Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Food Picks: Eagle Wings Loft, Island Penang Kitchen, and more

PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE, YAN

QUALITY FOOD IN NEIGHBOURHOOD EATERY

The King Albert Park mall, which opened last year replacing the old McDonald's outlet at the junction of Bukit Timah and Clementi roads, is pretty quiet with a number of units still untenanted.

But it houses a gem that residents and students in nearby areas have already discovered - Eagle Wings Loft, a cafe-cum-restaurant that offers a lot more than its small ground-floor unit suggests.

The menu of the 10-month-old eatery is rather extensive, for one thing, with both Western and Asian options. And hidden from view on the second floor is a private room that seats 20. Across the aisle on the ground floor is a gelato-cum-dessert bar with a bigger room upstairs that seats 40.

The quality of the food is better than what you expect from a neighbourhood eatery too.

One of my favourites is the Lobster Risotto ($38), with the rice cooked in a delicious lobster broth and filled with bits of lobster, scallop and prawn. Tobiko, flying fish roe that burst so delightfully in the mouth, add an Asian twist to the dish that should please local palates. I also like that the risotto is not too heavy with cheese, which makes it a light enough option for lunch.

The Bacon & Egg Wagyu Burger ($18) is good too. The patty is ground coarse, so there is bite, and the combination of bacon, fried egg, cheese and vegetables sandwiched in a toasted brioche bun works well.

Not only does the food taste good, but a lot of thought has also gone into the presentation.

Check out mocktails such as Mermaid's Tears ($9), a colourful cotton candy spiral that gets dissolved in soda at the table.

What is even better are the friendly prices. A wagyu burger for $18 and a good one at that? That's tough to beat.

WHERE: Eagle Wings Loft, 01-14/33/34/56/57 KAP Residences Mall, 9 King Albert Park MRT: King Albert Park OPEN: 10.30am to midnight (Mondays to Fridays), 8.30am to midnight (Saturdays and Sundays) TEL: 6264-7787

ALL ABOUT CHICKEN

The Chinese Noodle Bar opened by Blue Lotus at Science Park Drive has been converted into a self-service, chicken-centric eatery called Chicken Story.

On the menu are bento sets ($9.90, above), with a whole chicken leg comprising the thigh and drumstick as the main item. Options include herbal chicken, soya sauce chicken and poached chicken.

Each set comes with sides such as smoked onsen egg, braised soya beancurd with five spices, chicken rice and a small bowl of soup.

I like the Ginger Chicken, which is rubbed with something called sand ginger (sar keong in Cantonese) and is usually served only in Cantonese restaurants. It has a nice aroma that makes it stand out from normal poached chicken.

The Roast Five Spice Chicken boasts a crisp skin and juicy meat, so that is good too.

There are extra side dishes to order to supplement the set. Fried Prawn Paste Full Wings ($6 for three) is good for sharing and the Braised Chicken Feet & Shiitake Mushroom In Original Jus ($6) meets restaurant standards.

WHERE: Chicken Story, 01-26 Ascent , 2 Science Park Drive MRT: Kent Ridge OPEN: 11am to 6pm (Mondays to Fridays) INFO: www.bluelotus.com.sg/chinese-noodle-bar-2

YUMMY PENANG HAWKER FARE

The best Penang hawker food to be found here, in my opinion, is at the Penang Hawker fest in York Hotel. But that comes only three times a year and only for a few weeks each time.

In between, I get to satisfy my craving for Penang food at Island Penang Kitchen in Clementi West. The eatery offers zi char dishes as well, but it's the hawker fare that I go for.

The best thing about the Prawn Noodle ($5) is the robust prawn and pork stock, which is spiced with chilli the Penang way. It is topped with hard-boiled egg, sliced pork as well as pieces of pork skin. The prawns are a wee bit too crunchy, but fall short of being plasticky - so I'll live with them.

Penang Char Kway Teow ($6, above) would have been totally authentic, except that it does not have cockles. So, the flavour is not quite what I'm looking for. I wish the eatery would consider offering a cockle version for fans of the shellfish.

In the meantime, I'd order the Penang Nyonya Mee Goreng ($6) instead. It's not that different from the Chinese seafood mee goreng served in restaurants here and is good. It comes with squid and prawns and is slightly wet and tart from the tomatoes.

WHERE: Island Penang Kitchen, 01-126, Block 721 Clementi West Street 2 OPEN: 11am to 2.30pm, 5 to 9.30pm (weekdays), 11am to 9.30pm (weekends), closed on alternate Tuesdays TEL: 6873-0163

OLD FAVOURITES ARE BACK

Yan, the Cantonese restaurant at the National Gallery Singapore, has revamped its menu following the appointment of chef Lai Chi Sum.

The Hong Kong-born chef honed his craft with the Crystal Jade restaurants here, starting with the first outlet in Cairnhill Hotel in 1993.

Among the new dishes are, ironically, old ones that were once popular here, but have since disappeared from most restaurants.

Among these is Baked Crab Shell With Crab Meat And Onion ($18 each), a Hong Kong dish that was popular here in the 1990s and seems to be undergoing a revival these days.

The version here is good, with flower crabmeat, onions and bechamel sauce stuffed into a crabshell and covered in breadcrumbs before being baked.

It boasts a crisp, golden coat covering a juicy mix of crab and cream underneath. The onions, meanwhile, turn soft and sweet and complement the crab well.

Another dish I like is Steamed Kampong Chicken With Ginger And Spring Onion ($25 for half, $50 for whole, above).

It is a simple dish, but stands out because the free-range chicken is so flavourful and has bite.

WHERE: Yan, 05-02 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road MRT: City Hall OPEN: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm daily TEL: 6384-5585

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2018, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe