Quite recently, a new Vietnamese stall opened in the hawker center that we always patronize. Good hawker centers being fewer and fewer in Singapore, I risk blogging about this hidden gem for fear of it becoming another “Old Airport Food Centre” where all the good food has been replaced by overrated, overhyped and over reviewed to blood-thirsty and ravenous Singaporeans.
Yes, we Singaporeans are very ‘wai sek’ indeed and very easily tricked by food reviews and media.
I’m not here to change that but just to record my experiences with family and friends, and to share with anyone who cares to read this blog. I could make it more “marketable” but this is not me, and not what this blog is all about.
So, back to Vietnamese food. I have grown a healthy appreciation for our neighbors recently, including their food. It started off with liking their Vietnamese rice wrap, which is refreshing, delicious and healthy, and went on to trying their phos and other types of food. Initially, Vietnamese food was only found in food courts and shopping malls but recently one opened in my favorite hawker center at Blk 256, Jurong East St. 24 and I had to try immediately! Ok, I have to admit, they took over the stall of my ex-favorite Mee Siam but I got over my sorrow over a bowl of Beef Pho very quickly soon after.
It was very understated and unassuming but this small little stall can churn out over 20 authentic Vietnamese dishes! Being at the hawker center, the food was reasonably priced, from $4-6 for most items. When they first opened, they only offered 5 items on their menu but have since added over 10 more! Common vietnamese dishes involve Beef/Chicken pho, Vienamese Rice wraps fried or not fried, Bahn Mi and much more.
Needless to say, their pho and rice wrap were delicious. However you can get more traditional Vietnamese food as well. For example, I tried the very tasty pork chop noodles, which is something like cold noodles with a ton of vegetables and herbs and hot, deep fried pork chop. To make it all come together, a sweet, slightly sour and spicy sauce is given on the side so you can add as much as you like.
The noodles (thick bee hoon) are springy and smooth and the sauce is delicious with the noodles and vegetables. The pork is crispy and savoury with a hint of peanut marinade. It is simply delicious and worth the trip down. I always see a couple of real Vietnamese people eating there so it shows that the food is really authentic.
More interestingly is their seasonal menu. It reminds me of home cooking where the menu changes according to what is in season. For example, we had a tasty flower crab with vermicelli soup one day which tasted as if the crab decided to crawl into a hot pot of soup willingly. The next day we went, it was not on the menu anymore and we have no idea hwne it will be back. (Probably only when more crabs start to willingly appear at their kitchen, perhaps.)
What I really love most about Vietnamese cuisine is the amount of complex ingredients that goes into one dish, and especially the healthy portion of greens and herbs. There is a famous phrase that says “It is hard to find a fat Vietnamese mui (girl)” and I think it is all due to the food they eat. It is low in fat, balanced and healthy and it is really hard to get fat on this kind of diet, unless you re really trying.
Having tried over 8 dishes and counting, I realized their food is very well-made and tastes professional rather than homemade. It is the type of food and flavor you can get in shopping mall resturants. So if you are in the area, i highly recommend that you stop over for some Vietnamese chow, pho sure!