Dining

Soy sauce crab and other delicious tze char favourites at this humble stall in Telok Blangah

This hidden gem at Telok Blangah hawker centre serves up great comfort food
 

Photo: The New Paper / Makansutra

Much of our popular food culture, along with hundreds of comfort-food hawker dishes, are fading into the sunset.

It's a sad tale, but there are still some gems around, such as this stall, helmed by an ageing master zi char chef in an obscure little hawker centre.

His stall is nothing to look at - there are no photos, fancy lights or even a counter design.

It is merely a kitchen, with three roaring Chinese wok stations and steam/fry sections, with plates and bowls all around the chiller worktops. The laminated menu card, which is the only thing that tells you what they are cooking, lists an amazing range of dishes. There are 88 items.

Mr Lee Bok Eng, 71, began his kitchen career in the 1970s.He had a decade long stint at Dragon Phoenix under Heavenly King Hooi Kok Wai, then dabbled in many other gigs before running his "retirement project" at Telok Blangah Rise Hawker Centre. His son Vincent helps out in the evenings.

The Soy Sauce Crabs (seasonal price) - cooked with an egg-drop sauce - was refreshing and a great dish for the spiciness-fearing seafood fan. The sweetness of the fresh crab shone through the egg thickened, soy-umami sauce.

"You have to get a good soy sauce and fry it up to extract maximum flavour before you even begin cooking the dish," said Mr Lee.

 

Photo: The New Paper / Makansutra

The Crispy Baby Squid (from $10) came slightly sweet, crispy and spicy but the extra lift came from the squeezed limes. It was difficult to stop nibbling.

The classic Nam Yue Pork ($8) was faultless. The fermented yam was not too heavy, and very well-battered and soft, and pork shoulder cuts were used. The dish was very comforting to a Cantonese son like me.

 

Photo: The New Paper / Makansutra

The dish I was looking forward to was the Salted Egg Yolk Bitter Gourd with seafood (from $10). Instead of crushing the salted egg and frying it up, they turn the yolk into a sauce and it was not salty - just very creamy with the seafood and slices of the bitter greens.

At the end of the meal, Mr Lee was surprised I did not order the Fried Rice ($4). I noticed they use a good grade of jasmine grains and the art was in the oil and fire control.

 

The rice came loose and fluffy and was not too oily. The wok hei was evident in the dish.

 

Top Best Chinese Cuisine

Block 36, Telok Blangah Rise Hawker Centre #01-41.
Tel: 9069-5505 / 9101-7451
Noon to 10pm Weekdays
3pm to 10pm weekends, irregular days off

 

This article was first published at The New Paper. 

 

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