of lemongrass prevails.

We also ordered a typical Thai snack favourite - tod man kung

This was a cutlet of prawns (kung in cutlets are also available, known as tod man pla), breaded and fried. The cutlet was powerpacked with fresh prawn flavour, and the crispy breaded exterior provided a crunchy texture. Eaten with a special sweet, sour, spicy ketchup like sauce, it goes well with the steamed jasmine rice.

The vegetable was stir fried morning glory

Morning glory, as kangkong is known as in Thailand is a common vegetable in Thai cuisine. But to do the simple dish right, with just fish sauce (nam pla in Thai) is true testament to a chef's abilities (like a perfect plate of pasta aglio olio is testament to an Italian chef's skills). Simply fried, and topped with deep fried onions and crispy pork lard, the young kangkong is delicious.

My favourite mild curry is the green curry with chicken (gaeng keow waan kai)

The Thais differentiate their curries by color...hence green, yellow and red. The green curry is made with green curry powder, and is a sweet, rich tasting curry. The Aroy version is very rich with coconut milk, sweet, and mildly spicy. The tender bits of chicken and Thai kafir lime leafs provide extra punch to the gravy. Small baby aubergines adorn the curry. I would rate this one of the better green curries in Singapore...the others who are also equal to the task are served by Thangying and Patara, both venerable establishments.

And dessert was durian with sticky rice (khao neow durian)

The sweet, creamy, rich flesh of Thai Monthoong durian is steamed with Thai glutinous rice, and a thick coconut milk sauce covering. A favourite of my late father, who would call this by the Peranakan name - Durian Pengat with choobee; it is one of my favourites as well. The durian complements very well with the rice and the coconut milk. Nice.

Aroy is a staple of the Thai cuisine scene in Singapore. For me, they represent excellent Thai food, great environment. And a reasonable price. Shiok.

Aroy Thai Restaurant
109 North Bridge Road
#04-06 Funan Digitalife Mall
Tel: 6338 3880
Mon-Sun: 11.30am-2.45pm, 6pm-10pm
(Saturdays whole day, 930pm last order)

NB: thanks to Wen who pointed out in his comments that I forget to include address.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Anna's Kitchen: Penang food in JB?

with ASG
This is the blog's 100th we celebrate with Penang Food...

Another soapbox moment for me...having grown up in Penang amidst the wonderful food in the city, I often lament the lack of good Penang styled food elsewhere...comfort food like Penang Char Kway Teow, Penang Hokkien Mee, Pasembur, Joo Hoo Eng Chye (cuttlefish with eng chye), Penang Laksa et al.

Anna's Kitchen is a quaint little eatery, tucked in the basement of a row of shophouses. As one enters the shop, a row of bright red stairs lead down to the eating area. Homely would be my best description of the decor. Magazines neatly laid out in various places, tables and chairs neatly arranged.

And right next to nature.

There is an airconditioned section inside, but the weather was fine, though a bit hot, we decided to eat outside.

First up...the Penang Char Kway Teow.

The CKT looks very good...nicely fried, with wok hei. The smallish prawns were a bit disappointing, but they looked fresh. A lot of see ham (cockles), well cooked. And superb wok hei. So how is the tasting. First taste, after the whiff...authentic. This is authentic Penang CKT...but at a level which I would describe as typical Kopi Tiam mom's home cooked CKT is similar. The top hawkers like the Goggle Lady at Lorong Selamat, the Sisers at McAlister are leagues ahead. But Anna's is nice enough if Penang is too far.

Penang Hokkien Mee is more similar to Prawn mee than Singapore's vrsion of Hokkien Mee. For starters, the Penang one is soupy...a pork bone based soup, but also boiled with prawn heads, and prawns..with tons of other ingredients...some kangkong, yellow noodles mixed with bee hoon, in a steaming bowl with fried shallots, and perhaps a small slab of pork ribs...Wonderful.

Again, authentic, as all the ingredients are there...But the taste lacks the punch and oomph. The best from Penang like the one at Kek Seng in Penang Road, have a soup packed with crustacean flavours, with noodles done just right...which is a bit softer than the Italian al dente. And fresh boiled prawns, fried shallots, and a hard-boiled egg.

Joo Hoo Eng Chye is just that...cuttlefish (joo hoo) and kangkong (eng chye)

The Penang ones, like the hawker at Gurney Drive would have thick slices of cuttle fish (large dried cuttlefish which is rehydrated by boiling and sliced), mixed with a wonderful sweet sauce made with the hawker's own recipe of secret ingredients, chilli and generously sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Again Anna serves the authentic one. But like with the CKT and HKM, she fails to deliver when compared to the yardsticks set by actual Penang hawkers...if she sold the same food in Penang, it would be perhaps average or just a bit above. Put it this way, if she was selling this at Penang competitive prices (the prices at Anna is about double of Penang's), I would eat if I were nearby, but not drive more than 10/15mins just to sample the food. I would drive 30m for the best Penang fact am planning a makan trip to Penang to do just that.

Anna's Kitchen
18K Basement, Jalan Abdul Samad
80100 Johor Bahru

N 1°27'57.18"
E 103°44'35.88"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tex Mex: Santa Fe Restaurant, Singapore

This is an invited review. Meal paid for by restaurant. Together with Foodiequeen, Hungry Cow, Simin, Jencooks

One of the comfort restaurants, which make Kin and I very comfortable with the ambience, decor, food was a Tex-Mex place called Chico's and Charlie's at Liat Towers. For years, this was a refuge when we wanted to relax, and enjoy a margarita with some good solid Mexican food. But they disappeared, and we sometimes ache for good Tex-Mex. Years later, I began to travel quite frequently to Texas, and found that C&C's food was actually quite authentic when compared to real Texas Mexican food found in Southlake, Roanoak, Mesquite, all small towns around the bi-city metropolis of Dallas Fort Worth.

The interior of Santa Fe reminds me of the ranches in Texas (or New Mexico - the state where the city of Santa Fe actually is in). Reminds me of old cowboy movies, of the insides of a salon when the hero cowboy comes to have his shot of whisky. Except that this was a riverboat! Riverboats typically ply the Mississippi, further north (though its called the Deep South by the Americans...go figure).

This riverboat restaurant is by no means new. The occassion of their invitation was to celebrate their 10th Anniversary! This must be one of the best kept foodie secrets. 10 years, and for all the food bloggers on my table it was our first visit. And judging by the comments all round, yes, I am letting the cat out of the bag, not our last.

We ordered many of the dishes in the menu. BTW, if you read this early, and get there before July 11, 2009, the mains are all at S$10 (this is super value, as they are almost real Texan sized servings). Service was cheerful and swift.

First up, barbequed pork ribs:

Simply dubbed Santa Fe BBQ Ribs, the large slab of ribs were smothered with a BBQ sauce. The meat fell of the bone, and tasted rather good. This instantly brought me back to the Smoked Meat houses around Mesquite, TX. Meat was marinated, and slowly cooked by the hot smoke from slow burning chips from the mesquite wood. The smokey flavour combined to the fine, herbal like fragrance from the mesquite was marvellous. So was the Santa Fe's example. Nice.

We also had the fajitas...both beef and chicken. Shown below is the beef fajita:

The beef was tender, if you observe at about 7 o'clock in the picture, you will notice its actually done medium (bravo!). Slap the meat in to your flour tortila, add some shreded cabbage, jalapeno, cheese, and viola! your fajita.

As starters, being food bloggers, we had two rounds of this (testament to its great taste?) in the begining, and another towards the end of the main meal.

Named buffalo wings...I often wonder why they have wings? Anyway, the radius/ulnar part of the chicken wing was marinated, and probably deep fried to create a nice crispy crust, but then smothered in a sauce. Quite delicious. The crisp skin below the sauce, providing a nice contrast to the juicy chicken within.

The star of the evening for me was the Blackened Burger.

A huge sesame bun, with a huge beef patty. This is a real chopped beef patty, served to us medium doneness. With chopped onions, lettuce, onion rings served over a bed of rough cut fries. The burger was very nice...huge to the extent of being messy to eat (but hey, eating a large burger is fun partly because its messy). And tasty. The patty was mild tasting...though actually covered with a layer of crushed black pepper. A bit more salt would elevate the taste a bit, but that's easily done at the table to your taste. The fries were also very nice...crisp on the outside, and smooth and creamy inside.

Overall, I found the place to be very nice...the environment was cozy and friendly. The service good. The food wholesome. The riverboat is interesting, and would make a nice place for a company gathering. Comprsing of 3 levels, the lower deck where we dined, the upper deck which can be made into meeting room, seminar room, or another dining room, and the roof-deck which offers open air BBQ.

The only snag, as noted by Foodiesqueen in her blogpost was the difficulty of getting there. I got lost driving there and ended up at the new IR. And as I understand it, only one bus service runs the route.

31 Marina Coastal Drive
Berth 1 (Stewords Riverboat) Marina South Pier
6278 5775
Sun-Fri: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm
Sat & PH Eve: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm
Photonote: shot with Panasonic Lumix DMC LX3. The interior of the restaurant was really dark...hard to get handheld shots without flash.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sun with Moon: heavenly dining?

with SJX and CC

Sun with Moon is one of the modern Japanese diners and very popular in Singapore. The place seems to be perpetually buzzing with activity. I have eaten at the Wheelock Place branch several times, and each time came away fairly impressed with the efficiency of the service, and the quality of the food.

We had three set meals for lunch.

First I had the Ramen sushi set:

This came with a rather interesting bowl of ramen.

A thick broth drowns the noodles (more about this later), and semi-floating in it is a thick slice of braised pork, and half a seasoned egg. And a knob of butter adorns the bowl.

Stir the bowl and it reveals the noodles...this was quite an interesting noodle...I am unable to find a reference from my usual consult site at as to the origins of the noodles. It looks and indeed tastes a little like the chinese yellow kee noodles.

But it went very well with the pork bone soup, and the braised pork belly was gorgeous. The egg was nice, but not as good as Tampopo's where although the outside of the egg is totally seasoned and cooked, the inside is slightly runny. In this Sun with Moon version, the egg is cooked through.

The accompanying sushi is rather good, but not top grade. It was sufficiently fresh, and tasty.

The set also came with a small pot of chawan mushi, which I found ok, but ordinary.

CC had the sushi roll with unagi...

This was a mix of regular sushi rice and fish rolled inside a piece of seaweed and also reverse rolled with fish inside, and rice on the a California roll.

SJX had the same ramen as I did, and the same sushi roll as CC.

Overall, a satisfying meal, as usual at Sun with Moon. High quality ingredients and well cooked and presented. Certainly one of the better Japanese restaurants in Singapore. The food is decent, service excellent. The ambience is cheerful. Nice.

Sun with Moon Japanese Dining & Cafe
501 Orchard Road
#03-15 Wheelock Place
Tel: 6733 6636
Mon-Thu, Sun & PH: 11.30am - 11.00pm;
Fri-Sat & PH Eve: 11.30am - Midnight

The unagi looked quite appetizing, soft, creamy, and totally smothered with teriyaki sauce.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ming Kee: do we crown a new king?

with Larry and Prof Horolographer.

For Larry and me, the undisputed king of seafood in Singapore is Sin Huat, and her chef/owner extraordinaire Danny. Not only does it serve the best, freshest, and tastiest seafood (piece de resistance is Crab Beehoon), but Danny has an attitude to match, and prices to threaten.

I have read many reviews about Ming unpretentious little restaurant, tucked amongst economy rice and cze char shophouses in MacPherson. Ieatishootipost raved about the mussels. Chubby Hubby even claimed that this was Ignatius Chan (of Iggy's and formerly Les Amis) favourite restaurant. Indeed Aun's review was highly positive, even proclaiming at the conclusion that some of his friends think the crab bee hoon to be better than Sin Huat's. Chef Danny currently hold my ticket for best crab bee hoon in Singapore...albeit also the most expensive cze char in town as well. This alone intrigued Larry to highly desire to eat at Ming Kee...and off we went.

We started with the crab bee hoon.

Despite the reputation, we found the crab bee hoon to be only very good, but not surpassing Danny's amazing creations. The bee hoon was tasty, but not as crustacany and infused with wonderful broth as Sin Huat's. But it comes very close. This is a good thing, as it offers a viable substitute, especially when one is not able to stomach eating at Sin Huat. For the uninitiated, eating at Sin Huat is an experience (we have taken famous watchmakers to eat there...and they were uniformly amazed as well as impressed...horological luminaries like Philippe Dufour, like Dr. Frank Muller have given their gastronomic nod of approval). But you will have to put up with Danny's antics...slow service - a 6 course meal could take 3 hours to complete, very expensive prices - the same 6 course meal for 8 pax could cost upwards of S$700. Though still, at this price, if you are after the best taste, you gotta go to Sin Huat.

We also had the steam mussels with crispy garlic

This dish was a revelation. The sauce is a typical Teochew sauce used for steaming fish. Sweet, salty...a bit coy. And coupled with very fresh mussels, actually I think they are more like clams than the green liped mussels, it draws out the sweetness, beautiful taste of the clams. The deep fried, crispy bits of garlic added to the shiok-ness. This dish got the two thumbs up from all of us.

We also had steamed crayfish with chopped garlic

The crayfish was halved, and simply steamed with heaps of chopped garlic. The crayfish was very fresh, the meat succulent, sweet, tasty. The orange/brown fat packed a powerful punch, increased the intensity of this dish. Again, all three of us loved it.

We also had sambal kangkong.

This too was rather special...the kangkong was young, well cooked, and the sambal sauce was tasty and spicy. But the crispy lard sprinkling added a dimension of greatness to this dish. Excellent.

We thought we would have had enough, but we didn't. We ordered a plate of seafood mee sua.

The mee sua was a bit first...we compared this to a recent meal at PuTian, and the PuTian version was all the more tasty and had more intensity. But Ming Kee was not about to roll over and be kicked away. The secret ingredient in a spicy, pungent chilli sauce made all the difference. This elevated the mee sua to another level. It heightens the taste, and savouriness. It intensifies the experience. With the chilli, I would rate this at least on par with PuTian's offering. Without the chilli, it is pedestrian.

Overall, perhaps we raised our expectations too much with the crab bee hoon...afterall was excellent. But compared to the gold standard set by Sin Huat, it pales slightly. The mussels and crayfish were outstanding. Top marks for these two dishes. And the mee sua with chilli was very very good. I would definitely return for many visits. Service by the Chinese waitresses were very good, and the captain Desmond was friendly, knowledgable and a joy to deal with.

556 Macpherson Road
6747 4075
12noon - 2pm
5pm - 11pm