SINGAPORE - Handmade to order and exquisitely fine in texture, the Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun at hawker stall Xiang Gang Xin Kou Wei is comparable with those at classy Cantonese dim sum restaurants.
With prices starting at $2 a plate, these steamed rice rolls at Block 117 Aljunied Market And Food Centre are a steal. Hot favourites among customers are the prawn chee cheong fun ($2.50) and char siew chee cheong fun ($2.50).
At such prices, it is understandable that frozen, instead of fresh, prawns are used in the filling. But such is his skill that stallholder Lo Cheuk Hang, 69, makes them perfectly palatable.
Though small, the prawns are bouncy and free of stale fishy odours that you sometimes find in less skilfully prepared seafood.
The chee cheong fun is thin and silky and has an attractive sheen.
Mr Lo blends his own seasoning sauce using Hong Kong-made dark as well as light soya sauces and other ingredients.
The savoury sauce, with just a hint of sweetness, goes well with the chee cheong fun. It is so flavoursome, you do not need the accompanying chilli dip. A generous sprinkling of roasted sesame seeds completes the dish.
An understated star dish is the fried two flavour chee cheong fun ($2), which is you tiao chee cheong fun. Slices of soft chewy fried dough fritters are used as filling.
The unassuming dish is an old-school version of chee cheong fun not easily found these days. It is available at the stall, except on Mondays when Mr Lo's you tiao supplier is closed.
Mr Lo started working as a kitchen assistant at the age of nine. He became an apprentice to a dim sum chef at 15.
Originally from Hong Kong, he came to Singapore in 1979 to helm the dim sum section of Golden Crown Restaurant in Commonwealth Avenue.
The restaurant - which is no longer in operation, but still sells mooncakes yearly - was famous for its dim sum and also for being the first in Singapore to produce Portuguese egg tarts in 1998.
Mr Lo started his hawker stall in 2006 after the restaurant closed.
Aside from chee cheong fun, his Cantonese-style porridge - available from 9am - is worth trying.
His version is made using three types of rice - Australian short-grain rice, Thai jasmine rice and glutinous rice - and no starch is added to it. He cooks the porridge in small batches throughout the day.
The dish has bulk and does not turn watery even if you take your time eating it.
Mr Lo also uses fresh chilled lean pork, which he slices thinly. No artificial tenderiser is used, but every slice is superbly tender.
Go for the Mixed Signboard Porridge ($4), which comes with sliced fish, pork, pork liver, century egg and peanuts. You get pieces of house-fried pork intestine, but I find the odour overpowering.
The Freshly Made Porridge ($3) is boat congee, which comes with fish slices and a generous amount of cuttlefish. Add an egg for 50 cents.
Mr Lo is lavish with his use of toppings - you tiao, spring onion and fried onion.
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