When I became a hawker many years back, it was out of necessity. Having experienced for myself how tough this route can be, I agreed straightaway to visit Truly Curry Rice (真咖喱饭) at Telok Blangah Drive Food Centre when I was told that it's run by two young ex-traders (they're only 20+) who gave up their jobs to take over the stall. Wah, very brave! What made them take on this drastic career change? So, to be honest, this visit was made out of initial curiosity. But when I do return again, it will be for the delicious curry rice! Yummy food and passionate hawkers definitely gets my support!
(Read: Being A Hawker. I Know How It Feels Like. I Was Once A Young Singapore Hawker.)
Yes, passion is what drove Deniece to seize the opportunity to take over the business from her father when he wanted to give up his stall. Together with her partner, Joel, they began their daily journey of waking up at 4am in the morning to start preparations for the day ahead, in order to have the dishes ready before lunch time and feed the steady stream of hungry diners.
Being able to hold its own against the other curry rice stalls within the same food centre and still retaining the regular customers after the takeover certainly says something about the quality of food at Truly Curry.
All items are cooked by Deniece and Joel personally, and nothing is served out of processed convenience. Everything from the curry gravy to the dried shrimp chilli are laboriously made from scratch with family hand-downed recipes. No trace of strawberry generation here, these two young hawkers are tough cookies roughing it out under long hours in the harsh environment of a hawker stall, while standing by their philosophy of providing 'truly' true homey-style food which they are sincere about.
Truly Curry differs from our usual economic rice stall but I was also hesitant to categorize it as an authentic Hainanese curry rice stall because even though cardinal dishes such as Curry Chicken, Pork Chop, Braised Pork Belly and Chap Chye are present, untypical offerings like Sambal Fish and Stir-fried Eggplant in Dried Shrimp are also incorporated into the repertoire.
This brings up another question. Is the label of authenticity really of high importance as long the food is tasty enough to titillate the tastebuds? As I started digging into the delectable spread in front of me, I told myself, no, it doesn't really matter sometimes. Just relish every bite, savor every moment, and learn to appreciate the contemporary take on traditional cuisine which is just as heartwarming.
Dishes at Truly Curry are unpretentious and comforting, like the Deep-fried Prawn Fritters which reminded me of what my mum will cook occasionally, and certainly provided a homey taste away from home. Pork Chop, though a tad too lean, is coated with an enjoyable crumbly exterior. While some dishes can be executed better, such as the Braised Pork Belly which can do more tenderness and a robust braising gravy, the overall taste of most dishes is still better than average.
The must-orders have to be the Chap Chye, Lor Bak and Meat Ball. Stewed to melting softness and till all the natural sweetness of cabbage are extracted, the Chap Chye here is deserving of every praise that it has been heaped with. Love the handmade Lor Bak which is packed with chunks of pork and prawn, rolled in beancurd skin and deep-fried! Though a little on the saltish side, it had a superb texture which more than redeems! The huge Meat Ball delighted me much with its bouncy QQ texture and well-seasoned tastiness. Worthy of a special mention is the piquant and addictive Dried Shrimp Chilli (hae bee hiam) which elevated the slightly mushy Stir-fried Eggplant into levels of shiokness.
What ultimately tied the curry rice meal together into utmost enjoyment is the requisite Curry Gravy. A beautiful blend of sweetness, savoriness and spiciness, its full-bodied taste gently enveloped the entire meal with aromatic notes which lingered in every mouthful. Best way to enjoy it? Doused it generously over your plate of rice and all the dishes you fancy for a truly curry experience! Truly yummy!
Thanks to Charleen for the invite as well as Deniece and Joel for the truly yummy curry rice lunch.
Truly Curry Rice (Closed & Rebranded as Truly Test Kitchen @ Jun Jie Industrial Building, Macpherson)
Address: Telok Blanah Drive Food Centre @ 79 Telok Blangah Drive, #01-29, Singapore 100079
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10.45 till sold out (around 1pm+) / Sat-Sun 10am till sold out (around 1pm+)