3 stalls that will satisfy your curry craving
India may have been the home of the humble curry, but the spicy dish has gone international.
There's curry fishball in Hong Kong and curry katsudon in Japan.
In Singapore alone, there is Nonya fish head curry, scissor curry rice, Ipoh curry mee, Hainanese chicken curry roti, Teochew-style chicken curry noodle and other variations of curry.
The Teochew-style speaks volume of our true chum-chum makan heritage. It's very much influenced by the pioneering Indian migrants, but the tweak is in the execution.
It is tame by Indian standards and often done with little or without strong spices like cinnamon, cardamom, fennel or cumin. Sambal is used as a dip or to enhance the curry which usually has a light sweetness.
Here are three of my favourites from Makansutra 2017:
HENG KEE CURRY CHICKEN BEE HOON MEE
531A, Upper Cross Street, #01-58, Hong Lim Food Centre (10.30am to 2.30pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays, closed on public holidays)
FAVOURITES: Mr Tay Kang Huat of Heng Kee Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee. PHOTO: KF SEETOH
For over 50 years, this family business, now run by Mr Tay Kang Huat and his mother, has kept the faith.
He used to complain how his late father's technique of poaching chicken by dipping and dunking in simmering stock for over 30 minutes was a chore, but he didn't change a thing.
The curry is lighter on coconut milk than its competitor Ah Heng Chicken Curry Bee Hoon Mee.
The plate of dried shrimp sambal was a perfect tango partner to the ultra smooth chicken chunks.
The soft slices of curry stewed taupok are the deal breaker for me.
AH HENG CHICKEN CURRY BEE HOON MEE
531A, Upper Cross Street, #02-58, Hong Lim Food Centre (9am to 9pm daily)
Curry mee from Ah Heng Chicken Curry Bee Hoon Mee. PHOTO: KF SEETOH
This stall, housed in the unit directly above Heng Kee Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee, also enjoys its line of regulars and has its own fan base.
Ah Heng's version comes in a nicer colour: brown orange tints with a thin film of chilli oil on top.
The smooth poached chicken chunks and the soft braised taupok is too close to Heng Kee's to call, but the difference lies in the curry.
Ah Heng's has a richer coconut density, but it tastes less of the masala and more of the sambal with sweetish hints.
Stir in the very similar roasted dried shrimp sambal and it does wonders to the sensation.
DA PO HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE
505, Beach Road, #B1-53, Golden Mile Food Centre (11.30am to 9.30pm, closed on alternate Mondays)
FAVOURITES: Curry chicken noodle from Da Po Hainanese Chicken Rice. PHOTO: KF SEETOH
Since this seller poaches the chickens, it makes sense that the stall also offers chicken rice.
But the equally popular star dish is its curry chicken noodle.
The curry looks intimidating, but it is easy on the palate and smooth on the way down.
You'll have to blend in the blackish and slightly salty sambal to lift the curry intensity.
The soft potato and taupok do wonders to the dish just like at the other stalls.
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.