Hong Chang Eating House, Serangoon: Honest portion of frog porridge that’s pretty formidable

·5-min read

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good bowl of frog porridge—or any frog porridge, really, such that I’ve almost forgotten how comforting it can be. I know we’re all about ban mian and pork porridge for comfort foods, but this chewy, flavourful protein in thick porridge? Still an underrated contender, in my humble opinion. So you can bet that I’m down to add solid recommendations to my repertoire, and of course I don’t skip the highly extolled Hong Chang Eating House.

Maybe I’m getting bored of snazzy and rustic outfits for restaurants, pandering towards ones that rouse nostalgia. Occupying the corner shop right beside Upper Serangoon Road, Hong Chang Eating House boasts a prosaic Malaysian eatery setting. You know it—pebbled parking lots at its doorstep, cars zooming by, and the unmistakable foldable tables. The only thing left is some hearty, delicious fare to accompany this sentimental mise en scene: their signature BBQ stingray and frog porridge.

Hong Chang Eating House
Hong Chang Eating House

Fearing the long queues, I arrived as an eager, early bird for dinner. At 6pm, most of the tables were filled, but I’m more than relieved to have a short wait.

What I tried

We spot a unique number of Ambarella Juice (S$2.50) as their recommendation, and curiosity about the fruit got the better of us. Google led us to believe that it tastes like a mango-and-pineapple blend, but sometimes, you just have to trust your taste buds over this all-knowing platform.

Hong Chang Eating House Ambarella Juice
Hong Chang Eating House Ambarella Juice

Each sip entails face-puckering simply because of its peculiar grainy texture that accompanies its refreshing tart sweetness. Also, @ Google, a sour plum aftertaste comes through, which gets me a taste closer to this mysterious fruit. Honestly, if you’re not up for some guessing, just stick to the usual drinks—the spice in the frog porridge will thank you later.

Kung Pao Chilli Frog Leg
Kung Pao Chilli Frog Leg

The star of the show, Kung Pao Chilli Frog Leg (S$13 for two pieces) arrives shortly along with its Plain Porridge (S$3 for large) accompaniment, and the piquant, savoury-spicy aroma of the frog dish is an utter tease. I mean, how can you resist the wait as it cools, when it smells like that?

Plain Porridge
Plain Porridge

Anyhow, as I bite into a piece of frog leg—juicy, tender meat drenched in thick, viscous sauce—waves of comfort surge through me. But not without a sharp spicy hit that dissipates, replaced by a tang of soy sauce and vinegar that whets your appetite even more as you’re eating it. I’m hooked quickly.

Frog leg with porridge
Frog leg with porridge

Not gonna lie, the intensity of this dish can get a tad cloying after a while, but that’s exactly what your blank porridge canvas is for. Blending right in the thick and sticky porridge, the sauce waters it down in texture but ramps it up in flavour—serving you the best of both worlds.

Sambal Stingray
Sambal Stingray

A heft piece of BBQ Sambal Stingray (S$12 for small) arrives, and I’m excited for another flavour addition to my porridge. Slathered in deep maroon sambal, I remind myself to give credit to the stingray flesh too. It’s easy to be distracted from the meat itself, but I’m happy to report that it’s amply seasoned.

The flesh boasts a hint of sweetness that nicely complements the sambal, doing its thing with a balance of sweet, spice, and smokiness. It’s not too tender though, with a nice chew making this dish an oh-so-satisfying one.

Caipo Omelette
Caipo Omelette

Finally, between a vegetable dish to add a facade of balance, or the Cai Po Omelette (S$6 for small), I decided to go big. You’ll want to ladle heaps of porridge for this one, simply because it’s both hearty and salty at the same time.

The ratio of egg to cai po is pretty balanced, so I get a good bite of both. While I’m pleasantly surprised by the thick egg that managed to retain its airy ‘pillowiness’, its cai po condiment was a tad too salty. It’s difficult to fully enjoy this dish without wincing, so I seek comfort from my sauce-riddled porridge. Truly a saviour, because it offers me a rhapsody of tastes that mellows the brunt of salt.

Getting past the saga with salt, I am reminded of what makes me reach for more. It’s the wok hei, the gold standard of zi char fare. While the egg remains fluffy till its very last chew, so does the smokiness from its char—proving to be this dish’s saving grace.

Final thoughts

Good food doesn’t need fancy packaging and stellar service to be appreciated, and the fare here is a testament. I watch the service crew and chefs bustle about in tandem, serving up their reputed numbers. Here, it’s not about the details in the eating experience, but the spotlight they cast entirely on their food.

It’s soon 7pm and the dinner queue snakes outside, with patrons peeking in, sneaking wafts and sights of the revered frog porridge on tables. As they stream in and out after their quick and satiating meal, I get a clear picture. Far from being a flash in the pan, Hong Chang Eating House is one to thrive for long, with their honest fare that’s pretty formidable.

Expected damage: S$10 – S$20 per pax

*This review was done prior to Phase 2 (HA), but if you’d like to order delivery/takeaway from Hong Chang Eating House, please support them here.

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Director of Porridge, Mountbatten: “Every bowl is packed with ingredients, flavour, and sincerity”

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