Makansutra: Spice up your life at these curry rice stalls
Satisfy your late-night hunger pangs
It may look terrible by social media standards, where pretty food devotees eat with their eyes. But sloppy, thick curry rice is one of the most comforting Singaporean meals around.
Have a plate of rice in front of you, slathered with a thick mild curry and soy braised sauce, topped with thin battered Hainanese pork chops, a fried egg, stewed cabbage, curry chicken, meatballs and sardines in tomato sauce (yep, all that in one platter), and you know this is home, truly.
The dish - surprise, surprise, unless you have a Hainanese grandfather who told you this - has its roots in Great Britain.
It's what the Brits brought here during their British India empire era, which also inspired the Japanese curry katsudon (rice topped with deep-fried pork cutlet and egg).
The Hainanese, who had house-help jobs with the British in the colonial days, learnt fast and took this out to the streets for us all to enjoy.
Somehow, this dish has a following, even (and especially!) in the dead of night and also for breakfast.
I may not be able to wrap my mind around the logic for that, but I do know who hawks some of the better curry rice after the witching hour.
PUBLIC'S CHICKEN CURRY RICE
Blk 36 Telok Blangah Rise, #01-32, 4.30am to 9am. Closed on Tuesdays.
The initial impression of the dishes is they are light yet complex.
They are not heavy on curry aroma and has more of a balance between an economy and curry rice feel.
The stall offers an old forgotten classic, and if makan buddy Benny Se Teo did not remind me, I would have let this one slip - stir-fried prawns with cucumber in light curry.
There's just one type of curry but when you spoon on some of the thick soy braised sauce from the stewed fatty pork, the rice is as comforting as it comes.
The pork is chunky thick and the triple layers of skin, fat and soft belly pork is arresting.
About 15 to 18 items are offered (depending on what time you go), but I suggest you order the luscious curry chicken and further slosh up the rice to dive deeper into Hainanese curry rice land. Items start at $1.50 and prawn dishes go for $3.
SIAK ANN COOKED FOOD
Blk 22A Havelock Road, #01-07, 3am to noon (or sold out).
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
The line that forms here at 3am comprises largely of hawkers and post-party revellers who need something strong, spicy and hot - the ultimate hangover meal.
First up is the red crispy pork chops - thin slices of fat and fatty meat dipped in red-coloured batter and deep fried.
Absolutely sinful and oily, especially when the fat melts in your mouth with a big spoonful of the double-curried rice.
The chicken curry is thick yet mild, much like a korma.
I devoured the meatball and sauce-laced char siew as it's de rigueur (spoon the char siew sauce over the curry rice and you'll get an idea why this dish is so alluring).
A portion of sambal sotong takes this further into curry rice nirvana.
Watch as the dishes come off the wok hot and spicy, then jump right in and order, like the fried chicken.
If you need a hot cuppa to wash it down, you have to wait till about 4am for the nearby kopi stall to open.