Food Picks: Wong Kee Noodle, The Milky Way, The Knolls, White Rose Cafe

Char Siew Dumpling with red, tomato-flavoured mee pork from Wong Kee Noodle at Depot Lane. - PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN
Char Siew Dumpling with red, tomato-flavoured mee pork from Wong Kee Noodle at Depot Lane. - PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

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FOOD EDITOR TAN HSUEH YUN RECOMMENDS

CHEAP AND GOOD NOODLES

When a cabby starts rattling off places to eat, smart passengers take notes. Cabbies are among the most dedicated foodies in Singapore after all.

My friend does that while in a taxi on her way to meet me for a late dinner and it pays off handsomely. Now, we know about Wong Kee Noodle.

The stall is tucked away in a canteen in an industrial estate in Depot Lane and four people can have a very satisfying meal for less than $20. I know this sounds implausible in an expensive city like Singapore, but it is true.

The stall serves wonton, braised beef brisket and shredded chicken noodles at fair prices. Each serving comes with a pile of kailan, blanched perfectly so it is crisp-tender.

My favourite thing to eat here is the Beef Brisket Noodle ($4.50 for mee kia, $5.20 for spinach mee pok). Orange peel and spices such as cinnamon are thoroughly infused in the chunks of meat, cooked long and slow so they offer very little resistance when I take a bite.

Char Siew Dumpling with red, tomato-flavoured mee pok ($4.50) is also excellent. The char siew is a little on the lean side, but the dumplings are plump and luscious. Instead of the usual soya sauce, the noodles are tossed in a tomato gravy scented with ginger, and with chunks of tomatoes.

The noodles in both dishes are cooked just right and remain springy until I inhale the last strand.

The first time I go, the noodles come with wontons and, on my second visit, it is shrimp dumplings. I prefer the latter and recommend ordering a bowl ($3.80 for seven) to share.

It is difficult, however, to pass on the wontons because they are such good value at $3.30 for 11. These are not skimpy dumplings. The filling is generous and well made.

Good food that is also cheap is so hard to find these days. I am glad my friend was in the right cab that Friday night.

Where: Wong Kee Noodle, Block 118, Depot Lane MRT: Redhill Open: 6am - 8.30pm (weekdays), 6am - 1.30pm (Sat), closed on Sun


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COOL TREATS

Keeping track of cafe openings must surely be a full-time job these days. Most of them try to set themselves apart - essential when there is so much competition.

The Milky Way's selling point is its dense, delicious ice cream (from $3.80 a scoop). The flavours are pretty intense too, especially the Pistachio. Apart from the deep flavour of the nut, there are bits of it to crunch on.

Another good flavour is Strawberry Cheesecake, a little salty from the cream cheese, a little sweet from the berry rippling through it. Earl Grey tastes more of bergamot oil than tea flavoured with the oil. If you like mellow citrus flavours, this is not a bad choice.

Have the ice cream on its own, but the waffles ($5 for half) are pretty decent. Berry compote ($4) is the perfect accompaniment for waffles and ice cream although at that price for a small serving, the wiser choice might be a second scoop of ice cream.

Where: The Milky Way, Block 48 Tanglin Halt Road, 01-333 MRT: Commonwealth Open: Noon - 10pm (Sun - Tue & Thu), noon - 11pm (Fri & Sat), closed on Wed Info: www.facebook.com/Themilkywaysg


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GO DUTCH WITH CRABS

It is hairy crab season and The Knolls restaurant at Capella Singapore on Sentosa has sourced its crustaceans from Holland.

Dutch hairy crabs, do they really exist? Yes they do, complete with distinctive hairy patches on the shell.

They are said to have travelled to the North Sea via ballast tanks of ships that plied the trade route between China and Europe.

At the restaurant, diners can order the crabs done two ways. Dutch Hairy Crab Bechamel ($64++) packs the meat from one crab into its carapace. The meat is mixed with a bechamel sauce made with crab fat instead of butter. It sounds decadent, but is not too rich.

Whole steamed Dutch hairy crabs are also available, at $58++ each.

Eating the little critters takes patience, but that is richly rewarded. A spoonful of roe tastes of the ocean and its briny flavour reminds me that these are wild-caught crabs, not the farmed variety. The meat is less silky than the ones from China, but they are no less delicious.

Call ahead to reserve the crabs and compare them with their China cousins.

Where: The Knolls, Capella Singapore, 1 The Knolls, Sentosa MRT: HarbourFront Open: 7am - 11pm daily Tel: 6591-5046


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BRAISED GOODNESS

Braised pork belly or kong bak is a perfect comfort food when the days get cooler. York Hotel's White Rose Cafe has a good version available for dine-in or takeaway.

Its Kong Bak Pau ($15++ for four slices, dine-in, or $15+ for takeaway) come in neat, fairly thick rectangles and the meat has soaked up the rich dark soya sauce braising liquid very well.

The steamed buns that come with the pork are not as soft and pillowy as I would like. Instead, enjoy the kong bak with rice and spoon the glistening gravy over it.

Where: White Rose Cafe, York Hotel, 21 Mount Elizabeth MRT: Orchard Available: 11.30am - 10.30pm daily Tel: 6830-1156 Info: www.yorkhotel.com.sg