Often, zhe char stalls (especially those in neighborhood areas) are rushing to fulfill their dinner orders that they tend to be very lax in their cooking.
Oily, watery, salty, and lacking genuine flavor, zhe char food in Singapore has become a caricature of what it's originally supposed to be.
Thankfully, there are a few stalwarts around, and one of them is this 76 year old zhe char veteran who has recently reopened his Cantonese zhe char stall in the heart of Chinatown Food Complex.
The cuisine he serves up is undeniably old school, and by that I mean he is very focused on cooking each dish to its maximum potential. No shortcuts, just good ol' wok cooking that exemplifies the best of Cantonese zhe char.
|Stir Fried Beancurd with Vegetables and Prawns|
We started off with this rather simple stir fried beancurd with vegetables and prawns dish. Nothing really exceptional really, just simple down to earth cooking. What I liked was the rather subtle seasoning that was evident in all his dishes. Not overly salty, and just the right amount of grease for that shiny finish to the plate.
|Beef with Bitter Gourd|
Although the beef slices were evidently tenderised, it did not take anything away from the well balanced flavors of the dish. Laced with sufficient wok hei to give it that extra oomph, the touch of bitter gourd gave it the perfect counter balance to the beef in terms of the texture and the taste. And again, the seasoning was very well controlled.
|Sliced Fish with Fried Bee Hoon|
This dish showed off what a great cook the owner is. You do not see the sloppy wetness of a lot of other zhe char stalls, and instead you are presented with a very tantalizing plate of stock infused bee hoon that had bags of wok hei and fish flavors. Simple and delicious, and that's all I can ask of a dish.
|Ginger and Spring Onion Frog Legs|
The highlight was this amazing ginger and spring onion frog legs. The frog legs themselves were plump and succulent and superbly cooked to perfection. The aromatic abundance of the ginger and spring onion were more than apparent and balanced the sweetness of the frog meat incredibly well. And the seasoning was perfect once again.
Mitzi's cooking is how I remembered great zhe char cooking used to be. At 76, the owner should be retiring, and it is our fortune to be still be able to taste his food at this time.
It is so old school good that even a zhe char cynic like me has to cave in. The portions could have been a bit bigger for my liking, but the prices here are more than reasonable in this current economy that I should not be nitpicking in any case.
And yes, the old man cooks every dish himself. A stark contrast to other more "well known" zhe char places where they hire overseas cooks these days and the standards are so varying that it is almost like a lottery these days when you visit such eateries.
For my money, Mitzi's is a cut above the rest. And then some.
Blk 335 Smith Street
Chinatown Food Complex