FOODCOURT AT CLEMENTI MALL
Boleh Boleh!, a pork-free version of the Malaysia Boleh! food courts, opened at Clementi Mall last Friday with 28 stalls selling mainly popular Malaysian hawker dishes such as Penang char kway teow and prawn mee soup.
Operated by Fei Siong Group, some of the stalls also hawk Singapore fare such as fried Hokkien mee. The difference is that pork and lard traditionally found in these dishes are replaced with chicken and vegetable oil.
Its halal certification, which is expected to take more than a month, is still pending.
I recommend the prawn mee soup ($4 and $6), which comes with slices of chicken, half a hard-boiled egg and prawns. The broth is sweet and boasts good body.
Assam laksa ($4 and $6) from the same stall is good too. It is not too sour, allowing one to taste ikan kembong in the broth. It can do with a bit more prawn paste, though.
Chicken char siew wanton mee ($4) is totally legit, especially the char siew. Besides the thick slices of barbecued chicken, the noodles are also topped with minced chicken and two deep-fried wontons, giving you plenty of bang for the buck.
The dimsum is surprisingly good for a foodcourt. Try the steamed prawn dumpling ($3.50) or "har gao", which boasts a thin and springy skin, and the Cantonese sponge cake ($2) or "malai go".
WHERE: Boleh Boleh!, 04-20 The Clementi Mall, 3155 Commonwealth Avenue West MRT: Clementi OPEN: 10am to 9.30pm daily
HOUSE OF SEAFOOD
Fans of House of Seafood who find it too inconvenient to trek frequently to Punggol Point will be glad that it has opened a new outlet at Clarke Quay.
Located beside the Singapore River, the eatery does not have air-conditioning, but large fans and the current cool weather ensured it was not too uncomfortable during my lunch there recently.
A must-order is its award-winning black pepper crab (seasonal price), which stands out with its aromatic but not overly fiery sauce.
The house special fried white bee hoon with XO sauce (from $10) is very good too, with the rice noodles soaked in a delicious stock and covered generously with fried egg.
Even a simple dish like handmade crispy beancurd with chef's special sauce (from $16) stands out with the smooth texture of the tofu under its crispy shell.
The restaurant recently also launched a dish targeting the home delivery market, called Crab-in-Da-Bun ($28.80). It comprises crab meat - in chilli, black pepper or salted egg flavours - baked inside a bun. There are also mala chicken and curry chicken versions at $18.80.
WHERE: House of Seafood Clarke Quay, 01-02 The Cannery, 3C River Valley Road MRT: Clarke Quay OPEN: Weekdays, 11am to 2pm, 5 to 11pm; weekends, 11am to 11pm TEL: 6444-9000
TRIBUTE TO CHINESE SINGER ZHOU XUAN
Shanghai restaurant Yan's Dining is commemorating the centennial of legendary Chinese singer and movie star Zhou Xuan with a two-month event inspired by her evergreen songs. Called An Evening With Shanghai Diva Zhou Xuan, the highlight is an eight-course menu of dishes named after some of her most famous numbers.
Dinner starts with a quartet of cold dishes appropriately named after the song Hymn For The Seasons, with each dish containing an ingredient associated with the four seasons.
Other courses include Family Bliss, which is a crab meatball known as lion's head in a full-bodied Chinese cabbage soup. There is also In The Mood For Love, comprising a braised prawn with fish maw in a thick golden gravy.
My favourite is Shanghai Night, a heady dish of hairy crab marinated in Shaoxing wine flavoured with preserved plum and herbs.
Priced at $168 a person, the menu includes a glass each of champagne and cognac.
As each dish is served, strains of the corresponding song waft through the restaurant to evoke a feel of Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s when Zhou was at the height of her fame.
On the walls hang Chinese calligraphy works of the song titles and lyrics by artist Grace Chen Liang, as well as paintings by artist Mo Ni. A composite of Zhou's movie flyers greets diners at the restaurant's entrance.
The promotion was originally scheduled to end today, but has been extended to the end of next month to cover the Chinese New Year season. Some dishes like hairy crab may be changed when seasonal ingredients are no longer available.
There is also a seven-course menu, minus the crab, and alcohol at $98 a person.
WHERE: Yan's Dining, 04-22 Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road MRT: Orchard/Somerset WHEN: Till Feb 28, dinner only (advance order of at least three days) PRICE: $168 a person TEL: 6836-1188