Hai Di Lao? Try Elixir Health Pot (Wu Lao Guo) at Taipei

Elixir Health Pot (無老鍋) Wu Lao Guo @ Taipei

Address: No. 36-1, Section 2, Zhongshan N Rd, Zhongshan District 台北市中山區中山北路二段36-1號

Opening hours: 11.00am to 2.30am daily

Online Reservation: http://partner.eztable.com/booking.php?page_name=wulao

Introduction

Wu Lao Guo is a renowned Steam Boat Restaurant owned by the Tripodking Group (鼎王国际餐饮股份有限公司). Elixir Health Pot (無老鍋) or Wu Lao Guo, is an brand expansion of the famous Tripodking Spicy Hot Pot and opened it’s door in Year 2009.

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This place was recommended by a friend who sworn that this is his number 1 for Best Steamboat, even better than our Singapore’s Hai Di Lao (海底捞). I went to their Taipei branch at Zhongshan Station (中山站) which is about 7 minutes walk from MRT. I wouldn’t be able to get a table without reservation as it’s full house on a Sunday evening.

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The dining ambiance is little different from a typical Chinese style restaurant. The dining floor is dimly lited with most of the light coming from a pair of bright dining light overhanging the hot pot.  Each and every table is spaciously partitioned into a semi-private dining area.

Ice Cream Tofu Soup Base

I opt for their Ice Cream Tofu soup base that is boiled in ingredients like pork bone and ginseng. Honestly, this broth is best thing at Wu Lao Guo. It’s definitely satisfying for people that like Tonkotsu broth but this broth is like three times more flavourful. The ingredients in the soup is refillable as well.

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I can say that I have never tasted a steamboat base with such a strong flavour before. And that is when I understand why there are only three items at the condiment counter, because there is no need for it. Everything that you dumped into the pot comes out tasty.

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I’m quite satisfied with most of the items that i’d ordered. Items like the thinly sliced Shabu Shabu Pork, fried dough stick and bean curb skin are very enjoyable thanks to the robust soup base.

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The pork dumpling is very well flavoured, it’s like as if you are eating the fillings of some pork bun (肉包) found in Singapore with a typical meat ball texture.

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The cooked Scallop Paste also has a fish-like fibery texture, with a blend of sweet and savoury taste. This is something that I will order again if I’m back next time.

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The texture of the ice cream tofu is very fluffy and soft and unlike this name suggest, it doesn’t has a sweet taste. It doesn’t exactly melt in your mouth but it’s pretty interesting as I never had anything similar in Singapore before. However it’s not something that I will order if it doesn’t comes with the soup.

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Here’s a summary of the damage:

Soup Base per pax NT$159 (S$7.3 x 2 )
Shabu Shabu Pork Shoulder NT$288 (S$13)
Scallop Paste NT $268 ($12.2)
Bean Curd Skin NT$88 (S$4)
Pork Dumpling NT$128 (S$5.8)
Fried Dough Stick NT$68 (S$3.1)
Mixed Mushroom NT$168 (S$7.6)

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Conclusion

Apart from the food, I’m rather impressed with Wu Lao Guo’s service. The waitresses are very attentive to my requests and always bow at 90 degree whenever she attended to a request. Talking about VIP treatment.

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If you want some variety instead of just whacking the cheap and tasty Taiwanese street food, Elixir Health Pot (Wu Lao Guo) may just be the place. On top of providing comfort and great service, their food is pretty outstanding too.  Looking for a nice restaurant to bring your parents I hear?

The price is not exactly economical, but if you are ok with price of Singapore’s Hai Di Lao (海底捞), you will definitely be ok with this. Personally, i feel that this is more bang for your bucks than Hai Di Lao.

If you intend to visit this place, i would suggest to make an online reservation ( http://partner.eztable.com/booking.php?page_name=wulao).

Map and Direction

Going to Wu Lao Guo Zhongshan Brunch is very simple and straightforward.

  1. Alight at Zhongshan station and come out from Exit 3
  2. Continue walking straight until you come to Zhongshan North Road. You won’t miss this. It’s a main road.
  3. There is no need to cross the road. Turn left and continue walking for about 200m and you will see Wu Lao Guo

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Hello Kitty Cafe @ Taipei, Zhongxiao Fuxing

Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining (凱蒂貓餐廳)

Address: No. 90, Section 1, Da’an Rd, Da’an DistrictTaipei City, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan (台灣大安路一段90號台北市)

Opening hours: 11:30am to 9:30pm daily

Facebook Page (For reservation): https://www.facebook.com/Hello-Kitty-Kitchen-And-Dining-260853043946112/

Introduction

Opened in Year 2008, this Hello Kitty Cafe at Taipei finally underwent a major renovation and reopened in July 2015 and I’m just in time to catch a glimpse of this brand new cafe. It’s situated in Taipei and is nearest to the MRT station Zhongxiao Fuxing (Exit 3) which takes only about 3 minutes of walking.

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At the restaurant, the rice is Hello Kitty, the bread is Hello Kitty, the Napkin is Hello Kitty, the cake is Hello Kitty. Basically everything is either in Hello Kitty shape or decorated with the Cat’s signature bow tie. For those that has phobia of pink, please do not ever step into this restaurant.

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As a man, naturally (fortunately) I did not experience the exhilaration of dining in such a restaurant however I have to agree that the interior is very well thought of and I’m sure the Fans of Hello Kitty will definitely enjoy the dining ambience.

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Menu 1 of 2. Click to enlarge.

 

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Menu 2 of 2. Click to enlarge.

Food

Among the menu, I ordered the two safest choice which is their Japanese Style Curry Pork Chop Rice at NT$500 (S$22) and their Mushroom Bacon Beef Burger at NT$450 (S$20). These main courses come with bread, soup, choice of drink and a choice of dessert.

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As I have almost zero expectation of the food here, I was surprised that the two main courses are actually quite decent, and I especially love the fries that come with the Burger.

The bread and rice come in a shape of Hello Kitty, which I think it will be an interesting meal to have especially for young kids.

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However, their soup is quite a disaster which I gave up the whole bowl after having a mouthful.

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The dessert, the Golden Chocolate Pie’s crust is a little too stiff and hard but I find the fillings quite delicious. The taste of their Cheese Cake is good but it’s a pity that the texture is a bit too dry. Oh well.

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Did I mention that there is a minimum spending of NT$300 (S$13.60) per person?

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If you are coming here for a meal, fret not because it will definitely cost more than that (not sure if it’s a good thing). There is also a dining duration of 1.5 hours, although the whole restaurant is relatively empty during my visit (Monday 8.00pm).

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Conclusion

I think if the purpose of visit to this café is to enjoy the best meal in Taipei, then you should give this place a miss. However, if the purpose is the indulge yourself in a fun and pretty dining environment, and also to take a lot of pretty food photos as if they are some sort of attraction, then this place is probably more suitable for you.

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Again, the two main courses that I ordered are actually quite decent, not disgusting. For some, I believe just looking at the dishes already made some people happier and in a better mood for dining.

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If you are looking for a place that your kids may enjoy, and not ridiculously crowded (unlike the newly opened Rilakkuma Café) this may just be the place.

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They do accept online reservation via Facebook and you can find the URL at the start of my post. This café is conveniently located within minutes of walking from the MRT station. On google map, you won’t be able to located the exact Location of Exit 3 of Zhongxiao Fuxing station so I did up one for you here. Basically, when you come out from the exit, just go straight and turn right:

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CreatureS, the hipster restaurant at Desker Road

Address: 120 Desker Road

Opening Hours: Tue-Thu 12.00 pm to 10.30 pm, Fri-Sat 12.00 pm to 11.30 pm, Sun 12.00 pm to 10.30 pm, Closed on Mon

Introduction

CreatureS, a restaurant that is just opened 8 July 2015, is a restaurant situated at the most hipster location ever imagined – Desker Road. Desker Road had a little history of being the notorious red light district, but don’t worry, it’s pretty clean and safe nowadays.

From the menu, CreatureS’ dishes appear to be mainly western, but most of them has a local Singapore twist. Their Durian Cake is very reputable on social media and dishes like the 5-Spice Roast Pork and Crabmeat Croissant seem pretty interesting to try too.

This restaurant appears to be rather small from the outside, but it’s another haven upon stepping into it. The dining ambiance is set in a spa-like environment with a well-thought greenery placement at every corner of the restaurant with a lingering fragrance of essential oil. Seems like much thoughts had been put in to engage all our five senses at CreatureS and the relaxing dining environment is something that instantly appeals to me.

CreatureS Menu – Click to enlarge

Crabmeat Croissant ($26.00++)

Among the main courses, this is my favourite – Crab Meat Croissant. It’s actually more of a Crabmeat salad with Croissant though.  The portion of shredded crab meat is served cold in a Japanese Salad Dressing, Sasame Oil and Mayonaise with Coriander bits.

They are rather generous on the portion of the crab meat, however it comes at a price tag of $26.00++. The Croissant is served warm and crisp, baked in melted cheese, and the dish is complete by topping the dish with an egg benedict. As someone that likes coriander, i especially like the hint of coriander fragrance in the mix.

Ah Ma Chicken Ah Gong Noodle ($22.00++)

This dish has a rather interesting name, which suggested the dish to have a simple but homely taste. The noodle has a soft bouncy texture and the flavour comes from the simple shallot oil. It’s not exactly exciting when eaten by itself. As for the fried chicken, the portion is big, however I feel that it doesn’t justify it’s price tag of $22.

It tasted like a typical Taiwan chicken cutlet, crispy, juicy and satisfying, but my friend find that the portion is a little too big and cloying for his liking. It may be better to reduce the size of the cutlet, increase the portion of the noodle, and reduce the price tag by a little.

Zhu Burger ($23.00++)

Zhu actually means pig in mandarin so to put it simply,  this is a pork burger. It comes with a thick minced pork patty, a side salad and a good portion of fries. The salad dressing is too salty for my liking, although i pretty much like the taste of it.

The interesting part is they added Chinese Pickled Vegetable into the burger  patty and it reminded me of the steamed pork patty that we had at the mixed vegetable rice stall, but with a more sophisticated taste. The pork patty is well cooked, moist, however it is not exceptional and doesn’t leave an impression.

Durian Cake ($12.00++)

Although CreatureS has only started their operation a couple of months back, some on the social media had already branded this as the best Durian Cake in Singapore.  To be able to enjoy this highly sort after cake, it’s best to email them to make a reservation (for the cake) before making a trip down.

I can’t decide if this is the best Durian Cake in Singapore but i thought this cake is pretty well done up. Fresh Durian Meat is stacked between layers of lightly sweetened pandan sponge cake topped with a layer of luscious vanilla cream. This cake is not exactly a cake that is packed with nothing but chunks of Durian and Durian but more of a cake that is more balanced in term of cake and Durian ratio so do manage the expectation (although it appears otherwise on photo). If only the cake can be a little more moist.

Conclusion

The price of the dishes here is a little higher than average with their main courses offering from $22.00 to $32.00 before tax. Among the main courses that I tried, my vote goes to the Crab Croissant while the other two doesn’t impress as much. Some names of the dishes are actually more interesting than it taste but the Durian cake does leave an impression. Will i be back? Yes probably, to try out their five-spice roast pork and their Orh Nee Cake, which is unavailable during my visit. *sad*

Actually, the one thing that I like the most is in fact the dining ambiance, without the usual hustle and bustle of a busy and cramped cafe.  I enjoyed the dining ambiance than the food experience itself. My five cents worth of opinion – CreatureS has very good potential and stood out among the existing cafes, but maybe they just need to work on and tweak the menu a little bit to make it even better.

Tanuki Raw by Standing Sushi Bar and their Truffle Yakiniku Donburi

Tanuki Raw by Standing Sushi Bar and their Truffle Yakiniku Donburi

Address: 181 Orchard Road #02-03 Orchard Central

Opening hours: 11.30am to 10.30pm daily (Lunch set available from 11.30am to 3.00pm daily)

Introduction

Tanuki Raw, a sister restaurant of Standing Sushi Bar, is situated at level 2 of Orchard Central. It occupies a cosy corner just behind the escalator and this restaurant offers an indoor and outdoor seating. It’s actually an oyster bar that also offers a good selection of Japanese-inspired dishes such as Donburi and Sushi Roll. A price of their main course typically ranges from $16 – $20, however Tanuki Raw has a lunch menu which offers the exact item on their menu at a cheaper price. For instance, a Salmon Don that usually cost $18.00++ only cost $12.00++ during lunch.

Tanuki Raw Menu – Click to enlarge

Truffle Yakiniku Don ($14.80 during lunch and $18.00 during non lunch)

The Yakiniku Truffle Don is the signature rice bowl at Tanuki Raw that consist of Angus Short Rib slices, an onsen egg and a portion of seasoned rice drizzled with truffle soy sauce. This bowl scores a very high score in term of presentation and the taste is too able to match up to the expectation. The tender beef goes very well with the rice that is flavoured with Japanese mixed seasoning as well as the truffle oil. Needless to say, anything with an onsen egg with a soft boiled flowing egg yoke can’t really go wrong.

Yakitori Don ($12.00 during lunch and $16.00 during non lunch)

The Yakitori Don doesn’t sounds exactly exciting as it’s commonly found almost everywhere. However, this is actually one of the best that I had. The exterior of the chicken is surprisingly crispy whereas the inside is soft and tender. The rice is doused in a good serving of teriyaki sauce and goes very well with the crunchy vegetable. At $12.00++ (lunch menu) for it’s quality, i am quite pleased with this dish.

Salmon Don ($12.00 during lunch and $18.00 during non lunch)

The Salmon Don is also one of the popular choices here. It comes with three kinds of Salmon – sliced raw, cubes in mayonaise and seared. They are rather generous with the portion of salmon and the rice is flavoured as well. This is not a bad choice for Salmon lovers but I do prefer their Yakiniku Beef and Teriyaki Beef over this.

Chirashi Don ($17.80 during lunch and $20.00 during non lunch)

Chirashi Don is gaining popularity as people nowadays are no longer satisfied with just one kind of Salmon sashimi. The Chirashi don is served with six kinds of Sashimi, two kinds of Roe and a few slices of Tamago. At $17.80++, i wouldn’t say it’s cheap but with ingredients like Scallop, Sea Bream, Tuna, Salmon, Swordfish and Striped Jack, it’s quite a feast for the price that you are paying.

Superstar Roll ($11.00)

This seared salmon sushi roll is drizzled with savoury mentaiko sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and tempura flakes. The overall texture is pretty good with a mix of creamy and crispy texture. The seared salmon, as expected, has a smoky fragrance and the melty salmon texture is always the best part of dish . If I compare this with Koh Grill’s Shiok Maki, it’s still a little pale in comparison but for the price of $11++, I think it’s pretty not bad.

Instagram This ($13,00)

Yakiniku Steak, Tamago, Bacon, Melted Cheese, Ketchup, Mayo and Chopped Onions all in one roll. Sounds sinfully good isn’t it? Upon taking my first bite, this sushi roll actually tasted like cheese burger. There’s nothing bad to taste like cheese burger actually just that if I like to have cheese burger, likely I will have it at other places. Also the appearance of the roll doesn’t justify the name of “instagram this”. Most of my friends think that it’s ugly. Sad case.

Conclusion
I actually visited Tanuki Raw a couple of times, all during lunch time, before writing about them. Their Donburi is value for money and most of the quality are way above average and my favourite is definitely the Truffle Yakiniku Donburi. I have to highlight that their Yakitori Don is also a worthy mention.

I need to highlight that probably due to the seasoning or sauce in the rice, i was quite thirsty after the meal and was gobbling down water. However, Tanuki Raw is definitely the place to visit if you are looking for a comfortable japanese eatery that offers quality Donburi at a reasonable price.

The famed Wooloomooloo Steak House and their Weekend Brunch

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse and their Weekend Brunch

Address: 2 Stamford Road Level 3 Swissotel The Stamford

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12.00 pm to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.00 pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.00pm

Introduction

Wooloomooloo is a Hong Kong based, Australian-inspired steakhouse that is situated at level 3 of Raffles City. It has enjoyed quite a good reputation in Singapore and some even branded them as one of the best steakhouses since they opened their door for business in Singapore in Year 2012.

I visited during lunch time on a Saturday (for my birthday meal =D) and they are offering this weekend brunch menu which i find the pricing quite reasonable. At $68++, the diner can enjoy a 5-course lunch that includes a breakfast item, soup/salad, appetizer, a main course with a side, and a dessert.

Weekend Brunch Menu: Click to Enlarge

You can see their ala-carte menu from here 

Their pricing for a steakhouse is considered as mid-range, but they have Wagyu beef on their menu that cost $298.00++.

Egg Benedict & Fried Hen’s Egg (Breakfast dish)

The egg benedict is pretty decent, with a beautifully poached egg that comes with slices of lightly-smoked salmon and with a slice of muffin toasted to crisp. I particularly like their creamy hollandaise sauce.

The Fried Hen’s Egg is actually sunny side up and there’s nothing fancy about it but it’s a bit different for the stack of tomatoes cubes, avocado and crispy potato sticks. It has different layers of texture when eat together, such as the creamy (avacado), cripsy (potatoes) and juicy (tomatoes) and has a balanced taste of sweet, salty and sour. A very interesting dish.

Lobster Bisque & Classic Caesar Salad (Soup and Salad)

At first mouthful, it’s a little salty but it gets better with every mouthful. This dish don’t exactly has a creamy texture but the soup is very rich, and comes with a piece of Lobster pincer. I like the soup for having a pleasant but not overly strong seafood sweetness.

The Classic Caesar Salad is pretty much standard, except the part where there’s sliced Gruyère cheese. This cheese manages to add savouriness without overpowering the entire salad. No complain for the crispy bacon too. Ok, maybe the bacon’s a little too salty.

Wild Mushroom Risotto & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake (Appetizer)

In fact, both appetizers are among my favourites of the day. The wild mushroom risotto is quite well-portioned and the texture is something that i like very much – with a soft exterior and a moderately firm center. There’s also a robust mushroom taste and the already strong-tasting blue Stilton cheese completes this dish.

They are rather generous with the amount of crab meat used in this Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, although it’s not exactly Jumbo in size. The crab meat taste very sweet and fresh, with a little crisp on the exterior.

Beef Wellington and Tasmanian Salmon Fillet (Wooloomooloo Classic)

For those that watched Gordon Ramsay ‘s Hell Kitchen, the dish beef wellington will not be unfamiliar to you. It is a steak, coated with Pâté (Foie Gras for this case) and minced mixture of mushroom and baked in a layer of pastry. Comparing to a typical steak, in has an additional punch of fragrance from the mushrooms and savoury taste from the Foie Gras.

And of course , the steak is quite well done alone. Just look at the succulent texture!  This is my first time trying a beef wellington and i like Wooloomooloo’s pretty much. However, it’s not that I am against anything,  but I swear that the Pastry layer is made of instant roti prata that we got from the supermarket.  Interesting.

For the Tasmanian Salmon Fillet, the salmon is prepared in a Western style while the sauce has a Chinese soy sauce base. i like how the skin of the Salmon is pan fried to crisp but with zero burnt taste and the soft succulent salmon steak goes pretty good with the oriental taste.

Wooloomooloo Cheesecake and Bread and Butter Pudding (Dessert)

Both desserts are quite to my delight and both of them are not overly sweet. The cheesecake is not exactly a cake but more of a cheese cream topped on a layer of cookie base and also comes with a scoop of Yogurt Sorbet. The cheese layer is very light and balanced, which is not overly heavy after a 4-course meal.

As for the butter pudding, it didn’t have the expected egg custard taste so initially i was a little taken aback. However, the cream base made up is able to complement the butter pudding pretty well and the scoop of vanilla ice-cream made me forget about the egg custard. The portion of the pudding is just right to complete the 5-course meal.

Conclusion

Out of all the dishes that i had, the only one complain is that the side dish, Sauteed Mushroom, is too salty and i didn’t exactly finish it. As for the rest, they are all pretty good for my liking considering the price of $80 nett for a five course meal. The portion of the course are also bigger than expected and it’s definitely filling if one of the courses is a pasta.

During my visit on a Saturday afternoon, the place is rather quiet, without the usual hustle and bustle of a crowded restaurant. It has a very inviting ambiance, with a spacious dining area with ample natural light coming in from the full-height glass window.

I very much enjoyed my meal here and i do recommend this place if you are finding a place to celebrate a special occasion with your loved ones (in the afternoon).

 

The Famous Tai Lei Loi Kei Pork Chop Bun from Macau at Serangoon Nex

Macau Tai Lei Loi Kei Pork Chop Bun (大利來記豬扒包)

Address: 23 Serangoon Central, NEX Shopping Mall, #B2-15

Opening hours: 10:30am – 10:30pm

Introduction

If you have never heard of Tai Lei Loi Kei, they originated from an island, Taipa, in Macau and they are very well known for their pork chop bun. They have a humble beginning when they  opened for business at Taipa in year 1960 and started by selling plain Piglet Bun. Back then, business was quite not very ideal, as the ferry is the only mode of transport from the main Macau island. In year 1970, business picked up during and after the construction of the bridge connecting the Taipa to Macau.

During this time, a local chef suggested to the lady boss then, to consider adding in a slice of pork chop into the bun and also imparted some knowledge on preparing pork chop using Portuguese-style cooking method. The lady boss also consulted various chefs on how to improve her recipe. This is the turning point of Tai Lei Loi Kei and many specially travelled from the main island to Taipa just for their pork chop bun. In Dec 2014, Tai Lei Loi Kei opened it’s first brand in Singapore at Serangoon Nex.

Tai Lei Loi Kei Menu – Click to enlarge

It’s situated at B2 of Serangoon Nex and they have adopted a fast food restaurant operating model. They serve a variety of main courses involving pork chop such as pork chop bun, noodle and rice.

Pork Chop Bun

Tai Lei Loi Kei is famous for its pork chop bun and is branded as their must-try dish. I ordered their bun ($6.90) with two add-ons at $1 each for a piece of luncheon meat and an egg. I also topped up $4.00 for a set meal that comes with an ice milk tea and a bowl of curry fish ball. All in all, the meal cost me $12.90.

The portion of the pork chop bun is quite well-sized. The pork chop is rather thick and is sandwiched between two pieces of well toasted crispy bun. I was actually quite surprise because  some reviews online mentioned that the bread is plain average but I thought the bun is pretty good.

The pork chop has an expectedly tender texture and with a light crisp on the outside. At first bite, it doesn’t taste fantastic but it gets better after each bite. The pork chop is moderately marinated and not overly salty so it’s quite enjoyable to the last bite, especially when it’s served with an add slice of luncheon meat. However, I thought the egg add-on didn’t do the pork chop bun much favour. If only they can change the sunny side up to the Chinese Pan-fried Scrambled Egg.

Curry Fish Ball

The curry fish ball actually taste quite different from those that i had in Hong Kong. The curry is definitely sweeter, although it’s not necessary bad. The texture is an in-between of Singapore’s bouncy fish ball and Hong Kong’s chewy version. Overall I think this is not fantastic, but not bad either and i manage to finish the fish ball with no difficulty.

Pork Chop Noodle

The pork chop taste exactly like the one in the pork chop bun so I am not going to write about it again. As for the noodle, it’s quite disappointing. I was expecting the noodle to be more flavourful but it’s quite bland, with only a tinge of fragrance of the spices found in the Chinese Braised Sauce. I didn’t manage to finish the noodle.

Conclusion

$6.90 for a pork chop bun (a pork chop and bun and nothing else) is not exactly affordable considering it’s a fast food dining environment. I could have a full meal in most fast food chains in Singapore. In term of taste, i think this pork chop bun is pretty not bad in term of Singapore standard and indeed it’s one of the better one around. You can pay a visit to Tai Lei Loi Kei If you don’t mind paying abit more for a branded and a rather satisfying pork chop bun.

If you compare this to the some that i had in Hong Kong, Tai Lei Loi Kei’s pork chop bun stood out for it’s size and satisfaction but loses out for it’s value for money and to a certain extend, taste. 

Lastly, I really think that Tai Lei Loi Kei should rethink about their branding because this english name is so difficult to remember (or even pronounce for non cantonese speaking people) and people probably end up calling this place the Macau Pork Chop Bun place at Nex.