Porridge that pops
The name pao fan (bubble rice) may not make sense till you see how it's done. Then you'll understand why boss Tony Wong picked that name.
The Hong Kong-born Singaporean, who looks and sounds Cantonese, is Teochew at heart - hence this Teochew rice porridge dish.
Soft grainy rice is set in superior stock, "done restaurant style through hours of boiling and no MSG".
Another bowl of dry, fluffy "overnight" fried rice is baked and deep fried till it's like rice crispies.
The porridge (in a claypot) and the crispies are served separately. The crispies are poured into the porridge at the table.
You hear the pops and crackles, and then the combined aroma of smokey charred rice and superior stock hits you.
I suggest you order the prawn version, which comes with a layer of orange prawn essence, but the plain version is not that far off either.
And, oh, the dim sum.
Mr Wong, who used to be a dim sum chef at Lei Garden, pays attention to details: soft, smooth gummy, skin for the har gow (shrimp dumplings) and water-tight soup pockets for the xiao long bao.
His famous lor pak ko (steamed radish cake) was not as great as I expected.
Then he brought out a plate of Mongolia pork ribs: soft bone ribs full of soft meat and cartilage goodness in a reddish sauce that's more umami than just sweet and sour.
I also liked the crispy chicken, a classic he makes with a thin coat of batter and sesame seeds.
We ordered the salted egg yolk custard bao and the mushroom char siew bao.
The bao skin was one of the softest and fluffiest I've had in a long time, and the custard was oozy, milky rich and mildly salty.
But I fell over for the mushroom char siew bao. It came looking like a giant shitake and has moist chopped char siew inside.
I leave it to you to ask him how he makes this amazing mushroom char siew bao.
10, Jalan Tampang (opposite Sembawang Shopping Centre)
- Weekdays: 11am to 10pm
- Weekends: 9am to 10pm
- Closed on Tuesdays
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.