“Hidden gem” is one of the most over-used phrases that newbie food reviewers like to use. It sounds almost obnoxious to me, and because of that, I’m going to use it (well I’m a newbie food reviewer too).
I originally intended to write about my favourite Fried Bee Hoon and Prata stalls, the real hidden gems that i have been able to enjoy for 5 years when i stayed near these eateries. Alas, when i visited them again last week, things are not the same anymore. While the stalls are still around, the Indian stall no longer sells Prata but only rice and dishes. The Fried Bee Hoon stall has been passed down to the younger generation and the Bee Hoon tasted noticeably different (the passing of baton happened more than a year ago but the change in the taste has become more obvious now).
I learned a few lessons from this. Firstly, I should have blogged about them when I had the chance. Call me selfish, but I was hesitant to let others learn about these eateries for fear that too many people find out about them and the food quality deteriorates when they have difficulty coping with the surge in customer numbers. Ok I admit this is a far fetched idea since there are not enough readers of this blog (yet) to create that surge. Anyway, good food naturally attracts people on its own and both these stalls have their steady pool of loyal customers. It really pains me to find out the best prata in Singapore (to me at least) is no more. I have yet to find out what really happened but I will try to hunt down the uncle who makes the best prata ever when I have the chance. (Update: was told the prata uncle has gone on to doing another job partly due to health reasons, and also the stall could no longer manage the cost of employing a prata chef.)
The second lesson learned is to make it a point to patronize the eateries more often than you can remember to. This saves you from regret if the owner of the eatery decides to throw in the towel, whether because they got too old or they got tired of what they were doing. In the case of the Fried Bee Hoon stall, even though the recipe is passed down, it doesn’t taste nor look the same, despite the presence of the aunty, who originally did the cooking, in the kitchen next to the young cook. She is way past retirement age. It’s a sad fact that only the very big F&B establishments can standardize the cooking procedure to the point that the resulting taste is independent of who does the cooking. So, if you’ve found good food, keep going back for more, you never know how long they may be around.. which brings me back to sharing with you about my favourite haunt for Indian cuisine – Taste of India.
Over the past year and a half, I must have visited Taste of India 20 times. As the name of the restaurant suggests, they serve culinary from all across India, and they do it well (don’t expect fine dining though). My wife’s all time favourite dish is Gobi Manchurian – fried battered cauliflower with Chinese style sauce (hence the name Manchurian). They have wet and dry versions of this dish and our preference is the dry one. The other usual favourites are Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, chilli or sambal fish and scrambled eggs. Besides the taste, what really draws us back again and again is the weekday lunch time promotion of 20% off the total bill. The combo meal is especially worthwhile, whereby you get a small soup and side dish, a main dish, rice or naan and a drink. An order consisting of Gobi Manchurian and a Chicken combo meal (more than enough for two) sets you back by only $15.20. Eating at a food court would cost you more!
Papadum to start you off
Large pot of steamed Basmati rice and Chickpeas side dish
Weekday Luncheon Deal
Update: 20% off promotion is no longer available, but i think it is still worthwhile coming here.
Address: 77 Rangoon Road