Thai Thong's food junction
It wasn't too long ago that I took fellow foodie Anthony Bourdain to this makan enclave for his first encounter with a shark.
It was actually a shark's head, steamed with wine and soya sauce.
The now-defunct Tian Jin Hai Seafood zi char folks stunned the maverick US eater. His crew showed up to film it for his No Reservations TV series.
There were also a few other stalls that had their own regulars each night.
Now, there's nothing to see - not even the old Jackson Kopitiam, where the hawker stall was located.
Another residential and commercial property will soon loom in its place.
In Jackson Kopitiam's wake, two corner coffee shops just across the street - at the junction of Tai Thong Crescent and Siang Kuang Avenue, off Macpherson Road - came to life.
Back when Jackson was king, these two played their parts as alternatives. Since the latter's closure, some popular stalls in both the coffee shops lure in customers each day.
LAO ZHONG ZHONG FINE SPICE STALL
This is a legendary name in ngoh hiang or five spice fritters.
They made a name for themselves during the Tong Chai Medical Hall hawkers era in the 70s.
Their fried spring rolls are densely packed with well flavoured julienned turnips.
Their signature ngoh hiang meat rolls are still mixed, Teochew style, with mashed yam.
Their lard and egg cakes and the prawn fritters are their popular items - judging from the amount stocked in the display case.
Gone is that old school pink gooey sauce, but their crushed peanut topped tangy chilli sauce is still a hit.
SOON LI WHITLEY FOOD CENTRE PORRIDGE
They became famous for their pork porridge at the then Whitley Flyover hawker centre in the 70s, before moving to the Jackson Kopitiam.
Now they are sited in this coffee shop.
Their porridge still is way above the median of quality here.
The meatball was softly firm and not so "porky", and the liver slices came soft.
But it was thrice as good when I first had them at Whitley Flyover three decades back.
RIVER SOUTH (HOE NAM) PRAWN NOODLES
After all these years of scarfing down prawn noodle soup recommendations and "award winners", my vote still goes to sisters Ah Lian and Ah Choo, who make their robust prawn noodle soup as Hokkien as can be.
Their broth is slightly orangey and murky with the essence of prawn heads and pork bones. Their prawns are bigger than usual and very fresh.
What gives an extra edge to the soup is the use of freshly fried shallots and lard croutons. They drop sweet pacific clams in, and all these flavours add up.
Lao Zhong Zhong Fine Spice Stall
29, Tai Thong Crescent (junction of Tai Thong Crescent and Siang Kuang Avenue)
- 11am to 11pm
- Closed on Mondays
Soon Li Whitley Food Centre Porridge (same coffee shop as Lao Zhong Zhong)
- 10am to 8pm
- Closed on Mondays
River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodles
31, Tai Thong Crescent
- 6.30am to 4pm
- Closed one Monday a month
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.