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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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

Great Angus Steak at Market Grill @ Telok Ayer

Market Grill

Address (Google Map): 208 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068642

Opening hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm, Closed on Sun

Introduction

Market grill is a relatively new western grill bar situated along the stretch of shop house along Telok Ayer road that is nearer to Amoy Food Centre. Their menu is extensive considering the floor area of the restaurant. Probably due to the small seating capacity, they do not take in reservation.

Market Grill is rather well known for their steaks and burgers. For their lower range steak, the choice of cut is interesting that they decided to go with the less well known cut such as the bavette. Bavette is a cut somewhere at the stomach of the cow and it’s a french term for flank steak. A flank actually quite commonly used in the Chinese cuisine for “stir-fried beef”.

They also offer another cut known as the Wagyu Rump. A beef rump is very different to American and British. To the British, beef rump is actually referring to the Sirloin cut while the American refers rump to the round of the cow, that is the cut at the lower back, near to the hind legs of the cow. I read online that some people said that it’s really tender so i have to guess that it’s a British rump. Care to share if you have better knowledge of Market Grill’ rump.

Their menu: Click to enlarge

200 Days Grain-fed Black Angus Prime Rib

I ordered their 200 days grain-fed Black Angus Prime Rib that cost $150 at 1.10kg. If you read the finer print, this dish is actually good for sharing for up to three pax (which i did). A 45 minutes waiting time is required for the preparation of this dish.

The medium steak is served sliced for easy sharing and comes with a portion of thick red wine sauce and a portion of sarladise potato. To put it simply, sarladise means cooking it in fats (normally duck) and seasoned with garlic. The simple potato side dish is delightful as it absorbs the oil and it’s naturally flavoured by the fats and a tinge of garlic.

For their steak, it’s a 10 out of 10 for it’s appearance. The appearance itself explains why 45 minutes of waiting time is required. The steak is properly sliced to the appropriate thickness so that it’s chunky but yet not overly thick. The exterior is grilled to slightly charred that adds on a grilled fragrance with a simple and yet well-balanced marinate of salt and pepper.

The juicy and tender center

The medium steak is tender in the juicy center. Certain areas of the steak consist of small chunks of fatty beef. Although it’s not exactly melt in your mouth, it’s definitely not rubbery and the fats break down with little effort from the jaw. For more flavours, drizzle the thick red wine sauce over the sliced steak. For me, the steak itself is good enough.

Drizzle with Red Wine Sauce

Charcuterie Connoissuer Board

The outlook of this starter dish looks really sad, with a few piece of paper thin meat and slices of bread. However I will say that this starter is quite interesting but probably not something that Singaporeans will salivate over.

The Pate Forestier, which is a chicken liver paste flavoured with garlic and mushroom. It taste very much like foie gras paste and it goes very well with the toasted sourdough bread. This is my favourite among all.

Front to back: Pate Forestier, Duck Rilette, Rosette Superieure Saucisson, Chorizo Iberico, Veal Lyoner, Sourdough Bread

Duck Rilette is like the shredded version of duck confit, salted and cooked in fats. The Veal Lyoner (Lyon Sausage) taste very much like our cold cut ham. Nothing fantastic. The rosette superieure saucisson is a kind of thick, dry cured sausage that originates in France and there is a rather strong smell that is not exactly pleasant. Definitely not my favourite.

I guess I am not very used to such kinds of flavour, but it’s really an eye opener. All these come at a price of $28.

Onion Matchsticks

The onion matchsticks is actually onion rings. Sliced onions were coated in a thin batter and fried to crisp. It’s a little oily but really great to go with beer.

By the way, have you hear of a saying that matchstick can help to prevent tearing while cutting onion? Bite a piece of matching stick with the head facing out and it will absorb the chemical that caused tearing. Probably it won’t work though.

Conclusion

After reading this article from City Normads, claiming Market Grill to be the top 10 place for steak in Singapore, i decided to pay a visit. I’d researched on this place and the reviews are just so-so for the cheaper cut of steaks so i decided to try the premium range.

It turns out to be a good decision after all.

The non-overcrowding dimly listed restaurant/bar seems like a great place to chill out with friends after work while enjoying a reasonably-priced  meal (they do not charge 10% of service charge).

I didn’t have the chance to try their signature burgers so probably I’ll be back for those. For those who had their burgers, do feel free to share your experience with us.

The supposed signature Cod Fish Burger. My friend said that it’s quite flavorful but a little salty.

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

Address: 100AM, Amara Hotel, 100 Tras Street, 03-15,

Operating hours: 11.30am to 10.00pm daily

Introduction

Tori King = 鸡王(Chicken King). The founder, Keisuke Takeda, was once selected as the top ramen chef in Japan and crowned as Ramen King. We can easily identify this place by the queue forming out the restaurant during dinner. No reservation is allowed so just be prepared to queue, especially during dinner time.

Like Ippudo ramen at Mandarin Gallery, seating priority will be give to those group with all members present.

The menu is very simple. You got three kind of soup bases, the original, peppery black spicy, and green Spicy.  The ingredients for the ramen are the same for all the three soup bases. That’s right!! The secret to their great tasting ramen is definitely the chicken soup (鸡 白汤).

After waiting for about 30 minutes for my seat, the first thing that was served in Tori King was the mixed sesame bowl, for me to grind them into powder form, and probably to be added into the soup, or dip it with the chicken. Or maybe they just want to keep me busy while waiting for my ramen.

Original Soup Base

Tori King uses chicken broth unlike the majority, many traditional ramen places use pork broth. In comparison to Marutama ramen which also uses chicken broth, the taste of Tori King’s broth is stronger and much more flavorful. The stock is made from chicken bones, chicken feet, Japanese seaweed and an assortment of vegetables and boiled for eight hours. The original soup base comes with a piece of pork slice, giant seaweed, half boiled egg and the star of the show – the chicken drumstick!

Chef Keisuke said the chicken is boiled for 45 minutes and submerged overnight in soy sauce and is grilled before it’s served. The chicken drumstick is so tender that the meat comes off the bone so easily. A pair of chop sticks is all you need. No fork and knife involved.

Black Spicy Garlic Soup Base

The original broth with added black spicy garlic. I got to pay $1.00 more for this broth. I prefer this to the original. I like my ramen to be spicy.

Free flow condiment

There are a lot of sauces at Tori King – There’s a glass jar containing chilli sauce which there is a written instruction on the wall mentioning that it goes well with the chicken.

Like the Keisuke Tonkotsu King, there’s also free flow hard boiled egg, pepper and bondito flakes available. The mayonnaise goes pretty well with the chicken too, though i am not exactly sure that it’s the correct way of eating it. Remember to sprinkle some bonito flakes into your ramen soup!

Conclusion

For those who prefers a blander kind of soup base, you may think that Tori King’s thick soup broth is a little too much to take.

If you do not want to queue for too long, try to reach this place before 6.15pm and you should be able to get a seat for two quite readily.

Did i mention that that i was quite a ramen fanatic previously when Standard Chartered Bank released a list of top 10 ramen in Singapore and i tired about seven or eight out of the ten, like Noodle Ken at Somerset, Ippudo at Orchard, Santouka and Marutama from Clarke Quay, Yoshimaru at East Coast, Mentei and Baikohken at Raffles Place etc.

In my opinion, Tori King serves one of the best ramen that i ever had till date cuz the soup is awesome! And not forgetting the drum stick. Try it. Now.