Savour the best of old world comfort food at Xin Tekka
I have been on a quest for comfort food since the Covid-19 pandemic hit us, so I was very excited about Xin Tekka's opening.
Essentially, it's a food court with curated tenants of heritage brands or folks doing heritage food. Nothing about this concept is new, but there is enough variety to ensure multiple returns.
Also, the location is lovely.
The Tekka district in Little India is bustling with verve and personality, so taking a post-meal stroll in the neighbourhood completes the experience.
Of all the stalls at Xin Tekka, I was most keen to try Pang's Hakka Noodles.
This is chef Pang Kok Keong's first venture since Antoinette folded.
It is also highly anticipated because for many years, he ran a successful side venture selling Hakka treats.
This is a new concept for him, focused on noodles - and he does not disappoint.
The Signature Hakka Noodles Set ($9.80) is a combination of springy noodles tossed in fragrant oil and a homemade minced pork sauce. It is as aromatic as it sounds, and tastes as good.
Add the Hakka Stuffed Tofu Soup ($4) if you're really hungry.
The dramatic-looking Tian of Ayam Buah Keluak with Blue Pea Rice ($7.70) comes from Casa Bom Vento, which reopens after four years to offer dressed-up authentic Eurasian-Peranakan food.
Each element eaten with the rice delivers a multi-textural experience. The combination of buah keluak and rice is classic and beloved, so luckily that isn't changed too much.
It wasn't love at first sight with the Tandoori Chicken thighs ($10) by RW Express, as the dish is just so red.
But the meat is amazingly tender and the spices dance seductively under your nose and in your mouth after you eat it.
I also tried the mutton biryani ($8). I love biryani but something about this version doesn't click. It is too timid for me.
Find all the spices for your comfort food on Amazon now!
Hitting all the right notes is Rong Guang BBQ Seafood's Portuguese Sambal Stingray (from $16). While it doesn't stray too far from many others you'll find at hawker centres, the sambal wins me over.
There is enough spice and aromatics to counter the umami.
Rong Guang is thinking about bottling the sambal. I would return just to buy a few bottles.
The fried kway teow (from $5) from Liang Ji is the star, but I heart the Hae Bee Hiam Fried Rice ($6).
The stall promises all orders served in a heart shape. That's fun and gimmicky, but unnecessary because the wok hei in the rice, with the skilful control of oil and seasoning, makes this a winner.
Due to space constraints, I am unable to list a few more dishes, but try the Signature Meepok ($7.20) from Hosay's Delicacy (be sure to ask for the soup version) and the bracing kopi guyou (bulletproof coffee) from Morning Boss too.
A little warning though: I was alarmed when I heard Xin Tekka was all prepped for busloads of tourists before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. When an eatery has to cater to international acceptance, sometimes authenticity is sacrificed.
Now that tourism has been postponed, so to speak, go down to enjoy the food before it gets transformed into a tourist trap.
#01–55/56/57/58/59 Tekka Place Annex Building
Opens weekdays 8am to 8pm, weekends 9am to 8pm