Ye Shang Hai Teochew Porridge

There are very few things I can stomach whenever I'm sick and feeling crummy: porridge ranks top of the short list. There's something about drinking rice that's just so comforting and fortifying.

So, I was recently down with an especially virulent flu, and craving Teochew porridge in the middle of the night. With a hacking cough and difficulty breathing when lying down, I couldn't sleep anyway. My favourite Joo Chiat stall was a little too far away, so a friend told me about Ye Shang Hai Teochew Porridge, a late-night joint that's on the fringes of town, and crazy popular with taxi drivers.

Turns out I've passed by this coffeeshop many times, our favourite Hainanese curry rice hawker is just at the coffeeshop round the corner. For some reason, we just never ate here.

At just over $20 for 9 dishes, Ye Shang Hai Teochew Porridge is incredibly wallet friendly. I don't think it's as fresh as Teck Teochew Porridge, but it's probably a more worthwhile option this side of the island that's open this late. And, I found the homecooked familiarity of the dishes here wonderfully appealing.

Fresh off the wok, the minced pork stewed with black bean and ginger was punchy, but I could have done without the sharp bite of the ginger strips.

The candied pork was surprisingly tender, and not rock-hard; the smoky char of the stickily sugared glaze was quite addictive.

Though pedestrian, the curry chicken was rich and fiery.

Ditto for the oyster sauce chicken, it was oily but succulent and homestyled.

The otah, a homogeneous blend of spicy fish paste, passed muster.

The omelette, studded with chilli and minced pork, was decent.

I liked the braised egg, it had a delicate flavour and wasn't boiled to oblivion.

A must-order whenever eating Teochew porridge, the salted egg was standard ok fare.

The sauteed spinach with ikan bilis was nuanced and delicate.

Ye Shang Hai Teochew Porridge
Blk 116 Bukit Merah View
#01-217 Boyang Coffee Shop
Open Wednesdays to Mondays from 10.30am to 5am; Closed on Tuesdays


Chopsuey Cafe, Martin Road

Sometimes, it's a good thing to give second chances (caveat: this advisory shall be inapplicable to cases of cheating slimebags).

Our first visit to Chopsuey Cafe at Dempsey was middling; an unmemorable affair that we wrote off. But, at a friend's insistence, we recently tried their prawn noodles, and have been hooked ever since. The key to Chopsuey Cafe is to stick to a few dishes, as there are a good number of duds in the extensive menu. The local fusion fare, in particular the prawn noodles and laksa, are standouts, as Chopsuey's forte appears to be elevating rustic hawker foods to heights of refined gastronomy.

Service was cordial but inept: our dishes all arrived laced and garnished with parsley/coriander leaves, despite precise instructions to hold off parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves in all dishes. We sent back the soupy ones, but they returned, sans garnish but still laced with the same herbs. I geddit:- someone in the kitchen is seriously crazy about these herbs.

The Numbing Pork Ribs ($29) wasn't the least bit spicy, and I'm quite a moderate chilli eater so to most spice fans, this would be considered not spicy AT ALL. Slow-braised then wok-fried, the meaty pork ribs were coated in a crushed Szechuan peppercorns and chilli sauce for a sweet-smoky-spicy contrast, and topped with a refreshingly piquant green mango, carrot, and Thai basil salad. A lovely fall-off-the-bone texture, and wonderful balance of flavours here.

A must-try, the Crispy Crackly Organic Eggs ($12), laced with fresh basil, mint, and drizzled with dark soy, was fantastic. Every bit as good as the Thai-styled omelette, Khai Jiao.

A seasonal highlight, the Sticky Spicy Melty Beef Shortrib ($42), a ginormous hunk of red meat, was slow-roasted, rolled in kecap manis and tossed with fresh cut chilli and fried shallots. Bold, unabashed, and well-rounded, the ribs were beautifully fork-tender. Chopsuey does a much better version of Bali's Naughty Nuri's than its branch at Capitol Piazza.

Another daily special, the Char-Grilled King Prawns ($36 for 3), sparkling fresh and imbued with an aromatic char, were showered with fried garlic nubbins and sesame seeds, sided by a bright yuzu and soya pickled chilli dipping sauce. Scrumptious.

The Singapore Chilli Soft Shell Crabs ($36), a modern twist to a local favourite, was great for lazybums who prefer not to get their fingers dirty. A trio of soft-shell crabs, lightly battered and fried, coupled with fried buns, made excellent fodder to an egg-drop chilli gravy flecked with mud crab chunks. The chilli was mild, the dip almost sweet, so hardcore fans of the local fiery rendition will be disappointed. Surprisingly, the chilli padi-loving Hubs likes this, whereas I'm just so-so about it.

Another must-try, the Jade Fried Rice ($16) was about as healthy fried rice will ever get. Chopped spinach, fresh basil, and mint, lent a refreshingly herbaceous finish to this.

Another must-try, the Poached Crab & Prawn Laksa ($25), was burnished generously with shredded lump crab, prawn halves, fish cake, silver sprouts, quails eggs, laksa leaf pesto, and crispy fried beancurd puffs. I loved that Chopsuey's version was a mix of thin rice vermicelli and thick white laksa noodles, so textures were contrasting. Robust and hearty, was absolutely smashing.

My favourite must-try here, and the best thing about Chopsuey, was the PS Prawn Noodle Soup ($23). Ingredients: fresh prawns, meltingly tender slivers of pork belly, crunchy morning glory, silver sprouts, and quails eggs, were plentiful, and the broth, a rich stew of pork bones and shrimp shells, had a compelling depth but managed an exquisite balance. Like the laksa, the noodles were a mix of thin rice vermicelli and thick white laksa noodles.

Another superb fusion dish, Suzi's Spaghetti Crab Mee Goreng ($26) was as potent blend of fiery and sweet. Topped with freshly shredded crabmeat, springy king prawns, silver sprouts, al dente spaghetti was slicked in a spicy tomato sauce.

The Chopsuey Beef Pho ($28) was lackluster; the slivers of ribeye were chewy and broth stodgy. The homemade beef balls were the saving grace of this forgettable dish, bouncy and beautifully textured.

A kitschy petit fours of sorts, the Fortune Cookies had the cheesiest quotes/sayings ever. "Someone on this table has a secret crush on you"...erm, I'm with the Hubs and we're double dating with our married friends...?!

Chopsuey Cafe
38A Martin Road #01-02
Tel: 8188 6177
Open daily from 6pm to 11pm


Sanpoutei Ramen, Shaw House Lido

My Hubs, the complain queen, claims that I never bring him to the restaurants featured on this blog. And while many a review were eaten with friends (because I have a life outside of my role as a wife), the majority of the meals here were partaken with the Hubs. Except the discovery of Sanpoutei Ramen with Lips. Or the girls' only night out at Chang Korean after that. Or Steffy's birthday lunch at The White Rabbit. Or Li Bai with the team. Ok......so maybe the Hubs makes a fair point. heh...oh well!!

In any event, I brought the Hubs to the Orchard branch of Sanpoutei Ramen, after my outstanding dinner at its Holland Village outlet. I figure I'll act as a quality control of sorts...weed out the crap, and only bring his royal highness to the actually worthwhile ones.

I love Sanpoutei. The broths are rich but balanced, the toppings exceptional, and noodles delightfully springy. Located just outside Isetan Supermarket, this Orchard locale of Sanpoutei Ramen is small and cramped, but the kitchen churns out food speedily, so turnover is high. If you're averse to queuing (like us), eat at an off-peak time, there should be table availability then.

The chicken broth-based ramen are must-tries at Sanpoutei, and the non-spicy Rich Tori Miso ($17) topped with 2 slices of thick charred chashu, minced chicken, marinated soft-boiled egg, stewed cabbage, and bamboo shoot, hit the bullseye on the comfort button.

The much-touted Tsukemen ($16) was fantastic as well, blanched noodles sided by a dipping soup thick in sardine and bonito umami-ness. This can be watered down with plain wari soup, for slurping straight from the bowl.

I wasn't a fan of the Oden ($11.80), kelp soup spiked with a dollop of mustard and loaded with boiled egg, daikon, fish cakes, konjac, and mochi kinchaku. It wasn't awful, but as a matter of personal preference, I didn't like the combination of kelp and shoyu flavours.

Sanpoutei Ramen
350 Orchard Road #B1-04/05
Shaw House Lido
Tel: 6836 4644
Open daily from 11.30am to 11pm
Website: sanpoutei.sg


Ruth's Chris Steak House

We'd been eating Chinese food non-stop the past few days, and wanted a change-up. So, we headed to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for some classic Americana.

What I love about Ruths Chris is its hearty fare, finessed with sophistication, cosy intimate ambience, and attentive but unintrusive service. Surprisingly though, it's criminally underrated, and generally operates at a less-than-full capacity. All the better for us then, as we hardly ever need to make reservations for a last-minute dinner.

A fantastic appetizer, the Sizzlin' Jumbo Scallops ($33) were charred to perfection, set atop red pepper pesto, and touched with a light drizzle of lemon butter. .

A must-try, the Sizzling Blue Crab Cakes ($35 for 2), a loose lump of sweet blue swimmer crabmeat dotted with red and green peppers, and seasoned with herbs and spices, was served sizzling with a bright and savoury lemon butter. Best crab cake I've ever had, bar none. I'd originally planned to share a portion with the Hubs, but immediately regretted the decision after 1 bite. Suffice to say, we ordered another portion, so we each could stuff our faces with both crabcakes.

The Spinach Salad ($23), a simple medley of sliced red onions, white button mushrooms, crisp bacon bits, and chopped egg, was tossed in a piquant bacon dressing. This may have been intended as the obligatory green dish, but we inhaled it like it was the highlight of dinner.

The surf-and-turf option was a USDA Petit Filet & Shrimp ($80 for 8-ounce), comprising a lean but tender and flavourful 8-ounce fillet stacked with 3 humongously fat shrimp. Perfect for those wanting a little of everything, but without compromising on flavour or the resultant fat-guilt after.

Best for red meat lovers who aren't too concerned with cholesterol levels, the marbly USDA Prime Ribeye ($85 for 12-ounce), seasoned just-so with salt, pepper, and butter, was juicy and all kinds of decadent. Tbh, if I didn't have a medical checkup due this week, I'd have gotten this.

A vegetarian entree which we ordered instead of sides, the Grilled Portobello Mushrooms ($45) was a melange of grilled greens, with grilled asparagus, white button mushrooms, buttered portobello, poached broccoli, and fresh cherry tomatoes, on a bed of fluffy garlic mash. Excellent stuff.

Complimentary bread, freshly baked so it's piping hot and crusty, paired with soft whipped butter.

Ruth's Chris Steak House
6 Raffles Boulevard
Marina Mandarin Hotel 4th Floor
Tel: 6336 9093
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; 5.30pm to 11pm for dinner
Website: www.ruthschris.com


BAKE Cheese Tart, ION Orchard

I finally got on the Japanese cheese tart gravy train. As with any other food fad in Singapore, we waited till the initial furore over the famous Hokkaido confectionery died down, before trying them. Whereas the tarts previously mandated at least an hour waiting in a snaking line, indulging in a treat from BAKE Cheese Tart now doesn't take more than 5 minutes on a Friday evening.

And now that I've finally tried it, I can totally understand the craze. Oh my, these were absolutely sublime. A buttery crust that was just the right amount of bite, filled with a cheesy mousse so light it's like eating a fluffy cloud. Decadent, delicious and addicting, I can polish off a whole box on my own. In one sitting. And that is why I go to the gym.

Even better news, BAKE is open through the Chinese New Year holidays (till 5pm methinks). If you bring these along to visit relations, you can be sure of a warm reception ($19.50 for a box of 6). You'll be everyone's favourite relative!

BAKE Cheese Tart
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard #B4-33

Open daily from 10am to 10pm


Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant

The team headed out to Li Bai for a celebratory Chinese New Year lo hei lunch. It's an old reliable and one of my all-time favourite Chinese restaurants. And while it can feel slightly dated or stuffily old-school, I like its solidly traditional approach to the classics. At Li Bai, convention and form trumps trendy pop and modern twists. So don't expect truffle this, or fusion that. Instead, Cantonese cuisine is executed with polish and finesse, for a most exquisite meal.

The Salmon Yusheng Lo Hei Platter ($62 for small) was beautifully elegant, every julienned vegetable perfectly even. I know some of my OCD friends would absolutely love this. 

A must-try, both for lunch and dinner, the Roast Pork & Barbecued Meat Platter ($36 for small), sided by marinated jellyfish, was fantastic. Crisp skin and flavourful, not gamey meat for the roast duck, and delightful crackling and juicy lusciousness for the roasted pork.

The dim sum at Li Bai is one of the very best in SG, and possibly the most refined of the lot, the Steamed Shrimp Dumpling ($8) was outstanding, with skin delightfully thin and chewy, swaddling fresh plump prawns studded with crunchy bamboo shoots for texture.

Ditto for the Steamed Pork Dumplings ($8) burnished with fresh shrimp, shrimp roe and conpoy.

I love the Steamed Soup Dumpling ($7.20), stuffed with pork and crabmeat for added sweetness. The pork broth based soup was subtle with the seafresh sweetness of crab stock.

The Steamed Scallops & Snow Pea Shoot Dumpling ($9) was light and balanced with clean and clear flavours.

The mark of a skillful wok master was evident in the Stir-Fried Radish Cake with XO Chilli Sauce ($9), redolent with smoky notes and beautifully caramelised charring.

The Deep Fried Crispy Beancurd Skin with Shrimp ($8.10) was well-rounded with the streaks of yellow chives lending a crisp freshness.

For dessert, the Red Bean Paste Pancake ($15) was a massive hit. The semi-sweet red bean paste was velvety smooth, and pancake crusty and crisp, without the soggy weight of oil.

My personal favourite, the Cream of Mango Sago ($7), dotted with fresh mango dice and pomelo, was refreshingly piquant.

Smooth as a baby's bottom, the Mango Pudding ($7), topped with fresh strawberries and coconut cream, was delicate and well-rounded.

Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant
39 Scotts Road
Sheraton Towers Singapore Hotel Lower Level (the hotel sometimes calls it the "ground floor" or "level 1" but for the avoidance of doubt, it's actually the basement 1)
Tel: 6839 5623
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch;
Daily from 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Sundays from 10.30am to 2.30pm for lunch
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