Whampoa's hidden halal gems
I am going halal today.
This is my makan birthright in Singapore - I can eat anything I want anytime and no one will bother me.
This food democracy, unfortunately, is not reflected in the recent Michelin Singapore guide book.
In frustration, I decided to track down a couple of halal Malay dishes.
I also stumbled upon a refreshing gem: an orange peel sour plum drink at the Whampoa Food Centre.
Mat Noh & Rose Ginger Fried Chicken Rice
Block 91, Whampoa Drive, #01-27 (10am to 4.30pm, closed on Sundays)
It is the light ginger-flavoured marinade and batter that brought me back for a second meal.
And the sight of a potful of marinated chicken parts sitting next to a wokful of golden brown, fried chicken was so comforting.
The piping hot and uber crispy (I detected a lot of rice flour batter) chicken with moist flesh was irresistible. The big scoop of crispy bits they piled on top of the fried drumstick did me in.
I love that the chicken rice was lightly flavoured and not oily. And they still offer fried chicken skin, gizzards, liver, bishop's nose and neck - something aficionados will adore.
The only letdown was the sweetish chilli sauce but I liked the dark soy-chilli padi dip they offered.
Rabiah Muslim Food
Block 90, Whampoa Drive, #01-34, Whampoa Drive Food Centre (Noon to 7pm, closed on Sundays)
One can tell this is not a true nasi padang stall. It offers a nasi melayu, and a decadent one indeed.
The one item you must not skip, if they have it in stock, is the sambal sotong. It is top-flight restaurant stuff just judging by the freshness and texture of it.
A chef has to go to the market and select the seafood personally to get such results. Thick, soft, fresh and blessed with a good sambal.
The fried chicken is also a must try, as is the curry chicken. Many opt for the appetising and fresh assam fish.
This stall, which has been in business for more than 30 years, caught my eye because of the boldness of each dish.
Nothing looks insipid and you feel like ordering all - which can tear a hole in your wallet.
An average platter goes for about $7 but you get what you pay for.
Bee Guan Orange Peel and Sour Plum Drink
Block 91, Whampoa Drive, #01-23 (7am to 3pm, daily)
It is hard to tell that this gem of a thirst quencher comes from this messy little friendly "drinks uncle" stall.
A pile of dried orange and kumquat peel sits atop an iced glass of kumquat drink and it comes with an extra cup of iced water.
"You have to drink half the kumquat drink, then fill it with water, stir and drink up again" was the instruction from the drinks uncle, Mr Jeffery Thia.
It was literally two cups for the price of one ($1.50).
Don't miss this one if you are there.
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.