Michelin Bib Gourmand zi char: Ka Soh (Outram Park)

Ka-Soh

Ka Soh has two outlets in Singapore and even a Malaysian outpost but only the one at Outram Park has received the Bib Gourmand award. They specialize in traditional fish head noodles – no dairy byproducts are added to achieve the color as a shortcut, the milky color comes from boiling the fresh snakehead fish and fish bones for 4 hours. They’re also known for their fried shrimp paste chicken (har cheong kai).

Kok-Sen-Us

I was in Singapore to celebrate my dad’s birthday and this was one of the places we ate at. Unfortunately, we were all exceedingly full due to a late heavy lunch after church, so we could only manage a few dishes. Ka Soh in Outram Park is in a hospital compound – the building belongs to an alumnus of medical professionals.

Prawn-Paste-Chicken

I was told I had to try their Prawn Paste Chicken (SGD 15.50). This is a very Singaporean dish where they fry chicken wings dipped in fermented prawn paste batter. The ones at Ka Soh was exceedingly crunchy with a nice prawn flavor. I love the crispy batter that coats the piping hot chicken.

Signature-Fish-Soup-Noodles

Signature Fish Soup Noodles (SGD 8.50) is what they’re known for so we got a bowl to share. It’s decent but it’s not my favorite thing. I can appreciate the creamy mouthfeel but I’m not a huge fan of the insipid soup. It’s not my favorite thing but I’m glad I tried it.

Signature-Pork-Ribs

Signature Pork Ribs (SGD 18.50) was recommended by the waitress and this turned out to be my favorite dish. It doesn’t look like much but it tastes delicious! The pork chop is marinated in a blend of spices and deep fried. It’s then cut into juicy strips and served with a sweet soy sauce dip. Excellent execution. I was forcibly kidnapped and taken to Flavor Town!

Sliced-Thick-Fish-Vermicelli-Noodles

Sliced Thick Fish Vermicelli Noodles (SGD 8) is the dry version of the above. I did enjoy this more than the soup ones. I may have a slight bias against soup noodles since I prefer stronger flavors to subdued ones. I’m what they call 重口味. 😄

Kangkung-with-Prawn-Paste

Kangkung with Prawn Paste (SGD 12) is the obligatory vegetable. It tastes exactly like what you’ll expect it to taste like. Stir fried well, but nothing exceptional. To be fair it’s hard to wow with a vegetable dish unless you have extraordinary ingredients or unusual cooking techniques.

Fried-Yam

We ended with Fried Yam (SGD 8), which is their signature dessert. It’s nicely done with a crispy exterior and a smooth, warm and creamy yam interior. We all enjoyed this dish but it’s a very rich and cloying Chinese style dessert. It’ll be hard to eat more than a few pieces.

Ka-Soh-Outram-Park

The bill came up to SGD 109.20 (around RM 332) which is quite a standard price for Singapore zi char. I honestly didn’t find Ka Soh exceptional. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but there are many similar quality zi char places in Singapore offering equal, if not better quality cooking. I find the Bib Gourmand listings in the Michelin Guide to be less accurate than the star listings. It’s great as a guide, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive listing.

Michelin Singapore Bib Gourmand roundup: A Noodle Story, Hong Kee Beef Noodle, J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff

A-Noodle-Story

A Noodle Story was one of the Bib Gourmand destinations I was most excited about. It’s Singaporean style ramen and the chefs are young folks getting into the hawkerpreneur life. It looked really good in photos. A Noodle Story is located at Amoy Street Food Centre, which is a huge building with many stalls. It’s exceedingly hot and packed during lunch time, so be warned! I had to queue for about 30 minutes before I got my bowl of noodles and nearly got heatstroke in that time.

Noodle-Story

The noodles come with lots of toppings like potato prawn (strings of crispy potato wrapped around a juicy prawn), oozing onsen egg, tender char siu made using Spanish pork belly, and Hong Kong style wontons. There’s also strings of what I thought was saffron (which is impossible, considering the price) but turned out to be peppers. It’s a nice touch. I really enjoyed the firm, toothsome and flavorful noodles. Recommended.

Hong-Kee-Beef-Noodle

Hong Kee Beef Noodle is located a few stalls down. They also won a Bib Gourmand for their beef stock that’s cooked for 24 hours. I got a bowl of their beef noodles to share with my dad. There is no queue for this stall. I tasted the noodles and immediately disliked it. I could barely discern any flavor! It’s quite tasteless to me. I thought they forgot to put salt in.

Beef-Noodle-Hong-Kee

It should be noted that my dad is a fan of subtle and simple flavors. He ate the noodles and gave it the thumbs down as well. “Too bland”, he declared. I honestly tell you, if something is too plain for my dad, it’ll be tasteless for 99.9% of the population. The seasoning game is too weak in these noodles. I may like it better if there was more flavor (or sodium) but the dreary broth and noodles taste insipid. Not my thing.

J2-Famous-Crispy-Curry-Puff

J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff is also located in the same center. I was too full to eat since I gobbled down a dumpling from Hoo Kee Bak Chang after the noodles. Luckily, curry puffs take very well to travelling so I bought some to eat in KL later that night. My sister also asked me to tapau her a few of these. These used to be the only curry puffs to be listed in Michelin Bib Gourmand, but Rolina was also included in the new 2018 guide.

J2-Curry-Puff

It’s quite good! I liked these curry puffs. My favorite was the black pepper chicken but I also enjoyed the sardine one. I usually don’t choose sardines coz I thought they’re something you take straight from the can and stuff it in the pastry. Not so with J2. I hear they only pick the large sardines and season it with their own in-house blend. They only sell 500 curry puffs each day. The crust is nicely flaky and crispy. Worth trying.

Double feature: Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee + Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken

Hong-Heng-Fried-Sotong-Prawn-Mee

The chef-owner at Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee must have watched too much Young & Dangerous coz Hong Heng is the fictitious gang in the series led by Ekin Cheng. I watched him (the chef, not Ekin) apply his pek yao skills to the wok. They serve their noodles with just a spoon coz the chef cham (chop) the mee already, as befitting his stall name. You don’t need chopsticks to pick up the truncated length noodles. There’s a queue even at the odd afternoon hour I visited but it moved fast.

Bib-Gourmand-Prawn-Mee

“I take inspiration fron gu wak chai”. He didn’t actually say that, I simply add one. 😄

Tiong-Bahru-Prawn-Mee

The noodles are flavored well but a bit too bland for me. I think adding a bit more salt would have elevated the dish. Maybe he under seasoned my batch. I love their chilli sauce and it’s a comforting dish of noodles. I just wish it were saltier. Worth a try.

Tiong-Bahru-Hainanese-Boneless-Chicken-Rice

Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice is also at Tiong Bahru Food Center. They have an unusual addition I’ve never seen before – pickles! It really adds a lot to the dish as the acidic sweetness cuts through the fattiness of the chicken and rice. I also think the tau keh nio is quite pretty. Hehe. She’s a friendly person too, and when she heard I was from KL, she told me they started an outlet in JB, Malaysia but it didn’t do well so they closed it. Apparently Malaysians have different taste buds and requirements when it comes to chicken rice.

Tiong-Bahru-Bib-Gourmand-Chicken-Rice

I really enjoyed the chicken rice here. The drumstick was nice and moist and the tender meat speaks well to me. I also liked the onion notes in the chicken rice. But it was the pickle that stole the show – it’s such an awesome ingredient in chicken rice that I wonder why other stalls don’t include this. The chilli dip is spot on too. Delicious.

Tiong-Bahru-Chicken-Rice

I’ll go again.

4-in-1: Michelin Bib Gourmand Elvis Suki, Tongue Fun Ice Cream, Durian @ Or Tor Kor, Hooters Bangkok

Elvis-Suki

Elvis Suki was the first thing I ate in Bangkok. I scheduled Raan Jay Fai at 8 pm and thought it’ll be a good idea to starve myself the entire day until I got to Bangkok at 5 pm. It was not. I had less appetite than if I had eaten small portions at mealtimes. Elvis Suki is a Thai sukiyaki noodle joint. They call it suki haeng and its glass noodles fried with a protein and sukiyaki sauce. You can see a whole row of cooks manning coal stoves and cooking sukiyaki in front of Elvis Suki. Elvis is known for their dry sukiyaki beef so that’s what I got.

Elvis-Suki-Bangkok

Elvis Suki has two outlets at the opposite (and slightly diagonal) sides of the road. The original one is the al fresco and cramped old style Bangkok eatery. The new air conditioned one opposite has food shuttled there from this location. Naturally, I went to the source and sat down at one of the small shared tables. It was full of locals and their menu is in all Thai. Luckily, I had a picture (from the Michelin Bib Gourmand Guide) of what I wanted to order. My English-speaking table companion, an office worker who ate two bowls of suki, also helped clarified my order to the waiter.

Elvis-Suki-Dry-Beef-Suki

The flavors of Elvis Suki dry sukiyaki beef are quite unusual. I’m not familiar with these ultra-smoky aromas. It’s not just wok hei, but it tastes like the essence of smoke was somehow distilled into the noodles. It’s honestly a bit overwhelming, but I can imagine this would be something I’ll enjoy if I had grown up eating it. The acidic dipping sauce is a must! It kicks the dish up a notch. I like the eggy sauce but it’s slightly too bland (except for the coal smoke infusion) for me.

Tongue-Fun

I’ve also heard good things about Tongue Fun Ice Cream so I popped over after my meal at Elvis Suki. It’s a specialty ice cream shop that’s originally Tung Fung Trading Service Co. Ltd. Haha. I thought that was brilliant – the pivot to F&B and renaming the original enterprise with a relevant twist. Tongue Fun is a dingy looking shop with a few tables and chairs thrown out front but there was a lot of people there! It’s super popular with locals.

Tong-Fung

They do a variety of alcohol-infused and unusual ice creams. I ordered Red Bull Vodka, LYRJYU (lychee liqueur), beer, Yakult Pepoo (yoghurt drink like Vitagen), and X-Milk (extra milk). They’ll give you a mini Thai steamboat with dry ice if you order 5 scoops. The flavors range from 30 baht to 45 baht, depending on what you order.

Tongue-Fun-Ice-Cream

Here’s how the dry ice steamboat looks like! I thought the Red Bull Vodka was way too acidic and most of the alcohol infused ice cream was too gritty like granita. I knew this when the friendly staff gave me all the flavors to try but I wanted to order it anyway. The texture is not something I enjoy but it’s worth trying for the novel flavors.

Beer-Ice-Cream

The best in the alcohol series was beer. I quite enjoyed the subtle hoppy taste. Nothing beats the super creamy X-Milk though. It’s insanely good! I wish I had ordered two scoops of this instead. It’s better than most of the huge chains like Baskin-Robbins and Haagen-Dazs.

Or-Tor-Kor-Market

I also popped down to Or Tor Kor Market to check out their durians. Thailand durians are generally not as flavorful as our local Malaysian durians but they’re pretty good too. It’s a misconception that Thai durians are dry, hard and unripe. I know they look like that on display wrapped up in cute wax paper but they’re not. The wax paper is so you don’t get your hands dirty while eating.

Durian-Or-Tor-Kor

The most in-demand durian in Thailand is Monthong. This is a fleshy durian with nice creamy notes. Not too offensive or intensely flavored, it’s considered mild by Malaysian standards. They go for around 150 baht for 100 grams. My large portion cost RM 38. Or Tor Kor sells produce for higher than average since they source it from better and more reputable farmers. It’ll be more expensive than a roadside stall in Bangkok.

Ganyao

I also found some Ganyao durian. This is less popular and one of the smaller seeds only cost 100 baht (around RM 13). I like Ganyao a lot more than Monthong and I suspect a lot of Malaysians would prefer Ganyao too. It’s flavorful and intense, compared to the muted notes of Monthong. Creamy and delicious.

Monthong

I love durian and I also patronized the stall outside the BTS near my hotel many times. I got a massive portion of Monthong for just 140 baht. Super worth it. Tastes like the ones from Or Tor Kor too.

Hooters-Bangkok

There’s a Hooters outside Nana Plaza where you can have a beer and people watch. The prices for beer here are slightly higher than inside the go go bars, plus you definitely can’t touch the Hooters waitresses and there are no boobs and bare pussy on display here. I know the value preposition sounds a bit low, especially since you’re bound to see more beautiful go go girls inside Nana Plaza with their tits out who’ll not mind your stray hand on their nubile bodies.

Nana-Hooters

It’s still worth a visit coz the ambiance at the bar flanking the street is quite nice. You can see all sorts of old Caucasians stumbling out of Nana Plaza with young Thai prostitutes and freelance street walkers who would call out to you and give you a flash of their goods (so it’s inaccurate to say there’s no T&A here, you’ll just not be getting them from the waitresses). It’s very interesting and worth the RM 30 or so for a beer here. It sounds dodgy, and it is, but it’s not unsafe. This is the darker underbelly of Bangkok. A gritter Thailand. I like it, in small doses.

Hooters-Nana

Obligatory photo at Hooters.

College-Grab-Driver

To end this post, here’s a bonus picture of my hot Thai Grab driver. She’s a college student doing the ride sharing thing part time. I thought she was cute.

Cooking my own Thipsamai branded Pad Thai (Bib Gourmand)

Thipsamai

Thipsamai is a Bangkok institution that serves up pad thai in a huge multi-room sprawling empire in Pratuphee. There is a long queue snaking out the front every single night. The army of chefs work fast though so the line moves relatively quickly. They’ve recently been honored in the Michelin Bib Gourmand listings and I decided to check them out after my visit to Raan Jay Fai.

Thipsamai-Bangkok

I had eaten at Elvis Suki, Raan Jay Fai and Tongue Fun ice cream in the past 3 hours so I was quite full. Fortunately, Thipsamai has a gift shop inside their restaurant that carries complete, ready-to-cook versions of their famous pad thai! Enterprising bastards! I decided to forgo eating there and get some packs to bring home instead. I also bought one of their branded plates and glasses so I could replicate the meal at home. At least, that’s what I told myself but I really wanted souvenirs too.

Pad-Thai

For my first attempt, I armed myself with large prawns (can’t have pad thai without shrimp), roasted peanuts (which I crushed), spring onions, firm tofu, egg and butter. I used the regular green version (the red one has shrimp oil). The packaging said to fry the dry pad thai noodles in oil till soft before mixing the sauce packet with an equal amount of water and pouring it in.

HB-Chopping

I thought it was a bit unusual to fry dehydrated noodles with butter without rehydrating them first but it works!

HB-Cooking

Here’s another photo of me doing domestic things while wearing a stringer that shows off my muscles for your viewing pleasure.

Maha-Nakhon

I paired it with a Maha Nakhon bottled beer I painstakingly brought back from Bangkok. This was the only one that survived. Another Cheers can exploded in mid-air from the air pressure differential and soaked all my packed clothes. The pad thai was decent but I felt like it could be improved.

Pad-Thai-Cooking

Thus, I refined my processes during my second try a week later. I used the red Thipsamai pad thai box with shrimp oil this time. I also bought bean sprouts (which I forgot the first time around) and Thai bird eye chillis. I fried the eggs first in a separate frying pan and made a flat omelet that I sliced into strips before adding it during the final stir. I also cracked in a raw egg to help things bind together.

Pad-Thai-Thipsamai

I threw in half of the bean sprouts, omelet, Thai chilli and spring onions and used the other half as a raw garnish so it remains crunchy. I also had a squeeze of lime and crushed peanuts as a topping. This version is insanely delicious! I love the combination of sweet notes from the peanuts and butter, the salty overtones from the pad thai sauce, the raw elements in the bean sprouts and spring onions, followed by a nice kick from the Thai chillies. I’ll rate it 10/10 if I’m allowed to rate my own cooking.

Thipsamai-Pad-Thai

I respect how Thipsamai pad thai leverages on their success by selling branded food and souvenirs. I’m all about resourceful minds and I enjoy food related souvenirs. That’s the only type of souvenir I buy. I got one of their vintage fridge magnets to put on my fridge and their Thipsamai plate and glass (same as the ones they use in-house) has been one of my favorite crockery for plating. I’ll be sure to revisit when I’m in Bangkok again to see how my own take on their ready-to-cook pad thai compares with the restaurant version.

Certifiably ill Mama noodles @ Jeh O Chula (Bib Gourmand)

Jeh-O-Chula

Bib Gourmand instant noodles? You betcha! This is the immensely famous Jeh O Chula (written in Michelin Guide as Jay Oh) with queues almost as legendary as Raan Jay Fai. I had the misfortune of dropping by without a reservation and the girl there told me it’ll be a 2 hour wait minimum. I had come from the dubious entertainment district Nana Plaza (claiming to be The World’s Largest Adult Playground) where I indulged in 7 beers and the company of questionable women. I also had dinner at Upstairs at Mikkeler prior to that, so I was still quite full.

Jay-Oh

Jeh O Chula is a surprisingly spacious restaurant with a huge kitchen churning out bowls and bowls of Mama noodles. I imagine such a fast-paced kitchen would have harried staff but they’re all really friendly. The ones closest to me posed when they saw me snapping a photo so I took a selfie with them. It’s like an assembly line of instant noodles to feed the appetite of the masses seated outside.

Dirty-Forty-Beer

It seemed inadvisable to order another beer after a huge dinner followed by a drinking session with unfamiliar women at a go go bar. My stomach was almost at capacity and I wondered if I would be able to finish all the food. I decided to try. This is Dirty Forty Amber Ale (160 baht) – a beer brewed in Perth, Australia but conceived in Bangkok. I drank it with delicious, refreshing ice. Don’t judge me bro, it was hot outside and I have been waiting for a long time.

Jeh-O-Mama

This is their famous Mama tom yam instant noodles with seafood. It’s a huge portion with 3-4 packets of Mama noodles inside. Jeh O Chula’s signature dish is tom yam soup and they use their homemade tom yam soup instead of the flavor packets in Mama, which is what makes this so good. There’s tons of prawn and squid and the noodles are crowned with 2 raw eggs, which adds a wonderfully creamy flavor and cools down the noodles.

Mama-Noodles-Bib-Gourmand

I immediately copied this idea for my cheat meals and I’ve been eating instant noodles with raw eggs since. Jeh O Chula has a beautiful tom yam soup base – it’s spicy and sour and hits all the right notes in whetting my appetite. I told the server I can handle very spicy food, Thai spicy, and this one delivered that in spades. It was almost too spicy but I loved it. I loved it so much I scarfed everything down, even though I was dangerously close to puking from the sheer amount of food.

Thai-Sashimi-Salad

I also ordered a side of their wonderful Thai style salmon sashimi. This is like a ceviche or umai – there is an acidic liquid made with lime that cures the salmon. It’s not entirely cured though, most of it is still raw. It sounds simple but the alchemy that goes into the ingredients produces such a delicious bowl of fresh seafood. This dish is out of control! The addition of mint and raw garlic kicks up the flavor by a few notches! I love it! Not to be missed.

Jay-Oh-Bangkok

I was so enamored by everything that I contemplated declaring Jeh O Chula as my top destination this trip. That would be exceedingly unfair to Gaggan and probably the beer talking so I’ll just say it’s the best comfort food I’ve ever had. I highly recommend their awesome Mama tom yam noodles and their insanely good Thai style salmon sashimi. Do note that Jeh O Chula only starts serving their famous Mama noodles after 11 pm. They have standard khao tom (congee) with cooked dishes before that. Visiting Jeh O Chula late at night for supper is something you must do when you’re in Bangkok. I can’t recommend it enough.

Hoo Kee Bak Chang (Michelin Singapore Bib Gourmand 2017)

Hoo-Kee-Bak-Zhang

I had a carefully curated list of Michelin 1 Star and Bib Gourmand places to visit in Singapore, with a focus on hawker food. I ended up eating as many as 4 meals in a two hour span for several days, which only sounds fun in concept. I have a huge appetite and a prodigious stomach capacity but I felt stuffed very often and couldn’t enjoy the food to its fullest potential. This was one of those occasions. I went to Bukit Merah to tackle 4 different dishes and Hoo Kee Bak Chang was my 3rd stop. However, I still very much enjoyed the bak zhang they served.

Hoo-Kee

I believe this is the only bak zhang in the Michelin list. The stall is in the packed Amoy Street Food Center. It’s full of office workers during lunch, it’s hard to find a seat and the center is blisteringly hot and humid. I’m not the biggest fan of crowd and I don’t fare well in the heat, but if you can get past all that, you’ll be rewarded by a beautifully crafted bak zhang. The stall is manned by a husband and wife (?) team and the woman is quite attractive! I found her friendly and approachable too, which is always a plus point.

Michelin-Bak-Zhang

They only have four items on the menu: Chestnut/Original Dumpling (SGD 3), Salted Egg w/ Chestnut Dumpling (SGD 4), Mushroom w/ Chestnut Dumpling (SGD 4) and Deluxe All-in (SGD 5). I went for the last option since I could only eat one bak zhang. As the name suggests, it’s a combination of everything into one dumpling. They’ll cut it up for you and serve it on a disposable cardboard tray so you can eat it right there and then.

Hoo-Kee-Me

I loved the flavors in here. I have a soft spot for bak zhang and I have to freely admit that I like most bak zhang that has passed my lips. The one at Hoo Kee is packed with ingredients – there’s mushrooms, salted egg, chestnuts, marinated pork. It’s a beautiful medley of comforting flavors and textures and I thoroughly enjoyed it despite being full. Is it better than other bak zhangs? I don’t know, this was the only bak zhang I’ve eaten in Singapore ever! But it’s a really good bak zhang, and as I’m writing this I have the worst craving for them. I could totally smash 4-5 right about now. 🤤

But then I see my fat face in the photo above and I know I shouldn’t. Back to my diet, then.

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