Sunday, 16 November 2014

Good Eats in Ang Mo Kio - Here's My List, So Please Share Yours

I have been living in Ang Mo Kio for just over a year now.  During my time here, I've found a few good places, but from my experience, it is not really a gourmet paradise in the manner of the Whampoa / Balestier district.  I'm not sure whether it is the fact that it is a old township with a high population density, but the place seems disproportionately overrun with mediocre chain outlets.

I thought I would share my list of recommendations here, with the hope that my readers who are local residents or frequent visitors to the area will chip in with their suggestions.  I should qualify this by saying that I haven't had the opportunity yet to check out every nook and cranny of this district, especially the area behind AMK Hub, so any pointers are greatly appreciated.  

Local Hawker

 - Belinda's Traditional Pancake, Teck Ghee Hawker Centre, Block 341, AMK Ave 1, #01-27 Teck Ghee Market & Food Centre.  An excellent ban chang kuih, a thick, chewy pancake with crispy edges, and filled with your choice of red bean, crushed roasted peanuts or fluoro-scary coconut.  Belinda also does a crispy version filled with even scarier accoutrements such as chocolate, and also the Tamil crepe putu mayam (I don't think they make these fresh, although they taste perfectly acceptable).  From S$0.80 and upwards.

 - Wan Tan Mee, Block 339, AMK Ave 1, #01-1601 TG 339 Eating House (now closed) Where can you find a serve of sixteen pork wantons for $2.00?  And can you realistically expect them to be delicious?  Well here, you can.  The noodles are done in a wet style, and retain a nice al dente bite to them.  The sui gao dumplings, though, are not quite of the same calibre. 

 - Eng Kee Bak Kut Teh, Block 341, AMK Ave 1, #01-04 Teck Ghee Market & Food Centre.  No one really eats bak kut teh for the pork ribs, which is just as well because the broth here is very good ($6 and upwards).  But the real star of the show is the ter kah (pig's trotters; $5), a caramelised, garlicky, gelatinous, fatty hot mess (in a good way).

 - Prata / Murtabak.  It's a shame that many of the large roti prata shops in the neighbourhood, such as Prata Raya, Indian Muslim Kitchen and Haji Karim's Prata Palace, do not make their own prata dough.  So it's left to the little guys to continue the artisanal traditions, and it always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside when I see the cooks kneading and portioning balls of homemade dough after hours.  Indian Muslim Food at Block 339, AMK Avenue 1, #01-1565 has really stepped up its game in recent months, and is now my go-to for prata and murtabak (90 cents for prata, $5-6 for murtabak).

 - Gu Zao Rojak, AMK Block 347 Food House, #01-2150, AMK Ave 3.  I'm a harsh judge of rojak, and my rojak needs had previously been met by Balestier Hoover Rojak at the Whampoa wet market.  Gu Zao succeeds because its you tiao are reheated on a charcoal grill upon order, giving them a deliciously crisp texture and unique smoky flavour.  I also like that the assembled rojak is blitzed with crushed, roasted peanuts before serving, adding to the wonderful hodge-podge of textures and colours.  The owner will also whip up a 100% you tiao dish tossed in shrimp paste if you are that way inclined.  From $3 and upwards.

Other Asian

Nakhon Kitchen (Thai), 527 AMK Ave 10, #01-2371. Some of the dishes here aren't particularly suggestive of Thailand; the tom yam goong, in particular, is rather disappointing.  However, Nakhon Kitchen seems to find its feet with its curries (excellent red curry sauce) and stir-fries (try the squid with hot basil sauce), while the fried chicken wrapped in pandan leaves is excellent.  Value is also amazing (my wife and I had a soup, appetiser, noodle dish, rice, beef curry and squid stir-fry for $35), as the continuous dinner time queues attest.

Canton Paradise, #B2-01/02, Ang Mo Kio Hub, 53 AMK Ave 3 (now closed) By all means come here for a meal.  By all means, join the queues for Sunday brunch, although I dare venture that the food, while decent, may not be worth the wait.  But what you must do is grab some of their baked honey char siew buns.  I have observed that the quality of the pastry has declined recently, no longer having the char and crispy edges that first drew me in, but just chuck the buns into the oven for a few minutes to refresh them.  https://www.paradisegroup.com.sg/our-concept-6/?mn=cp 

Hualong Fish Head Steamboat, i Coffee Shop, 347 AMK Ave 3.  For me, this is the nonpareil of tze char eateries in AMK, and believe me, I've tried a few.  I think I have sampled over a dozen dishes across the board and have not been disappointed, except maybe with the (ironically) signature opeh leaf white-fried beehoon (I think the kway teow version absorbs a lot more of the wok hei and makes a much more satisfying noodle course).  Fresh, vibrant flavours and generous portions at everyday tze char prices, no wonder it's virtually impossible to get a seat on the weekends without an advance reservation.  And they also take credit cards.

Western

 - Grub, 510 AMK Ave 1 (Bishan Park 1).  Grub is one of those places that makes me smile.  They try do to the little things right: sourcing hormone-free chicken, sustainable seafood, grass-fed beef.  Service is friendly and helpful, and the floor appears to be manned by a fully Singaporean team.  Which would mean nothing at all if the food sucked, but I'm glad to report that it doesn't.  Their mentaiko fries are evil reincarnated as potato chips, I love their crispy fish burger, and their grilled ribeye is relatively good value at $19 (they managed to also cook a well-done steak without rendering it dry and lifeless).  Desserts, though, are best avoided, and while I understand their rationale, it doesn't stop me from disliking their "no reservations" policy.  Tel: +65 6459 5743.  www.grub.com.sg

 - Cornerstone, 1380 AMK Ave 1 (Bishan Park 2).  Like Grub, this is another one of my happy places.  Maybe it's because they are both located in serene parkland, I don't know.  While the savoury food here is quite decent, where Cornerstone really does excel is in the sweet department, with a specialist pastry chef churning out plated desserts, as well as designer cakes to order.  I would definitely recommend that Grub customers trek over to the eastern end of the park after their meal and get their sweet finish here.  Tel: +65 6554 7230.  www.cornerstone.com.sg 


That's my list of old reliables in the area.  What are yours?

2 comments:

  1. Try Poco Loco and Hoagies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. try soon heng rojak @ toa payoh. beats hoover hands down!

    ReplyDelete