PREMIUM CHAR SIEW IN ANG MO KIO
Roast Paradise, the popular roast pork and char siew stall in Old Airport Road Food Centre, opened a second outlet in Ang Mo Kio this month. But if you're hoping you won't have to queue as long now, that did not happen when I was at the new outlet last weekend.
For food that was ready-cooked and required just chopping and plating, the queue moved very slowly. Hopefully, the operators will work out a smoother workflow.
The stall sells roast pork and char siew, plated separately ($5.20 for 100g of either) or together with rice or Hakka noodles (from $4).
Go early and ask for the premium char siew, which is not listed on the price board, but costs the same as normal char siew - for now. Only a small quantity is available each day, though, and it runs out fast.
The pork cheek has a coat of sticky maltose and is slightly charred at the edges. I'd prefer belly pork to be used for its melt-in-the-mouth fat, but this is pretty good nonetheless.
In comparison, the normal char siew - barbecued without maltose - tastes, well, normal.
The roast pork boasts very crispy crackling, but the meat is a little too soft for my liking.
WHERE: Roast Paradise, 531 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 MRT: Ang Mo Kio OPEN: Tuesdays to Sundays, 11am to 4pm (or when the food runs out, which can be as early as 1pm on some days), closed on Mondays
AROMATIC PIPA DUCK AT KAM'S ROAST
There is still no roast goose at Kam's Roast, the Singapore offshoot of the Michelin-starred eatery in Hong Kong famous for the dish.
But the roast master from the flagship shop in Causeway Bay is now based permanently at the outlet here to helm the kitchen. And the difference in the quality of its roast meats is discernible.
Chef Wong Kwan Sing has also introduced two dishes to the menu. Pipa duck ($78 each) is an item that was very popular here in the 1970s and 1980s, but is hard to find these days.
The duck is butterflied before it is marinated and roasted, which allows the flavours to penetrate the meat better and the bird to be charred inside as well. And chef Wong controls the temperature and timing expertly, resulting in a juicy and aromatic duck.
The splayed duck has the shape of a pipa, a Chinese music instrument, hence the name. The dish is sometimes called guitar duck for the same reason.
The other new dish is Roast Medallion ($9.80 for two pieces), a roll comprising layers of chicken liver, water chestnut, char siew and pork. Coated with char siew sauce and roasted, it has an old-fashioned Cantonese flavour that reminds me of a similar dish of fat pork and duck liver rolled in duck intestines that I enjoyed as a kid.
WHERE: Kam's Roast, 01-04 Pacific Plaza, 9 Scotts Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: 11am to 11pm daily TEL: 6836-7788
QUALITY BRAISED DISHES IN A FOOD COURT
The Thai Village chain of seafood restaurants has gone into mass-market dining with a stall at the Food Opera foodcourt in Ion Orchard.
Called Shilao, it sells braised rice dishes featuring the delicious brown sauce used in its restaurants for dishes such as braised abalone.
The sauce is mixed with chicken stock and used to cook ingredients such as dried mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. This is topped with options such as abalone, crab claw, fish maw, grilled eel or chicken cutlet and served over egg fried rice.
Priced from $6.80 for fish maw to $18.80 for wagyu beef, it may seem expensive for a foodcourt, but the food is restaurant quality.
My favourite is the Braised Fish Maw Rice With Crab Claw ($9.80) because the seafood goes so well with the sauce.
WHERE: Shilao, Stall 13, Food Opera, B4-03/04 Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn MRT: Orchard OPEN: 10am to 10pm (Sundays to Thursdays), 10am to 11pm (Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays)
HAIRY CRABS AT YAN
Restaurants here are not getting any hairy crabs from China this year, but that does not mean foodies cannot enjoy the seasonal delicacy.
Yan, for example, gets its supply from the Netherlands instead.
The Cantonese restaurant at National Gallery Singapore serves the crabs the same way - steamed whole as part of a $128 set meal or in a la carte dishes with the crabmeat cooked with poached noodles ($16.80) or in xiao long bao ($12).
The milt in the male crab I ate was not as abundant or creamy as that of the Chinese crabs I've eaten. Its body was packed with very sweet meat, though.
But because I enjoy hairy crabs more for the milt or roe than the meat, I would say these Dutch ones are a close, but not perfect substitute.
WHERE: Yan, 05-02 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road MRT: City Hall WHEN: Until Dec 15, 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm daily TEL: 6384-5585