It has been an on-and-off relationship. My affection for Kway Chap began innocently when I was very much younger. Emotions were simple and pure, without a deeper understanding of what kway chap really is. If the food taste good, I will eat it. I remember my mum will always bring us to the Toa Payoh Lorong 7 hawker centre near my school (Pei Chun Public School) on Saturday mornings after my ballet classes for a quick meal of kway chap. The steaming hot bowl of flat broad rice sheets (kway), together with some braised items were delicious and comforting. I adored it! Until I grew a little older and realized that the tasty braised items were..... Pig Offal!
How can one even eat pig intestines? The revelation left me feeling grossed out and traumatized. Any fond memories were effectively contained until many many many years later when I start to appreciate kway chap again. If I can eat the salivary laminae cement of swallows (bird's nest) and dried fatty tissue near the fallopian tubes of true frogs (hashima) for beauty purposes, surely I can stomach some innards of pigs for gourmand satisfaction?
So, I returned to my love for kway chap a few years back and remembered patronizing this coffeeshop stall along Macpherson Road called 泉来粿汁 Quan Lai Kway Chap which was very enjoyable. One evening when we were driving around and can't decide where to have dinner, Quan Lai suddenly crossed my thoughts. That's where we ended up eventually.
The stall itself is a visual treat for kway chap afficionados with its eye boggling spread of pig intestines and other various parts such as pig skin, trotters and pork belly. It's easy to fall into temptation of over-ordering so my advice is: Choose selectively and spend your calories wisely. Our order soon arrived, a heap of chopped up mess piled carelessly on the plate but looking strangely inviting and promising in its dark coat of gravy. I sped up on my photo-taking as much as I can and we started digging in. As I progressed into the meal, I wonder if it's another case of 'standard dropped' or my tastebuds has became sharper, as items like pig intestines, tau pok were not very well braised and didn't taste as flavorful as I remembered it to be. One thing I like though, is the chunks of pineapples which effectively cuts through the greasiness of the innards.
Besides the braised items, Quan Lai serves up an unique offering of Deep-fried Pig Intestines as well. Crispy with a slightly chewy centre, the taste is accentuated with dips into the piquant chilli sauce! This plate of intestines was certainly a delightful and addictive treat. Definitely a must-order!
Some kway chap stalls serve braised duck too and Quan Lai is one of them. The duck here is thinly sliced and beautifully tender. Gravy was aromatic, with a taste more to the savory side, one which was given a nod of approval by my friend who prefer it over the sweeter renditions elsewhere. If you don't like pig innards, but still wanna enjoy the kway, the duck is the perfect accompanying dish for you.
Of course, no kway chap meal is complete without the kway. The rice sheets at Quan Lai is of a heavier thickness, yet smooth with a pleasant springy bite. Immersed in a rich, luscious broth redolent with spices and distinct herbal notes, these are bowls of slurp-worthy goodness which warranted a repeat order from my friend.
The 3 of us spent $36 in total for our order of Deep-Fried Pig Intestines, Braised Pig Intestines, Tau Pok, Eggs, Peanuts, Salted Vegetables, Braised Duck Wings, Braised Duck and 4 bowls of Kway, which my friend feels is a tad pricey. Other friends have since recommended me some of their preferred kway chap stalls elsewhere which I hope to check out soon. Overall the kway chap at Quan Lai still beats those pedestrian foodcourt versions any time and if you are in mood for some sinful supper, this is the place to come to as they open late till midnight.
Quan Lai 泉来粿汁
Address: Sin Fong Restaurant, 560 Macpherson Road, Singapore 368233
Contact: +65 67441252
Opening Hours: 8am-12.30am Daily