Bib Gourmand stalls put to the test
The Internet vitriol over the recent announcement of Bib Gourmand hawkers (those who offer meals under $45) - as recommended by the Michelin Guide Singapore - was bad.
The list was disappointing for the online foodie watchdogs here.
Bib Gourmand awards are "recommendations" by the guide, not Michelin star winners. Thirty-four hawkers were accorded that award, and some are the famous (quality is another matter) usual suspects.
The guide got some right, but it is old news to many Singaporeans whohave probably been there and eaten that already.
But there are others that made me wonder much about the yardstick of measurement.
I checked out some of these names to share the ones that rightly made the Bib Gourmand cut, in my opinion.
JB AH MENG
2, Lorong 23 Geylang (backlane coffee shop)
5pm to 3am, daily
If not for a foodie friend who dared me to crawl into the old "rat lane" eatery years back, I would not know just how salted egg yolk prawn tempura tasted with sweet corn kernels.
This is a zi char of heavenly ranking - simple, unpretentious and not expensive.
Ah Meng is a permanent resident, and his style of cooking shows his Malaysian pride.
Former world's best chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli once asked for the recipe and got a flat "no" as he drooled over dishes like chow tar beehoon, white pepper crab, snake bean with lotus root crisp, fermented soy bean fried pork plus my favourite, fried eggplant with potato and capsicum.
Ah Meng, you deserve this. At least one Michelin star.
CHEY SUA CARROT CAKE
Block 127, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #02-30
6am to 1pm, closed on Mondays
It has retained its mark in our Makansutra guides for over 15 years.
If you get to observe the patience Shirley and her sister, Grace, deploy over that flat iron pan of Singapore-style frittata, you will give them the standing ovation they deserve.
They bear the impatient taunts of customers on a daily basis but still will not budge on speed.
It comes eggy and perfectly crisped on the outside and soft, almost creamy inside.
Keep calm and keep frying, ladies.
Block 117, Aljunied Avenue 2, #01-44
10.30am to 4pm, closed on Sundays
I had its tahu goreng a few times, as it was formerly located across from my office at Jalan Sultan. It was nice but not overly memorable then.
So I have to check it out now that Bib Gourmand demands that I do.
I must say Pak Azman has improved by leaps and bounds. The peanut sauces for the gado gado and tahu goreng are different. The latter has a nuttier touch with a polite hint of tamarind. I liked it.
But I must add there are better versions to be found at East Coast Lagoon Food Village, Geylang Serai and Haig Road food centre.
Still, I am happy for Pak Azman as he deserves some recognition too.
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.