For the last couple of weeks, I've been having my lunch (sometimes dinner) almost everyday at Zion Riverside Food Centre! If you happen to be a regular there and saw a girl letting her camera inhale multiple shots of the food before enjoying it herself, yes, that would most probably be this PinkyPiggu (I ate everything you see in the pictures here!) Lol!
Situated along Zion Road directly opposite where Great World City is located, Zion Riverside Food Centre serves as an affordable dining option for office slaves (like me) and residents nearby. Local food warms our heart, and fills our soul like no other cuisine, but the myriad of choices can be a tad overwhelming considering the limitation of tummy space one has at any one time. So, where to start huh? Here's my personal guide on Best 10 Stalls To Try!
(Disclaimer: The Best 10 Stalls are based on my personal view, so it's understandable if this list is debatable and not 100% agreeable with everyone considering the diversity of palates. Which stall do you like? What did I miss out? Do share your thoughts by leaving a comment below).
Zion Riverside Food Centre
Address: 70 Zion Road, Singapore 247792
Total Number of Stalls: 32
Good things comes in small packages, and Zion Riverside Food Centre epitomized this saying literally. Comprising of only 32 stalls, it's one of the smallest food centres in Singapore, yet packs a whole load of well-known stalls including the No.18 Zion Road Fried Kway Teow, Lau Goh Teochew Chye Thow Kway and Noo Cheng Adam Road Prawn Noodle. Many stalls wear proud badges of newspaper cuttings, positive reviews and various accolades, as well as photos with celebrities and even our prime minister Lee Hsein Loong. Best, I like it that the food centre is overall very well-ventilated with sufficient overhead fans and very importantly, clean. Diners usually do their part in clearing their trays to the utensils return stations, a good number of cleaners are always on duty ensuring a hygienic environment.
Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap & Braised Duck
Stall No: 24
Opening Hours: 11am-11pm (no fixed rest day)
Among the few stalls that sells braised duck rice, Boon Tong Kee (no relations to the famous chicken rice restaurant chain) stands out with its bright facade and enticing spread. No doubt the most popular and also one that came recommended by my colleagues, I tried their Braised Duck Rice ($4) which met all delectable expectations with its generous portion of boneless duck slices, braised beancurd, egg, salted vegetables and yam rice with gooey, savory gravy slathered over. Their Kway Chap ($3.50) featuring an assortment of duck meat, beancurd, tau pok, egg, and well-clean & braised pig innards served with smoothly thin rice sheets in broth is very worth a try too.
Chong Pang 1 Chicken Wing & Satay
Stall No: 7
Opening Hours: Daily 4pm-11pm
Oooh BBQ Chicken Wings ($1.30 per piece), how can I not love thee? It's an open secret that I've a fondness for this boney yet addictive part of the chicken, and Chong Pang 1 sure made me very happy with their lip-smacking rendition. Charcoal grilled to smokey aroma, the chicken wing's meat was tender and tasted very fresh and flavorful. I thought the caramelization of its outer layer can be pushed a little further, but overall there was satisfaction in every bite. Their Otah ($0.40/$1 per piece), as well as Satay ($0.60 per stick), skewers of chicken, pork and mutton served with thick peanut sauce and Ketupat ($0.60), are very popular too.
Hock Heng Fish Soup
Stall No: 8
Opening Hours: Thu-Sat 11am+ to around 8pm+ / Sun 11am+ to 2pm+
For a stall that operates for only 3.5 days a week, faithful regulars queuing up every time it opens to get their fix of fish soup is not a surprising scene. I joined the queue too, and was rewarded with a meal of simple bliss. The Fish Soup with Rice ($3) was clear yet tasty, and brimming with slices of fresh, succulent batang fish. Add a side dish of Omelette ($2), it made quite a substantial meal. I especially like the omelette which was fried ala-minute upon ordering, with bits of prawns and fragrance of spring onions. Nothing fancy but it was altogether very homey. The Bee Hoon Soup ($3) with fish head/sliced fish/fried fish/mixture of sliced & fried fish, was another delicious choice when the mood calls for noodles instead.
House of Soya Beans
Stall No: 11
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am-9.30pm
House Of Soya Beans prides itself on preparing their beancurd using 100% premium-grade soya beans, and not soy powder. No preservatives are added and its non-dairy recipe makes it suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. Its smooth, silky texture which glided down my throat like was uber easy to like, the level of sweetness was just about right, though flavorwise, I thought it can be bolder. There are no less than 12 variety of toppings which we can add to our Beancurd (hot $1.20/cold $1.50), from favorites like Red Bean, Longan, Lotus Seeds and Gingko Nuts, to the more unusual Taro and Sweet Potato ($2-$2.50). Aaaaah and not to forget those Aballing ($2), soft chewy rice dumplings with yummy peanuts or black sesame filings! Every time I passed by, I couldn't resist the temptation to takeaway a bowl or two back to the office and enjoy. Hehee.
Lau Goh Teochew Chye Thow Kway
Stall No: 26
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10.30am-3pm, 6pm-11pm / Sat, Sun & PH 8.30am-4pm, 6pm-11pm
Peter Goh, owner and chef of this Fried Carrot Cake stall is not just your regular hawker. Being deaf since young, it did not deter him from getting on in life by learning the art of frying carrot cake from his father and eventually succeeding the business. He's always friendly and smiley every time I patronize the stall, lip-reading my order and frying each plate ala-minute so as to maintain its freshness. The White Carrot Cake ($4/$5/$6/$8) is especially lovely with coat of crispy egg enveloping soft pieces of carrot cake and generous dosage of chye poh (preserved radish). Equally winsome is the Black Carrot Cake ($4/$5/$6/$8), pan-fried in sweet sauce to perfection with nicely charred edges. More often than not, I always order the Mixed Black & White Carrot Cake ($5/$6/$8). Why choose when you can have best of both worlds on one plate :p
Mohammad Sultan Road Hot & Cold Cheng Tng
Stall No: 32
Opening Days/Hours: Irregular (ask at your own risk)
Friendly hawkers get a thumbs-up from me but if they happened to be grouchy most of the time, I will still patronize their stall lah if their fare is acceptable good. This Chinese Dessert stall focus on only a few offerings, the ones which I like and are most well-received is the Ginko Nut Longan Soup ($2.50), as well as the Hot Cheng Tng ($1.50) with loadful of dried longans, gingko nuts, mini sago balls and pangdahai (those brown frilly stuff) in brownish sweet dried longan soup. I would expect the Cold Cheng Tng ($1.50) to be an icy mirror of this rendition, but it turned out quite different with canned longan and lychee in clear syrupy broth buried under heaps of shaved ice. My pick: Go for the hot desserts which is more traditional and satisfying.
Stall No: 17
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-11pm / Closed on Alternate Mon
This stall could possibly be the most famous tenant among all others. Every time I mentioned the Zion Riverside food centre to my friends or colleagues, most will say "must try the Fried Kway Teow", some say "die die must eat". Anyone standing in the perpetual queue would witness the formidable presence of Uncle Ho attacking the wok with much gusto and churning up plates after plates of Fried Kway Teow ($3/$4/$5) - thin rice sheets and yellow noodles stir-fried over high heat with plump cockles, Chinese sausages, fish cakes, crunchy beansprouts and egg in savory sweet black sauce. The textural combination was superb and of ideal moisture, tied tastily together by quintessential umami-ness of pork lard, but somewhat lacking that bit of coveted smokey wok hei aroma. Favorable to many, over-rated to some, the Fried Kway Teow here is still undeniably better than the average stall, and certainly worth each sinfully-rich calories-busting mouthful.
Noo Cheng Adam Road Prawn Noodle
Stall No: 4
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11.30pm / Sat, Sun & PH 12pm-1am
Does size matter? At this prawn noodle stall, the answer is a resounding yes. Prices for each bowl of Prawn Noodle ($5-$12) goes northwards as the prawn gets bigger, the increase in size behold promises of meatier and higher quality bites. Considering that this is hawker food, $5 for a serving may seemed comparatively pricey, but after tasting the noodles in ambrosial crustacean broth with tender pork ribs and fresh prawns, I willingly forgo a red dollar note to indulge in the $10 portion as well. Verdict? The $5 bowl was already good and satisfying enough with its medium-sized prawns. Between the dry and soup version, I prefer the former because of the super shiok sambal chilli that the noodles are tossed in. Can I repeat SHIOK? Haha! Besides, with the soup served separately, it allowed me to savour the intensity of the broth without any distraction from the taste of added noodles. So slurpilicious!
Riverside Good Food
Stall No: 20
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am-10.30pm / Closed on Tue after 6pm
I would probably bypass this nondescript stall had not my friend alerted me earlier to Riverside Good Food selling decent Fried Hokkein Prawn Noodle ($3-$5), Fried Oyster Omelette ($5-$9) and the more unusual Fried White Kway Teow ($4-$5)! Stir-fried with thin rice sheets and yellow noodles, cockles, Chinese sausages, beansprouts, fishcakes, prawns and eggs, it is not unlike your usual char kway teow but shuns the sweetish black sauce. Though savory tasting, it is not exactly Penang-style either. Apparently the stall owner introduced this rendition to offer something different to his customers, and it has proven to be increasing in popularity over the years. I enjoyed my plate of white kway teow for what it was: A delectable medley of familiarity with dose of adventure, topped with indulgence of crunchy pork lard croutons.
Xin Fei Fei Wanton Noodle
Stall No: 6
Opening Hours: Daily 24 Hours
Please do not snigger at any lascivious connotations, in this case, wanton in Wanton Noodle ($3/$4/$5) only refers to the bite-sized steamed or deep-fried dumplings filled with minced pork. The star of the dish is really the handmade egg noodles, served without the over-drench of unnecessary sauce but just simply tossed in chilli and fragrant oil which is more than sufficient in every flavorsome mouthful. Texture wise, it was cooked to an ooh-so-superb al-dente springiness. This was one of my best $3 ever spent.