He said it with a devilish chuckle that for a second, I actually thought he meant it. And maybe he did. He's right, this is probably the summit of sio bak in Singapore.
Sio Bak, or roast pork belly with a crackling on the skin is now very commonplace here. But hardly, if ever, do you get ones that are still warm, and retaining a crispy crunch on the crackling.
Most time, the sio bak is so cold that the crackling turns hard that it is a chore just to bite into it. And the meat itself is tough and chewy.
After the recent trip to Kulai, we found one excellent stall that dished up one of the finest sio bak and char siew this side of Nanyang, and eager to find an equivalent here, Smartcard promptly suggested Cross Way Bay.
Like any good roasted meat stall, they have the gamut of char siew, roast chicken and duck and of course, their lovely sio bak.
|Roast Pork Belly|
Taking one look at the slab of roast pork belly that was soon to be ours was enough to convince us that this was not a futile trip. It was indeed as OFPF puts it, the Holy Grail of roasted pork bellies.
That blistering on the skin, with slight black patches had that look of intimidation. "Doubt me as the best at your own risk". The gauntlet was thrown down. Or Grail. Whatever. It was one challenge we were simply not gonna refuse.
|King of Sio Bak|
The owner did the requisite chopping and minutes later, we were presented with the plate of ready to eat sio bak. It looked messier than usual, but the pork pieces were crispy golden on the exterior and some pieces still exhibited that slight black char that had us at hello.
One bite into the crackling and the war was over even before it began. Crispy, and crackling with the joy of a rain dance actually bringing rain, the aromatic flavors of the crackling overwhelmed me like the way Anton Ego had that first mouthful of Ratatouille from Remy.
The pork fat was palpable, and some may say sinful, but cast your sins away as the pork fat aroma was simply too devilish good to resist. Summit. Nirvana. Heavenly. Substitute your own crazy good adjective here. And yes, the first plate went by so fast, the second plate was mandatory.
We are leaving out the rest, and how careless of us. The char siew was good, but for that day, we had the leaner cut and missed the fatty trimmings like the ones from Foong Kee and Fu Shi. It was still very good, and the sweet caramel was robust and fragrant enough to beat the pants out of most other char siew out there.
Roasted ducks have never been my go to food, but here, the ducks were plump and well cooked. The skin had a good roasty flavor and the meat was still slightly pink which is how I personally like it. Some may baulk at the color, but boy are they missing out the delight of well cooked ducks that way.
If the duck was brilliant, the roasted chicken was even more sublime. I would even dare say it's one of the best roasted chickens I have tasted. The skin was darkly delicious and the meat was again perfectly cooked to perfection.
Tenderly pink and having a plump chicken to begin with certainly helped. The chicken was only slightly seasoned, which is always a good sign that the owner is letting the flavors of the chicken shine through. Moist within, every bite was a perfect bout of roasted chicken goodness.
|The Birds Awaiting Your Patronage|
The stall is in a coffeeshop that is actually an exercise in navigation and treasure seeking. And treasure pretty much sums up what this place is. It is indeed worth the trouble to find your way here.
We were here with a large party, and OFPF was gracious enough to eat with us that day. It was also my first time meeting the legend in person, and found him surprisingly at ease and jovial, regaling in some of his tales.
And as such, I thought I will uphold his point about keeping this place a secret. Though I suspect, if the owners keep up the standards that we sampled that day, it won't be much of a secret for very long.
Oh yes, another thing we discovered this week. Most of us foodies are saggis.
Cross Way Bay
Address: It's a Secret.
PS. If you really need to know, just google lah. Or even better, be my BFF :)