Cheap & Good

Longing for lontong

It took a lacklustre lontong in Toa Payoh for me to recall the better version I had in Alif Restaurant in Bukit Batok not too long ago.

To satisfy my craving, I went to Bukit Batok two Saturdays ago at about 10.30am, in anticipation of a hearty breakfast. I was not disappointed.

The lontong ($3.50) was as good as I remembered. The gravy, which looked deceptively bland, had enough coconut milk for it to be creamy and a little runny, the way I like it.

It was a pleasure scooping up a little of the gravy and having it together with a piece of rice cake.

In particular, I liked the way the cabbage was cooked till soft but with bite. The dollop of sambal chilli - not hot, but nice - and seronding (fried shaved coconut) perked up the Malay dish considerably.

I had asked for more taukwa and fewer pieces of steamed rice cake. I ended up with two fried beancurd pieces and more vegetables and still, I paid the same price - $3.50.

What I also like here is the delectable mee rebus ($3). The gravy was thick enough to coat every strand of the yellow noodles and the generous serving of beansprouts added to the crunch.

I tried a little of the mee soto ($3) a friend ordered. The broth was a little too spicy for my liking and the shredded chicken a tad dry.

I saw someone enjoying mee siam ($3) at the next table and decided to check it out. The popular Malay dish came with lots of fried diced taukwa which I love. The gravy was a little more sweet than tangy and was not too bad, though I would have preferred a more lemak (rich) version.

I liked the lontong so much I went back again recently. This time, the gravy was much more runny, but the taste was still as good. But I still like the thicker, creamier version the first time around and hope the standard can be consistent. Apparently, the lontong is available from about 5am till sold out. Alif Restaurant is open 24 hours daily.