Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle (1 Michelin Star)

Hill-Street-Tai-Hwa

I made it my mission to smash one of these famous bowls of pork noodle (bak chor mee) during my recent trip to Singapore. I have heard about the legendary lines which can form here, so I checked Google to see which are the non-peak hours and went with my dad at 3:30 pm on a weekday. They’re the second ever hawker stall in Singapore to be awarded a Michelin star, after Hawker Chan. I have eaten at their competitor High Street Tai Wah Pork Noodle, which has recently won a Bib Gourmand, but should not be confused with the 1 Michelin Star Tai Hwa. It’s run by the nephew of the owner of Tai Hwa though.

Tai-Hwa-Eating-House

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is located at a small residential food court. There are a few other stalls besides it and even at this odd hour, there was a queue in front of the stall.

Tai-Hwa-Noodle

However, it moved quite quickly so it wasn’t an issue. The chef-owner Tang Chay Seng was there cooking every single bowl by himself. I managed to take a selfie with him. He must think it odd that the Michelin Guide has elevated him to a somewhat celebrity chef status but I’m sure many people have done this before so he must be used to it. Haha.

Tai-Hwa-Selfie

There’s a large setup of trays beside him which holds raw pork – everything from pig liver to sliced and minced pork. The meat are just sitting in their juices. I admit, I did wonder if this was refrigerated/has ice below the trays or the stall just goes through meat so quickly that it doesn’t have a chance to spoil. I’m not that anal about food safety. I happily eat at random food stalls with questionable hygiene practices all the time. Just curious.

Pork

I have experienced some hits and misses with the Michelin Guide in Singapore and thus braced myself for a mediocre bowl of noodles. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. The flat noodles have a wonderful bite to them but it’s the sauce that makes it shine. The beautiful concoction it was tossed in has a nice vinegar taste, which helps cut through the richness of the pork. It’s very savory and I can see why people love it. The pork slices and wonton are delicious too, but it’s the soup which stole the limelight. The pork broth is mixed with seaweed and results in a umami explosion. Top notch! There’s also a deep fried piece of fish which adds a nice texture.

Tai-Hwa-Pork-Noodle

There are many Michelin star places which I would never visit a second time. This isn’t one of them. I would come here when I’m in Singapore again coz the pork noodles are really good. I regretted ordering the SGD 8 medium sized bowl. I’ll go for a large next time.

1-Michelin-Star-Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Blk 466, #01-12, Crawford Lane, Singapore

1 Michelin star Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (Hawker Chan)

Hawker-Chan

This was the very first street food/hawker stall in the world to ever win a Michelin star. Not Bib Gourmand, a proper star. It’s a common misconception that Michelin rates ambience and decor when giving out stars. They have always maintained that the star is awarded for food only, and that includes things like the chef’s personality coming through clearly. They have a separate icon for comfort/ambience (fork and spoon) which rates how luxurious the restaurant is but star ratings are always based on the quality of food alone.

Liao-Fan-Hong-Kong-Soya-Sauce-Chicken-Rice

I was in Singapore with a mission to try out this much hyped soy chicken rice stall. I made sure to go to the right one. People have the false impression that the Michelin star travels with the chef and applies to all outlets he opens. That’s simply not true. The Michelin star is rated for that restaurant only. The only Hawker Chan with 1 Michelin star is their original shop at Chinatown Complex Food Center. The modern and air-conditioned new premises opposite only has a Bib Gourmand.

Hawker-Chan-Queue

I went early with my dad before they opened and thought I was lucky enough to be first in line. There didn’t seem to be a queue. I confidently walked up to order, only to be told the queue was behind me. It was only then that I spied a long snaking line of people looking displeased at me. Haha. I honestly didn’t see them. The queue starts from beside the opposite stall so they don’t block foot traffic. It even has a velvet rope. Very proper.

Hawker-Chan-Selfie

The wife of Chan Hon Meng manages this stall and she was friendly enough to take a photo with me. Service is quick and the line moves along well so don’t worry about having to queue up.

Hawker-Chan-Menu

I ordered the flagship dish of soy sauce chicken rice. It’s SGD 2.50 for the drum portion. The meat was marinated beautifully, with a sweet soy glaze that permeates the gelatinous skin of the chicken. It’s surprisingly flavorful and robust. I can taste cinnamon and other spices in the marinade. The inside is still soft and juicy. I love this perfectly cooked chicken. 10/10. However, the chicken rice I got was lumpy and mushy. Maybe they were having an off day but I’m not a fan of this rice, which seems to have the fundamental error of having too much water mixed in.

1-Michelin-Star-Chicken-Rice

The soy chicken is delicious though. Would I return? For sure, to try the noodles next time. I hear it’s pretty good too. You need to set your expectations right for Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. It’s a soy chicken rice stall so don’t expect fireworks and novel molecular gastronomy executions. They’re good at what they do and that’s soy chicken.

Hawker-Chan-Order

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (Hawker Chan)
335 Smith Street #02-126, Singapore
(don’t go to the wrong one, this is located inside the Chinatown Complex Food Center)

My mom just died

last office

My mom has passed on peacefully at Changi Hospital Isolation Ward 2 at 2:14 pm Singapore time just now. It’s a blessing that all of us were with her when she took her last breath. I’ve been in Singapore for a couple of days now and there’s a lot of procedures involving embalming and death certificates and what not over here.

I just came back from the hospital, she has been struggling a lot with the pain last night and it was heartbreaking to see the blight that end stage cancer brings.

My mom has been real strong though, she has been fighting lung cancer since 2010 when she went for the initial operation in Auckland.

entombing service

We will all be flying back to Sibu with my mom’s body on Saturday night – if anyone wants to pay their last respects, the coffin will be at our home in Sibu for at least one (1) day before funeral proceedings on Monday.

The Christian service will be tomorrow morning at Singapore.

Thank you all for your well wishes and condolences.

You’ll be sorely missed by all of us, mom. I know you’re in a better place now.

A selection of Hors d’oeuvre

chocolate cubes

This is one of the most awesome chocolates I’ve ever had – it’s made of over 80% cocoa, very dark and bittersweet, with a dusting to finish it.

chocolate cocoa

I think a whole bunch of us in Singapore had way too much of these. I know I certainly did, totally ruined my appetite for dinner.

hors d oeuvre

This is pretty good too – it’s a layered chocolate cake and almost impossible to dissect but let me attempt to describe it – it contains layer after layer of moist and fluffy pastry covered with chocolate. I was impressed, it was so light it felt like I was eating mostly air.

lobster shots

Lobster shooters. I liked this one too – awesomely concocted pieces of lobsters with the accompanying sauces and garnishes in one ready-to-drink (eat?) shot.

liquor chocolates

This were the chocolates that had liquor in it – it’s infused with Bailey’s Irish Cream. I preferred the original high cocoa content chocolate cubes instead but a lot of others liked these. :)

Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Steakhouse

stuart anderson black angus steak

This is a higher end quick service restaurant that I had dinner at last week in Singapore. Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Steakhouse has several outlets there – it’s a franchise that started in Seattle.

Black Angus Steakhouse serves All American fare like steaks (obviously), burgers and root beer. The prices are pretty reasonable too, if you don’t convert – the root beer float goes for SGD 7.50.

stuart anderson black angus singapore

It’s primarily known for steak though – the menu describes it lovingly as air flown USDA tender, flavorful Black Angus steak aged to perfection. There are several cuts available in different sizes.

I settled for a center-cut New York Steak – medium rare. It’s SGD 43.90 for 10 oz. I love the sauce options – the waiter recommended Red Wine sauce, which I went with.

black angus steakhouse new york steak

You can also choose the trimmings – I went for the standard side of fresh steamed vegetables and switched my baked potato to garlic mashed potato, which was an excellent choice. My only beef (no pun intended) is that they got my order wrong, it came out medium well instead of medium rare but in a group of about a dozen near closing time, I guess mix-ups are inevitable.

stuart anderson steak soup

You also get to choose an entree from the menu to go with your steak dinner and I went with Stuart’s Steak Soup which was recommended and I wasn’t disappointed – it turned out to be the best dish I had. Heh. The steak soup has generous chunks of beef inside as well as a hodgepodge of beans, veggies and even barley. Nice, thick soup for the soul.

gigantic burger pound black angus

They also have a monster of a burger, with patties made of Black Angus beef weighing a whole pound! That’s like eating 4 quarter pounders and this has strips of bacon on top to boot. Decadent stuff. Just look at the size of it. It’s about SGD 24 or so, and it would certainly take a very hungry man to finish it.

How I won SGD 1 in Singapore

singapore pools

Heh! I did this during my first trip to Singapore to see my mom, there’s a supermarket near my sister’s place that has an outlet for legalized state betting *right inside*, of particular interest being football and motorsports.

This is different from the common lotteries that most countries have, with much lower odds compared to online betting sites as a form of taxation.

singapore football betting

It was the start of BPL and I bought SGD 10 for West Ham to win at 2.10 odds. I won this one, getting me SGD 11 nett (after deducting the original SGD 10 – the total winnings was SGD 21).

It’s basically winning a pack of smokes, just did it for fun.

sports betting singapore

I went for a random K-League match after collecting my winnings the next day while grocery shopping, also with a SGD 10 bet for a return of SGD 28.50.

There are various permutations possible – total goals, HT/FT, etc with corresponding odds (highest I’ve seen is 300 – which will net you SGD 3,000 with SGD 10). The minimum bet is SGD 5.

I lost this one, and stopped playing – the queue was wayyyyy too long and I just wanted to see how Singapore Pools works.

singapore dollars

…and that is how I won SGD 1 in Singapore. :)

7 photos of stuff I did in Singapore

1. Hung out with my mom

food singapore

She’s doing another course of chemotherapy and we’re here for her. My dad flew in too and we’ll usually walk to Hola and eat there. Cheap and decent food. The caterers (old skool Tiffin carriers) come weekday nights.

My mom eats separately; she still can’t stand a lot of food, not even the smell of it. That’s her hiding in the room coz she’s so nauseous from the chemo.

2. Went to church

bedok methodist church

Took a cab to Bedok Methodist Church. Service is familiar but the praise and worship had an unusual twist – women dressed in traditional Chinese garb were dancing and twirling long silk ribbons. How I wish I managed to take a photo…

Got an EZ-Link card so I could use the MRT, bus and pay for food and groceries at places which accepts it.

3. The Gospel of Pool

church pool

Poster stuck beside the pool table at church. Words fail me. Sometimes a cue is just a cue. smirk

Mom got temporarily better and asked me to get her a Mocha soy ice blended drink. I bought it and she had a sip and promptly got sick again.

4. Salted egg yolk mooncakes

mini mooncakes

Dad got this from Sibu. It’s really quite good, there’s an entire salted egg yolk inside that’s almost the size of the puff pastry.

I ate all of them. Heh.

5. Grocery shopping

singapore grocery shopping

Got soy milk for my niece. She’s allergic to nuts, gluten, and most other things. This is the brand that we know doesn’t have any additives or traces of abovementioned. Also got reacquainted with the same brand of cigarettes I smoked last time I was here.

Middle of the night scare from my niece’s talking chair.

6. Timbre @ The Substation

timbre pizza buffulo wings

Lovely watering hole at 45, Armenian Street with live bands playing every day of the week. You can text song requests in for them to perform. Fiona recommended the Timbre Buffalo Wings – love the hot sauce and nuts topping but a tad overcooked for me. They do good pizzas too – got a half and half with Goodfellas and 53A. They’re both names of bands playing there.

Here’s a cover of Oasis’ Stand by Me.

7. Left my keys with Fiona

timbre substation singapore

Had a couple of drinks and hung out at Timbre. I put my sister’s condo keys and tag card in her bag earlier that night (tend to chuck my stuff in her tote due to lack of pocket space, thanks Fiona) and forgot to get it back from her. I only realized after I got back and couldn’t go in. Went back to her place to get it.

It’s a good thing we live near each other. Heh.

Posted: 4:08 pm Singapore time

My newborn nephew Josiah and my grown up niece Kara

josiah ng

This is my two month old nephew. He’s named Josiah and weighs 7 kg! :)

nephew

I love how his folds of baby fat makes him look like a little emperor. Heh. He’s quite heavy for his age, a nice weight to carry around.

me josiah

…although a pram makes more sense. Haha! I was out shopping with my parents and my sister’s family in Singapore a couple of weeks ago and I can appreciate how hard it is to take care of a baby. I still would love to have one though. :)

josiah

This here is my niece Kara, who’s all grown up now. She’s almost 3 years old and she can already string a sentence together very cohesively.

josiah kara

She’s already very mature and it never fails to surprise me how fast babies turn into kids. It’s amazing, the thing she says and does, more of what I’ll expect from a 7 year old than a 3 year old. :)

Lingerie, alleys and balls with Fiona the flight attendant

fiona

That just sounds downright dodgy eh? Heh. This photo was taken at around 3 am in the morning. There’s a rather funny story about how we got here from drinks at Orchard Road in Singapore.

…rewind to about 8 hours earlier

peranakan place

I met up with Fiona for dinner – it turns out that she lives quite near my sister’s apartment in Simei. Thus, we met at Eastpoint Mall. She got there about the same time I did and called me saying she doesn’t know if she’s at the right entrance – it’s at the place where there’s a lot of lingerie.

lingerie

I pretty much knew where that was since I came to the mall the day before with my parents to the supermarket downstairs. :)

Anyway, Fiona is a flight attendant and I’ve known her since her words of encouragement when I was being all emo and shit after the last relationship I was in. I haven’t actually met her though so I only have a vague idea of how she looked like from my Facebook account.

alley bar singapore

We took a cab to Orchard Road and told the taxi we didn’t have any destination in mind, so he dropped us off somewhere near…er, I can’t actually remember. I know we walked for a bit and checked out the drinking holes around the Peranakan Place area before settling on Alley Bar.

pulled pork burger

It has the most awesome pork burger ever! It’s called the BBQ Pulled Pork Burger and it’s a juicy and tender mess of 5 hours of smoked pork shoulder smothered in barbecue sauce, topped with a whole jalapeno chili pepper.

Fiona had a bite and she concurred. Actually eating it is a messy affair – it’s like a sloppy joe except it’s not made with minced meat but rather loose meat. It’s the best pork burger I’ve had to date!

sloppy joe

We were seated outside at a place simply called Outdoors – Peranakan Place has three distinct areas built around a real Peranakan settlement. Outdoors is the al fresco zone which is a “Designated Smoking Area” (damn Singaporean laws) and there’s also Acid Bar and Alley Bar, which is the main place.

There’s a live band playing – the music is piped to Outdoors for those who’re not inside, loved this cover of Radiohead’s Creep.

I had two pints of Erdinger Beer – there are two, one dark and one white. The “dark” one is Pikantus and the “light” Weissbier. We were eating, drinking and talking and it was around 11:30 pm when the subject somehow changed to pool and Fiona found a place that’s open until 3 am.

dodgy singapore

We walked down the opposite direction at first before the GPS on her phone told us we’re heading the wrong way so we turned back. The pool place is at Concorde Hotel – somehow that place looks really seedy, it’s full of KTV hostess bars and dodgy characters loitering about who look like they would totally mug you if this was Malaysia instead of Singapore. HAHAHA

It turns out that Fiona is quite good at pool. I wouldn’t say that she kicked my ass but it was a really close thing. Tomatoe tomato.

fiona pool

Speaking of asses, Fiona is left handed, which I didn’t notice until we were playing. I was standing behind her trying to see how she plays. I thought she would think that I was checking out her butt. It turns out that she didn’t, she’s probably used to people ogling at her as cabin crew. :p

See what I did there? smirk

It’s a masterful (wah damn syoik sendiri) way of neither confirming nor denying the statement, just like how Israel’s nuclear ambiguity works, except bombs and butts are two very different things.

Anyway, they don’t sell beer inside, and we were alternately playing pool and 9 ball before I suggested we head to the 7-Eleven outside to get some. It wasn’t a 7-11, it’s a similar concept called Cheers (how apt) and I told her to just scull the 500 ml can before we head inside. It’s a strong beer at 9% and you don’t exactly drink it for the taste.

fiona apprehensive

Look at Fiona’s apprehensive face! ;)

I think we spent more than the 5 minutes we told the pool hall clerk we’ll be away outside, downing that beer and smoking in the rather unusual backdrop of closed shops, dark segments and KTV bars.

broken dreams

We went and played until it was nearly three before heading out for more beer. This time we brought it inside using Fiona’s bag, and using the same to discreetly conceal the two cans by putting it behind and out of sight. That was the first picture. Smart.

The place was supposed to close at 3 am but we were still playing so the clerk started cleaning up. I don’t think he cared about the alcohol anyway, we were the only customers in there at the time. Thanks for the beers Fiona! :)

scull

It was 4:30 am when we finally shared a cab home. I could only spare one night coz I’m here for my mom so I only went out once. I had a lot of fun, one of the more memorable night outs in a long time despite only getting two hours of sleep two nights in a row to wake up for church. Say hi to Fiona if you see her while flying!

Simei Singapore Style

eastpoint green

Helllooooo! I’m in Singapore for the long weekend for a bit of a family reunion. My dad is flying in too – we’re basically here for my mom. I’m crashing at my sister’s apartment – Eastpoint Green in Simei (at least I think that’s what this place is called, it’s in Changi).

simei singapore

I’m about to fall asleep so I’ll just do the good ol’ cut and paste from my earlier post in FB:

Holy shit my mom’s chemo treatments costs SGD 12,000 per cycle of 3 weeks!

She just competed a full course of 3 cycles for 36k.

…and I thought *my* medication is expensive.

She’s looking good though – just a bit bloated from all the liquid that’s transfused together with the chemo via IV drip every two days.

Tumor marker went down to an all time low so she’s going for another course to capitalize on it. Starting a new course of chemo.

mom

Hi mom! :)

P/S – I took out the dash in the smiley face emoticon that my Android phone keeps putting in, I personally prefer the compact smiley so it’s not technically a verbatim cut and paste. Haha.

P/P/S – Thanks for all the kind words and support everyone!

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