Friday, November 27, 2009

Burger Shack

After having a few bad experiences with expensive and seriously overrated burgers, I was a little apprehensive about hot spots of burger joints that have sprouted up across the island. Carl’s Junior has often has been the place I’ve gone to satisfy that occasional burger craving since I know there will be no surprises and their fantastic fries are one of my favourite.

Burger shack was surprisingly good. When it comes to burgers, classics are what I like. Here everything is made to order, so depending on the time of the day the waiting time can differ. I liked the way the burger squished together in my mouth - a soft bun, a juicy patty, homemade tomato relish and some obligatory vegetables for a balanced meal; or build your own burger with additional cheese, bacon and beef patties, purely optional. Nothing I will go nuts over but something that I will come back for.

Burger Shack
#01-01 King’s Arcade
559 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 6466-3477

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tai Hwa - The vinegar bowl that hits the comfort spot

When I get homesick, thing I crave most is bak chor mee. The bowl that really hits the comfort spot … Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee.

The people who run Tai Hwa are masters of their respective roles. The cooking here is done in a very systematic manner - the first guy plunges the noodles into the boiling water, passes the bowl down to the next cook who dresses the noodles and adds the minced pork, the bowl is then returned to the first cook for more ingredients and then passed on to quick succession to another person for the finishing touches. The order taker is amazing and he has an elephant memory. He walks down the queue and takes multiple orders from multiple customers. He covers an average of seven to ten customers which means a ballpark of twenty orders and then walks back to the store and starts stacking bowls, adding bits of noodles to indicate your noodle of choice and spoons to indicate soup.

The queue here is annoying. And you actually have to stand in line. But despair not, there is a fantastic bowl of bak chor mee at the end of the wait. I personally love vinegar and the way they use it here. A winning splash of great vinegar, some chilli, some lard, in the right proportions is a winning concoction. Stir some noodles in the simple heady sauce, add some pork, braised mushrooms, dried flatfish and serve it with sweet pork flavoured soup, it is a winning combination. I could have this for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee
Block 466 Crawford Lane #01-12


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Double boil, more toil and trouble?

The heat here is nothing less than sweltering and earthen jars that the soups sit in are over a meter tall. Working here, if you ask me is no easy feat. But nonetheless, the good people at Earthen Jar here get up everyday to make great soup and they do everything with a smile.

There is soup and then there is double-boiled soup. Here I would say it is great double-boiled soup. Double-boiled, is like double the trouble but the flavours are twice as bold. When it comes to soup, slow cooking prevails and I think the Cantonese have patiently mastered the art of 老火湯 “old fire soups”. The superiority of the double boil is that the ingredients are slowly allowed to relax in their watery environments and to gradually release their nutrients into the soup. Very little moisture is loss in the process and because of the gentler heat as compared to boiling. This is how I would explain it ... imagine the molecules of liquid dancing around and making merry with the other molecules (please use your discretion; the chemical basis of this argument is my imagination) it is by this unhurried process mutually intensifying the overall flavour.

Here at Earthen Jar, they serve six healing soups: Healthy chicken soup, ginseng chicken soup, pork with or without lotus root, black chicken and duck soup… Correction. Not just soups but good precious soups done the old fashion way that preserve delicious and won’t break the bank.

Amongst the six, we tried four. Between the ginseng chicken and healthy chicken soup, the first had a slightly herbal flavour lent by the fresh ginseng whilst the essence of the chicken was clearer. The black chicken soup was by far the sweetest from dates not in a saccharine manner but a little too much for me. The pork I expected to be the sweetest of all turned out to be the most delicate and soothing like its calming benefits. What was surprisingly good was serving of rice the mushroom and dried shrimp, a fragrant sidekick that supports the bigger flavoured soups.

This place is likely to be overlooked. It sits a corner and is overshadowed by its neighbouring eating house which houses heavyweight hawkers such as Rong Cheng Bak Kut The, Hup Seng Braise Duck Rice and a smaller outfit of Ah Orh. We only chanced upon it because we were pointed in that direction by fellow foodies that we met eating at the neighbouring eating house. Well, now that we’ve found it, I’m satisfied and gratified.

Earthen Jar Treasure Herbal Soup
Blk 22 Sin Ming Road
#01-244, 77 Eating House

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