SINGAPORE - There is a coffee shop opposite Serangoon Swimming Complex which houses a famous roast meat stall.
Go around noon and the queue in front of that stall is so buzzy that you hardly notice Joyous Seafood Paradise, a zichar stall in the corner, which is all dark and quiet and still getting ready for the day.
But then of course, zichar action usually takes place at night and when I returned later, the vibe of the place was entirely different - with tables and tables of hungry people, and servers dashing up and down from kitchen to table with platters of food.
I was told that the white beehoon ($5 for small) from the stall was good and it was. In fact, I think this might have been one of the best white beehoon I've eaten.
The gravy is a big part of what makes white beehoon delicious, and here, the gravy is thick, creamy and complex - one suspects pork lard had a hand in it, but don't quote me on this - and is delightfully gloopy, clinging to the beehoon as you slurp it up.
On top of that, the beehoon came with a nice variety of ingredients - plump prawns, squid, pork, chye sim, Chinese cabbage and even fish.
I also tried the stall's dry-fried hor fun and while that was okay, what stood out were the bits of fried egg in the hor fun.
Joyous Seafood Paradise
Where: Block 214, Serangoon Avenue 4 01-88
Tel: 8115 8785
Open: Noon to last order at 10.15pm daily
Rating: Four stars
They were so flavourful and bouncy, I found myself picking pieces of egg out from my dining companion's share of the hor fun, because good food sometimes makes you uncivilised. (Note to self, try an omelette dish the next time.)
We also had a beancurd with pumpkin sauce ($10 for small) and I liked that it looked so pretty, a round of deep-fried beancurd sitting in a pool of orange sauce.
It came with bits of deep-fried crispy bits scattered over the top, which made for a nice textural contrast with the soft beancurd.
But the most surprising find from this stall was the plain, stir-fried broccoli ($9 for small) that I ordered only because, you know, daily fibre requirements and all that boring stuff.
The broccoli was a vibrant green, packed a punch of umami, and had a top note of Chinese cooking wine, which lifted the taste of the dish.
And the broccoli came tossed with several whole bulbs of garlic that were fried so well, they took on a sweet earthiness. (I urge you to eat the garlic.)
The greens were a little salty however, but I think that might be okay if you ate it with rice (I had it on its own).
It is actually unreasonable for broccoli to taste that good, but there you go, something tasty to fill your vegetable quota for the day.
Eating at this zichar stall certainly does spark joy.