Text by Sheere Ng @ Makansutra
There are 107 hawker centres in Singapore. While some are highly popular and talked about, many fall off the foodies’ radar.
One of which is Jurong West Food Centre. The hawker centre has 60 cooked food stalls and quite a handful of them sell traditional food prepared the old-school way.
And if you are in the vicinity, why not take a walk around the neighbourhood, which still brings up memories of Singapore in the 90s.There are sundry shops jam-packed with the basics as well as the peculiar (that only the grandmothers and some Ah Peks would look out for), as well as curious sights like a fruit stall selling fruits straight from their truck. You can get fruits like half-a-meter-tall jackfruits and various types of durians.
This area is one of those rare places where you can get a true and no-frills Singapore heartland experience, at least for now until another slick upgrading program changes it forever.
All vegetarian, but if you like, you could order an extra ngoh hiang or Hakka stuffed tofu.
Lei Cha Fan (Thunder Tea Rice)
This stall is so popular with the local Jurong area “westerners” that they have two outlets within four bus stops (another one at Boon Lay Place). Their lei cha is rather tame, (mild on herbal accents) but has a well-balanced flavour that leans slightly towards the salty (their peers in town tend to throw in too much basil), but one is still able to savour the different ingredients used (basil, peanut, tea leave, sesame seeds…). According to the owners, they do not put koo lek sim (a bitter herb that is traditionally found in Lei Cha) as its taste do not appeal to many. They may not be a wide range of accompaniments like how it traditionally has, but the chye poh, long beans, cabbage and cekur manis (manis chye) are savoury and homey enough.
Traditional Hakka Lui Cha
#01-12, Blk 505 Jurong West Mkt and Food Ctr, Jurong West St. 52
6am – 2pm, Closed on Mon
This wanton mee is flavoured with cane sugar and pork lard.
Wan Tan Mee
If you are upset about the higher prices and ridiculously small portions that they serve in town, come down to this outlet at Jurong West run by the owner’s son. The $2.50 portion is as generous as the $4 version in town. All the trademark qualities are present: the noodle is soft yet resistant and the gravy is savoury-sweetish (from cane and rock sugar) and fragrant (from the addition of pork lard). In short, a very likable flavour. The wantons are packed with well-marinated minced meat mixed with cartilage and fat. You still have to queue, but it moves pretty fast.
Kok Kee Wanton Noodles
#01-14, Blk 505 Jurong West Mkt and Food Ctr, Jurong West St. 52
7am to 2pm or until sold out. Closed on either Wed or Thurs.
This sliced fish soup as popular with the residents as how Han Kee is popular with the CBD crowd.
The batang fish or Spanish mackerel is sliced cross-section, producing a nice curl when it’s cooked. The soup, though not as clear as how the Teochew fish soup aficionados would like it to be, has a hint of sweetness. They also sprinkle over some fresh fried chopped garlic – a trick that old hawkers employ to heighten the sensation of this simple dish. As a whole, their version of this dish reminds us of Han Kee’s at Amoy Street Food Centre.
#01-40, Blk 505 Jurong West Mkt and Food Ctr, Jurong West St. 52
10.30am – 8pm, Closed on Monday
excellent chicken rice at only $2.
There’s a queue at the stall even after 2pm in the afternoon. We thought it was because of the low price ($2 for chicken rice) that drew the folks in, but it wasn’t just that. The rice is fluffy and flavoured with a good stock, but they do not fry the grains with flavoured oil, so it is less oily. The chicken skin does not have a gelatinous layer underneath but was moist, juicy, soft and smooth. Instead of using lime, they made their chilli with vinegar, which accounts for the sweet-sourish note.
Hoe Kee Kitchen
#01-39, Blk 505 Jurong West Mkt and Food Ctr, Jurong West St. 52
8am – 8pm or until sold out. Closed on Wed
Al dente noodles with peppery prawn stock.
Like with all prawn noodles, the most important factor is the stock. While fresh prawns are important, they become secondary if the stock is pedestrian. Here, they use dried seafood like oysters and cuttlefish, among others, for flavour. There’s also a hint of dates. We like it best with a mixture of bee hoon and yellow mee for contrasting textures.
Noo Cheng Adam Road Big Prawn Noodle
#01-20, Blk 505 Jurong West Mkt and Food Ctr, Jurong West St. 52
8am – 9pm.