Note to self: Monday is generally not a good day to visit Maxwell Food Centre, because all the famous stalls like Tian Tian Chicken Rice and the Ngoh Hiang stalls are closed. Already, Maxwell is much more a daytime place than a dinner place, because many stalls are only open for breakfast and lunch, and are closed by midday or 8 pm at the latest. Add that to the Monday closures, and you’re left with a rather limited selection if you go for dinner on a Monday night.
Still, we found ourselves there on Monday for dinner because A had an appointment in the area. With our limited choices, we ended up settling for the Hoe Kee Porridge (for me) and Big Scissors Curry Rice (for A). The porridge was excellent – I ordered a pork and century egg porridge and added an egg, and for $3.50 I had a huge bowl with lots of ingredients. There was both minced pork and pork slices, and the pork slices were surprisingly soft and tender. The porridge was extremely fine and smooth, and didn’t require the addition of any extra soya sauce to give it taste (just lots of pepper to give it some kick, heh).
The Big Scissors Curry Rice is essentially just pork chop curry rice. I guess they call it Big Scissors because of how the pork chop is cut up? I tried a mouthful of A’s and it wasn’t bad – the curry was quite spicy, so that was good – but I wouldn’t say it was outstanding.
A got there early enough (before 8 pm) to grab some of the Hum Jin Peng before the stall closed. Apparently during the day the queues at this stall are crazy, probably because it’s so cheap (7 hum jin pengs for $1), and people buy $10 worth at a go sometimes. A got there at about 7.45 and there were just 2 people ahead of him in the queue.
The hum jin pengs are really cute; they’re about half the size of regular ones, which is why you can get seven of them for just $1. They’re much lighter and fluffier than most hum jin pengs I’ve tried as well, which tend to be quite dense and heavy. You can choose between 2 flavours as well – a regular one with plain sweet dough that’s slightly salty because of the five spice salt that is apparently in the frying oil, and a sweet one which has red bean paste in the centre, and is dipped in sugar. Both were delicious, and I’m having a hard time deciding which I prefer. I’m leaning slightly towards the sweet one.
I’m definitely planning to come back to Maxwell very soon, to try the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice, the Ngoh Hiang, and to get some more of the hum jin pengs. I’ll have to get a bunch for my brother too, he’ll love them.
The Big Scissors Curry Rice was not bad for its price – $3.50 for pork chop, omelette and curry veg). I don’t think I’ll be back at this place since the curry was a bit too spicy for my tastes. And I’ve had better at more expensive places at Henderson and Telok Blangah.
There are actually at least three or four curry rice places at Maxwell and different people have recommended different ones. Next time I go, I’ll try the one next to the hum jin peng store.
And speaking of hum jin peng, I had incredible difficulty ordering there cause the woman kept speaking to me in mandarin. It’s like a series of tests, siah. I think they were in this order and I think one of the questions was whether I wanted mixed variety, but I’m really not sure.
Level 1: You want with sesame (seeds on top)?
Level 2: You want with filling (red bean paste)?
Level 3: You want with sugar (light coating)?
Next time, I’ll get C to do the ordering cause I want with sesame and red bean paste and sugar. Sweet.
Btw, if you want to go and can’t be bothered to wait for a car park space, you can park at the basement of the URA building across the street. It’s expensive though. I think we paid like $9 for 3+ hours there once.
Hum Jin Peng
Open daily: 1 pm to 8 pm
Hoe Kee Porridge
6.30am to 4am Friday to Sunday, 6.30am to 2.30 am Monday to Thursday
Big Scissors Curry Rice
11am to 10.30pm, closed Saturdays