Taiwan Railway Bento and their Braised Minced Pork Rice

** Update from Railway Bento as at March 15 at 8.09am – The Railway Bento team is currently having some internal shuffling with exciting menu coming up! Both outlets in CT Hub and International Plaza will not be operating at this moment until further notice.**

Taiwan Railway Bento (台湾鐵路便當) and their Braised Minced Pork Rice

Address 1: CT Hub 2 Kallang Avenue #02-16 Singapore 339407

Opening hours 1: Mon – Sat  11.00am to 8.00pm, closed on PH

Address 2: International Plaza 10 Anson Road #02-85A

Opening hours 2: Mon – Fri 11.00am to 3.00pm, closed on PH

Introduction

Railway Bento was originated from Taiwan and they currently have two outlets in Singapore. These rice boxes form a great part of Taiwan’s rich food culture and are widely popular in Taiwan till date. In the older days, their people have to travel long distance on train and have to rely on these lunch boxes for their meals. These lunch boxes have a well balanced food spread like meat, vegetable, egg, bean curd and rice.

These lunch boxes come in at traditional and pretty looking wooden box packaging and also come in a variety of choices. I visited their branch at the CT Hub with the invitation of Glen, the boss of Railway Bento. Thank you Glen for the kind invitation and for hosting me.

Menu: click to enlarge

Braised Minced Pork Rice ($4.80)

Generally I have two complains on the braised minced pork rice (卤肉饭) that i had in Singapore. Firstly it’s the pricing. Typically in Taiwan, a good bowl of braised minced pork rice cost something like S$3 to S$4 but in Singapore, it cost about $8 to $12 in a Taiwan-style Cafe. Secondly, I personally prefer the minced meat to be really fine, and well mixed into a thick gravy but many sold them in thicker chunks.

Therefore I thought Railway Bento did well in this two aspects, keeping the price at an affordable $4.80 (even at their Tanjong Pagar branch), and there is a good mix of fatty and leaner meat in the finely-minced meat sauce.

I thought braised minced pork rice (卤肉饭) is suppose to be a little greasy to be enjoyable and Railway Bento’s version has just the right amount of it. The sauce has a very thick texture that coats the rice perfectly. This meat sauce is actually less salty than it looks which i think it can be readily accepted by Singaporeans.

Fried Chicken Cutlet Bento ($6.80)

As for their chicken cutlet bento, i thought it’s rather decent. There nothing exactly fantastic about it but also nothing bad about it. It’s freshly fried, crispy and served piping hot. The chicken cutlet taste like those from a typical Taiwan Snack Stall in Singapore. At $6.80, the portion is quite decent for it’s price and this bento also comes with half an egg, salted vegetable, a slice of Taiwan sausage and it also comes with a small portion of braised minced pork.

Century Beancurd ($3.50)
I thought the sauce is very heavy and salty in taste but I like it. This sauce has a complicated mix of chopped coriander, garlic, soy sauce and chilli and is for sure too salty if consume on its own. However I thought it goes pretty well with the cold tofu. I also like the century egg that comes with a soft yolk center.

Fried King Oyster Mushroom ($3.50)

The king oyster mushroom is coated with a tempura-style breading, deep fried to crisp, and sprinkled with chilli powder. Having this dish is more for the texture than that the taste as this mushroom doesn’t has a very distinctive taste to begin one and it’s more like munching on the breading and texture of the Oyster Mushroom.

Conclusion

Taiwan cuisine used to be very popular in Singapore but it’s craze had significantly reduced after the cafe culture kicks in. The Railway Bento made a good decision to market it’s food as a eat-and-go model, rather than a Taiwan-style Cafe, therefore keeping the cost low.

As one of the members of the working class, I thought Railway Bento offers a hassle free lunch takeaway option with a variety of food items in a box. Not only the price is reasonable, it also offer a rather decent food quality and choices. I enjoyed the meal, especially the braised minced pork rice.

CT Hub at Kallang Ave

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Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo, the Hidden Gem at Upper Thomson Roada

Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo

Address: 928 Upper Thomson Road

Opening hours: 10.00 am to 8.00 pm daily

Introduction

This Yong Tau Foo was recommended by a friend staying nearby and i had been a fan since then. Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo has been around in Singapore for about 45 years old. It was said that the first generation owner is a relative of the originator of Ampang Yong Tau Foo in Malaysia. The knowledge on how to prepare a bowl of good and authentic Ampang Yong Tau Foo was then imparted to this family. The recipe is tweaked over the years to what it is today.

Ngee Fou is situated at the far northern part of Upper Thomson at the Springleaf area and it spans over two shops. Apart from Yong Tau Foo, they also sell drinks, chicken and duck rice. Although it’s location is rather ulu, there is still a pretty decent crowd at meal time.

Ampang Yong Tau Foo

Ngee Fou charges their Yong Tau Foo at an affordable $4 per person and you place your order by stating the number of pax and the auntie will take care of the rest. A portion of their Yong Tau Foo comes with fried bean stick, fried wanton, fried quail egg, fish ball, tau kwa, tau pok, tofu, brinjal, lady’s finger, bitter gourd and tonnes of kangkong, drenched in their secret gravy.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the Ampang Sauce. The secret to their recipe is very well kept and the boss is unwilling to disclose them on various media interviews. It was mentioned that this gravy is made with more than 10 kinds of ingredients and spices.

Despite trying hard to analyse what ingredients are used in the sauce, I only manage to figure out garlic and probably flat fish. Their thick sauce is not heavy on the stomach, comes with a slight tinge of sweetness and a decent amount of garlic fragrance, and goes exceptionally well with all the Yong Tau Foo items.

My two favourite items are the fried bean stick and the kangkong. Unlike some bean stick that you find at vegetarian stall which is typically thin and flimsy, this one is well-fried, thick and crunchy. It’s exceptionally good when it’s half soaked with gravy and half crispy. Normally I will sacrifice the bitter gourd and brinjl to exchange for more of these.

As for the kangkong, they are really generous with the portion, considering it’s only for two person. Usually I am not a fan of non-sambal kangkong but this is one exception. Again, credit goes to the gravy for this lovely combination. The gravy coated vegetable is well boiled, soft enough and yet crunchy and gives a good balance over the fried stuff.

Normally it’s a SOP to order the Dumpling Soup together with their Yong Tau Foo. It’s cost $2.00 for five pieces of dumplings. To be honest, the soup has nothing much to shout about and I’m ordering this for their dumplings as an add on to the Yong Tau Foo ingredient. It’s more of a good to have than a must-order.

Conclusion

Ngee Fou Ampang Yong Tau Foo is my choice for one of the unique and best Yong Tau Foo in Singapore. Apart from the great taste, it also comes at a great price. At $4 for ten items plus a big bunch of veggie, i consider this as very affordable. Most food court would have charge much more for a mediocre bowl of Yong Tau Foo. I also like the spacious dining environment despite being a coffee shop. The table is well space from each other without the feeling of being cramp up.

However, due to it’s location, it’s not a place that I will visit frequently, especially for people who don’t own their own transport. But who knows, the story may change when the Springleaf MRT station is completed in the near future.

Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice at Katong Shopping Centre

Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice at Katong Shopping Centre

Address (Google Map): 865 Mountbatten Road #B1-85/87, Katong Shopping Centre

Opening hours: 10.30 am to 8.00 pm (closed on Monday)

Introduction

Introducing this chicken rice that i had been visiting since my schooling days – Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice at Katong Shopping Centre. There are many things to do at Katong Shopping Centre then – LAN gaming, Billiard and Pool, Bowling and Karaoke and this chicken rice is my must-eat whenever i visit this place.

Price wise, it’s actually a little more pricey than the usual. Be prepare to spend about $6 to $10 per person, depending on what you order. For this meal, it costs me $54 (enough for six pax) and it comes with half roasted chicken, half steamed chicken, braised pork belly (seasonal), bean sprout with sliced abalone and two big bowl of (refillable) soup that are filled with meat and vegetables. Did I mention that it also comes with free flow achar?

Roast / Steamed Chicken Rice

The chicken is well roasted, with the skin slightly crisp, and drenched in a good serving of their unique blend of base sauce that is made from soy sauce and sesame oil. It’s completed by sprinkling fried garlic bit on the chicken, which added a tinge of garlicky fragrance to the chicken. Some may find the sauce a little too salty but i thought it complements the chicken perfectly and made every chunk of chicken enjoyable, including the usually drier breast part.

Their steamed chicken does not stand pale in comparison than it’s roasted counterpart. They manage to retain the natural sweetness of the chicken while ensuring the meat is succulent and juicy. Apart from the chicken, the thick-cut crunchy cucumber slices that are soaked in this sauce is definitely the next best thing that can happen to this plate of chicken.

If there is one thing to improve on, I guess that it’s their rice. Although I don’t find any major problem with their rice and i actually still like it, I have to highlight that their rice is a little to the dryer side, and comparing to some, it’s not as aromatic and fluffy. This may also means that it’s less oily.

Cabbage and Lotus Root Soup

The next unique thing about this chicken rice is gotta be their free flow achar and the (refillable) soup that comes with it. Typically for a portion for four people, it comes with two big bowl of soup – peppery cabbage and pork rib lotus roots. And they are not just soup, but full of vegetables and meat. The cabbage soup is cooked in chicken bones and flavoured with pepper. The cabbage is so soft, that it almost just melt in my mouth.

For the lotus roots soup, it comes with a generous amount of thick crunchy lotus roots, peanut, and even comes with chunks of pork rib in it. I’m quite sure these are one of the best “complimentary” (although i think the cost is already factored into the overall price) chicken rice soup.

Other dishes

They also serve side dishes like Oyster Sauce Vegetable and Bean Sprout with Sliced Abalone. Yeap. Real sliced abalone. I mentioned earlier that the price of the chicken rice can be a little more pricey and this is why.

On this visit, the staff recommended us to try their seasonal dish – braised pork belly a.k.a Dong Po Meat (东坡肉) when we wanted to order their roast meat. I though this dish is not bad. I like the fatty portion (the top part of the pork belly). They manage to break down the fat and made it melty soft instead of a rubbery texture but i thought the fatty part is a little too little as most parts are meaty and it is not soft enough and I sort of struggled trying to dissect it. It’s well braised and flavoured, but probably i still prefer my roast meat to go with my chicken rice.

Conclusion

It’s always a feast whenever i visit Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice at Katong Shopping Centre and having a meal there has always been satisfying. I like this chicken rice for it’s overall package, and not exactly on the individual dish. The meal time crowd has been increasing over the years and sometimes it may require a 45 minutes of waiting time, which i personally think that this one factor made the chicken rice not as attractive as before. For some people, the location of this chicken rice may also be a turn-off as it’s not exactly easily accessible.

Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice has endured the test of time despite for operating in such an inconspicuous location, and maintained their standard throughout the years while maintaining a still-reasonable price. Until it goes the other direction, i will still come back and visit this place whenever i can.

New Station Snack Bar and their Salted Egg Pork Rib

New Station Snack Bar

Address: 14 Scotts Road #05-95 Far East Plaza

Opening hours: 11:00am to 8:45pm (last order) daily

Introduction

As we know, dining at orchard is never cheap and cheaper food at most food courts is mediocre and mostly “meh”. There are actually a few places that offers good food at good price and one of them is the New Station Snack Bar at Far East Plaza.

It’s situated at level 5 beside the well-known chicken rice. This inconspicuous coffee shop offers a good selection of Cze Char items at coffee shop price. They are most famous for a couple of items like Salted Egg Pork Rib, Salted Egg with Deep Fried Fish Skin and Claypot Bee Tai Mak.

Menu 1 of 2. Click to enlarge.

Menu 2 of 2. Click to enlarge.

Salted Egg Pork Rib

Apart from the usual curry leave and chilli, the flavour of the sauce mainly come from butter and salted egg yolk. Unlike most salted egg pork rib that i had, they actually do not add sugar/condense milk into their blend of salted egg yolk sauce. The pork rib is lightly flavoured and is well fried on the outside while it’s tender on the inside. Each piece of boneless rib is generously coated with their buttery egg yolk sauce and goes perfectly with white rice.

The thing that I like most about this Salted Egg Pork Rib is it’s not overly cloying due to the absence of sugar and the whole plate of pork rib was snapped up in no time. A plate of pork rib costs me $11.00 and there’s also option to order their Salted Egg Pork Rib Rice at $6.00.

Claypot Bee Tai Mak

This is another dish that i like – piping hot claypot Bee Tai Mak in black bean sauce with chicken cubes. The best thing I like about having Bee Tai Mak is there’s no worry of mess or splattering as the whole meal can be finished using a soup spoon. There are choices to upgrade to seafood and beef version at an additional $0.50. Some may find the sauce a little salty by itself but it’s good if you have it together with the Mee Tai Mak.

Their black bean sauce is thick and flavourful and the hot claypot ensures that it remains so until the last mouth. The Mee Tai Mak is smooth and the crunchy veggie enhances the overall texture. By stirring in the egg, it balances the salty taste and thickens the sauce further and completes the icing on the cake. Add in a spoon of their Sambal chilli for more kick.

Stir-fried Mee Tai Mak

This dish is a little less exciting than the other two. It’s lightly flavoured and the idea is to enjoy the Bee Tai Mak texture with crunchy bean sprouts and egg, like our fried kway teow. It’s not sweet, and the fragrance of this dish comes almost entirely from the alluring smoky flavour of Wok Hei. I didn’t quite like it at first mouthful, but it gets better and although I didn’t finish the entire dish, i had more than I expected.

Conclusion

I find their food very reasonably priced and my vote goes to their Salted Egg Pork Rib and Claypot Bee Tai Mak. There is not much ambience to mention of but i find this place more peaceful than a typical Orchard Road food court that is bursting with crowd and noise. The food that I had are also of decent quality and overall I had a good experience at New Station Snack Bar.

Stew Kuche’s German Pork Knuckle and Two Wings at Salute Coffee Shop

Stew Kuche’s German Pork Knuckle and Two Wings at Salute Coffee Shop

Address: 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-40

Opening hours: Tue to Fri 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm, Sat & Sun 12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am, Closed on Mon

Reservation Phone Number: 62766445

Indroduction

Have you heard of a coffee shop that requires/accept reservation during weekend dinner time? Salute, one of the most hip coffee shops in Singapore, is filled with stalls selling “Ang Moh” style cuisine like speciality coffee, French cuisine and i am going to write about Stew Kuche, a stall that specialises in affordable German Cuisine. One of popular stalls, two wings, is also located in this coffee shop.

A friend (who wanted to be named), Charlie, recommended this place to me and swear that this is the most value for money Pork Knuckle that you can find in Singapore. He actually wanted me to link his name to his facebook. Charlie, if you are reading this, i am not going to do that.

Looks like an ordinary coffee shop from the outside

Stew Kuche

Stew Kuche, means Stew Kitchen in German. and it is most well known for their Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle). Not only it taste great, portion is big, the price is also rather economical.

When we mention pork knuckle, which part of the pig is the knuckle?
When people mention pork knuckle, they are actually referring to the hock of a pig. It is around the lower knee area of the pig that extends towards the ankle.

We ordered their pork knuckle platter which consist of a whole pork knuckle, potato wedges, achar, garden salad, mash potato and two German sausages. Typically, German Pork Knuckle comes with a side of Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) but theirs come with a local twist – our Singapore’s achar.

Stew Kuche ran out of garden salad and potato wedges so they gave us one more sausage(!) and five hash browns, which is awesome. I think the sausages are decent. Not exceptional, but very decent. The portion is quite big and i enjoyed it.

Their pork knuckle is the definitely the highlight and the whole platter only cost $35 nett. In a typical restauant, a banger and mash already cost you about $12. This platter is good to be shared by two to four pax depending on how hungry you are. The skin is crackling crispy and probably everyone will be fighting for it to the last bit.

The pork knuckle is well roasted and some parts of the exterior are a little drier. This can be rectified by dipping it into the bowl of brown sauce. At just $25 for a whole pork knuckle, i will choose this over Brotz**t’s easily. And what’s better than pork knuckle? Pork knuckle with German beer!

Two Wings

I have read about how much some bloggers raved about Two Wings online and I finally had a chance to try it. At $2+ per wing, it’s definitely not cheap to begin with. I feel that the marinade is a little similar to our Nasi Lemak’s wing so it’s no wonder that some people that think that Two Wings is actually not a big deal.

Menu: click to enlarge

The juicy wing is freshly fried and is evidently meatier and bigger in size comparing to a typical nasi lemak wing. I find Two Wings is rather good, just that there is no need to make a special trip down just for them.

Conclusion

Given the current cafe hopping culture, chilling out and hanging out at a coffee shop is considered as “not hip” and probably something that an elderly person would do. However, Salute smashed this perception totally.

Stew Kuche, apparently the main attraction in the coffee shop, offers the most reasonably priced German food and yet does not compromise on the taste. Pairing their pork knuckle with a few glasses of ice cold German beer and a couple of fried chicken wings is definitely one of the best ways to end a stressful day of work. Prost! – ein Toast!

Hollywood Braised Duck Rice (Lian Kee) at Sims Place

Hollywood Braised Duck Rice (formally known as Lian Kee Braised Duck)

Address: 49 Sims Place, Sims Vista Market and Food Centre, #01-73

Operating hours: 9.30am to 3.30pm daily

Introduction

Hin Hollywood Canteen, a very old school coffee shop situated off Tanjong Katong Road, was once a favourite lunch place for “old-timer” city harvest church goers. It was closed down in August 2011 and many coffee shop stalls were missed dearly and one of them is Lian Kee Braised Duck Rice. As per iEatiShootiPost post, Lian Kee had reopened at Sims Vista Market and Food Centre, and had changed their name to Hollywood Duck Rice on 19 September 2014.

A friend brought me to this braised duck rice stall a few years ago. Although i only vaguely remember the taste, it was quite a pleasant experience then so I specially made the trip down to it’s new location.

Braised Duck Rice

I ordered a braised duck for two with added Tau Pok, Tau Kwa and Eggs with two rice. I was rather surprise that it only cost me about $12 for this quality and portion. The dark brown rice is cooked in braising sauce that gives out a subtle herby fragrance that is delectable by itself. Topping it with the thick and flavourful braised sauce only makes the soft fluffy rice even better.

Braised Duck

The duck meat is tender and succulent as I remembered it (even for the breast meat), while the flavour infused duck skin adds a slight bouncy texture. This duck has zero unpleasant “duck smell” and is enjoyable to the last bit of meat. Not to mention that the braised sauce has just the right level of saltiness and the thick flavourful gravy is something worth visiting for.

Others

Their braised egg, tau pok and tau kwa are all cooked in the same braised sauce. When the gravy is this good, nothing much can go wrong. The sweet herbal duck soup also works well for me.

Conclusion

This is a well worth visit. Although it’s at a very ulu location, it’s within a short walking distance from Aljunied MRT. Apart from the taste, i thought it’s very reasonably priced. A plate of braised duck rice cost only $3.30, considering the effort behind for braising the duck and rice. Apart from rice, they also sell duck porridge, noodle and kway chap.