When late night hunger pangs strike, 85 Fengshan Centre at Bedok North is a popular destination to help curb those cravings. So, it hardly surprised me when I discovered that Chomp Chomp BBQ only starts operating from 5pm onwards.
From a distance, I couldn’t miss the stall tucked away in the corner. Its brilliantly illuminated display showcasing a vibrant spectrum of colors, reminiscent of a rainbow brought to life.
With over 50 options to choose from, I stood there and contemplated for a full minute before selecting the delectable morsels that would soon grace the palates of both my dining companion and myself.
What I tried at Chomp Chomp BBQ
Amidst glowing reviews and my own delightful experience last year, expectations for the Hotplate BBQ Stingray (S$13) were set sky-high. The stingray was presented on a pair of banana leaves delicately cradled atop a mini hotplate. It was crowned with a layer of sambal and a sprinkling of sliced red onions… visually, it was enticing.
My nostrils caught a whiff of dried shrimps coming from the sambal as I reached out for the calamansi, gently giving it a squeeze to treat the flesh to a diminutive citrusy spa.
Upon prodding the flesh with my disposable chopsticks and spoon, I found the meat to be decently tender, though I have encountered softer textures in the past.
The sambal achieved a flawless equilibrium, offering a gentle yet assertive spiciness complemented by the rich umami undertones bestowed by the dried shrimp. My only lament? There was too little of it!
I fondly recall the ample portion from my previous visit, and that night’s serving paled in comparison, leaving me somewhat disappointed.
The chinchalok dip served alongside was a burst of invigorating acidity, infusing the pieces of stingray with a vivid radiance, all while carrying the delightful, subtle notes of lime beneath its vibrant tang.
Traditionally, cereal prawn has graced menus far and wide, making the subsequent arrival of Cereal Chicken (S$16) a delightful departure from the ordinary. Concealed beneath a glistening tapestry of golden cereal, the chicken pieces remained mysteriously veiled, embellished with the bits of chilli padi and fried curry leaves.
The larger pieces of chicken were tender and with the very first bite, a symphony of flavours was orchestrated as the buttery cereal, herbaceous curry leaves, and the fiery embrace of chilli padi harmoniously danced on my tongue.
However, I must complain that the smaller chicken pieces leaned towards toughness, and an excessive amount of batter overpowered the meat.
Years ago, in a quaint Geylang eatery, I first encountered qing long cai, aka Garlic Chives (S$10). Hence, it was a delightful surprise to find this particular vegetable gracing the menu here.
Stir-fried alongside tau geh and delicate carrot slices, this dish is an ode to garlic aficionados. Every bite brimmed with an assertive garlicky essence, courtesy of the finely-chopped garlic bits. If you had entertained the company of a vampire, they’d have fled a thousand miles away at its mere aroma.
The garlic chives maintained a slight crunch and a mild oniony spiciness hits you towards the end. The inclusion of carrot and beansprouts contributed a gentle undercurrent of sweetness to the overall palate.
The gravy was a pleasant savoury and sweet combination with notes of oyster sauce, which binded the medley of veggies together.
This dish served as a refreshing interlude after the preceding 2, which bore more robust and intense flavours.
Concluding our delightful meal, we savoured the Pineapple Fried Rice (S$6). Remarkably, even the smallest portion offered a bounteous serving. The golden grains of rice were fried with bits of char siew, egg, pineapple cubes, and small pieces of shrimp.
The rice was fragrant and slightly smoky with a light wok hei aroma. I was a little let down with the absence of pork floss, which would have added more depth of flavour.
The pineapple cubes were semi-ripe, causing both our faces to scrunch up whenever we encountered the sour parts.
Overall, my experience at Chomp Chomp BBQ was a lukewarm one. Though some elements of each dish were delicious, each of them had something that was missing or needed refinement.
For this establishment to truly distinguish itself, the quality of the food needs to be improved. Otherwise, it risks remaining just another run-of-the-mill BBQ seafood stall which will be easily forgotten, at least in my books.
Expected damage: S$10 – S$15 per pax
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