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Home>Food Guides>Old Airport Road FC Guide: 40 Stalls Reviewed – Authentic Vietnamese food, smoky hor fun and more [UPDATED AUG 2021]

Old Airport Road FC Guide: 40 Stalls Reviewed – Authentic Vietnamese food, smoky hor fun and more [UPDATED AUG 2021]

Old Airport Road FC Guide: 40 Stalls Reviewed – Authentic Vietnamese food, smoky hor fun and more [UPDATED AUG 2021]

Old Airport Road FC Guide: 40 Stalls Reviewed – Authentic Vietnamese food, smoky hor fun and more [UPDATED AUG 2021]

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It’s no secret Old Airport Road Food Centre is home to some of the island’s best hawker food. 

From multi-generational, family-run businesses serving up wanton mee and Hokkien mee to Michelin Plate-awarded prawn noodles and dangerously flaky curry puffs, there’s something for everyone – even the fussiest of eaters. 

Because most stalls’ opening hours vary, check ahead of time before making the trip down. You’d do well to go at off-peak hours, or around 11am and 4pm. The hawker centre is a real feast for the senses, so show up with your best appetite!


Local Handmade Pau

#01-01 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 7am-10pm

Old Airport Road FC Guide - Local Handmade PauThough it’s called Old Airport Road Food Centre home for over ten years now, Rong Yi Local Handmade Bao isn’t a standalone stall – you’ll find four other outlets islandwide, including in Bedok. 

The friendly stallowner reveals that though the pau aren’t made in-house, they’re still very much handmade in a central kitchen from scratch. You can also purchase frozen packs of pau directly from the stall.local handmade big pau

I start with the big pau ($1.60), having heard excellent things about it. It doesn’t disappoint: the skin is fluffy yet slightly dense, with a just-right ratio of pau to filling. Generous chunks of chicken, at once tender and juicy, sit encased with a quartered egg. For all the hype it’s gotten, however, I’d somehow expected something more unique; a tastier filling, perhaps. Still, it’s among the better big pau I’ve tried in Singapore.

The coffee pau (80 cents), another bestseller, is an addictive morsel. Despite its size – you could finish it in two bites – the skin is lighter somehow, and never gets too sticky. The filling, a coarse paste whose texture I didn’t at all mind, packs a caffeinated punch, lent by lingering coffee notes. This fragrant snack is hard to beat.

local handmade custard pauSadly, the custard pau (80 cents) deflates my hopes of finding another sweet favourite at Rong Yi. Its skin, shaped like a mini curry puff, is far denser and stickier than the former two pau. It isn’t helped by the sturdy but cloying filling, which carries hints of condensed milk. Not for me. 


Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wanton Mee

#01-02 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 8am-10.30pm

Hua Hee Hougang Famous Wanton Mee

Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wan Ton Mee has high expectations to live up to. 

The fourth-generation wanton mee stall, which started out in Hougang in the 1940s, is today a household name at Old Airport Road Food Centre. Among its famed dishes are the standard fried wanton mee, chicken feet noodles, and dumpling noodles. 

I arrive at 11am, leaving me ample time before the lunch crowd descends at noon – which is also when a queue of around seven forms outside the stall. While the service is forgettable and dismissive, the fried wanton mee is quite the opposite.

My $4 bowl comes with al dente egg noodles wrapped in an unctuous sauce that’s spicy yet salty-sweet. Despite how heavy-handed they may have been with the oil and chilli, I’m left wanting more. 

wanton mee stall with al dente egg noodles

Still, I’d recommend asking for a less spicy bowl, particularly if you have a low tolerance for heat. 

The accompaniments are moreish, for the most part: three crispy wantons that crackle like a dream when bitten into, crunchy pork lard, and lean char siew slices that unfortunately lend little to the dish. Like the latter, the accompanying soup seems a typical, one-dimensional afterthought; all salt and little else. 

Meanwhile, two units down is Cho Kee Noodle, whose wanton mee is often closely compared to Hua Kee’s. So: which fared better? I’m personally Team Cho Kee Noodle, though you’d best try both to draw your own conclusion. 


Cho Kee Noodle

#01-04 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sat: 11am-11pm, Sun: 10am-10pm

Cho Kee Noodle 

Cho Kee Noodle Cho Kee Noodle is a firm favourite among hawker goers, and has kept its recipes in the family since 1965, when it began as a pushcart stall along Old Airport Road. 

Despite regular comparisons to the neighbouring Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wan Ton Mee, which draws longer queues at lunchtime, some differences are clear. For starters, you’re able to choose from eight kinds of low-sodium noodles including spinach, tomato, seaweed, beetroot, alongside standards such as wholegrain noodles and hor fun. 

classic wanton noodles

I opt for the classic wanton noodles ($3.50) and find myself slurping it up with gusto. The egg noodles, springy with bite, are an excellent complement to the tangy sauce, which is tossed with sweet sambal and a heap of pickled green chilli. 

The whole affair is brought together with char siew that’s lean but otherwise flat on taste, boiled wantons whose silky skins make them wholly easy to eat, and the star of the show: three pieces of fried crispy wantons. 

They stay crisp even after leaving them to sit for 15 minutes, and crackle when bitten into to reveal a lightly-salted filling of minced meat. I don’t miss the lack of pork lard at all. 

Unless you’re craving a warming bowl of wantons, give the dumpling soup ($4.50) a miss. 

Don’t get me wrong; the wanton itself is plump perfection, with sturdy skin that holds well in soup. A flavourful stock is a crucial element to a good soup, however, and this one’s a tad too salty. 


Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow

#01-12 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 11.30am-11pm, Sat & Sun: 10am-11pm

Have you really been to Old Airport Road Food Centre if you haven’t tried Lao Fu Zi Kway Teow? The Michelin Bib Gourmand 2019-awarded stall is an institution unto itself and has been run by owner Madam Kuah for over 30 years now. 

I arrive shortly before noon to a queue of around five, but orders are taken swiftly – and my two plates of freshly-fried kway teow are ready in under ten minutes. 

The white kway teow ($5) is an easy standout, particularly if you enjoy drier versions of the dish. The fragrance of wok hei reaches my nose, opening up my appetite and expectations. It delivers on all counts. 

The yellow noodles lend bite to the chewy kway teow, and the generous mix of ingredients – beansprouts, cockles, lup cheong and sliced chye sim – are tasty additions brought together with a heavy dose of white pepper. 

The black char kway teow, however, is a surprising letdown. It’s dressed in black sweet black sauce with the same ingredients, and saucier, to be sure. There’s nothing wrong with it, but that’s exactly the problem: it comes off as mediocre beside its white counterpart. 

Consistency is a rare thing to find in many eateries. I can only hope the white char kway teow delivers on all the same fronts when I next return. 


Jack's Kitchen

#01-19 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 9am-9pm

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Jack’s Kitchen isn’t a name you would immediately associate with Old Airport Road Food Centre, but the Japanese-Western fusion stall has developed a quiet following in the past decade for its signature chicken cutlet curry rice.

For that reason, I skip the other dishes – a selection that includes teriyaki chicken rice, chicken wings and pasta – and order the chicken cutlet curry rice ($3.50). A pork cutlet curry rice option is also available for the same price. Portions are generous: my plate comes loaded with half a plate of rice, a glossy serving of curry, and a whole chicken cutlet that’s freshly fried.

The chicken cutlet, tender and salted just so, is cooked to addictive perfection. I’ve never been a fan of fatty cuts, so I appreciate how lean the meat is. The addictive batter yields just slightly when dipped in the thick curry sauce served alongside, which reminds me of a demi-glace. 

It’s viscous and flavourful – with gentle hints of coconut milk, and a spiciness that perhaps those with a lower tolerance for heat would not be able to take. The token potato chunks, then, do little to lift the dish. Still, there’s something quite comforting about having a decent plate of chicken cutlet curry rice on a rainy afternoon. 


Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee

#01-32 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Tue - Sun: 10am-6pm, Closed on Mon, 1st & 15th day of Lunar Calendar

On my three trips to Old Airport Road Food Centre, the queues at Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee were consistent – and never-ending, it seemed.

Thankfully, it’s only a ten-minute wait for my order on a Friday morning. The stall bears a 60-year history, having begun as a roadside business along Upper Serangoon before shifting to its present-day location. Today, Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee remains a famed establishment that’s run by owner Mr. Ng, who took over from his father some 50 years back.

My plate of hokkien mee ($5) comes freshly fried with sliced red chilli in light soy sauce and a halved calamansi, which I promptly squeeze on the bed of beehoon and yellow noodles. 

Having only had Hokkien mee with sambal, the fresh chillies within surprise me with a subtle but punchy kick. The halved prawns and squid, chewy and sweet, bring out the dish’s strident seafood flavours. Alas, my plate lacks wok hei, although the noodles carry a nice bite.

I decide to give Nam Sing another chance, and order a plate to-go. The stall helper swiftly extracts a pre-cooked packet of Hokkien mee from the countertop and plonks it in a plastic bag. There’s the kicker, if I needed one. 


Western BBQ

#01-53 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 11am-11pm

My love for unfussy, Western hawker food is second to none – so of course, I show up at the famed Western Barbeque at Old Airport Road Food Centre with raised expectations. 

Be sure to stake your place early, because the stall draws queues at lunch and dinnertime. The usual standards abound here: chicken or pork chop, chicken cutlet, fish and chips, and chicken wings. 

The stall’s signature chicken chop ($6.50) is a bestseller and is a loaded treat. Two juicy slabs of grilled chicken, kissed just so with beautiful golden-brown edges and doused in garlicky sauce, are served alongside chunky crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw and an old-school butter bun. 

For all the talk I’d heard about the chicken chops at Western Barbeque, they fell short. Juicy as the chicken was, its skin lacked crispiness.

At least the garlic dressing is an addictive thing, with a tangy sweetness not unlike Thai sweet chilli. I find myself smothering the sauce on even the buttered bun, a soft but forgettable accompaniment.

The gently sweetened coleslaw and lightly salted fries are little to write home about, either. I’d return only for the generous portions and that piquant, garlicky dressing, but nothing else really sings. 


Famous Old Airport Road Fried Oyster

#01-54 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon, Wed - Fri, Sun: 11am-2pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm, Tue: 11am-2pm, Sat: 11am-9.30pm

Old Airport Road Food Centre is home to a handful of oyster omelette stalls – and Famous Old Airport Fried Oyster sits among the top of the heap. 

The stall, which opened in 2008, maintains a steady stream of customers thanks to its namesake dish. Beyond its signature fried oyster omelette, you’ll find permutations including prawn, sotong, and a 3-in-1 option for the ravenous. 

There isn’t a queue when I show up at around 11am on a Tuesday, but my oyster omelette ($4) takes several minutes to be ready. And it’s a hefty, fragrant serving built with oysters, radish cake, fried eggs and chives.

I enjoy the six plump oysters ensconced within; they’re fresh, creamy morsels that taste of the sea, and go particularly well with the zesty chilli sauce. I do wish the chilli carried a spicier kick, though you’d hardly notice that shortfall. In fact, and despite the oily nature of a good oyster omelette, this plate isn’t overly greasy on the palate.

The chunks of chewy radish cake and fried eggs hold the dish together nicely, lending charred crispiness without leaving a starchy aftertaste. It’s by far the sturdiest oyster omelette I’ve had in quite awhile. 


Old Airport Road Fried Kway Teow

#01-71 Old Airport Road Blk 51

 

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At 51 Old Airport Road Char Kway Teow, you’ll find a lean menu of three dishes: black or white char kway teow, and beansprouts with cockles. Unlike the transactional service at the admittedly more popular Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow, the stall owners here are warm and chatty. 

The black char kway teow ($3) is a delicious play on textures with chewy flat rice noodles and yellow noodles, fat morsels of hum that taste fresher than I’d expected, and surprisingly lean lup cheong slices. 

It strikes a sweet balance of being neither too salty nor sweet. While more wok hei would have elevated the dish, it’s rare to find a plate of char kway teow that doesn’t leave an oily coating in the mouth. 

The same is true for the white kway teow ($3), which I find to be saucier than the black version when I return the day after. 

This time, it’s more of the same ingredients, along with fishcake and beansprouts. It tastes wholly mediocre, sadly – with hints of spicy-sweetness that do little for the dish. The kway teow is just short of being soggy and lacks the same chewiness I’d enjoyed the day before. More wok hei would have served the dish well. 


Ah Yee Hong Kong Roasted

#01-77 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Fri - Wed: 11am-10pm, Closed on Thu

I arrive at Ah Yee Hong Kong Roasted at around 5pm on a Saturday, and already a queue has formed, though considerably shorter than at the more popular Roasted Paradise. 

Strung behind the menu are rows of roasted meats – all manner of duck, char siew and pork belly, each glossier than the last – which can be purchased whole, or in smaller portions with rice. 

The char siew rice ($3.50), which bears the Healthier Choice Symbol, tastes as healthy as it looks. 

The lean slices of roasted meat could do with a heavier char around the edges and some juiciness. The sweet sauce drizzled atop serves little purpose, too: it’s lighter than I would have liked, and loses much of its flavour on the bed of rice that’s neither fluffy nor fragrant. This one’s a forgettable plate, at best. 

Up next is the roasted pork belly ($3.50), whose crispy crackling is a melt-in-the-mouth complement to the tender slices of meat. 

The dollop of sambal errs on the salty side, unfortunately, and the sliced cucumbers are lacking in freshness. 

Despite the relatively low prices at Ah Yee Hong Kong Roasted, these dishes don’t carry the complex flavours that come with good roasted meats. It isn’t a stall worth seeking out. 


Chong Pang Huat

#01-90 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 4pm-10pm

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Chong Pang Huat Satay & BBQ Chicken Wing is no stranger to the scene. It has five other locations in Old Airport Road, East Coast, Yishun, Marsiling and Lavender. I start with the minimum order of 10 sticks of satay (60 cents per chicken/pork stick; 70 cents for mutton), opting for chicken and pork. 

The chicken satay is well-seasoned and fresh off the grill, and bears the headiness of lemongrass. It’s also nicely charred on the edges, as is the pork satay. The latter’s equally tender, though I much prefer the chicken version. 

The peanut sauce is the real standout here. It’s thick, a good balance of sweet and savoury, and actually nutty – nevermind the layer of oil atop. I haven’t enjoyed peanut sauce this much in a long time. 

Unless you’re seriously craving ketupat, I say give it a miss. Though fragrant, it’s nothing to shout about.

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Next, I try the chicken wings ($1.30 each). The skin is paper thin – proof these wings were turned over charcoal with adequate heat – and the meat, tender and fresh. The bright flavours of the accompanying chilli sauce is what I’ll find myself craving for days to come: it’s at once piquant and gently sweet, and brings to mind the famed chilli sauce from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. 


Fortune Curry

#01-96 Old Airport Road Blk 51

It’s rare to find new stalls in Old Airport Road Food Centre – and Fortune Curry falls in this camp, having opened in 2019.Like its name, the stall offers a menu of mainly curry-based dishes that can be had with rice, bread, prata, or bee hoon. 

The curry chicken gravy ($5.90) carries a mild spiciness, and it’s creamy and rich. 

I struggle to finish this myself; it’s a hefty portion for one, with large chunks of chicken drumstick and thigh that are fall-off-the-bone good. It could do with more spices, though, and reminds me somewhat of Primataste’s curry premix. I can’t decide if that’s a good or bad thing. 

Likewise, the cuttlefish kang kong ($4) is a work-in-progress. I’ve little to fault with the ingredients: chewy cuttlefish with a good bite, fresh and juicy pineapple wedges, crisp cucumber ribbons, young kang kong that’s been blanched just so, and freshly roasted ground peanuts. 

It’s the sauce that I’ve trouble with. There’s too much of it, for one, and its diabetic sweetness doesn’t sit well with me – it’s one-dimensional, and could do with being less runny. The dollop of sambal served alongside is a confusing afterthought that does little to save the dish. 


Whitley Road Big Prawn Noodle 98

#01-98 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Tue - Sun: 9am-8pm, Closed on Mon

It’s 10am, and already Whitley Road Big Prawn Noodle is in the thick of things – blanching noodles and preparing the signature prawn stock for which they’ve earned a name. 

The stall began at the now-demolished Whitley Road Hawker Centre in the ’70s, and has since expanded to include outlets along Thomson Road and Circular Road. Its Old Airport Road branch, however, holds the Michelin Plate 2019, which explains the queue at lunchtime.

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I go for the big prawn noodles ($5), though a dry version is also available, alongside other dishes – such as big prawn pork rib noodles, and big prawn pig liver noodle. Smaller eaters can also opt for small prawn mee ($4), listed on a nondescript laminated sheet below the main menu. 

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My order of big prawn noodles arrives, and I dive straight for the broth. It’s sweet and light, and not overly prawny nor salty. It’s even better with a scoop of crispy shallots, though I almost wish the clean soup were a little more sinful – with more depth of flavours to mask the lingering alkaline taste of yellow noodles. 

I appreciate that the three plump prawns served atop haven’t been shelled; it’s a slight inconvenience, and not for the harried customer, but helps retain the prawn’s true flavours. These are succulent and plump with bite – none of that powderiness or chewiness from unfresh or overcooked prawns. 


Yi Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

#01-99 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 3.30pm-9.30pm

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It takes me two tries to get this right. Old Airport Road Centre – home to a myriad of hokkien mee stalls – has three stalls branded with the same signature colours and markings. So go in with a keen eye: the purported rip-off brands itself as Yi Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodle, and not mee

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Yi Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee, then, has three other outlets along Upper Serangoon, Hougang and Queen Street. Although it’s often closely compared to the history-steeped Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee, I find Yi Ji’s version of the dish to be starkly different in taste. 

I much prefer it, although it’s clearly a battle in subjectivity. Here, the hokkien mee ($4) is cooked more like the traditional permutations I enjoy: it’s laden in a saucier gravy, with a healthier ratio of yellow noodles to beehoon.

 The prawns, though small, are plump sweet pillows that are served whole. The dish shines when had with a squeeze of calamansi and sambal. You only need a smidgen of the hae bee-flecked chilli, because it’s seriously potent stuff. 

The abalone slices are a miss for me, sadly. They’re more rubbery than chewy, and seem almost out of place in an otherwise delicious plate of hokkien mee.


Old Airport Road Mixed Pork Soup

#01-106 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Thu - Tue: 11am-9pm, Wed: 6am-11pm

I’ve never quite taken to pig organ soup, but there’s something about the broth at Old Airport Road Mixed Pork Soup that’s converted me.

Here, soup is served with your choice of pig’s organ, pig liver, pork belly and sliced pork, or meatballs – the latter evidently for less adventurous eaters like myself. My pig’s organ soup ($4), which can be had with a side of rice or mee sua, hits the spot. 

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The broth is light and peppery, and flecked with Chinese parsley and shallots. Its sweetness – drawn from a mix of pork bones and salted giam cai – lends the soup a clean finish. It’s a comforting, warming bowl to savour on cooler days.  

The broth makes the perfect foundation for the liberal amount of ingredients found within. The innards are smooth with just the right bite. While the pork belly errs on the tougher side, the accompanying slices of pork make up for it, being tender and lean. 

It’s the pork meat balls that make this bowl a winner. They’re springy but sturdy, and seasoned with a touch of white pepper and salt. No wonder, then, that the meatball soup is a bestseller after the pig’s organ soup here.


Wang Wang Crispy Puff

#01-126 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 10am-9pm

It may just be me, but good curry puffs are incredibly hard to come by. My years-long hunt for The One has typically ended in disappointment: an adequately fragrant, spicy filling may have been lessened by a dense and greasy curry puff pastry, or the reverse.

Wang Wang Crispy Puff strikes the right balance. My curious stomach beckons me to the 17-year-old stall, where the friendly owners, Mr. and Mrs. Chang, are filling and moulding the puffs on-site. In fact, Mr. Chang was a former chef at Hai Tien Lo Restaurant in Pan Pacific Hotel before setting up shop in 2003. 

The cadence with which the husband-and-wife duo work is mesmerising, but it’s the flaky pastries I’m here for. Beyond the signature crispy curry puff are three other options: black pepper, sardine and yam paste. 

The curry puff ($1.80) surprises me. It’s light and melt-in-the-mouth, a moreish treat I’ll find myself returning for. 

Unlike many curry puffs I’ve tried, the filling is a compact pocket of well-cooked potatoes, and packed with lean but hefty chicken chunks. While it lacks that spicy kick, I’m a real fan of the crispy, flaky shell. 

undefinedThe sardine puff ($1.80), though encased in the same light and flaky pastry, falls short. It could do with a juicier filling – more onions and heat, perhaps – and distracts with a slight stickiness I didn’t enjoy. 


Fu Xin Cooked Food

#01-142 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 10am-6pm

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If you’re ever jonesing for good Teochew kueh, Fu Xin Cooked Food at Old Airport Road Food Centre is worth stopping by for. Here, rice glutinous flour-based snacks are made from scratch daily, and they’re mostly clean on flavours, with lightly-seasoned fillings.  

Though the stall owners aren’t too friendly, likely thanks to my scant conversational Chinese, I order the minimum of three kueh – yam cake, sun kueh, jiu cai kueh (80 cents each) – and, on their recommendation, a pumpkin cake. 

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The sun kueh packs a surprising amount of sweetness with chopped Chinese turnip and salty hits of hae bee. The skin itself is clean, and unlike the often oily kueh I’ve tried elsewhere. It sits a little on the thick side, though, and loses its texture as it cools down. 

It’s easy to see why the ku cai kueh is another bestseller. 

The chives encased within are fresh and pungent, but perhaps overly so for me. I devour my piece with a drizzle of sweet soy sauce and tangy chilli. Again, the skin is a little thick for me – the same of which is true for the yam cake, whose savoury, hae bee-flavoured puree saves the otherwise bland kueh. I say skip the latter, and go for the pumpkin cake. 

By this point, everything’s starting to feel a little starchy, but the shallot-topped snack is generous with pumpkin chunks, and boasts an addictive texture that leaves a gentle sweetness on the tongue. It isn’t at all unpleasant. 


Kim Satay

#01-06 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Thu - Tue: 2pm-11pm, Closed on Wed

At Kim Satay, the usual options are abound: pork, chicken and mutton (60 cents each), with the option to add ketupat. 

Unlike regular satay stalls, there’s nary a scent of charcoal-grilled meats to reel me in, perhaps owing to the layout of the kitchen: a modest L-shaped space that conceals most of the magic happening behind the scenes.

I start with the chicken satay, and it’s chunky and sufficiently juicy, with slivers of skin interspersed between bites of meat. Alas, its marinade lacks the robust flavours needed to do this skewer justice – like the fragrance of lemongrass and tamarind, for instance. The accompanying peanut sauce follows the same path. It’s rich and nutty, but otherwise devoid of aromatics and sweetness. 

Which is why the pork satay, despite being tender, finds no way to shine – it’s shed of the smokiness that typically accompanies good satay. Things take a turn with the muah chee ($2), which seems to outshine the skewered meats. 

Most customers don’t leave without ordering the rice glutinous flour-based snack, and it’s easy to see why. The ground peanuts are well-roasted, giving these chewy rice balls a deep, toasty flavour. Without meaning to, I finish my plate, and resist my hankering for another. 


Xin Xin Yong Tau Foo

#01-07 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 8.30am-11pm

 

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Xin Xin Yong Tau Fu counts three outlets home: Bendemeer, Pek Kio Market and Old Airport Road Food Centre. I order its signature, namesake soup in the smallest size ($3) – and it’s a bountiful portion of seven pieces. 

Like traditional Hakka yong tau fu, every morsel of tofu, fish paste or minced meat is wrapped in a delicate sheet of beancurd skin, then fried or boiled to a suitable chewiness. Here, the chewy, yuba-wrapped fish paste leans on the sweeter side, making it a well-balanced pairing with the tangy punchiness of the chilli dip. 

Equally flavoursome is the minced meat yong tau fu, which bears a firmer bite than its counterparts. It’s a well-seasoned winner encased in the sort of nutty beancurd skin that goes especially well with sweet sauce. 

Expectedly, the soup is a clean, light bowl that’s easy on the palate, though the deeper flavours of a good bone broth could have elevated it considerably. 

The laksa yong tau fu ($4), then, is an indulgent and warming treat if you prefer richer flavours. I’m known to be fussy about coconut milk, so Xin Xin’s laksa gravy surprises me: it’s fragrant, with a pleasant spiciness that lingers on the tongue. 

I let my yong tau fu sit for a minute, allowing the yuba to soak and stew in the creamy broth, then match each spoonful with springy noodles that don’t yield to heat. 


London Grill

#01-08 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 1pm-10pm

Like most Western stalls, everything at London Grill is cooked to order.

The chicken cutlet ($6.50) arrives first, its well-breaded body a dream to bite into. Lean as the meat may be, however, this cutlet errs on the drier side. It isn’t saved by the accompaniments: watered-down baked beans, and a vegetable salad dressed in the sharp, vinegary flavours of runny coleslaw sauce. 

But the French fries make addictive sides, with a crust-to-potato ratio that resembles shoestring fries. The garlic bread, built from toasted baguette slices and smothered with a smidgen of butter, is a refreshing change from the usual soft buns that accompany typical Western plates. It’s also pungent with garlic, except I’m already dreaming of how much better it could be with bigger pools of butter atop. 

Next up is the half spring chicken ($5), which comes served with a side of rice and black pepper sauce. 

The latter unfortunately proves an overly salted work-in-progress. It’s in dire need of some balance or textures; the chewiness of mushrooms, for instance. The lacklustre sauce sets the tone for the fried chicken, which – though cooked to a delicate crispiness and adequately rendered of fat – has again been over-fried, stripping the meat of its juices. 

This isn’t a greasy, unpleasant meal, but its signature dishes could do some tweaks, and the vegetable salad livened up with a fresher dressing. 


Albert Street Prawn Noodle

#01-10 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Thu - Tue: 9am-10pm, Closed on Wed

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The storied Albert Street Prawn Noodles needs no introduction, having been established in 1963. Its close competitor, Whitley Road Big Prawn Noodle, sits several stalls away. Both attract long queues at peak hour, particularly on weekend evenings.

Beyond the stall’s star dish are options including noodles with intestines, pig’s tail, clam and pork ribs. I order the smallest size of dry prawn noodles ($5.50), though ravenous eaters can also opt for the big prawn noodles, which starts from $10 a pop. 

First order of things: the broth, a flavourful stock thickened with pork, prawn heads and prawn shells. It’s warming, if a tad briny, but is scarce of the sweetness I’d hoped for. 

At least the noodles are cooked to a nice firmness and adequately tossed in chilli oil. It’s also served with lashings of lard and fried shallots, making for a crunchy, fragrant counterpoint to the heavily-salted broth. 

Sadly, and not unlike the soup, the prawns fall short. I much prefer the succulence of whole, unshelled prawns, but these are halved – and slightly mushy to boot. For the price point, you’d do better seeking out Whitley Road Big Prawn Noodle, which serves a more well-balanced broth with plump, fresh prawns. 


Holy Grill Authentic Western Cuisine

#01-27 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 11.30am-9pm

Of the handful of Western stalls in Old Airport Road Food Centre, Holy Grill is likely the closest rival to Western Barbeque, thanks to the generous portions both stalls are known for.

Here, the menu is split into three parts – Savoury Poultry, Big Catch and Grilled Kings. Each plate is served with your choice of two sides, from pasta salad and French fries to tasty rice. It’s slightly overwhelming, so to simplify the process, you’ll have to fill out a form at the counter. 

It’s a 15-minute wait on a Saturday evening for my order of Holy Grill’s signature dish: grilled chicken with mash and baked beans ($7). My plate proves to be a loaded affair, with a hefty slab of chicken taking centre stage. 

And it’s mostly greasy goodness: the meat’s been adequately seasoned, then dredged in a viscous sauce that brings to mind KFC’s signature whipped potato gravy, except this one’s laden with mushroom chunks for extra bite. 

If I have a grumble, it’s that my chicken cutlet doesn’t boast the crisp edges of a good char. The baked beans, gloppy and cold as they typically are in Western stall plates, seem an afterthought beside the mashed potatoes.

The mash, then, is at once sturdy and smooth – lent by potato chunks and lashings of butter. It makes an excellent complement to the chicken cutlet and brown sauce. 


Qiurong Ban Mian

#01-30 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 11.30am-11pm

The couple behind Qiurong Ban Mian are effusively friendly, bantering with streaming customers in-between orders. It’s a rare sight in hawker centres – but will the food live up to its popularity? 

The business began in the nearby Roxy Square before shifting to its present-day location some 20 years back, bringing with it a host of regulars. 

My order of you mian ($3) is laden with considerably more shallots, ikan bilis, minced meat and chopped chye sim than most ban mian stalls. The noodles – sturdy and at first al dente – go starchy fast, so slurp up your bowl with gusto. The broth is sweetened in flavour and depth by what I suspect to be pork bones and pork, making it easy to drink on its own. It’s made better when I stir the egg yolk into it, lending it a pleasant creaminess.

The potato pork ribs soup ($4) is a letdown, however. Far from the sweetness of the you mian soup, this bowl’s heavy with salt. The pork ribs fare no better: they bear the rubbery texture of frozen, overcooked meat, and sit in disappointing contrast to the tender, fall-apart pork I’d anticipated.

Portions are generous, at least; I count six pieces of pork, alongside corn, carrots and potatoes. I say skip this and stick to the ban mian.


Xiang Ji Lor Mee

#01-81 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Wed - Mon: 7am-6pm, Closed on Tue

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The closely-rivalled Xin Mei Xiang Zheng Zong Lor Mee has nothing on Xiang Ji Lor Mee Zha Jiang Mian. 

There’s no shortage of business when I show up at 10.30am on a weekday, with five customers ahead of me, and more joining the queue. Already, the aroma of freshly fried fish and ngoh hiang wafting from the kitchen are telling of what I’m to expect. 

As it turns out, the 15-minute wait isn’t for naught. 

In itself, the lor mee ($3) gravy is viscous and flavourful – but mix in the dark vinegar, minced garlic and dollop of chilli paste, and you’re in for a real treat. Savoury and piquant with a subtle sweetness, my bowl is heightened with hits of heat from the sliced chilli padi. The noodles, cooked just so they retain a firm edge, hold well in the broth. 

The freshly prepared accompaniments are mostly impressive, too: shredded fried fish boasting a sturdy flesh, ngoh hiang whose crispy shell quickly gets soggy in the thick gravy, half a boiled egg, and slivers of braised pork belly that could do with being more tender. 

Sadly, I haven’t yet tried the lor mee at Xin Mei Xiang, thanks to its unpredictable hours. For now, Xiang Ji holds a special place in my stomach – it’s easily the best lor mee I’ve had in years.


Xin Mei Congee

#01-91 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 8am-9pm

Contentious opinion: porridge is fever food, and should remain so. 

Except Xin Mei Congee might have just made me an (occasional, mind you) porridge convert. Warming bowls of Cantonese-style congee are serious business here, which may be why its popularity has extended to outlets in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok. At the stall, pots of porridge bubble and stew over fire, forming the base from which ingredients are added. 

My pork congee ($3.50) is velvety goodness that’s salted just so, with delicate hints of white pepper for balance. Too bad it lacks the sweetness of a meaty stock, and falls short on ingredients. 

It becomes a game of hide-and-seek seeking out the paltry bits of pork laced within, although the freshly fried you tiao almost makes up for it. These dough fritters are chewy with beautifully crisp shells that quickly slacken in the congee.

Because the minced meat peanut congee ($3.50) is built from the same base, it doesn’t fall far off the mark, either. It’s a luscious bowl bearing the same creaminess, with chunks of minced meat that don’t appear all that different from the pork congee. As usual, there’s too sparse an amount of ingredients to go around. 

For this reason, I’d peg congee stall Zhou Pin at Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre a notch above Xin Mei Congee.  


Hock Guan Popiah

#01-93 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Now in its eight year of business, Hock Guan Popiah & Rojak serves up exactly what you’d expect, in addition to kueh pie tee. You’ve also the option of ordering popiah skin by the kilo, and kueh pie tee shells by the box. 

The first shortfall: the popiah ($1.70) skin, which bears a toughness I didn’t expect. It’s anybody’s guess whether that’s owing to poor storage of the skins, or that these aren’t made in-house. 

The julienned vegetables fare no better: the turnip and carrots within are cooked just shy of being mushy, and carry an artificial sweetness that distracts from the rest of the ingredients. The chilli within is likewise heavy-handed with sugar, but little else. 

Sadly, the kueh pie tee follows the same theme. 

While it’s a sizable portion of seven pieces for four dollars, the ingredients fail to salvage the Nyonya snack. The same julienned vegetables are used here, and they’re again diabetically sweet, even when had with the chilli sauce and ground peanuts. It’s a cloying work-in-progress. 

At least the kueh pie tee shells retain their crunchiness well. Then there’s the rojak ($3.50) that, despite being served with tangy pineapple chunks and crispy you tiao, lacks balance. 

Good rojak sauce should boast punchiness and sweetness in good amounts, but Hock Guan’s leans on the latter to carry the dish. A heavier dollop of hei ko (prawn paste) might have helped. 


Fu Cheng Shi Pin

#01-94 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 11am-10.30pm

The modest menu at Fu Cheng Shi Pin: Homemade Springroll features muah chee, kueh pie tee and popiah – alongside DIY popiah kits and kueh pie tee shells for bigger orders, albeit at higher price points than the neighbouring Hock Guan. 

Having stepped away from the cloyingly sweet popiah next-door, I’m rightfully apprehensive that these spring rolls would fare any better – except they do. The popiah ($1.80) skin, for starters, is noticeably more translucent, and nicely buoyant. And though the jicama is served at room temperature, it’s fresh and crisp, marking a refreshing change with cleaner flavours. 

A gripe: that Fu Cheng Shi Pin’s popiah tends to the sweeter side, making it hard to have more than one popiah in a sitting. 

Next up is the kueh pie tee ($3.50 for five), crowned with a dab of vibrant chilli sauce that falls short in tanginess. Oddly, the julienned turnips are far softer than in that of the popiah – and the paper-thin shell is just the same, lacking in sturdiness and bite. Still, it makes for a juicy and toothsome snack, if you have an inclination for sweeter kueh pie tee. 

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The muah chee ($2.50) is a grand disappointment, devoid of the chewy yet melt-in-the-mouth texture I’d hoped for. The all-important peanut mixture could have done with a longer roast to heighten the flavours of this snack, then stirred in with a tinge less sugar. 


The modest menu at Fu Cheng Shi Pin: Homemade Springroll features muah chee, kueh pie tee and popiah – alongside DIY popiah kits and kueh pie tee shells for bigger orders, albeit at higher price points than the neighbouring Hock Guan. 

Having stepped away from the cloyingly sweet popiah next-door, I’m rightfully apprehensive that these spring rolls would fare any better – except they do. The popiah ($1.80) skin, for starters, is noticeably more translucent, and nicely buoyant. And though the jicama is served at room temperature, it’s fresh and crisp, marking a refreshing change with cleaner flavours. 

A gripe: that Fu Cheng Shi Pin’s popiah tends to the sweeter side, making it hard to have more than one popiah in a sitting. 

Next up is the kueh pie tee ($3.50 for five), crowned with a dab of vibrant chilli sauce that falls short in tanginess. Oddly, the julienned turnips are far softer than in that of the popiah – and the paper-thin shell is just the same, lacking in sturdiness and bite. Still, it makes for a juicy and toothsome snack, if you have an inclination for sweeter kueh pie tee. 

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The muah chee ($2.50) is a grand disappointment, devoid of the chewy yet melt-in-the-mouth texture I’d hoped for. The all-important peanut mixture could have done with a longer roast to heighten the flavours of this snack, then stirred in with a tinge less sugar. 


Xin Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice

#01-105 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 9am-7pm

 

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What sets a plate of chicken rice apart? The answer is very much subjective – but let the queues speak for themselves, I say. When I show up on a Thursday afternoon, Xin Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice is rustling up multiple orders, a marker of its success in the famed food centre. 

I start with the white chicken rice ($3), whose thigh meat is juicy and cooked to the right doneness. The rice brings things together: it’s adequately fragrant with chicken stock, lightly salted, and doesn’t bear the oiliness of some plates of chicken rice I’ve had. I can’t help but wonder if a smidgen of smashed ginger and pandan might have heightened this already stellar plate. 

The same is true for its chilli sauce, a gutsy mix of ginger and chilli seeds that could do with more zestiness. 

The roasted chicken rice ($3) is served with a drier cut of meat – chicken breast – that tastes considerably cleaner than the white version. I find myself slathering on more chilli and dark soy sauce to make up for this imbalance, all while dreaming of the succulent chicken breast meat at Hawker Chan Liao Fan. 


Weng Hua Yuan Hainanese Chicken Rice

#01-119 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 7am-8pm

Do you prefer your chicken rice to have cleaner flavours? Then this might just be for you.

I show up at around 1pm to find a sole white chicken strung behind the stall’s food display. Thankfully, I manage to snag the last of their roast chicken – clearly the crowd favourite – alongside a plate of white chicken rice ($3). 

I start with the former, and find the roasted meat to be sufficiently seasoned and firm. Unfortunately, it is on the dry side. The poached tenderness of the white chicken is a marked change, its glossy skin concealing a layer of jellied fat beneath. It makes for a melt-in-the-mouth treat I didn’t realise I craved.

The rice, though fluffier than most versions I’ve tried, is light on flavours, leaving me ample room to jazz things up with chilli and sweet black sauce. In itself, the chilli sauce seems almost mellow on flavours, and does little to lift the chicken rice. I’m left in want of more zest and the punchiness of chilli seeds or ginger to elevate it. 

It doesn’t surprise me that the soup comes secondary to the chicken rice, then. Like so many renditions, Weng Hua Yuan’s is no different: a sodium-heavy broth that lacks in depth. If you’re looking for an indulgent, unctuous meal, this probably isn’t a plate that’ll satiate you. 


Jun Yuan House of Fish

#01-69 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Fri - Wed: 10.30am-9.30pm, Closed on Thu

Jun Yuan House of Fish is a second-gen business whose outlets at Wisma Atria and Pasir Ris draw queues at lunchtime, just as its Old Airport Road branch does.  

On its fairly extensive menu are nourishing options such as Chinese spinach seafood soup with wolfberries, and herbal seafood soup. I’m here for Jun Yuan’s speciality, though, and so order two versions of the Teochew fish soup: sliced, and fried ($4 each). 

The first, sliced fish soup, features four meaty slices of batang fish in a light bone broth that’s sweetened with the mellow, green flavours of wong bok – nappa cabbage – and ribbons of iceberg lettuce.

It’s a clean bowl, and delicious with the tender flesh of the fish. But these morsels quickly develop a chewy texture when left to sit in the soup, so you might want to request for the fish to be packed separately if you’re doing a takeaway. 

The fried fish soup disappoints: here we get the same ingredients, except the four slices of fish appear pre-fried, their pale, battered skins already soggy and puckered when I collect my order. 

I break off a piece, and it expectedly lacks in texture, having succumbed to the heat of the broth. Unlike the sliced fish soup, though, this milky stock’s fragrant with garlic. It’s also supposedly prepared with a dash of rice wine, except there’s nary a hint in this otherwise decent bowl. 


OAR Seafood Soup

#01-122 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 11am-8pm

 

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When owner Eric Teo found that his 18-year-old business in mutton soup was fast losing its popularity, he wasted no time in switching things up with O.A.R Seafood Soup, the acronym of which draws from its location along Old Airport Road. 

Teo’s decision hasn’t been for naught, it seems: O.A.R regularly attracts comparisons to the widely popular Yan Ji Seafood Soup, so famed for its creamy broth. To find out if this stall’s worth the fuss, I order its namesake dish. 

My eight-dollar bowl of seafood soup comes laden with three prawns, three hefty meatballs that I later learn are made daily from scratch, and chunks of dory fish. 

First things first: the broth, which carries a silkiness I don’t expect. While it lacks the meaty sweetness of some soups, this milky and delicate bowl is easy to savour on its own. 

The prawns, plump in their shells, are succulent morsels. There’s something about working for your food – prying the slippery cooked crustaceans from their crunchy shells, and getting your fingers uncomfortably sticky to quell your hunger (or greed). 

The meatballs, though, are a miss. These tightly packed mounds of minced meat are laced with chopped onions for bite, but are a tad under-seasoned for my liking. The dory fish, a safe option in seafood soups, is expectedly clean and fall-apart soft. Prawns aside, this isn’t a bowl I’d seek out more than once. 


Tong Xing Roasted

#01-158 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 8am-7pm

Roasted meat stalls in Old Airport Road are largely overshadowed by Roast Paradise’s success, but Tong Xing Roasted is a stalwart in its right, having been in business for 32 years now. 

The stall, which sits in the sleepier end of the food centre, offers all the standards you’d expect: siew yoke, char siew, and roasted duck. 

My plate of duck rice works up my appetite considerably. The meat’s juicy and lean, and devoid of any gaminess. The skin doesn’t crackle like I’d hoped, but it’s nicely caramelised with a smokiness echoed in the honeyed sauce. 

If this dish had a fault, it’s that the sambal belacan served alongside leans to the sweeter side. At least it’s pungent with shrimp paste, with an agreeable coarseness to it. I add a dollop of chilli to my next dish, char siew rice, only to find that my plate of roasted meat is better had on its own. 

While I grapple with whether or not that’s a good thing, let’s now talk about the char siew. Thanks to its even roast, the meat retains its juices, shed of excess fat – with torched notes that linger on the palate.

I find myself inhaling the meat’s candied edges, each mouthful a smoky treat to bite into.


Pho Mien Tay Vietnamese Food

#01-160 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Vietnamese eatery Pho Mien Tay is barely a year old, but has already developed a quiet following for its signature dish: the (rather confusingly named) Phnom Penh seafood soup. In fact, the dish is a popular street food in Southern Vietnam, where Khmer roots run deep thanks to the mesh of migrants that came from China and Cambodia. 

From the get-go, the Phnom Penh seafood soup is a winner for me. Its clean, delicate broth is punchy and fragrant, likely from a sturdy stock of pork bones. 

Each ingredient sings: the sliced chilli that lends a touch of heat to the broth, the lean pork slices, the strident flavours of the plump prawn, and the al dente sturdiness of the slippery thin kway teow. 

Like the classic rendition of the dish, Pho Mien Tay’s bowl includes a quail egg, too – and a heap of fried pork lard that’s been ladled into the soup. I can’t help wishing the latter had been served on the side to better retain its crunchiness, though. 

I try the chicken chop rice next, and notice the stall assistant hoisting a pre-fried egg on to my plate. That’s a cardinal sin for me: you can’t have this Vietnamese dish without a freshly cooked sunny side-up. The chicken, though well-seasoned with lightly charred skin, has been over-tenderised to the point of losing its texture, and lacks in the fragrance of lemongrass.

Otherwise, the perky flavours of pickled carrots and that zesty chilli dipping sauce do enough to pick up the dish – as does the shallot-flecked soup.


Hin Fried Hor Fun with Prawn, Beef, Sliced Fish

#01-163 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Sniffing out good hor fun in Singapore has never been easy, but Hin Fried Hor Fun may just have made a convert of me. 

Though the stall’s original outlet at Ghim Moh Food Centre continues to attract queues at lunchtime, the owner is based in Old Airport Road – so naturally, my expectations are raised. Beyond the stall front, I notice a platter of rice noodles browned by the char of the wok, and prawns, parboiled and shelled in preparation for the lunchtime crowd that’s soon to descend. 

My plate of beef hor fun doesn’t disappoint. 

The egg gravy, firstly, is silky and viscous – and bears the sweetness of prawns and meat. It sets the tone for my meal: the hor fun, chewy with a torched smokiness, and the lean slices of beef that are far removed from the rubbery, over-tenderised options often found elsewhere. My plate’s better yet with the pickled green chilli, whose piquance adds an edge to the dish. 

The mui fan with prawn and beef, then, is comfort food I never knew I needed. 

My plate is laden with the same savoury egg gravy, and finished with a sunny side-up that’s cooked Thai-style. That means a crisp, browned base, and the creaminess of an egg yolk whose centres could have been cooked a shave less. The prawns atop are sweet and buoyant, and even fresher than the beef. 

Despite the stall’s name, I’d put my vote on the mui fan – it carries a far better balance of textures than Hin Fried Hor Fun’s namesake dish. 


Hua Ji XO Fish Head Bee Hoon

#01-118 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Fri - Wed: 12.30pm-10pm, Closed on Thu

Fancy yourself some Cantonese-style fish head bee hoon? Then skip the overhyped Ka-Soh Restaurant, and make a beeline for Old Airport Road Food Centre. Barely minutes into opening time at Hua Ji XO Fish Head Beehoon, a queue forms – but thankfully, I’m first in line. 

My order is, of course, the stall’s star dish: XO Fish Head Bee Hoon ($6), although other mains such as fish or beef hor fun are available. Ten minutes later, a bowl is plonked before me, and it’s easily the most impressive thing I’ve seen emerge from the kitchen of a hawker stall. 

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Freshly fried chunks of fish head are stacked atop a bed of thick white bee hoon, then doused in a creamy broth that’s sweetened by cabbage and slivers of ginger. 

I start with the fish head itself. It’s fall-apart tender, with firm flesh and crispy skin – and tastes even better when had with the broth, itself well-balanced with a just-right amount of milkiness and heat from the ginger. 

My only gripe, if at all, is that the thick bee hoon gets soggy fast. It’s only after eating my way through several (delicious) chunks of fish that I succeeded in heaving out a scoop of noodles. They clearly aren’t the highlight here, though; the fish head is, as is the broth, which could have done with a stronger hit of XO.


Salt.

#01-128 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Sat - Thu: 12pm-2.30pm, 5pm-9pm, Closed on Fri

Salt. – formerly known as Momo Fries – is only in its sixth year of business, but already has no shortage of customers thanks to its Korean fried chicken.

Still, it seems the stall hasn’t yet established a proper ordering system, despite its use of food buzzers. Amidst the deluge of delivery and takeaway orders on a Saturday evening, an inevitable mix-up occurs. It’s an almost 30-minute wait for my two plates.

salt old airport

The first, the cutlet aglio ($6.30), is a flavourful bowl that dissipates my annoyance.

My aglio olio had been sitting on the counter for at least ten minutes before the staff realised it was missing a chicken cutlet. At least it arrives fresh off the fryer, puffed and proud, dredged in savoury honey soy with a crackly shell that’s devoid of chicken fat. It brings to mind Four Fingers, but with juicier meat.

Unlike traditional aglio olio, Salt.’s iteration of the dish is a toothsome balance of sweet-saltiness that’s lifted with chilli flakes. My pasta’s also al dente, although its accompanying spiciness is strictly for those with a higher tolerance for heat.

salt old airportThe garlic and soy-glazed grilled chicken with fried rice ($7) take things down a notch.

The chicken, heavily pre-seasoned with salt, is a distracting bed for the honey soy glaze. The fried rice, too, is butter-laden but lacks wok hei or any complexity.


Meng Kee Minced Meat Noodles

#01-103 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Foo Chow fish balls and meat dumplings take centre stage at Meng Kee, which only opens from late afternoon.

meng kee 

You’ve also the choice of regular fish balls and pork balls, and four kinds of noodles: kway teow, yellow noodles, mee pok, and mee kia.

On recommendation, I try the foo chow fish ball meat dumpling with noodles ($4), which comes served with a generous helping of minced meat.

While the seaweed serves no purpose than a perfunctory afterthought, the shallots are aromatic, and make a crunchy counterpoint to the mee kia. 

If I were to nitpick, it would be that my noodles were steeped a touch too long – they lose their toothsome texture quickly, leaving no room for proper enjoyment of this bowl.

meng kee

At least the fish balls, springy with sprigs of lightly salted minced meat within, are addictive in themselves, though the ratios were a little off for my liking – more fishball than meat. The pork balls, then, are ordinary things I would skip over.

Meng Kee’s take on bak chor mee lacks what I reckon is the most important element in a good bowl: a dash of black vinegar to cut through any excess of salt and chilli.

So while the sauce is a suitably unctuous base with nice hits of heat, it lacks that jazzy, piquant aftertaste I so enjoy.

I next try the Foo Chow fish ball meat dumpling soup ($3), whose broth is sweet and fragrant with shallots.

I sieve past the globules of oil to fish out a meat dumpling, but it isn’t what I expect. The dumpling resembles undercooked frozen siew mai at best, accompanied by a starchy skin despite how delicate it appears.

It’s processed meat that’s packaged for ready-to-cook convenience, and I don’t appreciate the fact.


Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow

#01-138 Old Airport Road Blk 51

Opening Hours: Mon - Sat: 8am-2pm, 6pm-8.30pm, Closed on Sun

With Singapore’s hawker culture being added to Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage, it is fitting for me to feature one of the most ubiquitous hawker food in Singapore – the ugly-delicious char kway teow (CKT).

dong ji char kway teow

Nestled in the bustling Old Airport Road Food Centre, Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow is probably my favourite CKT in Singapore. Unfortunately, it is often overshadowed by the famed Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow located in the same hawker centre, which was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2019. Despite its accolade, I personally feel that it is overrated and not worth the long queues.

Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow is not your typical wet CKT. Dong Ji uses considerably less dark soya sauce which is great especially when everyone is trying to reduce their sugar intake! Nevertheless, this plate of CKT packs a punch of flavours and textures. Every strand of kway teow is evenly coated in dark soya sauce; the beansprouts are crunchy and the amount of egg generous. The cockles are plump and juicy.

dong ji

While the regular CKT is priced at $3, I “upsized” mine to $4. My CKT was topped with four prawns which were really crunchy – definitely worth the add on! The best part of this CKT, which for me sets it apart from most other stalls, is the amazing wok hei flavour that permeates your mouth with each spoonful. This can only be achieved by a seasoned chef as he skilfully tosses the ingredients over high heat to get that smokey flavour, and takes it off the heat just before any bits get burnt.

For those who aren’t fans of the yellow noodles (which most stalls add) due to their alkaline taste, you’ll be happy to know that Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow uses only kway teow.

The only downside of this stall is that you gotta wait in line for your CKT (unlike their overrated competitor which utilises the buzzer system). Moreover, the uncle (or sometimes aunty, or their daughter, depending on the time of day you visit) fries each plate individually even if a customer orders multiple plates. This no doubt results in a considerable waiting time, especially with the lunch and dinner crowd. That said, this meticulous method of cooking may ultimately allow Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow to distinguish itself from all other CKT stalls.

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