Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun

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A Taste of Handmade Tradition – Kim Hock Seng bak kwa 金福成肉干

Kim Hock Seng bak kwaThis Chinese New Year, I opted to skip the horrendous queue at Lim Chee Guan (a friend queued 6 hours) and try a different house of bak kwa (barbequed pork), one who doesn’t believe in making their customers queue for their candied meat (yes I am that extreme lol).

Kim Hock Seng Bak Kwa

Mr Ong Geok Hoo, 64 has been running his bak kwa business with this wife for more than 40 years. They prepare their bak kwa from scratch in their shop. In a media interview, he said “My bak kwa packaging has never changed, my recipe has never changed. My white singlet and white shorts have also not changed.

The shop is famous for its Original Barbecued Pork Slices and Bacon Bak Kwa (not available during Chinese New Year; I am so coming back to try this). Mr Ong encourages his customers to call and place an advance order at least three days before so they can just come to the shop to collect-and-go. His order chits stuck on the shop’s wall are so plenty they can masquerade as wallpaper. Traditional red boxes are piled high around the shop while trays of cooled bak kwa are ready to be packed for the next day’s orders. It’s definitely hard work, but Mr Ong is adamant about carrying on his craft for at least 10 more years. Expectedly, his 3 children have no intention to carry on the business.

Kim Hock Seng bak kwa
Kim Hock Seng’s bak kwa are less vibrant in colour and much thicker than those I have tried before, but they are tender to the bite with little fat. In fact, I meant to take the box of bak kwa out just to take one photo, but by the time I put it back, it was 500 grams lighter. In just 10 minutes. Oops.

Kim Hock Seng (Seng Kee) 金福成
Address: 34 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089141
Tel: (65) 6221 4882
Opening Hours: 11:00AM to 10:00PM (Mondays to Saturdays); 3:00PM to 10:00PM (Sundays)

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Makko Teck Neo – Little Peranakan Cafe with Irresistible Pineapple Tarts

Makko Teck NeoEvery year, my aunt never fails to gives us loads of Chinese New Year goodies labelled with the name “Teck Neo.” I will usually start on the pineapple tarts first, and they are usually half gone when Chinese New Year finally arrives. I found that out of all the numerous pineapple tarts I have tasted over the years, Teck Neo is one of the most consistently delicious ones – melt-in-the-mouth buttery crust, not overly-sweet crunchy pineapple filling with a Peranakan oomph. I later learnt that they were the ones who supplied these tasty morsels during the APEC Summit in Singapore.
Makko Teck NeoMy interest (or rather, gluttony) piqued, I wanted to know more about them and found out that they operated a café tucked away in the sleepy heartland of Blk 35 Telok Blangah Rise.

Makko Teck NeoYou can’t miss the block from the road, for sure :)

Makko Teck NeoIt would be easy to miss Makko Teck Neo’s little Peranakan café located at the end of the block, if not for the people happily eating at the al fresco area in front of the entrance.

Makko Teck NeoUnlike the usually showy Peranakan restaurants plastered with a blinding number of Peranakan décor, Makko Teck Neo is fuss-free, preferring to focus on churning out authentic and affordable Peranakan dishes. Her family helps out at the café too.

Makko Teck NeoThe cafe offers different dishes on each day of the week while some signature dishes such as dry mee siam, nasi lemak and Nonya pork chop are available daily.

Makko Teck NeoThe space is not big, but they do pretty brisk business especially during lunch time. Makko Teck Neo does catering as well.

Makko Teck NeoPineapple tarts are undoubtedly the star of the show. I like the mini pineapple tarts, which makes eating them feel only half as guilty haha. But being so tiny, it also means it’s easier to pop the whole jar into your mouth without realising it, hee.

Makko Teck NeoDon’t lose control…don’t lose control…helppp! Just looking at the wide variety of Chinese New Year goodies is enough to make me happy :D I’ll think about diet later…

Makko Teck NeoI buy the home-made nonya kueh once I reach now – the first time, I waited till I finished my meal to buy, almost everything was gone :S Some which I think are a must-try are the rempah udang (spicy shrimp fillings in glutinous rice rolls), kueh salat kaya (Pandan egg coconut milk custard on glutinous rice), kueh lopes (glutinous rice cake served with palm sugar syrup) and kueh dar dar (gula melaka coconut in pandan crepe roll).

Makko Teck NeoAnd go for the Nonya meat dumplings – they are the BEST I have eaten. Furthermore, they come decorated with nature’s best dye – a bluish extract from the blue pea flower. It’s as Peranakan as it can get.

Makko Teck NeoBon appetite!

Makko Teck NeoThe al fresco area is named the “Tok Panjang” corner, which translates to “long table feast” usually associated with Peranakan weddings and special occasions. Peranakans practice such sharing during meals to bring closeness to the family, relatives and friends, and signifies prosperity and joy.

Makko Teck NeoOne of my favourite dish – the dry mee siam. I was crazy enough to specially cab there to-and-fro just to eat this, haha. It’s slightly on the sweet side compared to the usual Malay-style spicy mee siam. Makko Teck NeoRempah Ayam Goreng (Crispy Fragrant Fried Chicken)
Finger lickin’ good.

Makko Teck Neo Rice with pineapple salad
I bought extra pineapple salad home. ‘Nuff said.

Makko Teck NeoAssam Fish Curry (Patin Fish in Spicy Tamarind Curry Gravy)

Makko Teck NeoNonya Ngoh Hiang (Fried Meat Roll)
You have to order this…it’s really good!

Makko Teck NeoAnd the finale of the meal – a lovely Burbur Cha Cha (sweet dessert of coconut milk with sweet potatoes, yam and tapioca pearls). It is one of the more authentic ones in Singapore, still retaining the robust taste of how this Peranakan dessert should be.

If you are looking for a casual place serving authentic Peranakan delicacies which doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, give Makko Tack Neo a try. With Chinese New Year just round the corner, it’s also a great place to buy some goodies home and share the love (and carbs) with the family :)

Makko Teck Neo
Blk 35 Teloh Blangah Rise, #01-303 Singapore 090035
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 7:30AM – 9:00PM
Tel: +65 6275 1330
Email: sales@teckneotarts.com
Website: www.teckneotarts.com
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A Taste of Nostalgia: Nam Seng Noodles

Nam Seng Noodles

Nam Seng Noodles

I was excitedly walking along China Street towards a Korean restaurant to satisfy my kimchi craving which I had been harbouring for over a week when I was distracted by a lady eating a plate of noodles by the roadside. It looked so tantalizing. I backtracked ten steps to find out which noodle store it came from. Turns out to be Granny Leong who used to sell wonton noodles at the little hut just in front of the old Stamford National Library. Oh my god – how many times I had eaten those noodles when I used to visit the library as a student! Granny Leong must be 80 over years old by now – and she’s still healthy and cackling orders in Cantonese to her helpers – still a feisty dame! I thought that familiar taste was lost to me forever when they demolished the library along with the little hut in 2004. I was naturally uber-excited, and happily ditched my K meal for noodles. Kimchi can wait.

Nam Seng Noodles

Nam Seng Noodles is located at the corner along a row of shophouses along China Street.

Old Stamford Library Food Hut

The little hut in front of the old National Library where Granny Leong used to sell her noodles. They moved to Joo Chiat after this place was demolished in 2004 to make way for – a road tunnel – before settling at Far East Square.

Old Stamford National Library

Old Stamford National Library
I remember going there as a student. I am actually a shy geek, and loved going to the reference library to read.
Photo: National Library Board

Nam Seng Noodles

The signature dishes are the wonton noodles and venison horfun.
Just get the $5 plate cos’ you just can’t get enough of it. Trust me. I had the $4 plate and went back thinking about it day after day. Oh, the unique taste.

Nam Seng Noodles

Sitting area is along a little alley beside the stall. Talk about sanitized back alley dining. I miss the dirt, heh.

Nam Seng Noodles

The noodles were  DELISH with a nostalgic 古早味 taste just as I remembered it. Springy, chewy with a taste so unique, a chilli diehard like me willingly went sans spicy to savour the original taste. I gobbled it up in no time. I tasted sweetness when I bit into the dumplings. Suddenly, I was a student again, having noodles at the little hut in front of the library, it brought a tear to my eye. Oh, nostalgia!

Nam Seng Noodles - Venison Hor Fun

Venison Hor Fun. I still like the wonton noodles better.

Nam Seng Noodles

Granny Leong – PensiveOh what those eyes have seen
Through the decades of street scenes

Of toil, fulfillment and satisfaction
Of happiness, joy and appreciation

Granny faithfully keeps her trade
Of tradition and of love for a husband

And keeping memories of many alive
Oh nostalgia, how you have touched our lives!

Nam Seng Noodles
25 China Street
#01-01 Far East Square
Singapore 049567
Opening Hours: 8:00AM – 9:00PM (Mon to Fri) , 8:00AM – 5:00PM (Sat)
Closed on Sun & PH