Super Ngon

There are actually 2 styles of Vietnamese pho, the northern Hanoi style, and the southern Saigon style. The latter is apparently more commonly found in Singapore, which leaves shops like Super Ngon in the minority. The difference offered by the Hanoi style boils down to the use of lesser herbs and more focus on the broth.

Beef or chicken?

The shop itself was pretty spartan and the menu has been kept really simple compared to other chic Vietnamese concepts. This was apparently as close as it gets to a no-frills Vietnamese restaurant like the ones in Vietnam itself. The Eatvestigator had a go at the regular beef pho set (SGD12). The broth was pretty comforting and beef slices were tender. Chives and scallions were in abundance.

If beef and soup is not to your liking, we also spotted an off menu item called Dried Chicken Noodles, which came with generous amount of bean sprouts. It was savoury and also finished easily along with the spring rolls.

If you aren’t interested in fancy menus and decor, then this place ticks the boxes. At risk of long queues and little seating spaces, the Eatvestigator would not specially make a trip down for a meal unless one was coincidentally in the vicinity. This place makes a good backup location in case Eat 3 Bowls is crowded.

465 Crawford Lane #01-08

Wed-Mon: 11AM-9PM (Closed on Tuesdays)

https://www.facebook.com/superngon/

Eat 3 Bowls

The story goes that Eat 3 Bowls started out as a hawker store opened by some friends from Taiwan. Demand was overwhelming enough that they opened a standalone store selling the same 3 bowls and bubble tea to go with that. Even then the store is exactly big enough to fit the long crowds that await should you arrive after 6pm on most days.

Ordering is done via a marker chit with payment pre-paid at the cashier. The standout item would definitely be the Braise Pork Rice (SGD4.50). Get this in a set with accompanying side dishes like a braised egg, cabbage and pork sausage for only SGD8.00.

The braised pork on rice was a nice gooey mess with the right amount of savoury. The side dishes really helped break the monotony of the texture, but the braised eggs were somewhat of a disappointment for not being exactly runny like ramen eggs. Irregardless this Eatvestigator scoffed them all down.

Signature 3 Bowls

If you are feeling hungrier, you could also go for the Signature 3 Bowls (SGD12) consisting of equal portions of braised pork rice, chicken rice, and oyster intestine Mee Sua. The chicken rice was actually quite moist and fluffy, similar to the style of Turkey rice found in Chiayi of Taiwan, and didn’t need any of the chilli sauces found in the Singapore style chicken rice.

With borders being closed, Eat 3 Bowls is definitely one of the more authentic ways to experience Taiwan while stuck in Singapore. Just make sure to go early (or on a weekday) and beat the queue.

462 Crawford Lane #01-61

Tue-Sun: 11AM-9PM (Mondays closed)

https://www.facebook.com/eat3bowls/

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh

This Eatvestigator has recently been investigating the bak kut teh (herbal tea pork ribs soup) scene along Rangoon Road. Among these is the venerable Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh that has been in existence since 1955.

The scene at 7pm on a Saturday night
The shop appears to be a common stop for many overseas dignitaries

We got started with the selection of Kung Fu Teas (jasmine or oolong) which goes for about $4.50 a pot. Tea is pretty much self service, you will be heaping in your own tea and fetching your own hot water from the water kettles littered around the shop corners.

The star of the show arrived with the premium pork ribs soup. We also ordered a healthy companion of side dishes to go along with the meal including braised bean curds, eggs, and lettuce. The fieriness of the pepper was well balanced out by the tea which actually tasted sweet in contrast. Feel free to ask for free refills of the soup.

Overall a good concoction of pepper and pork. For the heritage experience, the original shop would be my preferred place to visit.

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh

208 Rangoon Road

Hong Building Singapore 218453

Daily 9am – 9pm

https://www.ngahsio.com/en/rangoon-road

Ministry of Crab (Colombo)

The Ministry of Crab is nestled within the pleasant oasis of the Old Dutch Hospital in Colombo, within walking distance of many international hotel chains. It is no wonder that the restaurant is usually packed full of tourists and reservations are required.

It is no secret that the majority of customers are here for that plump mud crab which they proudly line up as going up to 3kgs. Strangely we didn’t see any fresh crab tanks around, even though river prawns and their cousins are openly displayed.

We begin with a heaping of curried river prawns. This is accompanied by Kade bread which one drenches in that savoury bath, and before long all the curry is wiped clean from the bowl.

Fancy any crab butter

Next comes the stars of the show. We went for the more economical option of the Large (900g) crab done 2 styles. Each crab will be setting you back about USD30-40. Being from Singapore where the chilli crab originated from, we decided that we might be better off trying something different.

The outcome is decidedly finger smacking good. You will spend the next 20-30 minutes gnawing and breaking crab. Don’t bother ordering beer before your meal because it will be lukewarm by the time you are done.

Don’t forget to take a picture with the cool bib provided. If anything, this was definitely the highlight of any Colombo trips for the Eatvestigator.

Ministry of Crab
Old Dutch Hospital
Colombo
Daily – 12pm-3.30pm, 5pm-11pm

https://www.ministryofcrab.com/colombo/

The Never Ending Summer

This Eatvestigator needed a quick place for lunch right after landing in Bangkok. We found The Never Ending Summer, located amidst an art district called the Jam Factory.

Situated along the Chao Phraya river (5-10 minutes walk away from the newly opened Icon Siam), the restaurant occupies 2 warehouses which were decked out in an airy and lush interior. The main offerings are mod-Thai cuisine.

The first order of business was the Larb Gai with fried kale (THB380). This savoury and chunky meat concoction paired well with white rice. For the fibre conscious crowd, brown rice is available too.

Next up was the beef rump steak (THB480) which was presented with tropical garnish and chili fish sauce. Although medium well, it wasn’t much to shout about for this eatvestigator. Get your steak cravings satisfied elsewhere.

The sweet and sour cashew chicken (THB380) was easily a winner. The chicken had just the right amount of breading and the sauce was neither too dry or too sweet. Plentiful cashews are always welcome.

We had the chance to also try their fried flowers with egg but it didn’t leave much of an impression.

The Never Ending Summer hits the right spots for an intimate meal with outstanding Thai flavors. There is an outdoor sitting area that is perfect in the evenings for dinner with a riverside view. If you are in the vicinity for a date, consider taking a 5 minute public ferry over from Sheraton Orchid Hotel to the Millennium Hilton, and then saunter over along the river.

The Never Ending Summer
41/5 Charoen Nakorn
Khlong San, Bangkok, Thailand
Daily – 11am – 11pm

Brass Lion Gin Distillery

40 Alexandra Terrace

Stacked behind habitat by honestbee, is this unassuming little distillery brewing up Singapore-made gin. You would never guess from the pair of lone brass lion that adorns its entrance.

Speakeasy Bar

We flitter up the stairs, and arrived at this old world bar on L2.

The bartender introduced us to the Three Musketeers of the house. These spirits are born and bottled in this very building.

The Three Musketeers
Butterfly Pea, Singapore Dry, Pahit Pink

The Butterfly Pea and Singapore Dry are both available for sale at $88 a bottle, and we are told that the Pink Pahit will be available soon once production is up to scratch. These are small batch production, therefore you won’t be finding them in volume at any duty free. A quick look at the menu reveals their spiritual possibilities:

We decide to summon for a trio of Brass Lion ($16), Butterfly ($16), and Pahit ($16), the latter which was had on the rocks. Our attention quickly turned to the bartender’s quick work. The bartender first doses the glass with some Butterfly Pea gin, which has a distinctive peaflower blue glow. Upon touching the Indian Tonic water, it quickly morphs into purple.

Butterfly

The end result is both alien and mesmerising. The Butterfly takes on grapefruit with subtle floral hints.

(L) Brass Lion and (R) Pahit on the Rocks

The next of our companions, the Brass Lion, is slightly more laid back in appearance and tone. It makes up for that understatement with a ginger flower and juniper berries, which add quite a spice. The favourite for this eatvestigator was the Pahit, which reminded one of an Old Fashioned contorted out of gin. This was certainly an interesting experience and we hope to be back to check out the rest of the menu. Until then…

We were also told about an alternate hands-on experience, a certain gin school, where one can concoct up your own gin flavours.

40 Alexandra Terrace, Singapore 119933

Tasting Room:
Tue-Fri – 5pm – 12am
Sat – 2pm – 12am
Sun – 2pm – 7pm
https://brassliondistillery.com

Khaiphaen

larb

Happy 2019 to all! This eatvestigator has notably been a missing quantity for some time in the recesses of South East Asia. This time our trip took us to the landlocked region of Luang Prabang in Laos, where we had the chance to savor the namesake Beerlao and partake in wholesome food at this establishment by the name of Khaiphaen. It was good enough that we returned twice in the span of 2 days.

Khaiphaen proudly states that it’s a social enterprise, aiming to provide employment and learning opportunities to young people from local tribes like the Hmong. We noticed they were eager to practice English and Chinese with various out-of-towners. The restaurant is quite spacious, containing both an al fresco area and indoors with much necessary air conditioning in the hot afternoons.

Without much further fanfare we jump right into the appetisers. First was the highly recommended Chargrilled Eggplant Dip with Baguette and Local Vegetables (30000KIP).

The raw eggplant was beyond fresh, and had the texture of crisp apples. The dip was a serenade of mushroom with peanut sauce which went really well on the baguette. Next was what seemed to be local variety momo, the River Fish and Monkey Mushroom Dumplings (52000KIP). It was very well balanced by the roasted soybean and peanut dip.

If there’s one dish that defines the national essence of Laos, it definitely has to be larb, which is typically a mixture of fermented minced meat and vegetables. The Chicken and Mint Laap with Roasted Squash, Spring Onions, Chili and Lime (40000KIP) was somewhat sanitized but nevertheless enjoyable and refreshing.

larb

This was then followed by a splatter of mains. In the foreground were the Beer Lao Battered Fish and Chips (54000KIP). The fish was wonderfully battered and came complemented by papaya salad, a definite Laotian twist. On the left was the Lao Pork Sausages with a chutney consisting of spring onion (44000KIP). It wasn’t as meaty as imagined and was quite enjoyable.

A recurring theme were these seaweed crispies that are also found on top of the Khaiphaen and Rice Sticks with Tomato and Hmong Mushroom dips (36000KIP). The eatvestigator found this dish to be somewhat forgettable but the crisps were nice to chew on over Beerlao.

All in all, Khaiphaen does a fabulous job fusing local Lao ingredients with well known foreign dishes. You won’t go wrong dropping by if this is your first visit to Luang Prabang.

100 Sisavang Vatana Road, Ban Wat Nong.
Between the French Institute and the Mekong River.
Open Monday to Saturday
11am – 10:30pm
https://www.facebook.com/Khaiphaen/

Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory

Friends of this eatvestigator would know that this eatvestigator loves to try beans from all over the world. Besides returning from most overseas trips with a bag of coffee beans from that locality, this eatvestigator also hand grinds the beans and brew them with an Aeropress. This eatvestigator tends to avoid the bigger brands like Nylon coffee, preferring to go for this lesser known shop at Balestier.

The shop has been in existence for decades, and supplies the local coffee scene (i.e. kopitiam) with their blend of coffee roasted with butter and sugar, in the range of $8-10 per kg.  These are typically blends of Robusta and Arabica that are sourced from Indonesia and Vietnam.

The younger owner who took over from his father, also sources more exotic stuff from other continents. There are more than 20 types for your choosing. At an average of $12/250g, this is probably 30-40% less than what you would pay at other popular cafes which merely resell beans that aren’t roasted by them.

If variety is your preference, then you could just buy 250g of different origins and try to your heart’s delight here. This eatvestigator bagged 250g of Bali origins for $4.50 that day, along with the normal coffee mixture.

Those beans went into an Aeropress, and go very well with condensed milk for an authentic-tasting rendition of kopi at less than 20 cents a cup. As for the Aeropress, it retails for approximately $65 in Singapore but you can get them on Carousell for ~$49.
328 Balestier Road,
Singapore 329760
https://www.facebook.com/lamyeocoffeepowder

Openwork Coffee

Situated away from the hustle and bustle of Johor Bahru downtown, Openwork Coffee stands alone. By far, it is the only gyoza and coffee joint in town. When a reason behind this quirky pairing was sought from the proprietor, this eatvestigator was told that Johorians loved to chat over coffee and gyoza. Hmmm, not that there are many gyoza joints around. The location is a mere 5 minutes walking distance away from DoubleTree JB.

The cafe features clean lines and rustic furniture, while overlooking a forest valley. The proprietors offered up a serving of original gyoza (RM12) and namesake coffee.

The Papaya Milk Yakult Foam (RM14) was yet another curiosity on the menu. It was light on the palette and refreshing after a hot day’s walk. They also dished up a heaping good donburi in this Chicken Bowl (RM17) that consisted of fried chicken and yolk laid over fluffy rice and whole grains with vegetables.

The accompanying appetiser Prawn And Squid Salad (RM14) was another winner, reminiscent of Peranakan tones,with its fried taukee slices paired with a cooling salsa medley.


Despite the diminutive range of food on the menu, this eatvestigator welcomed the inventiveness and subtle tones of the available food pairings. Perhaps if you have an afternoon in JB to spare, make your way here for some coffee and gyoza.

236 Gim Shew Building, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak
Johor 80000
https://www.facebook.com/openworkcoffee/

Kenboru

Hidden in bowels of the SMU compound is this recently opened donburi shop called Kenboru. It features customisable rice and soba bowls, with flame-grilled mains ranging from tofu to smoked duck and beef, all at less than $15. No wonder the place is raging with the student crowd on a weekday afternoon.


This Eatvestigator made a dash for the smoked duck breast bow ($7.90), well you get another $1 off if you are somehow related to SMU. Here are the results with a heapful of complementary mentaiko sauce. The result is appealing to the pseudo health conscious while being full of intense wafu flavours.

80 Stamford Road #B1-65
SMU, School of Information Systems
https://www.facebook.com/kenboru/