Food Picks: Balinese Babi Guling, Fishball Minced Pork Noodles, Cappuccino, Mee Siam

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Oct 25, 2013

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When I tell my friends that I am trying out a restaurant serving babi guling or Balinese roast pork in Singapore, they let out a collective groan.

How, they wonder, can any Singapore restaurant hope to replicate the popular dish? Well, a new place in Jalan Besar called Babi Goeling is taking on the challenge.

Judging from the murmurs of approval around the dinner table, it is not far off the mark. I order the All-In set ($8.80). The roast pork comes with rice, a tangy soup, sayur urab, two sambals, two sticks of satay and slices of pork sausage. The skin could crackle more but the meat is tender, lightly spiced and delicious. There are two kinds of satay and the one impaled on the thicker skewer is fantastic, rich from coconut milk added to the pork.

Sayur urab, made of green beans and beansprouts with shredded coconut, is crunchy and a good foil for the spicy sambals.

Where: Babi Goeling Balinese Roast Pork, 279 Jalan Besar MRT: Farrer Park Open: 5 - 10pm (Tue - Sun), closed on Mon Tel: 6297-5509

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Sometimes, serendipity strikes when I am trying out food.

Recently, I was in Serangoon North Avenue 1 to try fried Hokkien noodles in a coffee shop there. When told I would have to wait, I decide to order something else to tide my dining companion and I over.

I pick dry mee kia or thin wheat noodles from Da Lian Fishball Minced Pork Noodles in the same coffee shop, after surveying what other people are eating. It turns out to be better than the dish I had gone there for.

The noodles are evenly coated with a punchy condiment made with flecks of dried chilli, instead of a more sauce-like sambal.

Toppings of fishballs, minced pork, pork balls, braised mushrooms and fish ravioli are generous for the $3.50 the stall charges. There is a $2.50 bowl too.

Where: Da Lian Fishball Minced Pork Noodles, Block 153 Serangoon North Avenue 1, Guan Hock Tiong Eating House MRT: Kovan Open: 5.30am - 2.35pm daily

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Stepping into month-old 8 Stanley Street is a refreshing change because it has none of the cliches of hip cafes' Edison lightbulbs and crates for seats.

The place, opened by award-winning barista John Ting, 32, formerly from Oriole, and two friends, looks a bit bare but that does not matter when the coffee is good. A cappuccino ($5) comes with velvety foamed milk with a lilting sweetness and hint of caramel.

The cafe uses milk from the United States by a brand called My Farm and is tinkering with different combinations of beans and milk.

For now, it serves my favourite cappuccino in town.

Where: 8 Stanley Street MRT: Raffles Place Open: 10am - 10pm (Mon - Fri), 10am - 5pm (Sat), closed on Sun Tel: 6223-5138

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With Wild Rocket at Mount Emily relocating, there is just a few more weeks to enjoy Chef Willin Low's food before he takes a long break.

And when the restaurant re-opens in March next year in a different location, who knows what the menu will look like, seeing as how he wants to give the restaurant a complete overhaul.

One good dish to try before the place closes on Nov 30 is dry mee siam spaghettini with Indonesian black shrimps ($28 for a la carte). The bright, tangy flavours of mee siam are all in this dish but the noodles do not swim in gravy and have rather more bite than the usual rice vermicelli.

Crispy shrimps are a lovely change from boiled prawns too. All I ask, really, is a scattering of chives.

Where: Wild Rocket, Hangout Hotel, 10A Upper Wilkie Road MRT: Dhoby Ghaut/Little India Open: Noon - 3pm, 6.30 - 11pm (Tue - Sat), 11.30am - 3pm, 6.30 - 10pm (Sun), closed on Mon Tel: 6339-9448

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