[SG] Food hunt at Toa Payoh Central

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In search for good food, we decided to visit Toa Payoh, one of the heartland districts in Singapore. The name Toa Payoh suggested that it was previously a large swamp. With New Towns' development by the government, it was transformed into Singapore's Housing Development Board's 2nd satellite town. The housing estate area is pretty much self-contained, with a town centre serving the needs of the residents.

I must say I was pretty overwhelmed when I first arrived at Toa Payoh Central, which was a bustling 'hotspot' with lots of commuters. With maps located at the bus terminal, it was not too difficult to navigate our way around in search of good food! One tip though, do try and avoid walking pass the area outside the foyer of Toa Payoh Central (In front of McDonald's and Ya Kun) unless you do not mind being hassled by promoters, for Sizzler restaurant especially.

友记家传鸭饭 (Yu Kee Food House)

友记家传鸭饭套餐 (Yu Kee Food House Duck Rice Set)

(+) Tenderly braised duck with a very savory gravy sauce that enhanced the taste.

(+) Fragrant yam rice and it was well cooked, al-dente. 
(+) Braised tau pok was chewy and was oozing with juice, giving one a saucy mouthful.
(+) The braised peanuts were soft but not overly cooked to become mashy.
(+) With 3 types of chili on offer, each was spicy and provided a good accompaniment, especially the traditional Teochew chili sauce for braised duck, that has a tinge of lime to whet one's appetite!

(-) The soup provided was too 'tasty' and overwhelming in terms of MSG unfortunately.
(-) Rather small portions of braised peanuts, thin duck slice and braised tau pok for S$3.80/-

Verdict: 7.5/10
友记家传鸭饭 located inside Koufu
Toa Payoh Central

Surrounded by shops and restaurants each with a culinary fare to boast, we turned into a 'food alley' which was what the name suggested literally. Ranging from Hong Kong roast meat to fusion burgers 'GAMAP' (when we wanted to try, they were already closed for business, next time then!), a Peranakan stall caught our attention, especially with their billboard advert of their signature 'Nonya Caviar'. 

My Peranakan Spice Box
Buah Keluak Toast

An interesting fusion touch to the classic Ayam Buah Keluak dish, the above signature dish featured the black, dark brown Indonesian nut. The preparation methods were tedious and time-consuming to say the least. It required soaking the nuts to soften the shell and upon cracking it open, grinding the nut within into a paste and stuffed in the shell before being slow-cooked over fire for at least 4 hours. Being the epitome of Peranakan cuisine, it would be a shame to give this light treat a miss!

(+) Uniquely rich and strong taste and very smooth texture, no gritty bits stuck between teeth!
(+) The soft paste was perfectly complemented by the crisp thin toast served, very good 'mouth feel' overall.
(+) The plain toast helped to neutralize the bursting strong flavours the tiny paste heap cached.
(+) A tinge of braised meat flavor topped with some asam acquired aftertaste.
(+) Interesting appeal for those interested in fusion cuisine at an affordable price of S$2.50/3 pcs.

(-) You either love it or hate it I guess, due to the strong flavours. Personally both of us were put off by the smell/taste (not that it tasted horrible) but it was too strong for us.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Bakwan Kepeiting Soup (Crabmeat balls with La Mien)

(+) The la mien noodles were very bouncy and firm in texture. One of the best I had ever tasted.
(+) Clear light soup and does not taste of MSG. Great for one of those soupy-craving days.
(+) The meatballs were tangy and very juicy. 
(+) Minced pork had some slight fat, and with crabmeat pieces gave the dish a natural sweetness to savour.

(-) Minced pork overwhelmed the puny crabmeat pieces and tasted more like pork meatballs.
(-) Too few crabmeat pieces and bamboo shoot.
(-) If you are after something savory, this is definitely not it for the soup is too light but easy on the stomach.

Verdict: 8.0/10

P.S: One of their signature dishes, Stewed Pork La Mien seemed like a real hit, but was sold out by the time we ordered food, will definitely return to try. A satisfying cooling drink, Red Dates with Mata Kuching was an awesome accompaniment to the dishes. Sweetened by the red dates and mata kuching (imagine a smaller sized longan), it was definitely refreshing and like the above tried dishes, uniquely Peranakan.

My Peranakan Spice Box
Blk 190, Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #01-528 
(Look out for signage that directs to 'food alley' outside Toa Payoh Central, opposite McDonald's) 

Soon Heng Rojak
Normally not a fan of queuing up for food, but when I was on a recce to check at this basement foodcourt, Gourmet Paradise, I cannot help but notice a zigzag queue for this stall's rojak and the billboard of gourmet awards. Not giving in (for I always thought such accreditation were just commercial advertising) , I went on the food hunt and thought I would drop by and have a look. To my dismay, the queue was still as bad even at almost 9pm! Oh well..'there must be something about this Rojak' I guess..
definitely not impressed with the queue which stretched past this photograph.
Gritty crushed peanuts!

(+) Very generous amount of crushed roasted peanuts, added crunch always a plus!
(+) Thick rich shrimp paste, coating all ingredients in entirety.
(+) Unusual to have fresh chewy cuttlefish and kangkong amidst the rojak mix.
(+) Generous with fried fritter (you tiao) pieces.

(-) The shrimp paste was too sweet for my liking and needed some plain water to wash it down.
(-) Tasted some sugar bits, which resulted from uneven dissolving of the sugar.
(-) Would have preferred more sliced turnip which typically was key to a rojak dish.
(-) Long queue.
(-) The fried fritter was placed in oven to make it crispy, but it seemed overly done and was rather hard and brittle instead, not a hit for me.

Verdict: 6.5/10
Soon Heng Rojak
Blk 480, Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #B1-23, Gourmet Paradise
Toa Payoh Central

Song of the moment: 'Make me cry' by 鄭欣宜

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  1. there's a really good one at mei chin market!awesome you tiao!