Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pek Kio Food Market Delights - Good Spice Carrot Cake and Hong Kong Style Chee Cheong Fun

This was the second time that I have been to Pek Kio to savor the infamous Wah Kee Prawn Noodles, something which seemingly had a reputation far larger than it could contain.

And again, it was closed. After perusing the web, I realised that I was not the only one who is having this same issue. It seems that this most notorious of prawn noodle stalls is never opened, at least not for the regular patron who wants to try.

Call me a cynic, but when I hear that a prawn mee only serves expensive prawn mee and only uses big prawns, I think this is harking back to the big is better mindset that has besotted a lot of Singaporean foodies and hawkers. Well, I remain unconvinced.

The cool thing is Pek Kio really has far better stalls than this unattainable outlet, and they serve far more affordable fare with much better value and quality. In fact, I was surprised at how old school some of the food are served here, and I would like to touch on 2 stalls that deserve far more attention than Wah Kee.

Good Spice Carrot Cake

Recently, I was brought to another old school carrot cake stall in Bukit Merah but left very unimpressed. Mainly because the hawker could not produce a decent plate of carrot cake even after 2 attempts, and on both attempts, he could not even cook the egg right and basically burnt the eggs right on the plate.

Good Spice's owner, however, showed immense restraint when he was frying the carrot cake. First, he would only fry plate by plate and was almost methodical in his approach to the cooking process. They serve both the white and black versions, and both were immaculate.

White Carrot Cake

The first thing that struck me was the aromatic fragrance of the well cooked eggs. He was not only generous with the eggs per plate, but his skill in cooking the eggs would easily lend him in any establishments that sells omelettes. That was how good the eggs were handled.

Good Spice also served this in the classic way, minus spring onions and not crispy flat like most carrot cakes. Because of this, the eggs remained fluffy and flavorsome, and the chai poh used here was also very restrained and personally, I like it this way.

A lot of other carrot cakes overdo the chai poh as they want to inject more savoriness into otherwise bland carrot cakes, but here, the flavors of the carrot cake and the eggs were so abundant that the subtle bits of chai poh were perfect to balance out all the flavors.

Black Carrot Cake

Normally, I am not a fan of black carrot cake, but here I will make a rare exception. For one thing, the carrot cake was fried similarly to the white variant, but it was just the added touch of black sugar syrup that elevated this above the white one.

And again, the restraint was evident as they only used a touch of syrup which did not make this too sweet and overly watery like most other places. The tinge of sweet caramel was just enough to lift all the flavors of the carrot cake and eggs to another level.

It is incredible how rustic and comforting both plates were, and evoking a taste of nostalgia that we hardly get and just for this reason, these 2 plates rank as some of the best carrot cakes that I have come across. It may not appeal to a younger generation, but for the older folks, it was evident that Good Spice was a beholder of a classic hawker dish that will soon disappear from our shores.

Hong Kong Style Chee Cheong Fun


Just across Wah Kee is this popular chee cheong fun stall which caught our eyes when we were disappointed by the no-show of the prawn mee. Apart from the visible queue, was the indication that this was handmade chee cheong fun made from scratch and steamed right in front of you.

Most chee cheong fun are usually procured from factories these days and hardly any care or attention has been put into most chee cheong fun dishes at hawker centers these days. Heck, even fine dining restaurants' chee cheong fun are hardly distinguishable. Blame it on corporatisation and cost-cutting.

Chee Cheong Fun Kosong

The key to chee cheong fun is the texture and the seasoning that comes with it. Very much like chwee kueh, the components are simple but getting them bang on is just so difficult theses days. And outside of Uncle Gen's handmade ones, there is no other chee cheong fun that I will rave about. Until now.

We elected for the plain chee cheong fun as I firmly believe if chee cheong fun is good, it can stand on its own. And boy did it shine here! The first one that popped into my mouth just melted without resistance. No chewing required.

The texture was incredibly smooth and undeniably delectable. The seasoning was also perfect, very light and subtle and just enough sweetness to coat the chee cheong fun with enough flavor and juice to give the dish an incredible light and refreshing taste. And the lovely chilli was equally flavorsome and just added a nice hint of heat and spice to the plate.

It was so good and so velvety that I think it puts most dim sum restaurants' versions to shame. And for the price you are paying in those high class establishments, you will be hard pressed to find one as good as this one. And then some.

We came here hoping to be impressed by an expensive bowl of prawn mee, but instead, we were totally blown away by 2 stalls that were amazingly down to earth, simple and truly comforting.

Two classic dishes that are still made in the old way, from scratch and delivered with much care and detail that most hawkers simply ignore these days. Very rarely am I so mesmerised by hawker food today, but when it is as well made and as honest as these 2 stalls, who needs an expensive prawn mee anyway?

Good Spice Carrot Cake
#01-20

Hong Kong Style Chee Cheong Fun
#01-25

Pek Kio Market and Food Centre
41A Cambridge Road

2 comments:

  1. Hey,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm glad you like it. I tried adding you on facebook but embarrassingly think I added the wrong Ian. You should add me - Nicole Teo.
    cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Think this article is a little incorrect. They still have a $3 portion which uses standard small prawns. Order the dry version as the noodles are a spectacular dish on their own! The dry one also comes with a side bowl of their superb prawn soup.

    ReplyDelete