FRESH SHELLFISH AND HANDMADE NOODLES
Get your shellfish fix at Lai Jie Jia Seafood and tuck into noodles handmade to order at Lai Jie Jia La Mian. The two stalls are located next to each other in an eating house at the junction of Geylang Road and Lorong 27 Geylang.
Lai Jie Jia Seafood sells a variety of shellfish. Go for the Mala Hai Luo ($15), which is cooked to order. Hai luo is known locally as gong gong. It is an edible sea snail.
The gong gong at this stall are so fresh that the meat comes out of the shell with a slight pull of the nail. Head cook Xu Cheng, 36, who is originally from Shandong, goes to the wet market every morning to personally pick the seafood.
The style of cooking is Shandong. Unlike the dongbei (north-east China) style of cooking with its heavy use of salt, oil and spices, the Shandong style of seasoning is more balanced.
You will find the mala sauce here neither overly spicy nor numbing. Chinese doubanjiang (fermented bean sauce) and roasted green Szechuan peppercorns give the dish savoury and aromatic depth.
There is sufficient heat from dried chillies and finger chillies without your lips and tongue going numb.
I cannot get enough of the Bai Zhuo Xia (White Boiled Prawns, $10). The perfectly blanched fresh sea prawns pack in such sweetness, there is no need for any dipping sauces.
At the la mian stall, the noodles are handmade to order. The chef pulls the dough by hand, and the noodles are made, boiled and fried on the spot. I recommend the Fried Egg Noodles ($6), which comes in a portion large enough for two to share.
Three eggs go into that serving of noodles, alongside onion, woodear mushroom and beansprouts.
The culinary skills of head cook Zhao Liang, 29, are evident in this seemingly simple dish, because it takes excellent control of the fire and cooking time to retain the noodles' springy texture and the vegetables' crunchiness.
WHERE: 489 Geylang Road MRT: Aljunied OPEN: Lai Jie Jia La Mian is open from 8am to 2am daily. Lai Jie Jia Seafood is open from 10am to midnight daily.
ROASTED VEGETABLES TO WIN A MEAT LOVER'S HEART
Opened last November, Apollo Coffee Bar is the latest and fourth outlet from the same team behind Atlas Coffeehouse, Columbus Coffee Co and Lunar Coffee Roaster.
The vegetarian Mean & Green Tartine ($18.50+) may sound like a meat lover's nightmare, but the combination of roasted kale, asparagus, leeks, thinly sliced zucchini, avocado jam and parmesan on ciabatta bread turns out to be a delightful and tasty play of textures. The dish comes with a generous topping of pistachios.
The Shishito Chilli Chicken ($19+) is one of the cafe's signature dishes. Fresh shishito peppers from Japan are used with shallots and garlic to prepare the marinade. The chicken drumsticks are marinated for two days, but the flavour fails to fully penetrate the meat in the thickest part of the drumstick.
Coffee lovers can try The Cosmos ($7+) which is brewed using the iced filter method. The coffee is served unadulterated by sugar or milk, in apothecary-like bottles.
WHERE: 65 Serangoon Garden Way MRT: Lorong Chuan OPEN: 9am to 10pm. Closed on Mondays TEL: 6246-3875 INFO: E-mail email@example.com
At Menya Kokoro, you can now enjoy ramen dishes, such as the recently launched Miso Moyashi Ramen ($11.80+ for regular, $13.80+ for large), with Kumamoto-style noodles.
Kumamoto-style noodles refer to glass noodles or bean vermicelli. The restaurant came up with this option for diners who want low-calorie and gluten-free noodles.
The dish comes with a generous quantity of stir-fried beansprouts and cabbage, topped with the eatery's signature kokoro minced meat sauce made from minced pork, spring onions, chives, fish powder, garlic and nori seaweed.
Another new dish is Tori Teriyaki Mazesoba ($12.80+ for regular, $14.80+ for large), which comes with an option of less soba and more vegetables.
An onsen egg can be added for $1.50+. The teriyaki marinade is made in-house, but the final dish comes with a smothering amount of house-made tartar sauce, which overtakes the teriyaki flavour of the chicken thigh that is cooked sous vide and torched.
New side dishes include the Potato Salad ($3.80+) and Nikujaga (Chicken and Vegetable Stew, $4.80+).
WHERE: 02-10, 100AM, 100 Tras Street MRT: Tanjong Pagar OPEN: 11am to 3pm, 5.30 to 9.30pm (Mondays to Thursdays); 11am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm (Fridays); 11am to 10pm (Saturdays); 11am to 9.30pm (Sundays) TEL: 6443-1727