Old Airport Road Shootout
Old Airport Road is a foodie’s heaven. You can find anything, yes anything. From hotplate crocodile meat to Wanton Mee, they have it all. ALL. I discussed with Mathew a few days ago, we agreed that it is a must to review a place with good and cheap local food. We shortlisted many food centres, like Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre and Maxwell’s Food Centre. In the end, we decided to go to the Old Airport Road Food Centre, as it was near and relatively cheaper compared to other food centres (see later for more information). I will not talk too much on the history of Old Airport Road, it is really boring anyways. As we want to review the best of the best at Old Airport Road, we spent many days shortlisting the food we wanted to try. It was a painful process. Take example, my favorite noodle dish: Prawn Mee. 19 different stalls sell Prawn Mee in the food centre, I had to shortlist all 19 stalls, Google almost every single one of them, read up at least 5 reviews then rank them accordingly. Imagine doing that for every dish, yup you get the idea. We shortlisted a few food/stalls we like to review.
1. Toa Payoh Rojak #01-108
2. Albert Street Prawn Noodle #01-10
3. Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fun #01-155
4. Tan Beng Otah Delights #01-74
5. Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wan Tan Mee #01-02
6. Katong Ah Soon Fried Oyster #01-07
7. Lao Fu Zi Kway Teow #01-12
These are the best of the best in Old Airport Road. On the day of the shootout, we got our gear ( EOS60D, notebooks etc.) at the ready, and headed down to the food centre. We arrived at around 5pm, the place was already quite crowded, with most of the tables taken up already. 3 of us, Mathew, Yi Yong and Jack will review every dish we try. Without further ado, let the shootout begin!
Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fun #01-155
Jack: The Chee Cheong Fun was pretty fantastic. The Char Siew one was very good. The layer of flour was very thin and extremely soft. The Char Siew filling was very generous. Char Siew was crispy and sweet. The Char Siew Chee Cheong Fun also came with some sambal, the sambal was really good, it had great synergy with the Char Siew, adding some extra punch to its flavors. The sambal was not very spicy, it was extremely flavorful. The Scallop Chee Cheong Fun was pretty disappointing. The meagre portion of scallop was a big letdown for me. It tasted horribly bland, the scallop was a little sticky. There was no sauce in the filling, causing the whole dish to be extremely tasteless. In the end, I had to steal some sambal from the Char Siew Chee Cheong Fun.
Mathew:I do agree with Jack that the scallop one was quite poor. I for one could not taste any of the scallop. Not worth the extra one dollar at all. However, the char siew version was not too bad, with the small bits of char siew here and there. The chee cheong fun was always not too bad, as it was finely layered and did not come apart when picked up. Overall, not too bad for a chee cheong fun.
Jack’s rating: Char Siew version: 4.25/5 Scallop Version: 2.25/5 Mathew’s rating: Char siew version: 3.5/5 Scallop Version Version: 2/5
Toa Payoh Rojak #01-108
Jack: This is one of the best Rojaks I ever eaten in my life. The sauce was the best part of the dish, very sweet and flavorful. 2 different forms of peanuts were used, peanut bits and peanut powder. The cucumbers, pineapples and kang kong were pretty fresh. The you tiao was a little chunky and tough, but considering the fact that most you tiaos are fried in the morning, this little mishap was easily “forgiven”. After mixing thoroughly for quite some time, I choose a piece of you tiao and popped it into my mouth. Mouthgasm. The you tiao tasted heavenly, sweet, spicy and flavorful, with a tinge of peanut-ty taste. Phenomenal.
Mathew: Forgive Jack, he may be exaggerating, but it really was quite good. Fresh ingredients plus the exquisite use of peanuts made it worth the wait. The sauce was a little too thick, but it was tasteful all the same. The you tiao were also slightly too big for a mouthful and had the fried-again taste of old oil. But these were the only two things that were not good in the rojak. The good points were many more: The turnips were very fresh and crunchy and the pineapple was young and sweet (The freshness was ascertained by a crate of pineapples outside the stall). This made a huge difference when compared to other rojaks. However, the defining factor for me for this store would be the use of peanuts. There was a mix of peanut bits as well as peanut powder scattered on top. This resulted in a amazing mix of texture and flavour. The bits granted the crunch and the powder released the flavour fully. It was a great mix.
Jack’s rating: 4.5/5 Mathew’s rating: 4.0/5
Albert Street Prawn Noodle #01-10
Jack: I am a big fan of prawn mee. I love every part of the dish, the prawn, the noodles, ribs/pig tails and of course, the killer soup. The Albert Street prawn mee was undeniably famous, I had to queue for around 10 minutes. The noodles were good, very good texture. The prawns were just (inserts profanity). They were behemoth in size. The prawn was insanely sweet, the prawn meat had a unique taste to it. The texture of the meat was very good, the prawns were definitely the highlight of the dish. The soup was also pretty good. It didn’t had a prominent prawn-taste, but a mixture of ribs, intestine and pig tail taste. The soup was not very salty, it was very rich and tasty. Thumbs up from me, the prawns killed me. Definitely coming back for more.
Mathew: I had a slightly blocked nose on the day, so I could not really taste out the broth very well, but I was certain that it was rich and flavourful. The two prawns were also sea prawns (I think). Large and sweet, and worth the $5 we paid. All in all, a good prawn mee.
Jack’s rating: 4.5/5 Mathew’s rating: 4.0/5
Katong Ah Soon Fried Oyster #01-07
Jack: I really love fried oyster. I had my first friend oyster in Taiwan. I think it was at night market in Taipei. Very delightful, I really enjoyed the nice, succulent oyster paired up with the tasty egg-batter combo. The fried oyster in Taiwan is really different in comparison with the local ones we have here. The Taiwan version has significantly less batter, and there is a special sauce that comes together with the fried oyster. The one in Singapore is pretty simple, batter, egg and oyster all fried together. You get a mess in the end, but alas, its the taste that matters. The fried oyster from Katong Ah Soon was pretty decent. For $6, you get a small amount of oysters, but a generous amount of batter. The batter was very nice, a little too oily. A lot of eggs were used, but it wasn’t mixed properly as seen from the picture. The fried oyster was pretty okay, I had much better ones so these Katong Ah Soon fried oyster did not really amaze me.
Mathew: This dish was fried well, not too charred, with just the right amount of wok taste. However, it was oily, and the egg was not spread out enough, leaving large chunks that ware not so delectable. Also, another major flaw in the dish was the lack of oysters. Furiousness! Too much egg, too little oyster. The owner was too stingy. There was also saltiness at the wrong place at times. But enough. The dish was not too bad on the whole. I loved the combination of dried chilli bits fried into the egg and the traditional wet chilli used for eating fried oysters. The combination was impeccable. The spiciness was at the right level, and the wet, sour chilli sauce brought out the wok taste, giving the dish character. Yet the oysters bugged me. We counted: Yi Yong had three, and Jack and I had two. So that was eight. So few and so far in between were they. The egg overwhelmed. Oh well. In other news, the spring onion were fresh and used well.Price was also not the best.
Jack’s rating: 3.75/5 Mathew’s rating: 3.25/5
Jack: The carrot cake from Katong Ah Soon was pretty good. The egg was very generous, carrot cake is cut into large chunks. I really liked the chunky version of the carrot cakes, not those tiny little cubes. The carrot cake’s texture was excellent. The egg was nicely coated around each chunk of carrot cake, very nice. The only downside of the dish was that it was a little bland.
Mathew: Again, the egg was good and done well, but overall it was unsatisfying. The cake was spongy, an effect from the dish being so dry, but at least they were in separate pieces. The dryness meant that the taste of the dish could not be brought out well, The dried chilli and garlic just faded into the background while the egg took the foreground, only popping up in a few bites here and there. Therefore, too little balance, too much egg. And for $4, really too expensive.
Jack’s rating: 4.0/5 Mathew’s rating: 2.5/5 (2.0/5 if price included)
Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wan Tan Mee #01-02
Jack: I really like Wanton Mee. I think the most important element of the dish is the sauce, if the sauce is not good, no matter how good the Char Siew and Wanton, the dish is still a failure. The sauce of the Hua Kee Hougang Wanton Mee was very good. It was a thick, flavorful broth, slightly spicy due to the pepper added. Chilli sauce was added too, it worked really well if the Wanton Mee sauce, giving it a spicy, delightful punch. The Char Siew was a letdown, it was dry and tasteless. The Wanton wasn’t good too, the filling was pathetic. Noodles were really good, very Q and chewy. Other than the lifeless Char Siew and Wanton, the dish was pretty good for its price.
Mathew: Did not really try this one, but from my bite, I could tell that the noodles had character. Unlike normal noodles without bounciness, this one had it. Also, the char siew was given generously enough.
Jack’s rating: 4.0/5 Mathew’s rating: 3.75/5
Tan Beng Otah Delights #01-74
Jack: The Otah was really good. Otah paste, is not exactly something easy to make. Most of the Otahs I tried, the paste was the biggest letdown. A good Otah Paste must have a good balance between chilli and fish. Most of the Otah I tried are either too spicy or flavorless. The one from Tan Beng was really good. The paste had chunks of mackerel in it. The spices used for the paste is very good, it packed quite a punch in fact, I had to drink some water eating a mouthful of it.
Mathew: The Otah was quite delectable, as the chilli powder and fish were mixed in good balance. The the texture was not bad as well, without the dryness that many other otahs might have. Not a bad otah fix.
Jack’s rating: 4.0/5 Mathew’s rating: 4.0/5
Lao Fu Zi Kway Teow #01-12
Jack: I am a huge fan of Char Kway Teow. I usually get my fix at Bedok Interchange Food Centre(Hill Street Char Kway Teow
Blk 16 Bedok South Road Market & Food Centre #01-187), their CKT is superb, cockles are fresh, the noodle’s texture is terrific. Lao Fu Zi CKT at Old Airport Road is very famous, google it’s name and you will get 10,000 hits(mostly foodie reviews). The Lao Fu Zi CKT was on the sweet side. I can’t really say it’s on the wet or dry side, but after another plate of CKT some days later, I can firmly conclude it is on the wet side. The CKT was very special, the bean sprouts were very fresh and crispy. The cockles were extremely juicy, for a $4 serving, you get a massive amout of cockles. The noodles were really good, very nice texture. The serving size was really huge, for $4, you get a plate full of CKT. If you got more cash to burn, do try their $10 jumbo CKT. Super duper shiok!
Jack’s rating: 4.5/5
Old Airport Road Food Centre
Old Airport Road Block 51 Market & Food Centre, 51 Old Airport Road 390051