Joo Chiat Food Stories
My Shiok Joo Chiat Makan
We are starting a foodie series called My Shiok Joo Chiat Makan for our Joo Chiat website. Please make sure you visit us regularly to find out what and where and join the fun. Joo Chiat is after all the place where you will find some of Singapore's best local fare. Please share your personal favourite makan place with us too to review. Write to us at
Chezcake Bistro, l ocated on Joo Chiat Road, provides full South East Asian-Western fusion style lunches, dinner and high tea. Chezcake, coffee and tea are the eatery's specialities and every home-made chezcake bursts with real fruit and the tantalizing tastes of kiwi, pineapple, mango, strawberry, cherry and orange.
Chezcake Bistro's current top sellers are: Berries Blueberries, White Oblivion, Cherry Brandy, Choco Fruits & Nuts and Rum & Raisin - each one uniquely created and engineered by chef Cannice Lee. The bistro's freshly home-made chezcakes are perfect for all occasions.
Delicious cheesecakes aside, especially the variety with alcohol, Chezcake Bistro also offers much more in terms of tasty appetizers, main courses, drinks and desserts. Authentic and innovative fusion pastas like Tom Yum Pasta and Green Curry Pasta make Chezcake Bistro a favourite amongst the Joo Chiat residents.
Its interesting wine selection is flown in especially from around the world: Australia, Italy, South Africa - and are priced affordably for excellent value. The bistro also offers over 20 different types of fusion teas, as well as a fine selection of coffee.
Cannice Lee established her first Chezcake Bistro in 2003, as a small home business catering to friends. Cannice, a graduate in Accountancy, has always loved cooking and baking during her spare time.
This part-time passion soon turned into a business and a F&B venture when, with the encouragement from friends and colleagues, she opened her first Chezcake Bistro restaurant in 2006 next to Boat Quay @ Lorong Telok, to cater to hungry business people wanting great food at affordable prices.
After 3 years in a central location, she decided to relocate the Bistro to the East of Singapore. Cannice realised very early on that her passion for cooking and baking was more than just a hobby – it was something she wanted to make a part of her life. “Food is an essential source of nourishment to the body as it maintains health and well-being,” said Mdm. Lee. “It is therefore important that we nourish our body with good quality, fresh, natural ingredients in our food.”
A mother of three young children, Cannice is aware of how important good quality, fresh and nutritious food is to the growth and development of her family. These stickiness to freshness and quality are what make Chezcake Bistro unique amongst all other restaurants in Singapore
The finely cooked food and uniquely crafted fruitty cheesecakes already make Chezcake Bistro a favourite amongst Singapore 's business executives. Chezcake Bistro currently caters for all functions including private, company, excutive dinners, weddings and parties. Within a short time frame, Chezcake Bistro has already been recognised by numerous cafes and restaurants islandwide, and its Cheesecakes are sold in household brand outlets like "Botak Jones". The bistro can accommodate up to 40 people, and is available for private functions.
328 Joo Chiat Road #01-05
Tel: +65 63466 466
Tues - Sunday 1.00 pm to 10.00 pm
America Has Finally Arrived In Joo Chiat!
If you are not in the know yet, well, you can begin to start tasting full wholesome smoked out Texan BBQs right at your doorstep.
Smokey’s is an All-American BBQ joint just opened in Joo Chiat Place, right across the road from our very own Kim Choo Bak Chang outlet! It’s opened only in the evenings from 5pm to midnight.
The last time I tasted barbecued ribs, beef brisket and buffalo wings and fries this good was back in a well-known BBQ joint in Houston, Texas. Smokey’s easily beats the ribs in Tomy Romas and even The American Club.
Says owner and operator Californian Rob Rszepvolgyi (just call him Rob): “I took several years to create this. From making our own BBQ sauce, dressings and dry rub, to designing and building our smokers, we paid careful attention to quality and the authentic flavours of the true American BBQ.
“We prepare and slow-cook our smoked meats using a blend of seasoning and wood chips, making
the flavours unique to us . The cooking process can take up to 18 hours in specially built smoking ovens, leaving the meat tender, succulent and juicy. This smoking process tenderizes the meat as well as flavours it with a wonderful taste and aroma.”
But as they all say, the proof is in the eating. Come on over, y’all!!! Yeeha!!!
Smokey's BBQ American Smokehouse & Grill
73 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427790
Tues- Sun 5pm- 11pm. Closed Mondays
Fries Make A Difference
Tel: 6345 5034
The food scene in Joo Chiat just gets better by the month. Over the first weekend of September 2009 a new eatery opened at 458 Joo Chiat Road, with fries as its mainstay.
Everything With Fries is the brainchild of the young team of Awfully Chocolate , that famous chocolaty brand of cakes and ice cream that also began in Joo Chiat but which has since grown island-wide.
“It just so happened that the shop units below our office in the two-storey pre-war building became available and we thought we could do something different for the neighbourhood,” said former lawyer John Yap, one half of Awfully Chocolate (the other half is wife Lynn).
“So we got our young team together and brainstormed what we should do. Everything With Fries was thus born.”
They kept the menu simple and unpretentious and the prices reasonable (mostly under $10). But the quality and portion of the food are all but that!
At Everything with Fries all mains are served with fries with seasonings such as sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, garlic and herb and curry. Or you also get to choose greens if you like either a baby caesar or a coleslaw to go along. And all are freshly done.
You would want to start your meal with the eatery's One Egg Soup. It's a great broth brought together with one egg and no cream added, although one would be hard put to figure that out because it tasted and looked full bodied.
“But you have to be patient, because the soup is done one bowl at a time to get the blend right,” explained John. “We don't scoop it out of a prepared soup pot! Some of our customers couldn't wait for it and they got angry when we first started.”
As for mains, Everything With Fries serves up only 6 types. But they are all done well. Our cheese burger was juicy, moist and tender, done medium. The lamb burger was seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and that must have muted the lamb's distinct taste. The eatery also serves fresh New Zealand King Salmon and a mean pork sandwich and pork chop.
“We do our meats fresh and hand patty them!” John said proudly. “All are done fresh every morning.”
Baking is also done in the morning. This explains why the buns for the burgers and bread for the pork sandwich tasted so fresh and soft.
The desserts are baked in-house too. They've got a pear tart, a nutella tart, cupcakes, poached pears and more. And they're not your run of the mill cafe fodder. We tried the nutella tart and almost died from pure pleasure!
“It's something we do for the kids at home,” said John chuckling. No kidding. I wouldn't be surprised if this new experiment goes island-wide too.
The Garden Slug
The last time I was in the neighbourhood I drove by this little eatery. Until someone drew my attention to it: “You reeeally should try it. Don't miss it.”
The Garden Slug is a cosy, humble little diner located at Lorong L Telok Kurau. Its neighbours are a handful of pet shops and a very well-known animal clinic. And it's just a very short drive away from Joo Chiat.
It offers comfort food like steaks, pastas, salads, sandwiches, soups and such. There are also Southeast Asian iced teas and aromatic coffee to start your day or wind down on a quiet evening.
The eatery's walk-in diners form the core of its business and that's what keeps The Garden Slug busy seven days a week.
Apart from that, however, the three energetic owners (Sharon, Sophia and Joe) cater to parties of all sizes, including being a speed-dating venue, as well as a unique location for exclusive product launches. The diner has also been used as an exhibition space, closed-door events and The Garden Slug even holds cooking classes.
Not surprisingly, with ownership dominated by the ladies, the eatery is a venue of choice for hen parties!
Be it dine-in, takeaway, or catering for functions, the eatery's style is minimalist and fuss-free yet never compromising on the passion and labour that goes into a home-cooked meal.
Some testimonials garnered by The garden Slug along the way:
“It's a laid back, a quiet place just to relax with small group of friends in this nice neighbourhood cafe. We tried the Nutella Banana Mush and it was indeed fantastic!” says one fan.
Yet another: “I absolutely adore The Garden Slug, and make it a point to pop in whenever I'm in the area. The owners are three of the loveliest people you'll meet, and they've imbued this place and the food with so much warmth and sincerity that you'd be hard-pressed to find another little gem of an eatery to match it. The menu's all comfort food - things a friend might serve you if you went to his or her house for a meal - nothing over-elaborate, but everything prepared with lots of TLC.”
So there. What are you waiting for?
WANTON BEHAVIOUR IN JOO CHIAT
(not what you think!)
Visitors to and residents of Joo Chiat may be familiar with that famous wan ton noodle place called Fei Fei along Joo Chiat Place, or Eng's at Dunman Road Hawker Centre.
All well and good, but for a consistently smooth and unforgettably "wanton" treat, I would definitely put my money on Hong Mao Noodle House at 128 Eating Corner along Tembeling Road.
Impatient diners may give up the 30 to 45 minute waits, but patience does have it's virtue, especially when you savour the bowl of steaming hot noodles here.
Directly across from Haig Girls School is a discreet and fairly run down coffee shop that only has two stalls. Right up front proudly occupying the shop frontage is Hong Mao Noodles, while the drinks stall takes a back seat at the rear of the shop.
A bowl of noodles starts at $2.50, but big eaters can go for the $3.50 one, which comes with extra noodles and char siew. Alternatively, order the $2.50 bowl of noodles and add on $2.00 for a steaming hot bowl of wanton soup.
What stands out at Hong Mao is the decidedly fresh and tasty wanton. Unlike many other wanton noodle shops, the meat in the wanton here is generous and well marinated with spices. I could taste a hint of prawn, pepper and salt in the minced meat, all wrapped up in a silky smooth wanton skin.
The soup is nothing to sneeze at as well. I dont know what they boil the soup with - possibly ikan billis and pork bones and yellow beans - but you can drink two bowls of this soup without feeling an onslaught from the MSG monster thereafter.
The noodles are cooked well, so that it doesnt become bloated. By the way, the dry version of the noodles is the dark soy sauce type. Dont expect ketchup with your noodles, in case you were wondering. The only minor point about the dish would be the char siew, which while good, is not spectacular.
Finally, the chilli sauce is to die for. Seriously. Just ask my partner who swallows the chilli sauce like water. No kidding. It's that good.
Hong Mao is open from Tuesdays to Sundays (closed on Mondays) from early morning around 7.30am to just past lunch time at 2pm (or when they sell out). Like I said, be prepared for a half an hour wait, so bring along a book or something to occupy yourself with if you are heading down. Expect longer waiting times for weekends and peak hours (like breakfast and lunch times). And dont mind the grouchy wanton noodle seller and helpers...they are really harmless.
Roti pratas are a must do for breakfast most mornings for most Singaporeans. There are prata sellers in almost every nook and corner but few are good.
In the Joo Chiat neighbourhood there are at least three good prata stalls. I would even say very good. We will deal with one first.
The first, and personal favourite, is a stall run by a husband and wife team - Mr Mohgan and Ms Saroja.
They are at 7 Crane Road, Poh Ho Restaurant - basically a coffee shop at the corner of Crane Road and Onan Road.
To their faithful regulars, they are the prata stall to go to. Their regulars have followed Mohgan and Saroja from their former haunt in Haig Road to the present Crane Road over the past nine months since they moved into the neighbourhood.
To the purists, Mohgan's prata kosongs are not in the least pasty. They have that fluffy delicate airiness that distinguishes all excellent pratas . Like days of old. Not the oily biscuity versions of Upper Thomson Road.
What also sets Mohgan's pratas apart from the competition is the dollop of ikan bilis sambal and curry (dahl, fish, or mutton) that accompany the pratas . They just go sooo well together and remind me of the roti chanais that I used to take a long time ago at the Malay chanai stalls in Malaysia!
The sambal especially has just a hint of ikan bilis and a tangy taste that offsets the light curry that one can just slurp off on its own.
For those who like a little side meat with their pratas , Mohgan will heat up a small serving of mutton curry on his flat pan. The meat is soft and well stewed. It may be a little muttony for some, but it still tastes gooood.
What I like also about friendly Mohgan is that he is willing to customise the pratas to your preference. You don't like your pratas with too much oil? No problem. Let him know and you'll get exactly the prata the way you like it!
Mohgan's Pratas, Poh Ho Restaurant
7 Crane Road (junction of Crane Road and Onan Road)
Open seven days a week from 6.30am to 12.30pm (CLOSED END OF THE MONTH)
Don't be Chicken!
Past Sunday, June 22nd, The Sunday Times did a taste test on fried chicken from fast food and snack outlets to see if they were all finger lickin' good.
What The Sunday Times article failed to do was to include the best kept fried chicken secret in Singapore. And it's available right at our door step, and even delivered to you, if you're too lazy to take a walk. As far as I'm concerned, it's definitely not a comprehensive list, especially when Arnold's Fried Chicken was not on it!
One of the best things I found out after buying my apartment in Joo Chiat Road last year was to find out that Arnold's Fried Chicken was able make home deliveries to our area.
For fried chicken affiandos like me, the very mention of Arnold's Fried Chicken at City Plaza will illicit mouth watering visions of fresh, crispy and tender fowls with hot fried buns and freshly made coleslaw.
What's really special about Arnold's is the crispiness and flavour-bursting juiciness of the meat and skin. The chicken doesnt taste like it's been in the freezer for two weeks and the spices used makes the flavour not as salty as KFC's or Carl's Jr's chicken pieces. You also dont get the "gelak" after effects nor a sudden craving for water due to too much MSG. In fact, a friend who works in the food flavourings industry commented that the Arnold's Chicken seem to have very little MSG!
Arnold's Chicken menu is pretty comprehensive, if you consider the set up of their main outlet at City Plaza. From the trademark whole spring chicken meal (comes with fries, coleslaw and bun) to the 2, 3 and 5 persons' set meals, the chicken is always cooked upon order, so you receive your meals piping hot (yes, it's a table service restaurant).
Besides chicken, the outlet also serves up fish and chips, calarmari, onion rings, a potato platter amongst other delightful fried products. You also get desserts in the form of banana splits and ice kachang on the menu to round off the meal.
Expect to pay roughly $10 per person for a meal, with drinks, but be prepared for queues especially during dinner time (though orders and queues are pretty efficient).
If you're not one to queue, then go during off peak hours for a quick snack, or call to make a home delivery (selected places, but Joo Chiat's included -- hooray!) at 6-ARNOLDS (6-2766537). Delivery charges and minimum amounts apply. You can also check out their website at www.arnoldsfriedchicken.com for the menu and more info on catering and home deliveries.
Go ahead...dont be chicken!
Mouth-watering fare at hard to beat prices -
Just the other day Lin and I decided to take a bite on East Coast Road. We instinctively headed towards our favourite char kway teow stall at the corner coffee shop at Jago Lane when my wife gave me a nudge to the ribs. “Let’s try somewhere else,” she said. Diet control again.
We strolled the five-foot way towards Holy Family Church and saw some toddlers with their minders playing in three bamboo swing chairs outside a little, just-opened café. It seemed little filled, but then it was just before 6pm, hardly the time for family dinner.
Looking at the menu outside, and then spying inside, which had clean minimalist lines, we decided to give Oliv a try. The prices looked very reasonable and the selection of dishes seemed interesting enough.
I must have had the best beer battered fish fillet in Singapore. The batter was just right, not oily and crisp on the outside. But the fish was the killer. It broke into chunks easily and cleanly but it was moist and full of flavor. We also had salad which I asked to be done simply and it did not fail to please. Linda had a pork rib that was so well cooked that the meat just peeled from the bone. It was tender and succulent and the tangy sauce was “just heavenly.”
We started asking about the chef.
With 12 years of culinary experience under his belt, Kevin Heng was raring for a chance to call a place his own. Within just a matter of months, Kevin made his dream come true with Café Oliv, the latest star on the food streets of Katong!
Previously working for Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa and the Emerald Hill Group, cooking has been Kevin’s passion since young. When he finally found this shop house, he just could not let this golden opportunity pass, and decided against all odds to follow his heart and pursue his lifelong devotion to cooking by starting Café Oliv. Kevin also roped in his long-time buddy and classmate at SHATEC, Patrick Ang, and their ready camaraderie shines through in their food, as they prepare every dish with utmost dedication day after day.
Just as olive symbolises peace, Café Oliv provides an amicable and cosy ambience for its customers.
The significance of olive can be further felt in his dishes, as Kevin uses mainly olive oil for marinating. Much thought has been put into the décor of the café, to allow customers to feel right at home. One can sit back and relax in the hanging rattan chairs just outside the café for chitchat or a cup of coffee, or simply enjoy a meal inside with an intricate use of decals featuring nature and homely designs on its walls. Its bright and warm atmosphere makes for a nice family meal or just a treat for oneself after a hard day’s work. It is indeed an oasis of rest for the busy city dweller.
Cafe Oliv - 220 East Coast Road. (Opposite the Esso petrol station at Still Road/East Coast Road junction). Reservations: 63443114
Pu Tien Chinese Food in Joo Chiat
There's now a fantastic new eatery in Joo Chiat that's become a magnet for foodies living in East Coast. Located at 178 Joo Chiat Road, the month-old Sheng Restaurant serves authentic Pu Tien Heng Hwa cuisine. Friends who have eaten there have been waxing lyrical about the food served. One of their favourites is the Fried Mee Sua that gets sold out sometimes by early evening. It's real good because proprietress Serene Toh is a stickler for quality. "If we don't get the right kind of mee sua to sell, we just don't." Serene is a stickler for detail and quality. Other must-eats include their stir- fried yam with garlic and shallots, Wuxi pork ribs which is a slow-cooked braised pork in the chef's signature secret sauce, deep fried tofu that's made fresh every morning, and Sheng's specialty lor mee. Never mind Sheng's location, which is in the heart of Joo Chiat's ktv stretch, because it serves only families, which are coming in droves. Sheng is opened for lunch and dinner seven days a week 11.30am to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 11.00pm, last order 10.30pm. Contact Serene at 63480859.
East Coast Top Zhi Char!
Joo Chiat's very own zhi char Madame Low has opened an air-con unit right next to her popular eating house. Now we can lunch in real comfort. The15 year eatery is easily one of the best in the neighbourhood and good for multiple visits. But, be warned, the surroundings can be colourful in the evenings. Must-try dishes include their Emperor Shrimp, Seafood Fried Rice, Thai style fishhead curry..
Sunset Bay Sentosa Comes to Joo Chiat
"We've never felt so urban, you know," laughed Cindy as she described her four-day rush to set up the family pub-cafe at Eurasian Community House in Ceylon Road.
"For more than 13 years we were out there by the sea in Sentosa. That's what we've always been used to since we were young. We were all raised outdoors by our parents," said Cindy. So much so that now, even among the tall trees, shrubs and green of Eurasian House, there's this urge to reach out for the wide open sky and stars.
"We'll turn this place around," said a self-assured Cindy. "We want to recreate that ambience and feel that our regulars have come to expect from us, and where our new customers can feel welcome as a family too. Give us a couple of months or so."
Cindy is one of the three Eurasian siblings of Sentosa Foam Party fame. Remember the evening in December 1997 when Singapore threw its first foam party and turned the island's party scene on its head?
Cindy, Paul and Gary Berlandier, who were then operating Sunset Bay, Singapore's first public beach bar, have come one full circle.
Now it's Sunset Bay @ Eddie's Place in Eurasian House, Ceylon Road.
So who does the cooking around here? Cindy and Gary looked at Paul, nicely turned out in his white chef tunic. "I learnt first how to cook from our father, a big game hunter. I was then twelve. Dad had killed a wild boar, upriver Endau, and he had brought the pig into camp," recalled Paul, smiling. "And there and then he gave me instructions and forced me to cook my first wild boar devil curry, in the Malaysian jungle."
Of course, you won't find wild boar devil curry in the Berlandiers' menu, which has been totally no pork no lard since Sentosa days to cater to their customers' needs.
Still, the menu reads like a Eurasian banquet, with recipes culled from mum Evelyn's (now 78) family secrets, late dad's recipes, and Paul's own culinary creations - devil curry, chilli beef cashew, beef smore, mutton vindaloo, sambal prawn, Tropicana fish and chicken, and lamb stew - all served with sambal belachan, chinchalok (preserved baby shrimp in brine), and pickle on request.
Sunset Bay is probably now Singapore's only Eurasian restaurant with a Eurasian cook. (Joo Chiat has another very good restaurant - Casa Bon Vento - that also serves Eurasian food, along with Malaccan Peranakan.)
At Sunset Bay, you can also order some of Singapore's best tasting chicken
wings, fish and chips, teriyaki chicken chop, sirloin beef steak and mixed
grill plate, among others.
And you down them all with good beer, fine wine or soda.
We tried one evening, on recommendation, Paul's lamb stew, devil curry and Tropicana chicken. We thought this wouldn't be enough for three adults as the prices, averaging $8, seemed to indicate small portions. We were pleasantly surprised.
While not exactly American, they were sized just right for Asians - true value! "These are beach cafe prices, ah," Cindy said. "We decided to keep them about there, because our regulars have gotten used to them. Can't change too much, now." We are not complaining.
But the test is in the eating. Paul's own rendering of lamb stew was nice and tasty. The medium diced meat seemed stewed over low fire long enough to get it into a state of tasty tenderness. But we did feel it was a bit "lammy". Maybe it's because we don't take much lamb, although we know of lamb eaters who will not have it any other way.
Paul's chicken devil curry lived up to its being the Eurasian community's iconic dish. The gravy was full bodied and the spice mix of mustard powder, tumeric powder, candlenuts and vinegar was just right. It left one feeling satisfied - especially when we scooped the gravy onto our rice and then poured lamb stew over it. And it was not chilli hot as one would expect, probably to cater to a wider mix of customers.
However, Paul's Tropicana chicken was just tops. Not exactly Eurasian, but a fusion of moist thick orangey red Eurasian rempah topping on a juicy slab of Brazilian marinated fried chicken. There was just no getting away from this dish. Certainly, this is one dish where looks are deceiving. It just tasted better with each bite.
Sunset Bay is clearly family friendly. Two other families were there when we dined - a family of four playing darts and pool and dancing to the Berlandiers' 70s, 80s, and 90s music, and another playing table football.
So, come dressed in beach wear - it's back to the kampung. "Less is best," said friendly and smiling Cindy.
It is the only wanton mee stall in Singapore where you need to go to the stall-owner, empty bowl in hand, to ask for soup.
Fei Fei in Joo Chiat is debatably the country's best wanton noodle stall. It is iconic to the neighbourhood, having been around for more than forty years.
"It's not that we are arrogant," explains Vincent Lim, one of two brothers who run this family business at 64 Joo Chiat Place. "Our grandfather had set up a small stall in the back lane of Mangis Road with three tables and fifteen chairs, behind his terrace house. There was so little space people had to stand around while eating. That was why he did not offer soup in separate bowls. When his customers finished the noodles and wanted soup, they'd bring the empty bowl to him. That's been the tradition."
And one that clearly marks out Fei Fei from other wanton stalls.
But for wanton aficionados, it is the texture of Fei Fei's egg-based noodle that differentiates it from the other stalls in Singapore. Some others say the chilli sauce also makes it unique.
"Our noodles are still hand-made," says Vincent. "Our grandfather learnt to make it the traditional way, and we have adapted that to our factory."
Vincent's grandfather had learnt the ingredients and techniques of noodle-making from his village elders in Guangzhou. He belonged to the Sang Mui dialect group, and, in those days, they helped each other to make a living through fermenting soya sauce or hand-making needles.
That's why, to this day, Fei Fei's regulars swear by its full-bodied, almost chewy, tasty noodles.
To bring out the best in the noodles, Fei Fei's dried wanton mee does not come with any fancy, saucy concoction. Instead, it is simply flavoured with its very own specially made chilli sauce, which regulars swear is another stand-out.
"We buy the chilli base," says Vincent. "Then we mix and cook it to the way we want it." Till today, like Fei Fei's egg noodle, the chilli sauce recipe is only known to him and his brother Kevin.
Supper at Joo Chiat
By Terrence Teh
I’m proud to tell people I live in Joo Chiat, particularly because food is never far away, any time of the day. In fact, I fear that I scoff unconsciously at friends whenever the topic of supper comes up, especially if they reside in the Western or North-Eastern extremities of the country. Hah! I’ve got great food at my doorstep. (Gosh, I did it again) Truth be told, if the Katong area is the cradle of great food in Singapore, then Joo Chiat must surely be in-charge of the supper division. While the rest of Singapore is sleeping, Joo Chiat is alive with bright lights and bustling traffic, revealing a treasure-trough of food gems long salivated at in local supper folklore.
In this story, I’ll try to touch the tip of the iceberg by sharing about four of my personal favourite supper joints in the Joo Chiat locality:
1) Fei Fei Wanton Noodles
Tucked away a stone’s throw from the madding crowd, the Fei Fei Wanton Noodle coffee-shop is packed night after night. It is not uncommon to see late-shift taxi drivers gathered amongst the tables for a quick bite (and taxi drivers know food best). Fei Fei has consistently been a Joo Chiat favourite for as long as I can remember. It arguably serves one of the best wanton noodles in Singapore. The noodles (S$2.50) taste fresh and are al-dente to the bite, and are mixed with a good proportion of chilli and tomato sauce. Marry this with soft wantons (dumplings) and thinly sliced char-siew, and you have a delectable dish that has satisfied supper-goers for decades.
Fei Fei Wanton Noodles
64, Joo Chiat Place
Open for lunch till late
2) Sin Hoi Sai Eating House
They say that change is the only constant, but it seems that along the portion of East Coast Road near the Joo Chiat junction, Sin Hoi Sai remains one of the few that has defied that statement. Branching out from the original Tiong Bahru locality, the Joo Chiat/Katong branch of Sin Hoi Sai has entrenched itself into the East-side supper scene as one of the mainstays since the 80s. Packed with a dinner crowd and open late into the night, Sin Hoi Sai offers a good variety of ‘zi-char’ dishes at reasonable prices, complemented nicely with freshly brewed Chrysanthemum tea. A clear favourite of mine on the menu is the Beef Hor Fun noodles, starting at S$4.00 for a small portion, enough to max out my tummy space. Compared to the hyped Geylang counterpart, you will find that Sin Hoi Sai’s version is able to compete in terms of taste, without having to use truckloads of MSG in its cooking.
Sin Hoi Sai Eating House
East Coast Road (opposite Holy Family Church)
Opens for dinner till late
3) AB & ABC Restaurant
I’m really curious how food journalists in Singapore manage to distinguish good prata joints from bad ones. As far as I’m concerned, all of them pre-cook their kosongs and their telohs and chuck them into a Tupperware, at least until an unsuspecting customer orders them. Before you skip to the next number on the list, let me draw your attention to H.M Hanifa’s Banana Honey prata. I’ve tried many others, and I’ve even tried the Banana-Condensed Milk version in Thailand, and my tongue has managed to relegate these as compared to H.M Hanifa’s. Freshly cooked, crispy prata filled with banana slices and topped with a layer of honey that goes well with or without the curry, coming to you at only S$2.00 a pop. For the chilli lovers who enjoy ultra-spicy fare, test your endurance against H.M Hanifa’s range of other foods, like Mee Goreng and Bryani.
AB & ABC Restaurant
Corner Joo Chiat Road and Duku Road
Open 24 hours
4) People’s Prawn Noodles
To those who don’t wish to travel all the way to Adam Road for quality prawn mee, People’s Prawn Noodles is a welcome sight. Down to the basics first: how different is People’s Prawn Noodles and why is it so good? For one, the soup stock is thick and tasty; evidently the cooks spend a substantial amount of time boiling it to extract the prawn head essence as the base. The prawns here, by the way, are huge. For a starter bowl (at S$5.00), you can get two big prawns sliced into half for easy access to the meat. Connoisseurs of prawns can order the more ‘deluxe’ version (at S$15.00), that is, a larger quantity of prawns included.
People’s Prawn Noodles
354, Joo Chiat Road
Closes at 3 a.m.