PORRIDGE AND JELLYFISH
The first time I took home an order of Ri Ji Porridge, my mother thought I had purchased it from a Cantonese restaurant.
Ri Ji Porridge is run by Mr Eric Wong, 35, who took over the hawker stall from his father after the latter had a heart attack in 2015.
The Pork Congee ($3.80) and Cuttlefish Peanut Congee ($3.80) are my favourites. The porridge is made from a blend of three types of rice, including Thai jasmine rice, resulting in its fine texture.
The Pork Congee has a generous amount of well-marinated minced and sliced pork. There are plenty of peanuts and cuttlefish in the Cuttlefish Peanut Congee too. The dough fritters used for the topping are handmade by Mr Wong and freshly fried at the stall.
A dish you seldom see on sale at other stalls is Jellyfish ($3 for small, $6 for medium and $10 for large).
Instead of jellyfish tentacles, Mr Wong prepares the dish using jellyfish head, with a savoury, housemade mix of light soya sauce and aromatic fried shallot oil.
Do ask him to go easy on the chilli padi, though, as he tends to be overly generous with it.
Also, try the Yam Cake ($2.10, right) if you have room for it. Mr Wong cuts the yam by hand and you can see and taste ample yam cubes in the cake, which also contains dried prawn. The dressing is a savoury and sweet combination of light soya sauce, sweet sauce, a fried dried prawn topping and a housemade dried prawn-based chilli paste.
This sauce also perks up its Chee Cheong Fun ($2.10), which is inspired by the Malaysian style of chee cheong fun that is more savoury than sweet.
WHERE: Ri Ji Porridge, 269B Queen Street
OPEN: 7am to 7pm daily
DELIVERY: GrabFood and Foodpanda
PRAWN NOODLES WORTH PAYING FOR
At Prawnaholic, hawker chef and stall owner Alan Choong, 25, serves up prawn noodles with flair and creativity.
His experience working in celebrity restaurants shows.
Go for the Special Prawn Noodles (dry, $6.50), which comes with two standard-sized grey prawns and slices of pork belly that are slathered with char siew sauce then torched. Top it off with an Onsen Egg ($1).
Mr Choong recommends dipping each slice of pork belly in the liquid yolk and eating that before mixing up the other condiments in the bowl.
The meat balls are made from scratch every morning with minced pork, and the chilli dipping sauce is prepared using the juice of fresh lemons, which Mr Choong squeezes by hand.
Ask for a combination of yellow noodles with thick beehoon, which are perfectly cooked with the desirable level of springiness, then tossed in a thick savoury and sweet sauce. The accompanying prawn broth is hearty and packed with the flavour of prawn and pork bones.
If you are in the mood to splurge, try the King Prawn Udon ($18), which comes with an onsen egg. The three extra-large prawns which come deveined in a bowl of prawn broth are fresh, sweet and well worth paying for.
WHERE: Prawnaholic, 02-12 Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, 110 Pasir Ris Central
OPEN: 11.30am to 8.30pm (Tuesdays to Sundays); closed on Mondays
DELIVERY: Deliveroo and Foodpanda
TASTE OF JOHOR BARU PAU
If you miss venturing across the Causeway for Johor Baru-style pau, get your fix from food manufacturer Kung Fu JB Pau, available at several locations here, including La Kopi Coffee Shop in Serangoon Central.
The Big Pau (pork version, $2) is made using lean meat from the hind trotter. The filling, a combination of machine- and hand-cut meat, is textured and tender, with a slight bounce.
For the Big Pau (chicken version, $2.10), thigh meat is used with heavier seasoning for the marinade as chicken has less flavour than pork, says Kung Fu JB Pau's managing director, Mr Ken Tan. The 56-year-old Singaporean was spurred by his love of Johor Baru-style pau to start his pau venture with a partner in 2008.
Both the chicken and pork versions have red onion, spring onion and bangkwang (jicama) in the filling. Each big pau is 200g, comprising 100g of filling and 100g of dough.
The dough base of the pau, made with a premium grade of wheat flour and shaped by hand, is so thin,
I suggest you hold the pau upside-down when eating. This prevents the juicy meat filling from falling out.
The Char Siew Pau ($1.10) boasts a filling that is not overwhelmingly sweet. The diced meat filling has bite and is more savoury than sweet.
The Tau Sar Pau ($1) and Lian Rong Pau ($1) are generously filled, but the factory-supplied red bean paste and lotus seed paste fall short of their meaty counterparts.
For takeaway orders to keep for next day's consumption, ask for chilled pau. Keep them in the fridge. To reheat, steam them for no more than 10 minutes.
WHERE: La Kopi Coffee Shop, 01-89, Block 265 Serangoon Central Drive
OPEN: Pau are available from 6.30am to 1pm