You know that feeling of tidying up your room and coming across money that you never knew you had? Well, working at SETHLUI.com can be like that. Yesterday, I discovered this gem of a hawker stall just a few minutes’ drive from my home that just blew me away. This is its full name on Google Maps: Hong Kong Street Chun Tat Kee 81 XO Fish Head Beehoon XO Crab Beehoon.
It’s also known by the less hectic Hong Kong Street Food Chun Tat Kee or, as I abbreviate it, the scandalous-looking HKSFCTK. It’s a chain with several other branches in the central region, including on Balestier Road and Serangoon Road.
Sitting on the rather quiet corner of Changi Road and Everitt Road North, this nondescript eatery reminds me of old Singapore with its laidback vibe and bare basics furniture. Helping the illusion along was the thin crowd that consisted mainly of elderly uncles and aunties.
That was early on a Monday evening when I arrived but the place was packed with patrons by the time I finished around 8.30pm.
What I tried at Hong Kong Street Food Chun Tat Kee
Our first order was for the Yang Zhou Fried Rice (S$7.50 for small, S$13 for medium, S$15 for large). When the waitress had suggested that we get a ‘small’, I felt that it might not be enough for my dining partner and I. My doubts weren’t entirely erased when the waitress assured us that the portions were adequate. Then, it arrived.
‘Small’ at this place is apparently a synonym of ‘pretty big’. My picture doesn’t quite do it justice because you cannot see how high the mound of rice was from that angle. Rest assured, it was definitely not ‘small’.
Serving size aside, the rice was fantastic. A wonderful fragrance wafted from the little hill marked with small bits of pink shrimp, yellow fried egg, green long beans and red char siew. Each grain of rice had a light sheen of oil which told me that this dish would not be dry.
It took just one mouthful for me to become a fan of this stall. Everything came together so well— the moist rice, the mild sweetness of the pork, and lovely crunch of the thinly-cut long beans were enhanced by the bits of egg and whole shrimp.
If you can have only one dish from here, make it the Yang Zhou Fried Rice.
One of the most appetising pictures in the menu was of the Lemon Chicken (S$14 for small, S$26 for large) and it was an accurate depiction of the dish that we were served. The crispy chicken bits sat in a shallow pool of lemon sauce, garnished with twin lemon slices.
There is no question of the quality and taste of the meat but this was the most basic of what we tried, completely devoid of any veggies. I didn’t feel the absence as much since we had other dishes as well but some cucumber and onion would round this dish up nicely.
We opted for a small plate of Chilli Kang Kong (S$10 for small) but, as all dishes are at HKSFCTK, it was not small. The tangle of green kang kong stems and leaves were dressed up with red bell pepper, long strips of onion, bits of garlic, and shrimp paste. I was slightly apprehensive of the orange bed of oil, though.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not a fan of veggies but this was my least favourite dish of the day. Slightly less oil would help, as would cutting up the kang kong stems to smaller, more manageable lengths. That said, it’s certainly not ‘bad’ and the crunchiness was a good companion to the tender meat dishes.
Our Sweet Sour Sliced Fish (S$13 for small) took a tad too long to arrive, in my opinion, making it to our table about 20 minutes after the fried rice. It’s hard to complain, though, because it was prepared so well.
This dish is served on a bed of lettuce with pineapple, cucumber, tomato, onion and, most importantly, huge chunks of crispy boneless fish. The skin had the perfect crunch which just served to accentuate how tender the meat inside was.
Some cooks like to slather too much sweet and sour sauce but that just ends up making the meat soggy. There was no such misstep here and both the amount of sauce and its intensity were just right.
I love this place. That evolution of my opinion from one of mild curiosity when I arrived there to fondly recalling the delicious food as I write these words is fascinating to me. It’s hard to believe that such a wonderful hawker stall existed pretty much in my back yard and I’d never come across it.
Well, I’ll make amends by visiting it a lot more now.
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