Cheap and good: Old-school cooking a winner at Gu Zao Wei You Tiao stall

ST VIDEO: HEDY KHOO
Gu Zao Wei’s bee hoon, fried egg, curry vegetables and chicken drumstick are flavoursome.
Gu Zao Wei’s bee hoon, fried egg, curry vegetables and chicken drumstick are flavoursome. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

If there is one lesson I learnt from eating the bee hoon at Gu Zao Wei You Tiao Economic Bee Hoon And Nasi Lemak, it is not to judge a dish by its number of ingredients.

True cookery gongfu is in how a chef, limited by cost and practical considerations, transforms humble ingredients into a dish that is a world of flavours.

That is exactly what chef Wendy Lau, 49, does with the bee hoon she fries at her sister’s stall tucked in a corner of Bedok North Industrial Park E.

I make my way there because a friend, Sam, told me it was worth the trip. He had waxed lyrical about the stall’s fried chicken drumstick.

My order of bee hoon, a fried sunny-side-up egg, curry vegetables and a chicken drumstick comes with a generous amount of sambal chilli and two slices of Japanese cucumber. The plate, which can feed two, costs $4.50.

The bee hoon looks plain, but after the first flavoursome mouthful, it takes sheer resolve to not shovel my way through the plate in the quickest time possible.

  • GU ZAO WEI YOU TIAO ECONOMIC BEE HOON AND NASI LEMAK

  • 01-12, Block 3014 Bedok North
    Industrial Park E,
    tel: 9661-1446/8182-9799;
    open: 5.30am to 1.30pm, closed
    on Sundays and public holidays

    Rating: 4 stars

Madam Lau says she uses Thai fish sauce to season the bee hoon. The brown colour comes from dark soya sauce.

But the secret ingredient is garlic and shallot oil. Every other week, she fries a batch of 5kg of shallots and 17kg of garlic. Instead of buying ready-to-use peeled shallots and garlic from her supplier, she insists on buying them with skins on.

The oil, infused with the garlic and shallots, forms the backbone of flavour for her bee hoon.

Instead of the overcooked fried eggs that one often finds at economic bee hoon or rice stalls, the stall serves a serious piece of sunshine that I find a luxury to eat.

Her sister, stall owner May Lau, 60, who admits to having a perfectionist streak, fries the sunny-sideups in simmering oil, no more than five at a time.

The pretty cloud of egg white is tender and fluffy, and that yellow gooey yolkiness that bursts forth at the gentle prick of the fork is all that an egg lover can ask for.

The curry vegetables carry a spicy kick and have a pleasant tang from the use of tamarind.

When I arrive at the stall at 11.30am, the chicken drumstick I get is the last one available. A new batch is being fried while I am ordering, but I have no patience to wait.

To my surprise, the drumstick is still warm and crispy. There is so much flavour in the meat that I pick it up with my hands and tear away at it caveman-style.

No detail is overlooked. Even the sambal chilli is made with Indonesian palm sugar as Madam Wendy Lau finds it more fragrant and healthier than white refined sugar.

She says: “We want to give our customers a taste of simple old-school food and help make them happy on a work day. It gives us a sense of fulfilment if they can taste the heart that goes into preparing their meals.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 13, 2019, with the headline 'Old-school cooking a winner'. Print Edition | Subscribe