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Monday, January 28, 2013

Mackenzie Rex Restaurant

I must really be going down memory lane.
Recently I've posted about old-time favourites like Epok-Epok Central and Bismillah Sarabat stall.
And now I bring you another makan place from back when I was a kid.

My Mum and Dad brought me to Rex when I was 11 years old.
That's like 19 years ago and even til today I go back to enjoy the Chicken Rice there!!!

Chicken Rice ($4.50)
My Mum and Day say that back then in the 70s and 80s, a plate of chicken rice would cost about $2.00.
This was because Rex was considered as a 'restaurant' and not just a hawker kind of joint. And of course back then it used to be located opposite the old Rex Theatre.

I really love the Chicken Rice at Rex (you'll be hearing that a lot).
You can see that it does not have any special sauce or gravy poured over the chicken which is what you might get at most places nowadays. The chicken comes as is and is sheer perfection.

I don't know how they do it but Rex still does roasted chicken the best way ever.
Pair that with their delicious and tasty rice and you have a winner I tell you.
Well a winner in my books anyways!

Of course the prices have gone up since then...
It was about $3.00 a plate when I was in secondary school and it costs even more now.

That corner in yellow is where the old Rex used to be.
Cameron Restaurant, which was a fierce competitor to Rex back in the day, is still in the same location as it used to be (see the green sign there?) but I reckon it's not the same as it used to be.
The 'old' Rex Theatre is now the 'new' Rex Theatre as you may know... and Rex has moved.

It's now located at Prinsep Street (along Selegie) and I started going there alone (as in without my parents) when I was in secondary school. And as years went by, I would go there with friends and, of course, my family to enjoy the food there. And I'm pretty sure most of you have had a meal there before!
(They also have a restaurant at Upper Changi Road just before Geylang Serai)

I simply love Rex Chicken Rice. In fact, I used to even say that if I could choose my last meal - it would be a plate of Rex Chicken Rice.

So I've told you about the chicken and the rice. And now for the chilli. The chilli is the bomb.

In fact, Rex is rather renown for its special Chilli.
It's got a real kick to it. The garlic is not too overpowering and it's got a nice tang.
And I have to admit that it has definitely gotten a little more spicy over the past few years. You're definitely going to have a real burn when you have it. But a nice burn of course!

In fact the only part of the meal which kinda sucks is the soup that comes along with your chicken rice.
I've always joked that it's just water with some ajinomoto and a piece of cabbage in a bowl. I actually am not far off from saying that but a little drizzle of light soy sauce (at the table) and it's makan-able.

But I really love the chicken rice at Rex  : )

But the Chicken Rice is not the only favourite at Rex.
There are so many to cover but I'm going to start with...

U Char Kway with Sotong (Small $6.80)

This is such a favourite item I can tell you.

As you can see, it's not really like most other places where you get more of the Char Kway dough than the sotong. This is packed with the sotong!

Fried to a nice deep crisp yet still so tender and steamy on the inside.

And trust me. Their specially-made mayonnaise is the perfect accompaniment to this fried tasty morsel. My mouth is watering as I type!

The small size is very worth the price.
You get about 10 pieces with that serving and it's easily shared between 2 people. But I have absolutely no problem having a plate all to myself!

I can't help it. It's too delicious!

And in future, when I put up more reviews of Rex, you will see more and more dishes which are really at must-try standards at Rex.

And by the way. This is also a must have...
Lime Juice!!!

Lime Juice ($1.50)

Now there's an item that hasn't changed in taste or in price.
I always have the Lime Juice. It goes well with ANYTHING I've ever eaten at Rex.
Probably one of the best and most consistent Lime Juices I've ever had anywhere I must say.

Adam's Verdict:
Chicken Rice 5/5 -- U Char Kway with Sotong 5/5 -- Lime Juice 5/5

Some people will agree with me and say that Rex is the bomb.
And some people will disagree with me and say Rex is not as good as people say it is.

All I know is that I've been going there since I was a kid.
My family and I go there to enjoy good food. We know the people there well enough that they recognize us and we have a chat while waiting for our meal.

Do I give a special preference to Rex? Yes, definitely.
But it it because I've been going there for so long? No.
It's because I've been going there for so long and I still enjoy the excellent food there.

Prices may have gone up but the food is still worth it.

And a final tip...
They will automatically give you a wet tissue when you get your cutlery.
It costs $0.30 each so if you don't need it, return it to them before you start your meal :)

And you can be sure to see a few more reviews of Rex because there's so much to have!

Mackenzie Rex Restaurant

66 Prinsep Street
Tel: 63361702

Operating Hours: 10.30am til 10.00pm Daily
(Closed on Chinese New Year & Hari Raya Aidilfitri)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bismillah Sarabat Stall

When I was a young kid of about  8 or 9 or 10 years old, my Dad used to take my brother and I fishing or on picnics which involved fishing. And this meant that sometimes we'd end up going to Changi Beach.
And on the way to Changi Beach? Changi Village Food Centre.

For years upon years, Changi Village Food Centre was mostly known as "the place to makan Nasi Lemak".
And I guess that's definitely what it was famous for but by no means was Nasi Lemak the only thing that was worth making a stop for.

My Dad introduced us to Roti Cheese.
Seems like a simple concept right? Bread and cheese. How good can it be?
Damn good that's how good.

We're talking about Kraft cheese and Planta margerine in between original Bengali-baked bread.
A combination that really works I tell you.

And back then, it seemed like only one stall was left to carry on this tradition. I'm not sure about other places in Singapore but I've never come across another stall or shop in the East that sells this.
When the old Food Centre was going to close, we asked the people running the stall and they mentioned they probably would not be returning when the new place opened. My Dad and I thought this old tradition would be lost forever.

But great news - they lied! (Which is a good thing)

Roti Cheese ($1.00 each)
Well apparently the authentic 'Bengali-baked' bread make a difference. They were known for the breads and this stall claims to get their supply from an authentic Bengali bread-maker. It has this slight sourdough smell/taste which might put some people off I reckon but it's still delicious.

Just by the look you can tell that this stuff is the real thing.

Open it up and find the treasure.

Slices of cheese are slathered in a nice thick layer of Planta margerine.
And the secret to this special combo? It HAS to be Planta margerine and it HAS to be the box type of Kraft Cheese. Not the tin but the box!

Now I know the box and the tin varieties of Kraft cheese do taste very slightly different and I'm not sure how much difference it would make in Roti Cheese but this is the way these guys have been making it since before I was born so I'm not going to knock their best-selling method.

And the legend of this Roti Cheese?
As I was queuing up to buy some food, I noticed this old-timer going from one coffee stall to another asking if they "jual Roti Cheese?" (sell Roti Cheese?). Two stalls later and it looked like he had given up.

I called to him and pointed him towards Bismillah Sarabat Stall and told him to get his fix there.
He made his way there, looked at the signboard then turned to me and gave me the thumbs up while smiling.

They also have a Kaya version by the way but the Cheese is the bomb.

Adam's Verdict:
Roti Cheese 4.5/5

It used to cost $0.60 each when I was a kid and the price slowly went up with the times.
It's now $1.00 each which you might think is steep for some bread and cheese but those of you who have had it will know it's worth it.

A glass of kopi or teh plus some Roti Cheese and as my Dad would say, "Wah! Stoned, boy!"

Bismillah Sarabat Stall

Changi Village Hawker Centre
Blk 2/3 Changi Village Road
Stall #01-25

Operating Hours:
6.00am til 12.00am Daily

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Botak's Favourites: Sirloin Steak

Okay you guys remember my last post about Tang Tea House right?
Well some of you might be wondering... How come Maryah didn't have any verdict eh?

Well the answer is simple.
She didn't have the Beef Noodles or the Beef Kway Teow. She had...

Sirloin Steak Set ($12.90)

So if you remember the last time I had Botak's Favourites, it didn't go very well.

Well let's face it, my wife and I both love a nice slab of meat. And for some reason it's becoming increasingly hard to find a decent steak nowadays to be honest. For me, I personally have to go all the way to The Ship in KL to guarantee myself a delicious steak.

So how would my darling wife find the steak?

Well I guess you could say that Botak's Favourites definitely does its part in bringing Halal western food to the masses at a reasonable price. But as you would expect, you can't really expect to have the best prime cut ever in the history of the world right? The steak is actually pretty okay in terms of taste and value. Seasoning was simple and meat lovers will not complain about the portion of the cut.

But not to sound too critical, I personally feel that it's not too bad.
I mean, you DO get what you pay for when we're talking about this steak so we can't complain too much.

However, there ARE some things we can complain about.
Because even though we are paying a reasonably low price, you'd still expect some basics.

Case in point - the done-ness of the steak.
They actually give you a choice of how well you'd like you steak and then they kinda disregard your choice.

That's exceptional cooking skill to achieve a medium-rare steak.
The only problem is that we ordered it to be well done.

I know I know a lot of you steak people will argue that a steak is best enjoyed medium-rare or medium-well at most and not well done because the meat gets dried out and on the tough side.
And I do not disagree with you. But I do disagree with asking how we'd like to have the steak cooked and then just cooking it to some other result instead.

Okay fine let's forget about the steak for a minute.

You also get to choose 2 sides with your set.
So we had the Coleslaw and the Double Baked Cheese Potato. (You can also have the Fries or Corn btw)
Well. The Coleslaw was a little on the sour side (which is fine if you like your coleslaw that way) but the biggest crime of the day was the Double Baked Cheese Potato.

Double Baked Cheese Potato. But no cheese!!
Just great.

Maryah's Verdict:
Sirloin Steak Set 3.5/5

I'm still not convinced of Botak's Favourites.
But it's still one of the few choices we have to get such western food so we'll all keep going there I reckon.

Botak's Favourites (within Tang Tea House)

359 Bedok Road

Operating Hours:
11.00am til 4.00am Daily

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Changi Village Hawker Centre Reopens!

Well it's been more than a year since the old Changi Village Food Centre started their refurbishment project (but it seems like so much longer to be honest). Well, they just re-opened last week (I think) to the public so everyone could flock back there to get their fix of Nasi Lemak (among other things).

Firstly, let me say that the new layout makes the whole place seem kinda crampy.
They have replaced the big round tables with smaller rectangular shaped ones which seem to be a bit of a waste of space to be honest.

Anyways, the answer is yes.
Yes. Your favourite Nasi Lemak stalls are still definitely in business. But don't be confused.

Sri Sujana is still in roughly about the same location.
But International Nasi Lemak (the one with the long snaking queue) has moved to a new section which is facing the bus terminus (this area used to be the back of the stalls with a toilet at the end).
Mizzy Nasi Lemak has now taken over that stall space and the long snaking queue is now in front of Mizzy!

So the question now is - is it the location that is drawing the crowd?
Do people realize that the stall has changed? Well, maybe a review of the stalls (maybe a Makan vs Makan) might help to solve the mystery.

So if they made more space means there has to be more stalls for us to enjoy right?

Well if you remember correctly, the first section stretch used to be ALL Halal stalls and these stalls even stretched across at the back end and also the annex at the back (which is connected to the market).
Well there's only like 3/4 of the 1st stretch occupied by Halal stalls.

You'll still see some familiar favourites there like Ramiza Bryani, TakDeNama, Bismillah Sarabat Stall, Hjh Salbiah, Hassan Stall and few others you'll recognize. Ah Nam Seafood has moved back to the hawker centre. Sari Bestari Ayam Penyet has moved to the back annex which definitely has lesser Halal stalls than before. In fact, I'm willing to say that at least 65%-70% of the stalls between both buildings are most Chinese stalls.

Some of the stalls are still not occupied so I'm not sure what kind of stalls are going to open up.
Someone should open up a Satay stall because it's definitely missing based on my walk-around.

One good thing is that they place these posts at regular intervals which have rather effective (while they're brand new) fans to cool everyone down while they enjoy their meal.

And I'm not sure if it's just because it's still new and they are short of staff or maybe it was the weekend or something but the cleaning up situation was not very good at all. I'm talking about tables being left dirty and unattended. Some people take the easy way out and put everything on this table in the corner. I'm talking about plates and bowls and utensil piling up and causing quite a mess (and a bad smell).

I didn't even snap a picture because I don't want to ruin your appetite. Seriously.
Hopefully things will improve soon.

And some tips for you - 1) the POSB ATM is still at the same location so if you need to withdraw money it's still okay (hope the ATM is not out of order or out of money) and 2) most of the stalls close on Monday I think so best double check before you head all the way down.

I guess we might be heading to Changi Village a bit more often since this place has re-opened and there are definitely some stalls worth reviewing. Let us know if you think anything is worth checking-out!

And whatever your favourite is, I hope it's still located at the Changi Village Hawker Centre.

Changi Village Hawker Centre
Blk 2/3 Changi Village Road

Operating Hours: Breakfast til Supper

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Abdul Basith - Mutton Chop

So my lunchtime adventures continue with Mamak Mullet at Abdul Basith.
I've had the Mutton Steak so how about the Mutton Chop?

Patrons of T1... Rejoice!

Mutton Chop ($5.00)

How can you possibly go wrong with that?

Nice tender mutton morsels swimming in the Mamak's magical spicy gravy.
On the side you have cucumber, tomatoes, peas, fried potatoes and a nicely fried egg.
And if you can take the heat, ask the Mamak to make it spicy.

Firstly, the mutton is super tender as usual.
And don't be fooled - those are not the frozen french fries kind of potato. It's actual potato sliced up and fried up to a nice yummy brown. Veggies on the side is always a good thing right?
But let me tell you - once you break that egg yolk and it starts running all over the place you are going to have a delicious time spooning it up with some mutton and gravy.

Oh come on. You know what I'm talking about.

And another plus is that the mutton is in actual pieces.
Why is this a big deal? Because some places will serve you with mutton that has been minced and somehow that takes a slight kick out of a plate of mutton chop because there's nothing like taking a nice big bite into a chunk of meat. It's the animal instinct I tell you.

And have I mentioned how tender the mutton is?

I've eaten this at this stall at least 5 times by now.
The problem with this stall seems to be the consistency of cooking...
Here's a tip - if you order, check if the old guy or the Mamak Mullet who cooks it.
If it's the young guy with short hair or the woman then sorry might not be so nice.

Adam's Verdict:
Mutton Chop 5/5

Yes that's right. Full marks.
Now I've had a lot of Mutton Chop(s) from a lot of places but this one might actually be one of the best ones I've ever had. Ever. Seriously. Go try.

Abdul Basith

FOODHUB @ Chai Chee aka T1
Blk 26A Chai Chee Road

Operating Hours:
5.30am - 10pm Daily

Friday, January 4, 2013

Epok Epok Central

I grew up in the Eunos Crescent neighbourhood.
Back then, the Eunos Crescent Market was in full swing and the adjoining food centre was just as popular.
From early morning breakfast til evening dinner. Everyone cam to get something.

And there was something for everyone too.
There were two whole sections of Chinese (Non-Halal) hawkers and only one section of Malay/Indian (Halal) hawkers. But that one section alone has so many treasures. And there was something for everyone.

Abu Bakar stall was famous for its Nasi Jenganan and Nasi Rawan.
Ali Baba stall famous for Roti Prata. Arifin stall for its Chicken Rice. Then there was the 'no sign' Kacang Pool' stall which also sold a pretty mean Rojak Buah. Then there was 'Mee Kak Tik'.
And so many more I can hardly remember.

The old market burned down some years ago and it took awhile for the new one to be built.
In that time, some of the hawkers probably moved on and decided not to wait for the new market to be built. But some of them returned to the old neighbourhood with a brand new market place.

One of those that was a staple back in the day and still stayed on - Epok Epok Central.

People would queue up for the fresh and hot epok-epok which seemed to come out in endless batches.
If there was one place for epok-epok then Epok Epok Central was it.

Potato, Sardine & Egg Epok-Epok

Just like before, you can get 3 types of epok-epok.
There's the default Potato & Sardine epok-epok ($0.40 each) and there's the Egg epok-epok ($0.60).
The Egg epok-epok has some potato filling in it as well.

The first thing I have to pint out is that I don't remember the epok-epok being so expensive in the past.
Of course, we are talking about the 90s when I was a kid so definitely the prices were lower back then.
But even in today's modern times, I'm guessing a few people would raise an eyebrow or two when the hear the price of $0.40 or $0.60 for an epok-epok.

What's that you say? The price seems reasonable?
Well, that depends on how you relate the price to the size of the product.

Yes that is my hand. And yes that is the epok-epok.
Now do you see what I was talking about when I mentioned the size?

The epok-epok is definitely bite-sized which I'm guessing some people (like my Mum) will appreciate.
Because this means that the pastry will be nice a crispy. Which it definitely is. Love that crisp!
The pastry has a nice bite to it and is not oily at all. They have definitely mastered the art of frying the epok-epok to ensure that it's a nice crispy golden brown.

The filling itself is also quite tasty. But....

(From left to right) Potato, Sardine, Egg

For those of you whole love your filling, then there might be some issue.

The filling itself is very tasty. The taste of the potato filling is especially tasty to me.
However, the sardine epok-epok seemed to have more onions than anything else. And that is simply something that I despise in my Sardine epok-epok.

Why call it Sardine if you're just going to pack it with onions? If you're worried about your sardine mixture being fishy then work on your mixture instead of taking the short-cut of piling on the onions I say.

To be honest the potato mixture also had its fair share of onions but at least I could get some potato chunks.
For the Egg version, you get about 1/5 of an egg stuffed in with the potato mixture.

Adam's Verdict:
Potato 3/5 -- Sardine 2/5 -- Egg 3.5/5

Epok Epok Central remains a familiar name when it comes to the tasty snack we all love.
Nowadays with places like Old Chang Kee offering fat oily currypuffs at a bargain price of $1.20, I guess it's easy to see how old-school places like this are on the losing end.

In fact, the long queue at the stall when I went was actually for the Nasi Lemak which they also seem to sell.
The old stall used to sell just epok-epok. Nothing else.
Maybe the Nasi Lemak is damn nice? I might check it out next time.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe Epok Epok Central's standards have really dropped.
But I'll never forget the excitement as a kid when Mum & Dad brought home some epok-epok.

 Epok Epok Central

Eunos Crescent Food Market & Food Centre
Blk 4A Eunos Crescent #01-09

Operating Hours:
9am -10pm Tuesday til Sunday
Closed on Monday