Sum’s Kitchen & Hong Kong Roasted Meat at Sembawang

Sum’s Kitchen & Hong Kong Roasted Meat 香港深記飯店

Address: 3 Jalan Legundi

Opening hours: Daily 12.00pm to 2.30pm,  5.00pm to 9.30pm Closed on Tuesday

Contact number: 6757 2118

Introduction

Sum’s Kitchen (深) is an air-conditioned Cze Char eatery at Sembawang area just opposite the famous Sembawang White Bee Hoon. They are rather well known among the heartlanders in Sembawang and many agree that they serve one of the best roast duck in Singapore. My friend had to call in a couple of days in advance to reserve the duck because they will only roast a handful of ducks, in additional to the order on their reservation list.

Sum’s Kitchen Menu: Click to enlarge

Roast Duck ($12.00 for half duck)

The roast duck is Sum’s Kitchen signature dish. At $20.00 for half a duck in an aircon environment, it’s pretty reasonable. I wouldn’t say the meat is succulent but it’s juicy for a roast duck. The stack of meat is soaked in it’s savoury spice-infused stuffing juice and adds on a delightful fragrance to the duck.

The duck is meaty and greasy in a good way and has almost zero fowl taste. Although the skin is crispy, it is not to the extend of crackling. If there is one thing to improve, it’s probably the skin.

Char Siew (S$12.00)

People who like the unhealthy version of Char Siew will like this. It is very charred, or overly charred to some people. It’s succulent, with a good mix of fatty and lean part and not overly sweet.

Fried Lettuce with Beancurd Paste ($12.00)

This is one dish that I like very much apart from the duck. It’s actually quite a simple dish where they stir fry lettuce in fermented bean curd paste (腐乳). The paste taste of a blend of soybeans, sesame oil and a bit of vinegar and rice wine. The lettuce is cooked till mid soft and while lettuce don’t have a distinctive taste to begin with, the taste is pretty much focus on the texture of lettuce and the beancurd paste. Love the home cooked taste of this dish.

Chinese Spinach with Three Eggs ($15.00)

i will order this vegetable whenever it’s on the menu. I had tried many versions of this dish and Sam’s Kitchen’s version is lighter in taste. The Chinese Spinach is cooked to the appropriate softness and comparing to some, theirs has a lighter garlic taste. I personally prefer a soup that is more rich and robust so i will just rate this as an “okay”.

Deep Fried Bean Curd Skin in Salt ($12.00)

This is a rather interesting dish whereby layers of thin beancurd skin is rolled up, battered, deep fried and toss in a mix of crispy chilli, salt and pepper. The exterior is cripsy while the center is softer, and retaining the sweet beancurd taste.

Spring onion ginger mix

Apart from the main dishes, Sam’s Kitchen also offer a bottle of condiment that consist of a mixture of spring onion and ginger. It goes exceptionally well with the white rice and i can finish the bowl of rice with this condiment alone.

Conclusion

The dishes that i had here are mostly above average and my personal favourites are the duck, lettuce and fried bean curd skin. Price wise, it is slightly more pricey than a typical coffee shop Cze Char but for the more comfortable dining environment and better food, the price difference is not that significant. My friend highly recommend their deep fried HK squid with salt and pepper but since many of us don’t appreciate squid, we didn’t order it.

Overall I enjoyed my dining experience here, comparing to the very popular Bee Hoon eatery that is just situated opposite Sum’s Kitchen. Sum’s Kitchen don’t exactly offers the most exciting kind of food that makes people go “wow”, but i kinda like the homely taste. And if you want to try their roast duck, remember to call in advance to reserve to avoid disappointment.

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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.

Char Restaurant – The Chinese Roast with a Twist

Char Restaurant

Address (Google Map): 393 Guillemard Road Singapore 399790

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

Introduction

I first know about Char Restaurant from a post from Mitsueki.wordpress.com. Char is a restaurant selling Chinese food and i was quite excited about it because there is just too many new western restaurants recently and we need to bring back some refreshing eastern flavours.

The restaurant is situated in the middle of Dakota Station, Paya Lebar Station and Aljunied Station. If you are travelling by public transport, the easiest mean is to take a bus. Or you can be like me, to walk from Dakota MRT and it’s actually not that far.

This restaurant offers Cze Char style dishes with their three signature roast dishes – their Char Siew, Roast Pork Belly (Sio Bak) and Roasted Duck at $20.50 (+10% service charge, no GST).

Char’s Dinner Menu: Click to Enlarge

Roasted Char Siew

This Pork Belly Char Siew is quite different from those that we find in Hawker Centre or even Chinese Restaurant. The thick spice-infused caramelised coating makes the Char Siew slightly crispy on the outside and the pork belly cut completes the dish with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

The fragrance of the five spice powder is evidently stronger than the traditional Char Siew and the texture of their fatty Char Siew is one of it’s kind in Singapore. Comparing to a typical Hawker Char Siew, this is much more tender but the thick caramelised coating makes it much sweeter. It’s more like a grilled Kong Ba and is the must-order.

Roast Pork Belly

I was only half convinced that the Roasted Pork Belly is Char’s signature dish until I tried it. The best part of a Sio Bak (Roast Pork Belly) is always about the roasted skin and Char Restaurant’s version is fantastic.

The crusty crackling skin is not tough on the jaw and crumbles easily. The bottom part of the pork belly is less salted and charred comparing to a typical Hawker Centre version. Char is quite generous with it’s portion for it’s price.

Roast Duck

Char’s Roast Duck is also one of the three signature roasts. Among the stack of duck, there are only 3-4 pieces of meaty slice while the rest are the rib parts with millimetres of meat. The skin is actually quite well roasted, well flavoured and crispy and it’s served in it’s stuffing gravy. I would have enjoyed this dish more if the parts served are more meaty.  Overall this duck is actually quite well done but if i only has two votes, i will cast it on the Char Siew and Roasted Pork Belly.

Egg Fried Rice ($5+)

I absolutely love this fried rice. The photo is actually not doing justice to it’s taste. This fried rice is like a combination of Ding Tai Feng’s Egg Fried Rice with Japanese Garlic Fried Rice. If you love Garlic Fried Rice, you will like this. Each grain of rice is well-separated and it’s packed with fragrance of fresh garlic.

The price is also very reasonable for it’s portion and considering that it’s a restaurant. The only complain is they use a little too much oil to prepare this dish as a thin layer of oil remains on the plate after finishing this dish.

Spicy French Beans

I generally like french bean for it’s crunchy texture that goes very well with the fried dried shrimp. Char offers a spicy version which the spiciness has nothing to do with chilli but with a kind of Szechuan pepper (花椒) and unfortunately, I dread the taste of these peppers so this dish is a thumbs down for me.

Conclusion 

I was rather impressed by Char Restaurant’s Char Siew and Roasted Pork Belly. Although there are roast meat stalls all over Singapore, to find one that matches Char is not going to be an easy task. Is the price a little too expensive? Actually the price is about the same as a famous roast meat stall along upper paya lebar for three kinds of meat (Char Siew, Roast Pork Belly, Roast Goose), or it’s even slightly cheaper.

Their Char Siew and Roast Meat are said to be the end product of incorporating western cooking style into Chinese dish and just the preparation of Char Siew takes two days to complete which involves multiple cooking processes to get the melt-in-your-mouth texture. If you are looking for an interesting place to experience a new style of Chinese food, Char may be just the place for you.

Crispy Seafood Bee Hoon at Jalan Besar

Yong Kee Seafood Restaurant

Address: 43 Jalan Besar

Operating Hours: 5.00pm to 3.00am (closed on first Wednesday of the month)

Introduction

Johor Bahru has this third storey bee hoon (三楼米粉) that is unique to Malaysia food culture. One side of the bee hoon is intentionally fried till crisp while the underneath of the bee hoon remains moist. While Singapore does not has exactly the same dish to offer, we have a few variations of it. One of them is the crispy chao ta bee hoon at Jalan Besar. Chao ta literally means burnt in hokkien (one of the dialects in Singapore).

Johor’s Third Storey Bee Hoon. Exterior is charred but not yet to the extend of crispy.

Yong Kee Seafood Restaurant is situated in an old school coffee shop along Jalan Besar, diagonally opposite Sim Lim Tower. It is not exactly a restaurant but a Cze Char stall. They offer various signature dishes like Pig Trotter, Egg Yolk Crab, 上汤苋菜 (Chinese Spinach served in soup stock), steamed salted chicken and of course the Crispy Bee Hoon.

Click to see their signature dish.

Cripsy Bee Hoon

Unlike Johor’s version, the charred side is pan fried till really crispy, to the extend of the texture of eating crackers. This also means that it will be slightly dryer. However, the other side of the bee hoon remains moist. The ingredient used is similar to our seafood Hor Fun that includes Prawn, Squid, Fish Cake and slices of Meat. Fried crispy pork lard and bean sprout are scattered onto the Bee Hoon to complete the dish.

I personally think that every Cze Char stall should have a unique signature dish and it’s this Bee Hoon for Yong Kee. This dish didn’t disappoint with it’s flavorful stock infused Bee Hoon. The texture is something new and refreshing. I would enjoyed the Bee Hoon even more if the pricing can be more affordable. A small size cost $6 while a medium and large cost $12 and $18 dollars.

Chinese Spinach serve in Soup Stock

Typically, this dish is served in restaurant.  It’s served in a big bowl with the Chinese Spinach soaked in soup. Yong Kee’s version is served in small pot over a small flame. Fried Ikan Billis (anchovies) are scattered generously over the vegetable.

The soup taste abit like chicken/ikan billis soup stock cubes. But of course, such cubes are actually widely used in hawker food so I think I will give it to them, because I like the soup. The soup is more flavorful than the usual one in restaurants. Vegetable is soft enough and yet remain crunchy. It cost $10 and is good enough to be shared by two.

Steamed Salted Chicken

From the name Salted Chicken, I was expecting something like Salt Baked Chicken but apparently the taste is totally different from what I imagined it to be. In fact the chicken is not at all salty and taste more of chinese herb with a tinge of Danggui (当归).

There is also a layer of jelly-like stuff, which i assume is a layer of starch because it is rather tasteless which the taste only comes from the sauce that it absorbs. I don’t particularly enjoy this dish.

Conclusion

Yong Kee does not offer the comfort that seafood restaurant can offer. The construction work for the new MRT line around this area made the coffee shop looked really run down and unappealing. I took a short walk from Bugis MRT to OG Bugis, cut across Sim Lim Square, then to Sim Lim Tower to reach this place, but i think it’s worth the walk. Maybe not for the steamed salted chicken, but for their Bee Hoon.

This Cze Char stall opens up to 3am in the morning so if you are feeling hungry at Jalan Besar, this stall may just be fix for you. You also can read up on Swee Choon Dim Sum at Jalan Besar that opens up to 6am in the morning.

The Famous Sembawang White Bee Hoon (You Huak)

You Huak (友发餐室)Sembawang White Bee Hoon

Address: 22 Jalan Tampang (Opp Sembawang Shopping Centre) S(758966)

Operating Hours: 11.30am to 10.30pm (Closed on Wed)

Introduction

Have you heard of the You Huak Sembawang White Bee Hoon? I’m sure many of us did, and for those who have yet to hear about it, it’s a seafood stir fry bee hoon in white gravy found at Sembawang area. This coffee shop is only occupied by two stalls, the drink stall, and the Cze Char stall that sells various Cze Char dishes, including the infamous white bee hoon.

There’s a big signage 白米粉 and can’t be missed.

Expect crowd during meal hours therefore the best time to visit is probably late afternoon. I went on a Sun evening at 7pm. Wrong move. The length of the queue is rather scary but since I’m already there, so ya, i’ll take part in Singaporean’s favourite hobby – queuing up for stuff.

Click to enlarge menu (as of 22 Mar 2014)

The White Bee Hoon (白米粉) – $4.5 (S), $8(M), $12(L)

A large white bee hoon cost $12.00 and they are rather generous with the serving. A large portion is good enough to be shared among 4 pax (if you ordered a few side dishes to go with it). I thought this white bee hoon actually taste similar to our Hokkien fried prawn noodle. The bee hoon is soaked in the rich but not overpowering stock and it’s rather light on the stomach that enable one to savor the bee hoon without getting sick of it.

I thought this is nice, but not to the extend that i’ll specially make my way down and wait for another 45 minutes for a seat. If the waiting time in only 10 minutes and if I stay nearby, then yes, I probably will visit regularly. For a very reasonable price of $4.50, it is pretty ideal as an everyday food. In fact, I thought the chilli is pretty good. It’s much more spicier and sour than most of the belacan that it greatly stimulate one’s appetite. I also love the generous amount of eggs scattered into the bee hoon.

Meat & & Prawn Roll (虾棗) – $10 (S), $15(M), $20(L)

This dish is apparently one of the must-order and is one of their specialities. I think the main difference between this and other prawn roll is the texture. Generally Prawn Roll has a minced meat texture which i can chew on the meat fiber. You Huak’s meat fillings are grinded really fine (or I think they mixed in portions of fish paste) that made the prawn roll taste more compact and solid. It comes with a sweet chilli sauce dip than the usual brown sauce.

The ingredient taste very fresh, and the freshly fried crispy Prawn Roll skin adds on an additional crunch to It.  I personally prefers a more meaty kind of texture so I shall say that this is more of a can-order rather than a must-order. It is not difficult to get similar quality elsewhere.

Indo-style Fried Chicken Wings – $6 (S), $10(M), $16(L)

This dish is recommended by the stall auntie. When my friend asked if it’s prawn paste chicken, the auntie was evidently displease and said ‘We don’t serve prawn paste chicken here. Our chicken is indo style fried chicken’.  The marinade mainly tasted like a blend of turmeric powder and thinly sliced ginger. It taste very similar to some of our malay friend’s fried chicken. The good? It’s crispy.

But on the other hand, it’s rather dry. I believe mainly it’s because the wings were sent into the frying wok without a layer of breading and the wings turned dry after an extended duration of frying. I think most Singaporeans will think that it’s dry as we are very used to the breaded and juicy version.

Homemade Fried Bean Curd – $10 (S), $15(M), $20(L)

Yeap. Another fried dish. Those dishes that are labelled as signature dishes in the menu are mostly fried. Sinful sinful sinful. The exterior crust is really crispy, similar to the crust of a goreng pisang (fried banana fritters) and the interior is made up of tofu paste that is soft and texture is somewhat like Dao Gua (pressed tofu) with fillings. I thought this dish is a little more unique compared to the prawn roll and chicken wing. It comes with mayonnaise dips.

Conclusion

One can already judge the popularity of white bee hoon by looking at the crowd during meal hour. Everyone is queuing up patiently like it’s already the norm to wait for it’s good food. For myself, I thought it is a at-least-try-once place but i foresee that i will not return within the next couple of weeks or even months. i think similar craving can be curbed by having some really good fried hokkien mee actually.

This is the 45 minutes crowd at 7.00 pm Sunday

The location is the main reason that deters people from frequent visits, especially for friends who don’t drive. If I’m coming back, I will definitely visit during a non meal time and I’m sure this meal will be much more enjoyable experience.

They ran out of Kailan, Nai Bai so i ordered the French Beans instead and it was surprisingly good.