Starchy, sinful pleasure: KF Seetoh's top 3 orh luak picks
Let's get one fact clear: to render a good version of this sinful platter of orh luak - or fried oyster omelette - with all those crispy, gummy and eggy edges with soft starchy textures and juicy oysters buried within, a lot of oil has to be used.
I kid you not, just take a look at how many spatulas of oil are poured over the pan before the ingredients are tossed in and during the frying process.
This Teochew platter of pleasure is a delicious way to pass time.
There are a few versions in the region - the thick frittata style in the Chaoshan region of China, the crispy, thin eggy pancake adaptation in Bangkok and the chunky, crispy fried egg rendition in Singapore and Penang.
I love em' all, provided they are done properly and stick faithfully to that style.
These are my current top three favourites in Singapore.
Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette
Stall 73, Newton Hawker Centre
6pm-1am, closed on Wednesdays
These folks go as far back as the original Orchard Road Glutton's Square in the 60s (where Orchard Central now sits).
They use more eggs to coat the starch and leave them on the high fire pan a little longer than most.
The omelette comes out like crispy little egg-coated starched parcels. Then they quick-fry the oysters separately, for their natural juices and flavour, before pouring them over the omelette.
The chilli is sharp and piquant, and I suspect many such hawkers use a similar supplier for it, who knows just what hawkers want in a chilli dip.
Ah Chuan Fried Oyster Omelette
Block 22, Toa Payoh Lorong 7, #01-25
Noon-4pm, closed on Tuesdays
This is the moist version.
Ah Chuan fries the omelette over medium high heat and the starchy batter he uses crisps up at the corner very quickly. And when the eggs are cracked over, he gives it a few flips and flops, then lets it sear.
Just before it's done, he pan-fries a few huge Korean oysters (he showed me the supplier's pack) with a few drops of starch and fish sauce, then quickly flips them over the omelette.
I can sense there is a moreish chicken stock flavour in the starch, which pairs so nicely with the juicy oysters.
Lim's Fried Oyster
166, Jalan Besar, #01-32, Berseh Food Centre
6pm to midnight daily (impromptu days off, call 9386-0732 to check.)
In the basement, in a corner of this rare double-storey food centre is this humble (read: no designer signboard nor kitchen layout) stall.
The style here is a tad more moist than Ah Chuan's, and is also juicy and starchy with crispy bits of eggy goodness.
The omelette does not sit as long on the pan and they sear it just enough. The batter comes out gummy yet chunky and the eggs are not overdone - it's like a moist fried omelette with little chunks of starchy, soft batter.
Strangely, the chilli sauce at all of these stalls feels similar, like a spoonful more lime, sugar or salt was added to the base chilli sauce from the same supplier.
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.