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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Food review 2008 #04 - Sik Wai Sin Eating House


This nondescript eating place along Geylang Rd had been my late grandma's favourite eating place for a very long time. And we did not get to know abt that little nugget of info until tonite!
Both my mom and bro had tried the food there before. My mom was brought there by my aunts (and therefore, got to know the piece of info mentioned above). As for my bro, I think he went there with his makan khakis.

Both had good reviews of the place. And since it was one of my late grandma's fav eating place, I knew it should be serving really good authentic Cantonese dishes! After having my meal there, I should really say it did live up to it's good name.
We started the meal with 2 soups. One of it is the herbal black chicken soup and the other, watercress soup. Both soups are very very good! Those were what I call "老火汤“(soups that had been boiled for at least a good 2-3 hours to achieve a very thick broth). The watercress soup tasted very sweet. There were some chunks of pork in the soup, otherwise, there's no trace of any herbs in it. The portion of watercress in the soup is very generous, and of course, boiled to perfection. The other soup, the herbal chicken soup tasted very much like what my mom brewed at home... yes, the beautiful taste of home-brewed soup! However, the dang-gui taste is missing, or rather, I do see that herb in the soup, but the taste is not apparent at all. However, other than that, this soup scored well in our family used to Cantonese double-boiled soup. There was a whole black chicken in the soup... and every single drop was devoured!Next up, we had steamed fish head. This fish head was done differently from what my mom did at home (she followed the Loy Sum Yuen's version). When the dish was first laid on the table, the thing that caught my eye was the load of fried pork lard sprinkled on the fish head. Frankly, nowadays, pork lard is practically "extincted" on this little island. Everyone had more or less adopted a healthy eating habit and pork lard is not so common and accepted in our diets now. However, no one can deny the fact that food cooked with pork lard does impart a special flavour that is not replaceable... back to the dish.... the main ingredients, besides the fish head, was "min si jeong" or "tao jeong" or preserved bean paste. It's the yellowish kind of bean paste and besides that, the generous sprinkling of fried lard and some chilli as garnishing. As the fish (song yu) is a freshwater fish, there's a "muddy" taste that no everyone will take a liking to. And in this dish, the "muddy" taste is absent! The chef did a very good job with it and maybe... just maybe, those fried lard pieces helped eliminated it! :PThe braised tofu with prawns blew me away too! The prawns were really huge. There were only 6 prawns in the dish tho'... so if you have a group of 10, someone will have to share those prawns... hehehe....As the prawns were huge, I had some reservations if the prawns would be overcooked. It really surprised me that the prawns tasted really crunchy and fresh... it's not overcooked at all. The tofu pieces were deep-fired first and then braised. It managed to absorb the flavoursome sauce. This is definitely a winner!A veg dish came next. It's sambal kangkong. I was pretty impressed with this dish too. The kangkong was stirfried and yet it still have a crunch to it. The sambal was just nice, not too spicy and I was able to enjoy chewing ont he dried prawns in the sambal. It maybe a tad oily for some.... but I really did not mind. LOLThen we had bitter gourd with pork ribs. This dish was not that good. It tasted just average. The bitter gourd pieces were rather well cooked, but it was abit too soft and mushy. Could be that it's overcooked.And another veg dish came next. This is just plain stirfried kailan. The veg was crunchy and fresh. I thot they would just come drenched in oyster sauce... but no... it was rather well done here. The sauce is a combination of different marinates that I wasn't able to decipher... a simple dish, nevertheless, it was really good."KooLoo York" or sweet and sour pork, as it's more commonly known. This is also one of the chef specialities and it did not disappoint. The pork was fried and crispy... the sauce was coated evenly on every single piece of the pork. I dread those sweet and sour pork dishes where it came all oily and drenched in sauce. Not in this case. There was narly a single drop of sauce on the plate after it was polished off.Finally, The last dish for the meal..... sesame ginger chicken. I had forgotten what was the dish that we ordered and then saw pieces of ginger in the dish, which I mistook for garlic! So I took a bite and then I KNEW... LOL... anyway, this dish rocked too! The chicken pieces were first deep-fried and then stirfried with some ginger and spring onions. The sauce is supposed to be sesame, but it was rather subtle. I tasted some maltose in the sauce tho'. It was a pleasant dish... but by then we were too full to be able to enjoy it properly.Overall, it was a very pleasant surprise for me. I had no idea how good the food may be altho' I had good reviews of the place.

Initially, I had problems locating the place! There wasn't accurate directions to the place and geylang was such a busy place to start with. We had a hard time locating a parking lot. The shop was really very plainly and simply renovated (or lack of! LOL)... You would not know it's such a good eating place, if not for the crowd gathering outside. Do go early if you plan to eat there as the place was a full-house by 7pm. And of course, the parking problem.

As for the service... there was no menu to speak of! We could only talk to the more senior staff there in charge of taking orders to figure out what's on offer. We were a big group of 15, and there was no table big enough to accommodate all of us. So we had to split into 2 tables. Other than that, it was a typical coffeshop setting but the service staff were rather attentive and reacted fast to our requests.
Since we were in Geylang, after the dinner, we adjorned to the next street for some desserts! We had none other than the king of fruits! Yes, it's DURIANS!
Note : Sik Wai Sin Eating House is located at 287 Geylang Rd, it's along of the main rd, between Lor 11 and 13. You cannot make reservations, so it's on a first-come-first serve basis. It's non-airconditioned and the biggest table they have is for 10pax. The shop space is pretty small, can only accomodate 14 tables max. Do go early if you want a table as the parking is hell.... and ard 6.30pm, crowds starts packing in... full house in no time.

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