Hawker Hall

Hawker Hall is part of the ever-growing Lucas Group family, and it’s been on my radar for the last couple of years, along with the rest of Melbourne. Based on the name alone, it’s not hard to see where Chris Lucas drew inspiration from when it came to Hawker Hall, the bustling hawker centres that are sprawled across Malaysia and Singapore of course. Being partial to Singaporean food myself, I had high expectations for Hawker Hall’s offerings.

Given my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to lining up in the colder months, we decided to go for lunch on a Sunday, and were able to snag up a couple of seats at the bar in a flash.

Milk and Coconut Crush

Since we were sat at the bar, I expected the drink to be the first thing that landed on the table, so it was a little weird that the milo and coconut crush only arrived after almost all of the savoury dishes.

Timing aside, the drink was a nice twist on the traditional milo dinosaur, and went quite well with the heavier set of dishes we had ordered.

Salt & Pepper Tofu Fries w/ Sesame Mayo – $9.50

The salt and pepper tofu fries sounded interesting on paper, but it was an unfortunately bland delivery. The tofu themselves were pretty flavourless with none of the salt and pepper promised, the epitome of a subpar tofu dish in my opinion. The batter also left me wishing for more crunchiness. The sesame mayo was average as far as dipping sauces go, but was definitely the best thing on the plate.

Nyonya Style Fried Popcorn Chicken – $14.50

I’ve never had Nyonya food myself, but my friend has, and said that acidity was a prominent flavour in the cuisine, which left me feeling a little wary of how the popcorn chicken would taste. They tasted, um, like popcorn chicken I guess? But not the good kind. Again, it didn’t have any particularly strong or unique flavour coming through, and the batter was a little too floury with not enough crispiness to boot.

On another note, for almost $15, I expected more than a barely filled bowl of fried chicken.

Butter Chicken Curry Puffs – $11.50

The butter chicken curry puffs was another one that sounded interesting on paper. The pastry was quite flakey, and the butter chicken mixture inside was decent enough without any punch per se.

Roti Paratha, Eggplant Tomato Sambal, Smoked Yoghurt – $9.50

The roti paratha was probably the best of the savoury dishes, but is that really saying much at this point? The flaky pastry was topped off with a tangy eggplant tomato sambal, which could have been elevated by a kick of chilli. The smoked yoghurt tasted a bit like Greek yoghurt, and would have made more sense had the sambal been spicier.

Fried Apple Pie w/ Chai Ice Cream – $14.50

We were quite full by this point, but we had our eyes on the fried apple pie since the beginning, and given the low probability of us returning at this point, we decided to bite the bullet and order the dessert to share.

This turned out to be a great move, as the fried apple pie was hands down the best dish of the day. The large chunks of stewed apples with a good hit of cinnamon was encased in the flakey roti pastry similar to the butter chicken curry puff. The chai ice cream was also a winner, with enough ginger, cardamom and clove flavour coming through and complimenting the sweetness of the apples and the richness of the pastry.

As you can probably tell by this point, I found the whole experience at Hawker Hall to be quite underwhelming. The food was average at best, with the apple pie being the saving price, and none of it could really justify the hefty price tag attached.

I’ve only really heard good things about Hawker Hall, but it all just seemed a little too extra and pretentious to me, exactly the opposite of what comes to mind when I’m thinking of Singaporean and Malaysian street food.Maybe our approach to select some smaller plates to try didn’t work out in our favour? Regardless, I am in absolutely no rush to return.

How to get here:
Hawker Hall is located on Chapel Street, three minutes walk from Windsor Station, or catch tram #6 and get off at High Street/Chapel Street, and you’ll also be three minutes walk away from the restaurant.

Hawker Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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NL House

NL House is a small shop that has a succinct menu that features Malaysian classics. Bright and modern, it’s mainly a place where people seem to be picking up takeaways, but there are a few seats available both in and outside of the restaurant if you’re choosing to dine in.

Fried Chicken Nasi Lemak w/ Traditional Sambal – $12.80

Being the namesake for the restaurant, it would be remiss of me to not order a plate of nasi lemak. I went for the fried chicken version, and before long, a plate that held all the components of nasi lemak was placed down on the table. The chicken was dry and crispy on the outside, encasing a tender and juicy inside. The traditional sambal had just enough of a kick to it to make me sweat while mixing it through with the rice, and did a terrific job of tying everything together.

Although nothing fancy, NL House is certainly promising when it comes to delivering authentic Malaysian food. Word on the block is that it also serves a killer chicken laksa, which I’m definitely keen to try out once the weather cools down.

How to get here:
NL House is located on Grattan Street, catch any of the trams on Swanston Street from Flinders Street or Melbourne Central heading towards Melbourne University and get off at Melbourne University, and the restaurant is a short three minutes walk away.

Nasi Lemak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ang Ang

My adventure around Town Square of Eastland continues, and today, we chose to have dinner at Ang Ang, an Asian eatery opened by the people behind Chinta Ria Soul. 
Beef Rendang w/ Roti – $13.00

I felt like something hearty, and picked the beef rendang. The rendang sauce was quite thick, and the flavour was pretty standard. The beef was braised until it was tender. The roti was a bit cold and hard on the other hand, and that was kind of a let down.

Curry Laksa – $12.00

My friend chose the curry laksa, and unfortunately, this soup was too oily for her liking, and lacked a depth in flavour that good laksa has. There was a generous serving of chicken and seafood in the big bowl though, and she was content with the meal overall.

Salt and Pepper Prawns – $22.00

Another friend ordered the salt and pepper prawns, and she really enjoyed it. The prawn were fried in a light batter, and the scattering of chillies, onions and spring onions added some flavour to the prawns. Some sort of vegetable or salad with dish would have been nice, to balance out the fried prawns.

Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with Ang Ang, the food was pretty much the same standard as what you would get at a food court, and the price was pretty steep considering the quality.

How to get there:
Ang Ang is located in Town Square of Eastland, which is right opposite Ringwood station.

Ang Ang by Chinta Ria Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

FOOD DIARY | Singapore

This is such an overdue post, but better late than never right? I spent four days in Singapore back in the end of January, it was my first time at a completely solo trip, and I am so glad that I went! Although four days isn’t a long time, it was enough for me to fall in love with the vibrant city. 
The multi-faceted culture, the friendliness of its people, the humid weather, the beautiful sceneries, the all-so-famous Orchard Road (where all my money went), and most importantly, the food, oh the food, I could literally go on for days. 
I managed to hit up five hawker centres, and ticked off almost everything on the list that my friend (ily Coco) gave me. Not a bad effort I reckon, considering the difficulty to order for one person at times.
So, without further ado, here is the compilation of my four days of food-ventures in Singapore! I’ll try give a short review and details of the restaurant if I remember, if not then… I’M SORRY PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME LOL 😦
Nameless Restaurant #1

My first meal in Singapore! Congee with stewed beancurd and pork belly. I can’t remember the name of this restaurant but it was right across the street from the hostel I stayed at, The Hive Hostel (convenient location, excellent service, would recommend).

Tim Ho Wan
http://www.timhowan.com/
68 Orchard Road
#01-29A
Plaza Singapura
Singapore 238839
Tel: +65 6251 2000

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

YES, SO MUCH YES. I cannot wait for Tim Ho Wan to open in Melbourne, legit so excited!

Vermicelli Roll stuffed with Pig’s Liver
Literally cannot find this on any menu?!
Steamed Egg Cake

Super fluffy and light!

Mango Sago Pomelo

Nameless Restaurant #2

Left: Salt Baked Chicken
Right: Iced Milo

This was again, opposite my hostel. I went here for dinner and the chicken was really nice and moist, and the rice was nice and fluffy! The iced milo was a must, since the humidity is so real in Singapore at all hours of the day.

Food Strip near Chinatown

Oyster Omelette

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
1 Kadayanallur St
Singapore 069184

Left: Sugar Cane Juice
Right: Hainanese Chicken Rice from Tian Tian

Said to be the best Hainese Chicken Rice in Singapore, of course I had to try it for myself. It was indeed, amazeballz. Seriously, the chicken was tender and flavoursome, but what really made it stand out for me was the rice. The intensity of the chicken stock flavour was insane, I could seriously eat bowls of the rice on its own.

Oh yeh, $1.50 sugar cane juice, what’s not to love?

Ice-cream cart on Orchard Road #1

Durian Ice-cream Sandwich

Surprisingly, I didn’t see a lot of ice-cream carts around Singapore, so when I did spot one on Orchard I jumped at the chance. Such a novelty, but was also great for cooling me down!

Forty Hands
http://www.40handscoffee.com/
78 Yong Siak Street
#01-12
Singapore 163078
Tel: +65 6225 8545

Left: Truffle Fries
Right: Iced Mocha

After a stroll in Tiong Bahru (Books Actually is hands down the cutest book store I’ve ever been to!), I walked in 40 Hands for an afternoon treat. Although no truffle can be seen on the fries, the smell was super strong, and the fries were crispy, with a succinct truffle flavour! The iced mocha was less memorable, but still a necessity considering the weather haha.

Makansutra Glutton’s Bay
http://www.makansutra.com/
8 Raffles Avenue
#01-15
Singapore 039802
Tel: +65 6336 7025

Left: Fried Mantou
Right: Chilli Crab

You can’t say you’ve been to Singapore until you’ve had chilli crab, or so I’ve been told. I thought it would be an impossible task for me though, since there was no way that I could finish an entire mud crab on my own. But luckily, after watching the light and water show at Marina Bay Sands, I stumbled upon Makansutra Glutton’s Bay, and there was a stall that served single portion chilli crab! It was sweet and spicy, and definitely left me craving for chilli crab from time to time since I’ve been back.

Food Court in Ion (?)

Hokkien Mee

Dunkin’ Donuts

Peanut Donut (?)

Got this because I always see Dunkin’ Donuts in American Vloggers’ videos, but it was pretty average I gotta say.

Tsuru Koshi Udon in Takashimaya Basement Japanese Food Court
391 Orchard Road
Takashimaya Shopping Centre Food Hall

Plain Udon

Yonehachi in Takashimaya Basement Japanese Food Court
391 Orchard Road
Takashimaya Shopping Centre Food Hall

One of the sets with the grilled fish and scallop rice

Although pretty, this was not very substantial! There are plenty of choices in the food court in Takashimaya, and I probably would not recommend this one.

Ice-cream cart on Orchard Road #2

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream in Bread

I wanted one everyday, but could only find these carts on Orchard Road 😦

Lau Pa Sat/Telok Ayer Market
http://www.yoursingapore.com/en_au/see-do-singapore/architecture/historical/lau-pa-sat.html
18 Raffles Quay
Singapore 048582

Satay Combo

Lau Pa Sat is famous for their satay, so that’s what I went there for! I got the combo that came with chicken, beef, and prawn satay sticks. The chicken was very tender, beef was slightly on the drier end of things, but the prawns were my favourite! I wish we had satay prawns here in Melbourne.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionary
204 E Coast Rd
Singapore 428903
Tel: +65 6345 0419

Clockwise: Kaya Toast, Custard Tart and Sausage Puff, Kopi, Soft Boiled Eggs
Chin Mee Chin was highly recommended to me by one of my Singaporean friends (thanks Kim!) for being one of the last few remaining old school kopitiams in Singapore. So before I ventured out to Sentosa on my third day, I headed off here for some good ol’ Singaporean brunch. 
Seriously, I need more kaya in my life, it’s essentially a coconut egg jam, but the taste is super unique and I loved it from the first bite! Although kaya jam was also offered in my hostel, it was nothing compared to this. I have tried to recreate soft boiled eggs sooooooo many times since I came back, because I bought a tub of kaya from Chin Mee Chin and really wanted some soft boiled eggs to go with the toast, but I’ve failed every time 😦
Service was probably the only downside of Chin Mee Chin, the toast was served 10 minutes after the eggs, tbh I think the lady just forgot about my order.
Food Court in Sentosa
Lor Bak

Din Tai Fung
http://www.dintaifung.com.sg/
Resorts World Sentosa
26 Sentosa Gateway
#01-217
Singapore 098138
Tel: +65 6686 3565

Steamed Pork Dumplings

I saw a Din Tai Fung after I came out of S.E.A Aquarium in Sentosa, and decided to finally pay it a visit. It was my first time at Din Tai Fung, and I’m so glad I went! The restaurant was pretty much empty at around 3pm, compared to the hour long waits at the Melbourne one – I know which one’s my pick haha. The signature XLBs were delicious, the skin was thin and translucent, and there was plenty of soup to be slurped up.

Steamed Truffle and Pork Dumplings

I also tried the truffle and pork dumplings ’cause, well, truffle, need I say more?

Steamed Truffle and Pork Dumplings

The truffle can be seen and tasted, and adds quite a strong taste to the dumplings.

Steamed Chilli Crab and Pork Buns

And well, when in Singapore, order anything related to chilli crab right? The skin of the bun was light and fluffy, and the folds replicated the folds in the XLB.

Steamed Chilli Crab and Pork Buns

There was plenty of crab meat in the filling, giving the bun a seafood-y crustacean-y taste.

Chomp Chomp Food Centre
20 Kensington Park Rd (Serangoon Gardens)
Singapore 557269

Fried Carrot Cake (White)

Chomp Chomp Food Centre is often said to be the best hawker centre in Singapore, I don’t know if it’s deserving of that title, since everything I ate in Singapore was above par, but it definitely left an impression! I started off with some fried carrot cake, and this was what caused me to seek out Bert’s Cafe.

BBQ Stingray with Sambal

This was probably one of my favourite dishes in Singapore! I’ve never had stingray before, and this exceeded my expectations by far! The meat was perfectly cooked, and there was ample amount of sambal on top to make the fish super tasty.

Clockwise: Sugarcane Juice, Gong Gong, Chicken Wings

I moved seats so people wouldn’t judge me for eating more HAHAHA. More sugarcane juice ’cause that’s pretty much a requirement. The gong gongs were recommended to me by Kim again, but I wasn’t a fan of these! They tasted kind of funky, but not in a good way. The dollar chicken wings are also quite famous, and they had a sweet glazing, and were fun to nibble on!

Tekka Centre
665 Buffalo Rd
210665 Singapore

Top: Coconut
Bottom: Beef Briyani

I really wanted to try the chicken briyani, but I was so out of it when I ordered that I got the beef one instead 😦 It was still good though! And the fresh coconut water was also a great thirst quencher.

Toast Box
http://www.toastbox.com.sg/

Clockwise: Soft boiled eggs, kopi, kaya toast

I went to a shopping centre close to my hostel on the last day to try out the curry puffs, and saw Toast Box on the way. I couldn’t say no to one last piece of kaya toast, but these were super dry and yeh, tainted my memory a little unfortunately.

Old Chang Kee
http://www.oldchangkee.com/index.htm

When my friend recommended Old Chang Kee to me I didn’t realise they would be a franchise, but turns out they originated back in 1956, and has since had its shopfronts sprawled all across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and they even have a store in Perth out of all places in Australia!

Chilli Crab’O

The pastry of the curry puffs were perfectly flaky without being dry, and the chilli crab mixture consisted mainly of seafood sticks, and was a mellower version of other chilli crab dishes I tried.

Chicken and Mushroom’O

The chicken and mushroom filling reminded me of a pie, and was very creamy and subdued in comparison to the chill crab curry puff.

Nameless Restaurant #3

Roti Praha?

For my last meal, I asked for recommendations from the girl at the hostel, who was super friendly and nice throughout my entire stay. She told me to get the banana roti from this place “down the road”, so off I went. But I was told that they didn’t have time to make the banana roti or something? Since I was there already I just picked something else off the menu and took it back to the hostel to eat. The food was unmemorable, I just remember we kept on laughing at the most random things and before you know it, it was time for me to take a cab to the airport!

I took a subject this semester in uni that delved into Chinese settlers culture abroad, and we spent a lesson discussing Singaporean culture and lifestyle. Something that my lecturer said really stuck with me, “Singaporeans are very fluid in accepting other people’s cultures, and can blend in easily in any country. They don’t try to enforce their culture onto anyone else, with the exception of their food maybe.”

Singapore certainly left an impression on me, and I can’t wait to visit it again in the near future! On top of the amazing city itself, Changi Airport is perhaps the best airport I’ve ever been to, I might even purposely book flights that have a long layover time in Singapore just to explore haha!

Bert’s Cafe

Singaporean food is something that is not easily found in Melbourne, and it’s a cuisine that I didn’t know much about either, until I visited the country myself earlier this year. Though it was only a short trip, I managed to hit up a few restaurants, and hawker centres of course, where the real fun is. I had some of the most interesting and delicious food in Singapore, and have been craving it ever since. After some research, I came across Bert’s Cafe,  a small family restaurant with a short, but promising menu.

Chwee Kueh (4 pcs) – $4.00

This is something that I didn’t see in Singapore, but my mum really wanted it haha. Chwee Kueh translates to steamed rice cake, and there was some fried preserved radish. The rice cake was soft and light, and the radish gave it some saltiness, as well as texture.

Fried Carrot Cake (White) – $6.50

This is probably one of the most iconic food to be found in hawker centres. When it was served I was a bit confused, where’s the carrot cake at?! All I see is a thick as omelette.

It didn’t take long for me to find the carrot cakes hiding beneath the egg though! The carrot cakes has a nice crispy exterior from being lightly pan fried, and the sauce on top was spicy and sweet, I wish there was more! I would come to Bert’s Cafe again and again just for the white carrot cake, it tasted very authentic.

Bak Chor Mee Pok – $9.00

Another dish that I have not tried before, I’m so adventurous I know LOL. Mee Pok is a dry noodle dish, it uses yellow thick-ish noodles, and is topped with fish balls, meat balls, pork mince and liver. The sauce that the noodle was tossed through was spicy, and I think there was some lard there too? Btw apparently Mee Pok is a dish that’s offered by very few restaurants in Melbourne ._.

Seafood Hor Fun – $9.00

I love me some good hor fun, and this was pretty alright. The flat rice noodles had some nice wok hei, and there was plenty of topping – fish cake, chicken, prawns, choy sum – and a creamy and aromatic egg sauce.

Bert’s Cafe may seem unassuming from the outside, in fact, you’ll never know it serves Singaporean food until you step inside, but it’s definitely a restaurant that I’ll return too, I’m so happy that I have found some good Singaporean food yay! Now time to hunt down a kopitiam for some kaya toast and half boiled eggs weeeeeeee.

How to get here:

Bert’s Cafe is located on Boronia Road, 5 minutes walk from Boronia Station.

Click to add a blog post for Bert's Cafe on Zomato

Laksa Bar

Laksa Bar has been opened for a while now, and after gaining popularity in their Little Lonsdale Street location, they quickly opened up a second store in Prahran. 
House Curry Laksa w/ Soft Shell Crab (Regular) – $14.90

Almost every diner had a bowl with soft shell crabs poking out of them, and I obviously could not resist the temptation. It came with ONE AND A HALF SOFT SHELL CRABS, madness I know. The crunchy soft shell crab was the perfect addition to the other bits and pieces in the laksa. The broth was a bit salty by itself, but when eaten with the other things it was actually quite nice.

There was a lot more going more than just the soft shell crabs on top, in fact, after a bit of digging, I found half a fried egg, tomato, green beans, fish cake, tofu puffs and bean shoots. Definitely a super filling bowl of noodles.

Service was pretty minimal at Laksa Bar, considering it was pretty much all self service, order at the counter and they’ll bring you out a hot bowl of laksa a few minutes after. This was clearly a popular eatery amongst white collars from the offices close by, and I can definitely see the attraction, especially since Winter is coming (GOT yay).

How to get there:
Laksa Bar is located on Little Lonsdale Street, less than two blocks down from Melbourne Central.

Laksa Bar CBD on Urbanspoon

Straits Cafe

Straits Cafe has been a family favourite for years. It may not look like much from the outside, but it serves up some of the best Malaysian food in Melbourne.
Sar Hor Fun – $12.00

Best Sar Hor Fun in Melbourne, enough said haha. But seriously, the egg sauce on top is full of flavour, and I loveeee the tiny pieces of crispy pork fat (it’s not crackling, since it’s got no skin just the fat) and the pickled jalapeño cut through the richness of the sauce perfectly, I always ask for extra!

Sar Hor Fun – $12.00

Underneath that amazing sauce, the hor fun has ample amount of wok hei – omnomnom, with a range of the usual accompaniments – chicken, bok choi, fish cake, prawn, calamari, I can eat this all day everyday.

Straits offers a simple menu, but everything we’ve tried has been delicious! That’s when I’m able to stray away from the Sar Hor Fun LOL. Definitely a hidden gem on Stud Road!

How to get there:
Straits Cafe is located at the Studfield Shopping Centre on Stud Road, catch the bus 664 and get off at Studfield Shopping Centre/Stud Road, or alternatively, catch 737 and get off at Stud Road/Coleman Road, both bus stops are less than 5 minutes walk away from the restaurant.

Straits Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato