With all travelling only possible in dreams at the moment, I really do miss the very affordable and delectable snacks from Taiwan night markets. I recently chanced upon one stall in Chinatown food center selling just the right things to help satisfy the cravings.
The first time I chanced upon this stall as I was buying traditional desserts from my favourite 115 desserts next door and there was hardly any queue and back then I just bought 1 braised pork rice. The 2nd time, I came by as I was having serious cravings for some of their Taiwanese dishes and there were already long queues as they are becoming increasing well known and popular.
The offerings are limited yet representative enough of the Taiwan night market. Hot favourites at every night market, you can find fried chicken cutlet, braised pork rice, shredded chicken rice, egg fried rice, shrimp fried rice and egg fried rice with fragrant chicken or fried chicken cutlet.
These chalk menus really reminded me of those endless stalls at the Taiwanese night markets.
Helmed by young owners from Taiwan, they are greatly understaffed when the queues gets too long. I have witnessed days when only one of them manages the stall alone and these are the days when the queues gets horrendous.
The chap handles all of the cooking like the fried rice and fried chicken cutlet while the braised pork and fragrant shredded chicken has already been pre-cooked in a big food warmer. The lady handles all the order taking, packing of food and serving the pre=cooked dishes.
For SGD 4.80, the serving of the chicken cutlet and egg fried rice is pretty decent.
If we are to compare this to the famous Din Tai Fung fried chicken fried rice, the chicken and rice is much lighter in flavours and slightly on the dry side especially the fried chicken. The chicken was hardly seasoned as it depended mostly on the flavour of the chilli powder sprinkled outside.
The rice was well fried with each single grain nicely separated and tasted like a healthier version of the usual fried rice . There was a nice eggy flavour to the rice with a light savoury flavour. It would be perfect if the flavours were just that tad stronger.
Next was the braised pork rice which came with a braised egg, braised pork belly chunks and salted vegetables for SGD 3. The serving was visibly smaller as with most servings of braised pork rice in Taiwan. I realised while queueing that the rice portions for the braised pork and chicken rice were carefully weighed at 180g for the optimal serving for 1 person so while the serving looks small, it is actually very filling.
The Taiwanese pearl rice has nicely soaked up all the sauce which had a savoury flavour with a tinge of sweetness to it. The saltiness of the vegetable brought out a 2nd layer of salty tangy flavour when paired with the rice. The braised pork has a nice chew to it without being overly fatty so the dish was hardly oily. I would say that the braised pork rice is quite authentic like those I have tried at the small night market stalls.
This next dish was the highlight as I was craving badly for this ever since trying the best shredded chicken rice from Fang Jia in Ningxia Night market in Taipei. When I found out that they sold this particular dish, I had to order. Firstly the portion is the same as the braised pork rice at SGD 3 for 180 grams of rice. The rice is then topped with shredded chicken meat and green onions and drizzled with shallot oil, sesame oil and their special sauce.
At first glance, this dish looks hardly appetizing due to the lack of ingredients but trust me, this is highly addictive. The rice and chicken is fairly plain and the magic of the dish is 100% the sauce. Other than the strong taste of shallots and sesame oil and soy sauce, there is a wonderful umami flavour in the sauce which I am suspecting roasted chicken oil. Each mouthful of the rice coupled with the chicken and rice gives you a balanced marriage of shallot and sesame aroma, gratifying taste of chicken fats coupled with slightly sweet soy sauce. I totally finished this bowl within mins and there was hardly enough for my mum to steal.
Personally, I find that the chicken rice is a big winner even though it is still a notch behind the one I had in Taiwan and the braised pork rice is also not too bad a choice. For those looking to chow on some authentic Taiwanese night market food can visit Really Something but be warned of the not too short waiting times.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-206 Chinatown Complex, Singapore 050335
Operating hours: 11 am to 6 pm ( Closed on Mon and Thur)