Fish and chips a cut above the rest
Mr Michael Molina left Singapore before she gained independence, and spent the next 45 years cooking his way around Europe and the UK.
The uncle of local rocker John Molina still speaks with a British accent and says: "There was not much happening and no work here in the late 50s."
Mr Molina, who was born here, went to the UK with nothing in his pockets and worked his way up by waiting tables and cooking. Then he left.
For 10 years, he ran an eatery in Greece. People were friendly and the ladies were "great eye candy", says the 73-year-old hawker.
Fifteen years ago, at the age of 58, he came back to Singapore and was shocked. Things had changed dramatically.
"Even grand old Cold Storage had many outlets."
He would know; his father set up the iconic Magnolia Snack Bar at Katong and Orchard Road next to the then-Fitzpatrick's supermarket.
Today, Mr Molina runs a western food stall at Toa Payoh. The first thing that struck me at his stall was the row of imported malt vinegar bottles.
He reveals that he cruises through two cartons - or 24 bottles - a week.
His customers relish it with the fish and chips. I like how his version comes with a dory that is not too dry or moist.
Skip the ketchup. Just have it with a splash of the malt vinegar, salt and pepper and you will find a new way to love this old dish, which is a bestseller at the stall.
He makes his own accompanying garden salad and coleslaw that uses a lighter-than-usual mayonnaise sauce, which I appreciate.
The juicy soft chicken chop came with a smooth and thick brown sauce that had a whiff of nutmeg.
"That's one of my secrets" he says, along with the recipe for his potato mash. I requested for a medium rare tenderloin steak ($16). And it came medium rare indeed. Pink, slightly bloody and nicely seared on the outside.
This traveller, who doesn't like crowds, will again be moving to another spot in Toa Payoh next month.
Wok Inn Café
Blk 21, Lor 7 Toa Payoh, #01-283
- Noon-2.30pm/ 6pm-9pm
- Closed on Tuesdays
Makansutra, founded by KF Seetoh, is a company that celebrates Asian food culture and lifestyle. It publishes food guides in and around the region, produces a food series, develops interactive mobile content and services, operates foodcourts and eateries, organises food tours and events, and consults on culinary concepts.