It is said that the quality of food is inversely proportional to the hygiene standards of a hawker. Which may explain why the best foods are always found at the dingiest of locations. The most memorable meals I've had overseas are along dark alleyways, cooked up by the most sweaty and scruffy-looking chefs. This may also explain why every time a hawker centre undergoes a renovation and spruces up, the food seems to lose its luster just as the hawker centre acquires a brand new sheen.
So when the Albert Street Food Centre reopened a couple of months ago, I went to check it out and see if the standard of the food has dropped.
I made a beeline for Yuan Ji Zhen Zhong Fried Carrot Cake after seeing that the dinner queue had yet to form. I noticed that the chef has acquired an extra wok, so it now takes him half the time to fry up his popular carrot cake. Yippee! No more horrendous queues.
The Black Carrot Cake ($2.50) was still wonderfully fragrant and aromatic. The hot wok had imparted a nice smoky scent and taste to the carrot cake. Soft and smooth textures of the freshly made carrot cake mingling with sweet and savoury flavours of the condiments, it was absolutely delicious.
We also ordered from Bedok Chwee Kueh (Queen St branch), which is a fairly famous chain of stalls selling the steamed rice cakes with diced preserved turnip.
The Chwee Kueh ($1.50 for 6 pcs) was soft and smooth, with the turnip (chye poh) topping providing the salty tang to the plain rice cakes. It's one of the best chwee kuehs around. The chili is also rather kickass, spicy with a pounded dried shrimp base. The only problem is that you'll have to ask for more turnip topping from the rather stingy server, otherwise you'll end up with a very bare chwee kueh.
We also got some Economic Noodles. There are a few stalls selling economic noodles at this hawker centre but this stall's version is by far the best (in my humble opinion). The stall doesn't have a name but you'll have a pictorial guide below.
I always get a mix of 2 types of noodles, the Fine Bee Hoon and Thick Mee ($2.50). The noodles are freshly fried every day, and it's flavoured so well I could eat it on its own without any sides. I like to pair my noodles with a luncheon meat, an egg and a fish paste cutlet, all standard stuff at an economic noodle stall. They also use authentic pork luncheon meat here, no imitation stuff.
Yuan Ji Zhen Zhong Fried Carrot Cake
Bedok Chwee Kueh (Queen St branch)
Albert Street Food Centre