Whenever we have overseas friends visiting Singapore and asking to go to Newton for barbecued seafood (because they've all heard about Newton Hawker Centre), we always tell them to scrap that (coz it's such a tourist trap) and head to either Chomp Chomp at Serangoon Gardens or Fengshan Food Centre at Bedok North (also colloquially known as "Bedok Blk 85"). Both hawker centres serve food that you'd find at Newton, but with much much MUCH better food and are a lot more value-for-money. Thing is, while Newton's right smack in the middle of the town area, Chomp Chomp is far north, and Bedok Blk 85 is far east of the island. You'll just have to travel for good food I guess. Parking at both places is also quite a pain, especially at Chomp Chomp, so if I'd have to choose, I'd say that Bedok Blk 85 is the place to go.
The unique thing that sets Bedok Blk 85 apart from any other hawker centre is the 2 stalls serving soupy minced pork noodles. You can't find the same type of noodles anywhere else on the island. Every time a craving hits, we'll have to make a "pilgrimage" of sorts to the eastern end of our little island for our soupy bak chor mee fix.
When we brought Ray & Pat, who are new-ish settlers in Singapore, there recently for some yummy hawker food, we discovered that the hawker centre has been undergoing renovation works since last year, and will be ongoing until the fourth quarter of 2013. The stalls have mostly been re-housed a short stroll away in a temporary makeshift structure, at block 84A, just off block 84. Like it's predecessor premises, it's really stuffy and hot and humid on the inside so try to get an open-air table on the outside.
Both soupy bak chor mee stalls sometimes have ridiculous queues at different times of the night, so best to ask, before ordering, how long the wait will be, and order from the stall with the shortest wait. Sometimes one stall has a half hour wait while the other has no wait at all, but it's reversed at other times, so there's no telling which one has the shortest serving time. And since there's no discernible difference between the noodles from either of the stalls, I say go for whichever one has the shortest wait. We had the Soupy Minced Pork Noodles ($3 for large) from Xing Ji Rou Cuo Mian. which arrived steaming hot on our table barely 5 minutes after our orders were taken. What sets these noodles apart are how the noodles stay so springy in the soup base. The rich-with-pork-bones broth is kept light with the heat of cut chillis and pieces of fried lard, while fresh bouncy meat balls and chunks of soft chewy minced pork lend texture and flavour. This was good to the last drop.
We also had a bunch of BBQ Chicken Wings ($1.10 per wing) from Sin Bedok North BBQ Chicken Wing, with nicely charred glistening skin but still kept juicy on the inside and very well-flavoured. Totally finger licking good. We promptly ordered another plate after devouring this.
We also ordered barbecued seafood from Wang Wang BBQ, but the BBQ Sambal Stingray ($10 for small) was a disappointment. It was overcooked and dried out, so even the liberal slathering of the thick sambal paste couldn't save this.
The BBQ Sambal Squid ($8 for small), on the other hand, was executed perfectly. The perfectly cooked squid was soft and tender, and tossed in a fiery sambal sweetened by pineapples, so there was a little tartness added to the spicy heat of the dried shrimp-based sambal.
We also had some Satay (chicken and beef from one of the stalls slightly more than halfway down the side opposite the bak chor mee stalls), done really well, juicy and tender and moist, with a delectable charring on the edges.
Fengshan Temporary Market
Bedok North Road