Ali Corner: Heartwarming bowls of mee bakso, lontong & tahu goreng at Tiong Bahru from $3.50

I headed to the serene neighbourhood of Seng Poh Road where Tiong Bahru Food Centre is located. I’m not sure about you, but I would never expect to have Muslim food there. I was searching for Ali Corner (recommended by a friend), an inconspicuous Muslim-friendly hawker stall that has been around since 2018.

ali corner - market front
ali corner - market front

After I explored the whole circumference of the food centre (semi-panicking that the stall may be closed), I finally spotted it  aptly at a corner (just like its name).

There was a mix of Malay and Chinese customers queueing up to get their breakfast.

ali corner - stall front
ali corner - stall front
ali corner - stall offerings
ali corner - stall offerings

Ali Corner is a family-run business by a mother and daughter duo. There was a decent selection of food available and I stared at the menu for a while before deciding on what to get (partly due to lack of caffeine). Alright, it was time to get my morning started.

Whilst queueing up, I spotted my favourite Epok Epok (S$0.70 for 1, S$2 for 3) in sardine and potato varieties which are homemade. This was already a good start.

What I tried at Ali Corner

ali corner - mee bakso
ali corner - mee bakso

I started off with Mee Bakso (S$4). I’ve travelled to Jakarta a few times, but haven’t had the chance to try this dish which is extremely popular over there.

It had a bowl of yellow noodles submerged in a clear broth topped with tau geh, 4 beef balls, carrot slices and green vegetables. Fried shallots were sprinkled on top followed by a dollop of an intensely-dark sambal.

ali corner - closeup of ball
ali corner - closeup of ball

The bakso (beef ball) was full of texture and bouncy when my teeth sank into it. I was glad that it possessed a slight beefy taste as opposed to the floury varieties I’ve encountered at other establishments.

ali corner - closeup of sambal
ali corner - closeup of sambal

The dark sambal was definitely the star of this dish. It resembled lao gan ma with its dry flaky texture and colour.

ali corner - noodle closeup
ali corner - noodle closeup

After I mixed everything up, the sambal provided a fiery punch to the perfectly-cooked noodles which fired up my taste buds. It uplifted the whole dish and gave it loads of personality.

Forget about my coffee, I was already more alive after eating this.

ali corner - broth closeup
ali corner - broth closeup

The broth was light yet flavourful, which was ideal for a morning meal. My only gripe would be the slight alkaline taste of the soup coming from the noodles.

Perhaps I should try bee hoon next time to prevent such occurrences.

ali corner - tahu goreng
ali corner - tahu goreng

I then moved on to the next dish, the Tahu Goreng (S$3.50).

It was a bowl filled with cubes of tau kwa, Japanese cucumber slices, tau geh, and a generous sprinkle of grounded peanuts accompanied by a dark gravy at the bottom.

ali corner - tahu closeup
ali corner - tahu closeup

The pillowy pieces of tau kwa melted the second they entered my mouth, and the ground peanuts provided a crunchy texture which grabbed my attention. Simply addictive!

ali corner - gravy closeup
ali corner - gravy closeup

I detected notes of kicap manis in the dark gravy, which exuded a slight sweetness to the dish. Although the taste was on point, it would’ve been better if the gravy was more viscous. This would allow it to cling onto the ingredients better and improve the overall experience of the dish.

ali corner - veg closeup
ali corner - veg closeup

The tau geh and slices of Japanese cucumber acted like a refreshing salad, reducing the jelak-ness of the entire dish.

ali corner - lontong
ali corner - lontong

I ended my morning meal with the Lontong (S$3.50). It was served with pieces of compressed rice cake, a whole egg, cabbage, carrot slices, long beans, tau kwa, serundeng (dessicated coconut) and sambal served in lemak gravy (simple and nothing fancy).

ali corner - lontong closeup
ali corner - lontong closeup

The toasty hints of the serundeng complemented the silky softness of the rice cakes, and my satisfaction-metre went off the charts when I dunked it into the gravy.

ali corner - lontong gravy
ali corner - lontong gravy

Speaking of the gravy, I must say it was flawlessly executed. Well seasoned, perfectly spiced, great consistency— it was the epitome of lontong gravy. If this was me in my younger days, I’d have drunk the entire bowl without leaving a drop (just saying).

ali corner - lontong ingredients
ali corner - lontong ingredients

The pieces of tau pok were the perfect vessels to absorb the sedap gravy and the vegetables were cooked till tender— I loved every element of the dish.

Final thoughts

ali corner - overview of food
ali corner - overview of food

I left Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre with a satisfied tummy and a new spot to share with my foodie friends. Each of these dishes was  comforting in its own way, and I’m glad I’ve found another place to satisfy my lontong cravings.

Apart from the food I tried, they also serve crowd favourites like nasi lemak and nasi ayam penyet.

If you’re in the vicinity and are hunting for delicious Muslim food, come say hi to the friendly ladies at Ali Corner… and feast away!

Expected damage: S$3.50 – S$7 per pax

Other articles you might like:

Hong Wen Mutton Soup: Nearly 60 years of tradition with tasty Teochew-style mutton soup at Beauty World

Oiishii Corner: Toa Payoh’s best-kept secret is a halal & affordable Japanese hawker stall

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