While Chong Pang is best known for its legendary nasi lemak restaurant along Sembawang Road, its bustling food centre just across the road is the true culinary Mecca for hungry Northerners and dedicated foodies from other parts of the island. Since destination dining seems to be all the rage these days, trooping down to Chong Pang Food Centre for a wide range of affordable old school hawker grub has to be next on the culinary checklist.
|A $3 set meal of duck rice|
| Photo: Melanie Lee
CRITIC’S PICK Chuan Kee Bonless Braised Duck
Generous portions; rich gravy
While there is a snaking queue most of the time, owner Mr Huang and his staff run a tight ship in delivering tender, juicy slithers of braised duck with the option of accompanying rice, noodle/kway teow or duck porridge. While a wait is expected, it is never excruciatingly long. There’s just something about their gravy that coats their duck slices, and is also used in their braised rice – it’s a flavourful balance of salty and sweet, and packed with meaty goodness. Along with their vinegar chilli sauce and piping hot bowl of herbal soup, this is truly a comfort meal like no other. If you want to go all out for a full duck feast, a whole braised duck costs $36.
Chuan Kee Bonless Braised Duck | Address: #01-159
Xiang Xiang Fishball Noodles
Tradition in a bowl
This stall’s customers are a friendly, patient lot — while waiting for their noodles (expect a 30-minute wait during the weekends), some of them inevitably recount nostalgic tales of how they used to come here for lunch when they were kids. After all, Xiang Xiang has been around a long time and their fishballs are widely considered as some of the best in Singapore. Besides being larger and bouncier than the average fishball, they contain
|Fresh ingredients and hearty |
portions | Photo: Melanie Lee
generous amounts of real fish. Xiang Xiang’s dry noodles are also quite delightful, with an alchemy of sauces, huge pieces of fried pork lard and a sprinkling of crisp bean sprouts.
Xiang Xiang Fishball Noodles | Address: #01-153
For sweltering hot days
Every hawker centre needs a good dessert stall, and at Chong Pang, it’s Rainbow Desserts. It offers an astonishing variety of desserts from brown rice gingko porridge ($2) to durian bo bo cha cha ($2.50), though it appears that the psychedelic, shaved ice ones seem to be the most popular. In particular, their chocolate ice kachang ($2) packs an interesting punch with chocolate syrup that seems slightly reminiscent to gula Melaka, and, along with the usual ice kachang ingredients, is a chock full of rainbow sprinkles and coloured agar-agar bits to brighten up anyone’s day.
Rainbow | Address: #01-178
|The chocolate ice kacang can lift |
any weary, sweaty soul
| Photo: Melanie Lee
Bread and Bun Station
Tantalising teatime takeaways
Sometimes, you don’t need artisanal bread with gourmet ingredients to take your breath away. As long as a pastry is freshly made with plenty of heart, it is mouthwatering. At the Bread and Bun Station run by husband-and-wife team Mr and Mrs Khor, buns are soft, warm and always taste fresh out of the oven. We like how their yam and sweet potato buns (both $1.10 each) are not cloying, and yet buttery enough to feel like real teatime treats.
Bread and Bun Station | Address: #01-165
The Beans Cold Soya Beancurd
While flavoured tau huay (soft beancurd dessert) is nothing new, this stall stands out for its commitment to offering a healthy dessert — organic beans are used, everything is made fresh on site, and no calcined gypsum powder is added. Their tau huay’s texture is a little different from the soft, pudding-like tau huay more commonly sold today — it’s firm and smooth and has a bit more bite to it. A popular flavour is their strawberry tau huay — no jarring artificial flavouring but just fruity goodness, and that really does help to bring out the milky notes of the beancurd. The other flavours they offer include almond, blueberry, durian, yam, mango and, of course, original.
The Beans Cold Soya Beancurd | Address: #01-152
All stalls are located at Chong Pang Food Centre | Address: 105 Yishun Ring Road
Melanie Lee is a freelance writer who appreciates how her work unleashes her ‘inner kaypoh’, which often leads to fascinating encounters and experiences. She has written for Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, Singapore Tatler and Makansutra. .