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.

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Nunsongyee, the Korean Dessert Cafe and their signature Bingsu

Nunsongyee (눈송이), the Korean Dessert Cafe and their Bingsu

Address (Google Map): 45 Burghley Drive #01-04, Burghley Lifestyle Hub (beside Tennis Court)

Opening hours: 10.00 am to 10.00 pm. Closed on Mon

Introduction

Nunsongyee (snowflake) is a relatively new Korean dessert cafe that is situated in one of the really ulu location, among the landed properties at the Serangoon Gardens vacinity. They specialise in authentic Korean dessert, mainly Bingsu, and things like toast and even spicy rice cake. It was quite empty at 11.30 am and i took this opportunity to have a short conversation with the young Korean lady boss.

Miss Eun Jin, the lady boss, quits her job in Singapore after two years and decided to open a cafe selling her country’s most popular dessert – Bingsu. She is confident that Singaporeans, that are well known for the love for food, will embrace this dessert.

She also explained between lower rental, larger shop area and convenient location, she chose the first two. She does not want to sacrifice the larger floor area, which equates to her customer’s comfort, in exchange for a convenient location in town.

Menu: Click to enlarge

Injeomi Bingsu

Bingsu, the signature dish of Nunsongyee, is currently the most popular dessert in South Korea. This cafe is best known for it’s unique Injeomi Bingsu. Injeomi is basically sweet Korean rice cake (tteok) made by steaming and pounding and the end product is usually tossed in powdered coating that is made from dried beans, nuts or seeds.

It’s something like our Muah Chee but they grind the powder really fine. I think the roasted soy bean and almond taste are the most evident and with added sugar. Don’t judge the taste of this Injeomi Bingsu by it’s appearance.

In my opinion, Nunsongyee’s Injeomi Bingsu is really well done. Usually we don’t associate cold dessert with powdered nuts or beans because the end product would be messy and lumpy. The saw-dust-like finely shaved milk ice and the powder mixed unexpectedly well and creates a blend of peanut-butter-like texture when consumed together. The sticky rice cake goes perfectly with the not overly sweet mixture and it completes the dish by adding a dimension of chewiness into the crunchy, ice sweet texture.

The Bingsu I had in Seoul also pales in comparison to this. And the secret to the great taste? Mother’s love. No. Really. Miss Eun Jin’s explaned that her mother personally selected these ingredients and sent it over from South Korea in order to preserve the authentic Korean taste.

Korean Strawberry Bingsu

If you like to have something that is less sinful, this premium strawberry Bingsu may be a good choice. Note that the premium is in term of ingredient but not such much about the taste.

Stacked with slices of fresh Korean Strawberry with crunchy red beans hidden beneath the shaved ice, it’s topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Fans of Korean Strawberry will find this a delight. I find this especially enjoyable during a hot sunny afternoon (or probably lost your way while trying to look for this place).

In term of taste, I still prefer the Injeomi Bingsu because no matter how sweet a strawberry is, it unavoidable that it still has a tinge of sourness. But there’s also a scoop of ice cream that made up for it, which is nice. For people who has a sweeter tooth, there is also a cup of condense milk blend provided. I poured everything in by the way.

Honey Toast with Ice Cream

This is also my favourite. At $12.90, it’s actually kind of pricy for a serving of toast but i really love the taste. How should i describe this dish?

Imagine a generous serving of butter melted over two slices of thick crispy toast, with pieces of sweet chewy rice cake sandwiched between the toast, drizzled with honey and topped with a scoop of smooth creamy ice cream.

It reminds me of a less fluffy version of Shibuya Toast that i had in Bangkok, only not as thick. If you ask me, will i pay $12.90 for this toast on my next visit, I probably will say yes.

Conclusion

I thought Nunsongyee has a first mover advantage because Bingsu is not a craze in Singapore, yet. No matter the price, as long as taste is right, we Singaporeans are generally willing to spend a bit more and to travel abit more.

Before the gantry into the Burghley Lifestyle Hub

I previously had one Bingsu at a stall near Clarke Quay and it was a disappointment and too far off from the authentic taste. However it’s a different story for Nunsongyee. It’s very much similar to the ones i had in Seoul and i find comfort in having a good Bingsu without travelling to Seoul.

Nunsongyee Dessert Cafe on the left

No doubt the price is to the higher side and it’s not exactly a cheap dessert, i guess this is the premium price to pay if we want an imported authentic taste of Korean food. For me personally, I am quite certain that I will return to Nunsongyee.

Bee Kee, The Truffle Oil Wanton Noodle at Serangoon

Bee Kee Wanton Noodle (美记云吞面)

Address (Google Map): Cheun Kee Kopitiam, 2 Lorong Lew Lian

Opening hours: 7.30am to 2.30pm, Closed on mon

Introduction

In recent years, truffle oil dishes are gaining much popularity in Singapore. We have truffle oil fries, truffle oil chicken chop, truffle oil burger patty, truffle oil pasta but truffle oil Wanton Noodle? Seriously? Yes. Bee Kee Wanton Mee is one coffee shop stall that sells truffle oil Wanton Noodle. Bee Kee Wanton Mee is tucked away at an inconspicuous neighbourhood coffee shop that is within walking distance from Serangoon MRT.

Bee Kee has only started operation a couple of months ago in March 2014. This stall mainly offers Wanton Noodle and Braised Soft Bone Pork Ribs Noodle but there is no mention of the Truffle Noodle anywhere on the stall signage. However, if you see closely, there is a small signage stand saying “ask us about our secret truffle oil noodles”.

When asked about the “secrecy” of the Truffle Oil Noodle, the stall holder explained that they are catering to the heartland crowd and therefore keeping their displayed noodle price low at $3 a plate. They do not want to scare away the crowd with a $6 price tag. And for those who are willing to pay a premium price for this premium noodle, feel free to ask them about it.

Menu

Wanton noodle – $3.00, $3.50,  $4.00 ($6.00 for Truffle Oil version)
Braised Pork Rib Soft Bone Noodle (Dry) – $3.50, $4.00, $4.50
Braised Pork Rib Soft Bone Noodle (Soup) – $3.80, $4.30
Braised Pork Rib Rice – $3.50, $4.00
Fried wanton – $3.00

Truffle Oil Wanton Noodle

Their Wanton Noodle is similar to those found in Johor Bahru but at a larger portion. The noodle is thinner than our typical Singapore Wanton Noodle and the texture is really light and springy. Folks that dislike the “noodle taste” will like this as there is isn’t any (or minimal). Even after a period of time (of photo taking), the noodle does not clump together. Thumbs up for their noodle.

This truffle oil noodle taste much lighter than our typical Wanton Noodle. It’s lightly salted with a good drench of truffle oil. They store their truffle oil in spray bottle and applies it at various areas of the noodle to ensure the oil coats the noodle evenly.

The noodle comes with a portion of their “special chilli”. It’s quite nice when added to their regular noodle but it’s a little wasteful when you mix it with the truffle oil noodle cus it will overpower the truffle taste. The truffle oil goes perfectly with the added fried pork lard though.

Their Char Siew consist of mainly lean meat, slightly drier but it did not disappoint. I love the taste of the Char Siew, which the exterior is flame-torched for slightly crispy and charred texture right at the stall.

I don’t think their Truffle Oil Wanton Noodle is a big deal though but it’s a new Wanton Noodle experience if you judge the Truffle Oil Noodle in a class of its own. Else, at the price of $6, i will have their regular Wanton Noodle ($3) anytime.

Braised Pork Rib Soft Bone Noodle

Apart from Wanton Noodle, Bee Kee also offers Pork Rib Noodle. The braising made the meat fell off from the bones effortlessly and the fats became all soft and melty. Even the soft bone of the rib became chewy soft.

The pork rib is well flavoured but overall it’s a little greasy for me. I thought the addition of Bean Sprout didn’t manage to enhance this noodle much. Overall a not bad dish.

Conclusion

As the stall is relatively new, Bee Kee enjoys a constant flow of patrons with minimum queuing time which works for me. I always thought that “why can’t Singapore’s Wanton Noodle adopt the JB style noodle” and now we have Bee Kee.

The regular Wanton Noodle is much worth the $3 price tag. Their noodle and char siew works for me. As for the $6 Truffle Oil Noodle, i thought it’s a little pricey and a little gimmicky. But overall it is still a satisfying and interesting experience so feel free to try it and judge it for yourself.

Note that they are only open from morning to 2.30pm and are close during dinner time.

Tim Ho Wan at Hong Kong Fortress Hill

Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong (添好運 / 添好运)- The One Michelin Star Dim Sum

English Address (Google Map): 2-8 Wharf Road, Seaview Building, North Point

Chinese Address: 北角和富道2-8號嘉洋大廈地下B,C及D鋪

Opening hours: 10am to 9.30pm

Scroll to the end for address and opening hours of other Tim Ho Wan Branches

Click here to view my full Hong Kong Food Itinerary and the 8 must-know about Hong Kong Cafe Culture

Introduction

Firstly, i will bore you with a little bit of history of Tim Ho Wan (添好運/添好运). The main chef Mak Kwai Pui (麥桂培) of Tim Ho Wan was originally from a well established restaurant  under the Four Season group – Lung King Heen (龍景軒). He later opened Tim Ho Wan in year 2009 that offers 5 stars hotel Dim Sum at street price.

In less than a year, Tim Ho Wan was awarded one star by Michelin. By then, it already has a reputation for selling the best dim sum in Hong Kong. As we know, it had created a storm when they opened their first branch in Singapore.

I used to visit their branch situated between Prince Edward and Sham Shui Po station and that is the branch that was awarded the Michelin star. I remember it was not exactly a great experience. The place is really really cramped and the waiting time is crazy, and service is below average. My conclusion then is they are great for the Polo Char Siew Bao.

When i visited Hong Kong this time, I didn’t have the intention to visit Tim Ho Wan but i got some free time on hand and the location is rather near my hotel so i thought , “Ok I’ll give it another shot”. I visited their Fortress Hill branch for supper at around 8.45pm.

This branch is at least 4 times bigger than the one that I visited and it’s much more spacious and well decorated. It was almost full house but i still manage to get a table instantly. I only ordered a few items, and surprisingly, all of them hit the right spots.

Tim Ho Wan's Menu: Click to enlarge

Tim Ho Wan’s Menu: Click to enlarge

Char Siew Polo Bun (酥皮叉烧包)

The Polo Char Siew Bao is fluffy soft and topped with a thin layer of not-overly-sweet sugar crust. The Char Siew is covered in a warm thick and rich gravy. The bun’s crispy texture complement the Char Siew perfectly.

This is the exact item that was awarded with one Michelin Star and just one serving is always not enough. This is still the best item at Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong. However, i do hope that they can be more generous with the Char Siew fillings though. This dish cost HK$18 (S$2.90) while it cost S$5.25 in Singapore.

Beef Ball with Bean Stick (陈皮牛肉球)

This dish is pretty good as well for it’s soft steamed and well marinated minced beef. There is a well balance of fatty and lean beef in this combination and the steamy hot beef ball taste really fresh.

There are also Bean Sticks (Tau Kee) placed beneath the meat ball and they absorb the natural sweet meat sauce during the process of steaming. This meat ball is my second favourite dish of the day. This cost HK$16 (S$2.60) while it cost S$4.90 in Singapore.

Steamed Malay Sponge Cake (香滑马拉糕) 

This is one of the four heavenly kings of Tim Ho Wan and it’s well known for it’s soft fluffy texture. I had this in Singapore’s Tim Ho Wan and i actually like it, but it comes at a costly price tag of $4.45 nett.

For the same item, it only cost HK$15 (S$2.40) and therefore makes this dish much more enjoyable than having it in Singapore. The steamed cake is served piping hot and i enjoy the fluffy spongy texture with a eggy light brown sugar taste.

Beancurd Skin Roll with Meat and Prawn (美味鲜竹卷)

The ingredient of the Beancurd Skin Roll taste very fresh and flavourful and the shredded vegetable wrapped in the chewy Beancurd Skin actually enhances the overall texture.

The gravy that comes with it has just the right level of saltiness and does not overpower the main lead. It cost HK$20 (S$3.20) while it cost S$4.65 back in Singapore.

Conclusion

Actually I myself was quite surprise that the experience of visiting Tim Ho Wan’s Fortress Hill brand is vastly different from the previous visit (5 years ago) of the Sham Shui Po Branch. Comparing Hong Kong’s price to Singapore, their signature Polo Char Siew bun is mark up by a whopping 80%. I always have this philosophy that the taste of food is somehow link to the price and waiting time. For this visit, there is zero waiting time and realising Tim Ho Wan’s affordable price, everything appears to be better.

Their century egg congee is not the most flavourful. Those who enjoy something light may enjoy this porridge much.

For those who are already a fan of Tim Ho Wan, then this is a must-visit for you. And for those who think that Singapore Tim Ho Wan’s price is too exorbitant, this will be your chance to enjoy a better quality Tim Ho Wan at a much cheaper price.

Click here to view my full Hong Kong Food Itinerary and the 8 must-know about Hong Kong Cafe Culture

Map and Directions

Actually Tim Ho Wan is between the Fortress Hill and North Point Station but it’s more straight forward to walk from Fortress Hill.  It’s about a 7 to 10 minutes walk.

1. Come out from Exit B of Fortress Hill Station

2. Walk straight and turn left at a junction to Power Street

3. Continue walking straight until a T Junction and turn right on City Garden Road

4. Continue walking straight. City Garden Hotel will be on your left.

5. After passing City Garden Hotel, walk a little bit more and Tim Ho Wan will be on your right.

Scroll to bottom to see address and opening hours of other Tim Ho Wan branches

Other Tim Ho Wan Branches

Olympian City Branch

Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui [大角咀海庭道18號奧海城二期G樓72號舖]

Opening hour: 10am to 9.30pm

Sham Shui Po Branch

11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po [深水埗福榮街9-11號地下]

Opening hour: 8am to 9.30pm

Central Branch

Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) , Central [中環香港站12A鋪(IFC地庫一層]

Opening hour: 9am to 9pm

Tseung Kwan O Branch

Shop 49, G/F., POPCORN 2, 9 Tong Chun Street, Tseung Kwan O [將軍澳唐俊街9樓POPCORN 2期地下49號] O

pening hour: 10am to 9.30pm

Oblong @ Serangoon Garden

Oblong, the hidden little ice cream shop at Serangoon Garden

Address (Google Map): 10 Maju Avenue

Opening hours: Sun to Thu: 12.00 pm – 12.00 am Fri & Sat: 12.00 pm- 2.00 am (as per FB page)

Introduction

Oblong, is a cafe that mainly serves ice cream, waffle and pastries that is situated at the Serangoon Garden region. I actually like Serangoon Garden a lot because it’s a very laid back neighbourhood and we don’t see people rushing from places to places.

Menu written on the glass wall behind the counter. Click to enlarge

Oblong Cafe’s minimalist industrial design gives the cafe a bright and spacious outlook which all attention will be brought to their pastry counter and the scribbled menu of the glass board.

The owner also casually place some random items like the ukulele, magazines and a basketball hoop at various corners. Customers can play or read them at our own comfort and it seems to be inviting us to “make ourselves at home”.

Red Velvet Waffle with Ice Cream Combo ($10.00)

I was quite surprised when I saw that they are offering a waffle, a scoop of ice cream and a cup of gourmet coffee at $10.00. At most places, a waffle already cost more than that and a cup of Caffe Latte already cost about $4.50 to $5.00.

The portion of the waffle is smaller (but not by a lot) but it’s good enough for an after-meal dessert. The waffles is crispy and not too dry. The red velvet waffle actually doesn’t taste very different from an ordinary waffle just that there is a hint of chocolate flavour and red food coloring. The difference is actually the cream cheese that comes with it that completes a red velvet waffle.

I enjoyed Oblong’s cream cheese very much. The cheese salty taste doesn’t overpower the cream’s sweetness and i love it for it’s moist and creamy texture. I don’t even need the ice-cream and i can finish just the waffle with cream cheese.

As for the ice cream, I’m not sure is it just me or what. I thought there is a taste that don’t normally exist in handmade ice-cream. I can’t really tell what it is but it taste something like ermm… soy milk? Apparently when i posted a photo of Oblong waffle on instagram, unlike me, most people seem to comment that they enjoy their ice-cream very much.

Buttermilk Waffle with Ice Cream Combo ($10 with drink)

Unconvinced, i ordered a Buttermilk Waffle just to have another shot on their ice-cream and this time i ordered a hazelnut flavour, and there is the same exact taste in a different flavour. Am i the only one? Let me know if you feel likewise.

Considering that the regular waffle cost exactly the same as the Red Velvet Waffle, i will go for the red velvet any time. It’s not that the waffle is bad, but the red velvet is better.

Conclusion

Enjoying a cup of coffee and waffle ice cream at Oblong on a weekend late morning is very much enjoyable because of the lack of crowd. This place is actually quite crowded at night after 8.00pm.

Oblong also offers dessert combo for their lava cake and brownie at a price of $10.00 with a drink. I should applaud their effort for maintaining an affordable price for their reasonable quality desserts and hope they maintain it this way. Overall, i recommend their red velvet waffle with ice-cream over their normal waffle.

The only drawback is for the lack of ventilation in the cafe while they are toasting their waffle and that makes your clothes smell after staying in the air-con cafe for an extended period of time.

I had also wrote about another cafe that sells Red Velvet Waffle to make a comparison. You may read more about it here.

Red Velvet Waffle from Stateland Cafe

 

Baker Talent (Serangoon Branch)

Baker Talent

Address: Blk 261 Serangoon Central #01-11

Opening hours: 9.00am – 10.00pm daily

Other Branches

Boon Lay: Blk 221 Boon Lay Shopping Centre #01-154
Clementi: Blk 442 Clementi Avenue 3 #01-89
Choa Chu Kang: Blk 303 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 #01-723
Jurong West 1: Blk 495 Jurong West St 51 #01-100
Jurong West 2: Blk 964 Jurong West St 91 #01-1338
Tampines: Blk 828 Tampines St 81 #01-266
Yishun 1: Blk 415 Yishun Ave 11 #01-319
Yishun 2: Blk 846 Yishun Ring Road #01-3633

Introduction

Where can you get the cheapest golden sand custard bun (黄金流沙包) in Singapore? Baker Talent’s golden custard bun only cost me $0.90 each. This bakery’s bread is not exactly the best tasting one in Singapore but i can say that it’s definitely one of the cheapest around town and the taste is actually quite decent.

The price of every bread in the Baker Taleny does not exceed S$1.00 each. Even the Polo Char Siew bun only cost me S$0.95. That’s cheap isn’t it?

I have yet to try this “Butter Boom” (爆浆奶油) at only S$0.60. A friend told me the taste is only so-so and the butter don’t even “burst” out. If anyone had tried before, feel free to leave a comment on the taste.

Golden Sand Custard Bun

Baker Talent had kept the price of their Golden Sand Custard Bun at a “promotional price” at $0.90 for a couple of years since their opening in Singapore. I had also tried Barcook Bakery’s version and the main difference between the two is taste of salted egg yolk. Barcook Bakery’s version is more buttery and sweet and i can’t taste any salted egg yolk while the Baker Talent’s version is almost similar to those at Dim Sum place but only it’s the bread version. I prefer Baker Talent’s to Barcook Bakery’s because i like the salted egg yolk taste rather much. The custard is smooth with a moderate taste of salty egg yolk but the only thing is it’s a little sweet.

It may not be the best tasting molten custard bread bun around and… wait… there aren’t many molten custard bread bun around in Singapore! And don’t forget it’s only S$0.90. I thought this is value for money at a rather decent taste.

Polo Char Siew Bao

I also think that this should be Singapore’s cheapest Polo Char Siew Bao at only S$0.95. A crystal jade bakery one would had cost me about S$1.50? The crust on top taste a little like a less sweet butter cookie coating and the Char Siew is a little bit dryer, comparing to Crystal Jade’s but taste is OK.

Conclusion

Again i need to emphasis this may not be the best tasting bakery in Singapore, i thought that Baker Talent offers their bread at a great value and i hope the price remains this way. I still remembered Barcook Bakery’s nachos cheese bread only cost S$1.20 and now it’s like S$1.60 or $1.70.

The bread of Baker Talent is soft and fluffy enough for same day consumption and if you are really broke and waiting for pay day, why not drop by to stock up some bread. LOL.