Big portions, big value
Pu Tien Ya Zhong Xiao Chi, a coffee shop stall at Rangoon Road, offers plenty of bang for the buck. Portions are generous and the quality of ingredients is more than what you would expect for the prices charged.
Order the Fried Lychee Pork ($6). On the menu, this dish is stated in English as Sweet & Sour Pork, but make sure you let the lady boss, Madam Weng Cui Jin, know you want the lychee pork fried without gravy.
The dish's name comes from the pieces of curled fried pork that resemble lychee, but there is none of the fruit in the dish. Pork collar is pounded with a cleaver and the batter, made up of mainly cornflour, has a powdery crispness.
The stall uses fresh seafood such as prawns and clams in its Lor Mee ($4 for small, $6 for medium and $8 for large).
The Stir-fried Clams ($8) are fresh, tasty and well-cleaned.
The Fried Kailan With Dried Beancurd ($6 for small, $8 for medium) is an excellent example of the wok skills of the chef, Mr Zhang Jian Zhong. He and his wife, Madam Weng, both 63 and from Putian, China, started the stall in 2004.
The Fried Pig Intestine ($8) has an impressive mix of ingredients - leek, winter bamboo shoots and celery - for its price. Every piece of vegetable is fried to tasty crunchiness. The rings of pig intestine are perfectly tender and springy, although the offal odour is too overpowering for me.
Where: Pu Tien Ya Zhong Xiao Chi, Stall 4, 97 Rangoon Road
MRT: Farrer Park
Open: 11am to 10pm daily
A la carte zi char buffet
Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee is launching an a la carte zi char buffet promotion at its Makansutra Gluttons Bay outlet. It will be available on Wednesdays from Feb 10 to March 31.
For $29 a person (a minimum of four diners is required), you have a choice of 10 dishes.
The standouts are Guitar Chicken and Fish Maw Hor Fun. For the Guitar Chicken and Chilli Crab or Black Pepper Crab, each table can order only once. The other dishes are available free flow.
For the Guitar Chicken, the meat is deboned, flattened and marinated for three hours to infuse it with the flavour of prawn paste, and then fried in a bamboo basket. The chicken stays crispy for at least half an hour after it is served.
Despite its name, the Fish Maw Hor Fun has no fish maw. Hor fun is dipped in beaten egg and then deep-fried to golden crispness. The puffed-up noodles, which resemble fried fish maw or fried pork skin in texture, are doused in a thick glossy gravy.
The other dishes are Hong Kong Steamed Seabass, Bittergourd Black Bean Sauce Pork Ribs, Homemade Prawn Roll, White Boiled Prawns, Lohan Zai, Deep-fried Long Beans In Olive Vegetable Sauce, Thai-style Fried Tofu, and Chilli Crab or Black Pepper Crab.
Reservations are required. For takeaway orders, only one set of the 10 dishes will be included.
Where: Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee, Makansutra Gluttons Bay, 8 Raffles Avenue
When: The zi char buffet promotion is available on Wednesdays from Feb 10 to March 31. Feb 10: 5 to 7pm; Feb 17 to March 31: 5 to 7pm, 8 to 10.30pm
Tel: To book, call 8710-0511 from noon to 4.30pm
Soft fluffy traditional bread
Once you have tasted old-school handmade bread, it is hard to go back to those churned out by machines.
Jie Bakery (Tai Seng) makes its bread from scratch daily.
Go for the miniature traditional brown bread loaf ($1.70 for eight slices). It is so soft, it feels almost like cotton candy. When toasted, it turns out crisp, light and airy.
Make ice cream sandwiches with the miniature rainbow bread loaf ($1.70 for eight slices).
These two types of bread are available from 2.15 to 10.30pm.
Get spreads to go with the bread. The kaya ($1.70 for 180g) is reduced in sweetness, and the peanut butter ($2.20 for 180g) is runny in texture but filled with the natural flavour and aroma of peanuts.
The bakery also offers buns with fillings, such as Chicken Ham & Cheese Bun ($1.30) and Chicken Sausage Bun ($1.30). The Curry Potato Bun ($1.30), which has slivers of chicken meat, is slightly spicy.
For non-meat fillings, you can opt for Sweet Potato Bun ($1.20) or Brown Sugar Coconut Bun ($1.20), a favourite among regular customers.
The cloud-like texture of each bun comes from kneading the dough by hand after a round of mixing by machine. Each bun is made by hand.
Buns are made in two batches daily - the first is completed at 11.15am and the second at 4.15pm.
Where: Jie Bakery (Tai Seng), 123 Upper Paya Lebar Road
MRT: Tai Seng
Open: 7am to 10.30pm daily
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Correction note: This article has been edited to accurately reflect which dishes can be ordered only once at Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee's buffet promotion. We are sorry for the error.