SATISFYING TASTE OF IPOH
Dig into Ipoh-style noodles, complete with Malaysian roadside coffee shop dining vibes, at Jing Dian Noodle Stall.
Located in a poky coffee shop in the Kaki Bukit industrial area, the stall serves up simple fare such as soup noodles and mushroom with shredded chicken hor fun that will make you want to return for more.
Malaysians working in the vicinity make up 80 per cent of the stall's customers, so the style of cooking has not been modified for the local palate.
I am not usually a fan of soup noodles, but the stall's signature Zhuang Yin Noodle (not an accurate pinyin translation of the dish's name in Mandarin - Zhuang Yuan Mian, which means Scholar's Noodle) is slurp-worthy.
Prices start at $4 a bowl for the soup version. Put aside any kiasu urge to pay for additional ingredients. The basic bowl offers plenty of value with its variety and quantity of ingredients.
You get a generous portion of slithery Ipoh hor fun, three pieces of powder intestines, lean pork slices, minced lean meat, pork liver slices and fresh tender spinach - all in a broth that is sweet and does not leave you thirsty.
The powder intestines taste clean. They are rinsed in running water for 30 minutes to get rid of any unpleasant odours. Lovers of pork liver will appreciate how it is served half-cooked and tender. If you are not a seasoned pork liver eater, ask for it to be well done. The pork slices, marinated in fried garlic, sesame oil, cornflour, sugar and salt, are tender and tasty.
The clear soup is made from boiling pork bones, chicken bones, ikan bilis and radish.
Stall owner Goh Suei Chin is originally from Chemor in Perak, a 15-minute drive from Ipoh. The 42-year-old came to Singapore in 2003 and is now a citizen. She opened her current stall in August last year with a mind to serve her home-town fare to Malaysian workers in the area.
Order the Mushroom With Shredded Chicken Hor Fun, which is refreshingly different from the local version. Prices start at $3 a bowl, but order the $4 version which has more chicken.
Instead of the starchy gravy heavily seasoned with oyster sauce that blankets the local version, Madam Goh's Ipoh hor fun is drier and tastier. Just a tiny amount of oyster sauce is used to lift the dish, which relies on premium light soya sauce, dark soya sauce and fish sauce to season the noodles. A secret is the addition of house-fried shallot oil. No cloying starchiness gets in the way of the taste and texture of the slim, springy strands of hor fun. Instead of chicken breast meat, Madam Goh uses whole chicken legs which she shreds by hand after boiling. The bones go into the stock so nothing is wasted.
The dish comes with a bright green Chinese lettuce leaf which is exceptionally fresh and crunchy. Despite the rising cost of vegetables, Madam Goh insists on ordering premium grade lettuce.
A side dish to order is fried wontons ($1 for three pieces, $3 for 10). Madam Goh marinates the minced pork and wraps the wontons herself. They are able to retain their crispness throughout the photo shoot and a 25-minute journey home.
The Curry Laksa ($4) is made in the style of Ipoh curry noodles that is well loved for its fried accompaniments. There are no cockles in the dish, but there is plenty else to satiate - two pieces of tender taupok soaked in the curry gravy, three fried beancurd skin rolls with fish paste filling, two meatballs, two fried wontons and three slices of fish cake. A generous helping of crunchy bean sprouts tops off this bowl of scrumptiousness.
Madam Goh prepares the rempah (spice paste) every five days, painstakingly grinding ingredients such as dried chillies. Torch ginger bulb lends its floral perfume to the mix.
The rempah is finely ground so the resulting curry gravy is smooth without any fibrous bits. In taste, it is rich with spices and coconut milk. While yellow noodles are the default, you can opt for thick beehoon, kway teow, beehoon or bee tai mak.
There is just one downer. I suggest you steer clear of the Bak Chor Mee. It is the one weak link in Madam Goh's entire range. Stick to ordering what she does best - the food of her home town.
WHERE: Jing Dian Noodle Stall, 01-01 ARK@KB, Stall 4, 68 Kaki Bukit Avenue 6
MRT: Bedok North
OPEN: 7am to 3pm Mondays to Saturdays. Closed on Sundays and public holidays
PREMIUM CONFECTIONS AND FRESH WINE
For an even finer taste of Japanese confectionery chain Chateraise's baked goods and sweets, head to the newly opened Chateraise Premium Yatsudoki at Guoco Tower.
Opened on Aug 28, the outlet is a luxury concept of the Chateraise brand. As its name suggests, the bakery focuses on the use of even more premium ingredients, such as milk and eggs from contracted farms in Japan.
In addition to some products that are also available at other Chateraise outlets, Yatsudoki carries a range of products that are exclusive to it.
To satisfy sweet cravings without excessive guilt, the store has a low-carb range of goodies that use maltitol and erythritol as sweeteners. Both the Low Carb Rich Chocolate Cake ($5.80) and the Low Carb Fresh Cream Cake ($5.10) are tasty as well as light and airy. If nobody told you, you probably would not be able to tell these confections are low-carb.
The Low Carb Melty Nama Chocolatey ($10) is a box of cocoa powder-covered chocolate truffles which are not overly sweet. There is also the Low Carb Caramel Nuts Pudding ($3.20) made from pure fresh cream, slightly bitter caramel cream and almond nuts. It is a tad too bland for my liking, though.
For baked goods worth the calories, go for the Yatsudoki Madeleine ($3.20 a piece), which is made with Hokkaido fresh cream. At first bite, you can taste the citrusy aroma of lemon peel followed by rich moist butteriness. The lemons are from Setouchi in western Japan and are sweeter than other lemon varieties.
The Financier ($3.20 a piece) is rich with the taste and aroma of almonds and vanilla.
The Yatsugatake Baked Cheese Tart ($3.20 a piece) is made from a savoury mix of cream cheese from Brittany, Dutch Edam cheese and parmesan from Hokkaido. The crust is crisp and the filling creamy without being cloying.
My favourite is the Houraku Yatsugatake Gouda Cheese ($3.20 a piece), a puff with a Gouda cheese filling that has an addictive savoury edge.
The outlet has a gift section where you can splash out on baked goods. The Grand Recipes ($70) is an elegant gift box which includes individually wrapped items such as madeleines, financiers and a marron pound cake.
Also exclusive to this outlet is fresh wine on tap. The wines, produced in Yamanashi, are unfiltered and unpasteurised. The Fresh Wine Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.50 and an additional $2.50 for a returnable 720ml bottle) is bright and plummy. The wine has to be refrigerated and consumed within two weeks.
WHERE: Chateraise Premium Yatsudoki, 01-05 Guoco Tower, 7 Wallich Street MRT Tanjong Pagar
OPEN: 10am to 10pm daily