Lunch at Ghim Moh Food Centre

So I haven’t really done any posts on hawker food.. Not very sure why. I guess not many of them put a whole lot of thought into presentation, which is why I don’t always bother to bring my camera. But then again really legit italian restaurants don’t really bother with presentation either, and I still take pictures of their food.

I guess I should put it out here that I LOVE hawker food (lest anyone accuses me of being ‘singapore class’ or whatnot). It’s one of the things I craved the most when I was overseas, when I would literally google things like “economy rice” to ogle at pictures of cai4peng3. Seriously. And whenever people back home posted pictures of laksa and chwee kueh and whatnot I would be physically in pain. Considering I may leave for grad school this year, posting pictures of Singaporean cuisine is so not on for this blog, because these pictures will probably make me extremely homesick and cry myself to sleep thinking about a plate of chicken rice, but here goes.

So L and I always come to the Ghim Moh Hawker Centre for lunch owing to the shuttle bus from the science park to here every wednesday and friday lunch break.
There are several things here that are very good and several things you can just skip – mostly we’ve discovered real gems that we order from over and over again, and the ones that don’t look like gems, well, aren’t.

To facilitate your orientation, here’s a little map of the place.

All the marked stalls are the ones that are worth ordering from. For the sake of completeness, here is a listing of the stalls in Ghim Moh (which I did in my first year of work :P and came in pretty handy when I wanted to check if they carried whatever I was craving on Wednesday/Friday afternoons. (follow the numbers in the map)
1. Ah Balling peanut soup
2. Soon Kee Hainan Chicken Rice/Noodle
3. Ngoe Heng Kway Chap
4. Joo Chiat Ba Zhang (rice dumplings)
5. Lee Brothers’ Otah
6. Ghim Moh Roasted Meat
7. Kong Shang Wanton Noodle
8. Chuan Kee Duck Rice
9. Healthy bean
10. Ghim Moh Nasi Lemak
11. Hum Ji Peng
12. Hong Kong Noodle’rice
13. Bak Kut Teh
14. Guan Kee Char Kway Teow
15. Hin Fried Hor Fun
16. Jiu Jiang Shao La (roast duck and pork)
17. Li Xiang Curry Fish Head
18. Tong Fatt Hainanese Chicken Rice
19. Hock Lye Prawn Mee, Lor Mee
20. Yet another fried horfun stall
21. Heong Huat Fishball Noodle
23. Steamed Glutinous Rice
24. Carrot Cake/Satay/Otah
25. Katong Laksa
26. Sugar Cane Juice
27. Indian Curry, Thosai
28. Hakka Taufu
29. Meng Teochew Porridge
30. Mee Chiam Kueh
31. You Char Kueh
32. Warung Wak Nasi Padang
33. Cheng Hong Cai Fan
34. Heng Lee Fruit Juice
35. Western Food
36. Jin Hua Economical Rice (I wonder if it serves Jin Hua ham?)
37. Soup
38. Jin Hua Seafood Fish Soup
39. Chwee Kueh
40. Carrot cake (this has since moved to somewhere like 17.
41. Mini Hotpot Noodle
42. Sheng Ji Char Siew
43. Vietnamese Food
44. Vegetarian Food
45. Momo Fine Desserts
46. Porridge
47. Beehoon/Meesiam
48. Dim Sum
49. Ban Mian
50. Lao Ban-esque Dao Hui
51. Sanmo Western Corner

I really like the duck rice stall – the soup is extremely herbal and the rice is really brown. Don’t really get the duck rice at Lim Seng Lee duck rice :S which is white doused with a sort of gravy. The duck rice is $3.50 if I’m not wrong. The set comes with tau kwa, stewed peanuts, and half a braised egg – we usually add an additional braised egg.

Another hot favourite is the carrot cake stall, which I have been patronizing since I was a teenager. They do both crispy white and black carrot cake well, although the white carrot cake is a bit higher than a typical white carrot cake. The best white carrot cake I’ve had is a toss up between the Food Junction in J8 and this coffee shop at Yishun St 61 – it takes a minimum of half an hour to get your order on a weekend because of how popular it is. The black carrot cake is fried with generous doses of sweet dark sauce and on occasion when it is caramelized just right, it is divine. You can order this in portions of $3, $4, $5.

Soy beancurd
Here’s the dao hui from the dao hui stall. They also have the lao ban style pudding nearer to the otah shop. This is 90c. Their dao hui zui is also 90c (without the cap :P)

Lee brothers has been supplying otah for BBQs for a long time. They have an entire menu you can choose from if you want them to cater your BBQ. When I had my BBQ last year I ordered frozen otah from them. They’ve got many different kinds of fish in their otah – mackerel, crab, even fish head.

I quite like the kway chap here but I’m not real fond of innards/stomach etc. so am not really a good gauge for it. The salted vegetables and tau kwa/egg etc. are really nice though.

Fish and chipsI always order fish and chips from the same stall at the back of the hawker centre. That place does some pretty awesome fried buns – y’know, the kind that seem to be out of fashion with other western stalls elsewhere.

My favourite part of a “western” meal in a hawker centre is the fried bun, and this place still delivers. It’s very oily, but the fish is always extremely tender and the batter is delicious. The fish and chips are like $3.50 or $4.

Tong Fatt chicken rice
Tong Fatt chicken rice stall is probably the best chicken rice stall here. Each grain is evenly coated with that layer of fat and the chicken is just amazing.

People who order from here like to ask for extra soup. I like the soup, but it’s not really special I think.

The best part is? The aunty there always tells you to “Have a nice lunch!” in english and everything. It’s pretty rad. Most hawkers speak chinese here, but not that many of them are well versed in the english phrases that describe their food.

Economic beehoonThe economy bee hoon stall is extremely popular and usually has a long queue. The upside of this place is that the aunty is extremely efficient in assembling your order – so for the same length queue for the bee hoon stall and for the char kway teow stall, you’ll get your beehoon way faster. You can choose either beehoon or mian or coconut rice, and then pick your fixings – luncheon meat, freshly deep fried chicken, cabbage, fish fillet, ikan bilis, etc. The sambal here is something else.

I think the standard nasi lemak set is $2.30 and if you add an egg or some meat it’s at most $3.

The longest queues in the place happen to be at the char kway teow stall and at the hor fun stall. And even if the queue is short, it takes a long time for the CKT guy to fry up your plate, because he does it on the spot! It’s the most famous, but I prefer a lot of the other food I’ve mentioned earlier to this. Somehow I feel like the char kway teow is under seasoned and there is a LOT of lard in there.

My hands down favourite place to eat here is the shao la stall (see the jiu3 jiang1 on my map). It’s closed on wednesdays, which means I only get to eat it on fridays, and we brave their queue to order it every friday. Their roast duck is amazing, and the char siew is a close second. Plus, they put a huge bowl of the maltose-y, molasses sweet gravy right outside the stall for you to ladle onto your rice, as much as you please. And I could eat plain white rice with that gravy and die happy. For the roast duck, try to get the crispy bits – the skin is the best part! Better than any duck confit we’ve had because of the amazing way they season it.

The chinese desserts stall sells anything from bobur cha cha to ruby jelly to tau suan. They can do anything, and do it competently. I usually get ice jelly with nata de coco or tau suan with extra you tiao :P

These hawkers would make a bomb if they set up shop overseas. Seriously.


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