Sunday, October 23, 2011

Prince Coffee House at Beach Road

Mention Han's and Jack's Place, and one will immediately conjure up images and flavors of classic Hainanese cooking.

And such Hainanese delicacies tend to fuse both western and chinese cooking. Haninese pork chops with sirloin steaks. And this is where Han's and Jack's Place have succeeded so well.

I was told that a large portion of the Hainanese clan worked for the British households during the second World War, and this is where they picked up the western cooking so diligently, and why Hainanese, more than any other dialect group, are such great cooks of western fare.

Ever since the commercialization of both Han's and Jack's Place, it is getting ever so difficult to find the classic Hainanese coffee house, where they will serve you classic stewed oxtail and beef hor fun in the same eatery. Well, I recently found one.

Tucked away along Beach Road, just before Arab Street, in a traditional 2 storey shophouse is this quaint little cafe called Prince Coffee House. The owner originally started in Coronation Road, before moving into Shaw Center along the same Beach Road many years ago.

Recently, just this year, they shifted again to this new location just a few streets up from where they used to be. Adorned with posters of 70s Taiwan stars, images of Lin Ching Hsia and Tsin Han will evoke quite a fair bit of nostalgia.

But, let's talk about the actual food. And quite simply, it is classic Hainanese coffee house food.

Stewed Oxtail

This beautifully stewed oxtail was pretty much the highlight of the day. Superbly tender, the meat was moist and juicy and simply melted in the mouth. The sauce had a nice acidic flavor from the wine and balanced it wonderfully. Very classic, very good.

Beef Hor Fun

The beef hor fun was also nice. The beef slices were tenderized beforehand, so they were not tough at all. The hor fun could have done with a little bit more wok hei, but nevertheless, it was still a good plate of beef hor fun.

Steamed Yam Cake

I have had my fair share of excellent yam cakes, and outside of Uncle Kun's and Mei Zhen Hakka's, this must surely rank as one of the best around town as well. Soft, but not meltingly so, the robust flavors of the yam lingered on even as you finished the dish.

Long Beans with Corn Beef

Perhaps the best surprise of the day was this innocently looking dish. I initially thought it was sambal, but it was actually corn beef, and to my surprise, it was a lovely combination. The savory beef pieces really went well with the long beans and it was really mouthwatering to the last bite.

Fried Seafood Bee Hoon

The seafood bee hoon actually fared better than the beef hor fun, simply because there was more wok hei without the bitter char taste. The sauce was just the right amount of sweetness and though a dish commonly found here, it is also a dish that hardly gets done right. And it was done perfectly here.

There were more dishes on offer here, including a puff pastry pie that will surely go down well with the younger ones, and of course, the classic pork chops with tomato sauce. 

The pork chops were alright by me, but were not the highlight as almost every Hainanese stall are doing pretty much the same style and standard now. Again, it seemed more for the kids than for adults.

Proud Owner

The owner, whom I must apologize for forgetting his name, is really proud of his coffee house and of his food. Friendly and approachable, he always had an eager smile for his diners and looked the fatherly type that would do anything to please his customers.

If you ever get tired of Han's, I do suggest you try this little outlet out. It was quite full during the lunch hour when we were there, and it was not difficult to understand why. Classic coffee houses like this will soon go the way of Thye Moh Chan, so do patronize them more while you still can.

Prince Coffee House
249 Beach Road (Just before Arab Street)

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is very beautiful with interesting food pictures and posts. I really like it so much.