One need not cross the causeway for a meal at JB Ah Meng Kitchen, for it is not located at JB (Johor Bahru) but in the heart of Singapore's red light district, Geylang.
Some might find it difficult to spot the Chinese zhi char stall as it is not prominently visible from the main road. It is kind of hidden between two buildings, tucked inside an alleyway. Thankfully I had my friends guiding the way during my first time there. That is not exactly an area where a girl should wander around alone lol.
When you do find it, be ready for mouthfuls of pleasurable delights!
Already a popular dinner and supper hunt among regulars, JB Ah Meng Kitchen is recently thrown into international spotlight as the Michelin Guide Singapore 2016 decided that its food is good enough to be given a Bib Gourmand award.
This is certainly quite an achievement for what many might deemed to be just a humble eatery. No air-con, no frills, just a menu of straightforward food that are wok-fried upon order. I heard the kitchen is helmed by Malaysian chefs.
The must-try star dish is undoubtedly the JB San Lou Meehoon ($7/$11/$14), which is said to have its origins from San Low Seafood Restaurant in JB, hence the namesake.
Rice vermicelli is first stir-fried with eggs, shrimps and vegetables, before being flattened into a pancake-like appearance. Well... not exactly the most photogenic nor appetizing-looking dish, don't you think so too?
But the reason why almost every table has a plate is because of its beauty within. The mee hoon itself were immensely enjoyable with a springy bite and bits of slightly crisp, charred edges. It could do with more smokey wok hei, but flavors were adequately aromatic. Very tasty as a whole!
We did not intend to order the Deep Fried Fish Skin ($12/$15/$24), but the server who took our order was insistent that we give their recommended dish a try and even gave us a complimentary serving of it in the end. "Wah, really so nice meh?" It was moreish indeed, especially in that zesty dressing with pickles.
The other dishes such as Bittergourd Fish Head ($16/$24/$32), Brinjal Potato with Chili ($12/$18/$24) were just as delectable, even the Cameron Highland Dragon Vege ($12/$18/$24) was agreeable in its simplicity.
Salted Egg Prawn Ball ($20/$30/$40) has deshelled prawns cooked to a firm texture and coated with a thin layer of salted egg sauce. It was just okay only and our attention went to those accompanying corn kernels instead. Excellently crunchy, juicy and addictive! They should just sell this as a snack on its own.
I would count Fried Garlic Chili Clams ($16/$22/$30) as one of my favorites at JB Ah Meng. The clams always satisfies with its fresh plumpness, with a savory garlic gravy that binds the dish together so deliciously. To finish this entirely on my own wouldn't be an issue anytime haha!
Another dish which we fancy a lot is the White Pepper Crab (seasonal price). Though the crabs used are comparatively smaller in size, it is sweet and meaty. The mildly-spicy white pepper sauce paired it just nicely without being too overwhelming. Worth getting the fingers dirty for!
The offerings at JB Ah Meng Kitchen is not as extensive as the typical zhi char stalls, but there are enough of standout dishes worth returning for. With the reasonable prices, a sumptuous meal can be had without breaking the wallet.
Perhaps the only drawback is that there is not much ambience to speak of, and we fall under the mercy of the warm and humid local weather. But to look at it from another perspective, there is a peculiar charm of dining under the stars in a back alley.
Oh, and no need to worry about forgetting the passport or being stuck in a causeway traffic jam of course! Lol!
JB Ah Meng Kitchen 新山亚明小厨
Address: No 2, Lorong 23 Geylang, Singapore 388353
Contact: +65 6741 2418
Opening Hours: Daily 5.30pm-2.30am
Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Inclusive of 7% GST, no service charge (3) Correct at point of published date.