HEARTY TAIWANESE FARE
NAN TAI EATING HOUSE
For simple home-style Taiwanese food, head to Nan Tai Eating House, a nondescript eatery in Kim Keat Road that is relatively under the radar despite having been around for three years.
Look past the air-conditioned but stuffy interior and spartan decor, and dig into the dishes. They come in generous portions reminiscent of a grandmother who loves plying guests with food.
The signature House Special Braised Pork Rice ($6.50) is meant for one, but enough for two. The bowl of short-grain rice comes with a heaping portion of braised pork belly strips, housemade mustard green pickles and a braised egg.
The tangy pickles are crunchy and refreshing, and keep the fatty pork belly strips from being cloying. The braised egg is a tad overcooked, but it is a tiny quibble, considering the overall value.
Vermicelli With Oyster ($5) is a big comforting bowl of Taiwanese red wheat vermicelli cooked in flavoursome bone broth with juicy oysters. Each bowl comes with five to six oysters. Black rice vinegar, ground white pepper and fresh coriander are added before the bowl is served.
Fans of innards can order Pork Chitterling ($4 for small, $6 for medium) to add to the vermicelli. I catch a slight whiff of porky odour when the dish arrives, but the chitterlings are still palatable.
The real winner is Salted Crispy Chicken ($5 for small, $8 for medium). Chicken breast meat is used instead of boneless chicken thigh meat, but the resulting fried chicken is tender and juicy underneath the golden crust. I can taste garlic, which is infused in the salty-peppery meat.
A simple home-style offering is Egg Seaweed Soup ($4), which serves two to three. The seaweed has a springy texture and the egg is soft and tender. What I like about the soup is that it is tasty and I do not feel thirsty after slurping it up.
Of the items I try, my least favourite is Ah Po Chinese Burger (2.80), which is kong bak bao (braised pork belly in a bun). The pork belly is too fatty for my liking, though the braising sauce is flavoursome.
The dishes are prepared by owner Jaelyn Deng, who is from the north-eastern province of Jilin in China. She came to Singapore at the age of 21 to study and is now a Singapore citizen. The 37-year-old worked in sales and marketing before starting her eatery in 2018.
She fell in love with Taiwanese food about a decade ago when she met her Singaporean ex-husband whose mother is Taiwanese. Ms Deng learnt to cook Taiwanese dishes like braised pork and the vermicelli from his family.
She does not use dark soya sauce in her braising sauces, so the colour of her braised dishes is more of a caramel brown instead of black.
WHERE: Nan Tai Eating House, 18 Kim Keat Road MRT: Novena OPEN: Noon to 9pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays TEL: 9735-9897 INFO: Delivery for nearby locations available on foodpanda, Grab and Deliveroo. Prices vary across platforms
WIDER SELECTION OF JAPANESE CUISINE
Japanese restaurant chain EN Group has launched EN Brace, a delivery-only concept which offers dishes from its eateries such as Chura Sushi Bar, Kiwami Ramen & Gyoza Bar, Aburi-EN, Tamago-EN and Monster Curry.
There are 72 items on the delivery menu.
Vegetable Roll ($17.40, right) from Chura Sushi Bar comes cut and arranged in a disposable tray, complete with garnishes such as ice plant and dill. The filling is a crunchy play of textures, comprising mixed salad, marinated carrot, burdock, egg, pickled cucumber, avocado and edible flowers all wrapped in rice paper.
The roll is accompanied by two dips - siracha mayo and special truffle yuzu goma dressing. But I find it unnecessary to use the dips as the roll is sufficiently seasoned on its own and has plenty of sweetness from the vegetables.
Mala Gyoza ($8.20 for five pieces) packs a spicy numbing punch with its mala sauce made from mala oil, chilli sauce and Sichuan pepper. The meat filling - made from pork shoulder - is well-marinated with salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. The garnish of shredded spring onion is a nice detail.
For a more filling meal, Tonkatsu Fried Rice ($14.20) from Kiwami Ramen & Gyoza Bar delivers plenty of value for money.
Premium quality pork loin is coated in two types of Japanese flour and fresh breadcrumbs. The tonkatsu retains a fair bit of crispness. Heat the dish in the toaster oven quickly and it crisps up fairly well. The fresh Okinawan eggs used in the dish have egg yolks that are a darker shade of orange as the chickens feed on special grain.
For a side, Hokkaido Organic Potato with Mentai Cheese Sauce ($9.20) from Aburi-EN is a tad pricey, but the potato wedges are wonderfully powdery.
The Omusoba with Karaage Set ($9.90) from Tamago-EN looks impressive with an omelette blanketing fried noodles. But while the egg is soft and fluffy, the noodles are clumpy. The dish could also do with more seasoning and less tomato sauce. Nonetheless, the karaage (fried chicken) is well-fried and arrived crispy.
INFO: To order, go to enbrace.oddle.me. Orders have to be placed three hours ahead of delivery. Deliveries are made from 2.30 to 9.30pm. Till Nov 15, En Brace is offering free delivery with a minimum order of $80 and a $5 delivery fee for a minimum order of $60.