Sure, it may not be set in a bustling food center and the air-conditioning betrays the usual sticky, hot feeling you get when you’re in Singapore, but Ang Mo Kio in The Podium is a pretty darn good alternative when hawker food craving strikes.
Co-owned and managed by Ritchie Baldonado, a graphic artist that has worked in Singapore for seven years, Ang Mo Kio offers the usual Singapore favorites without sacrificing value for money, quality and the taste. They don’t necessarily tweak dishes to suit the general Filipino palate. They make them the way they are meant to be prepared and served, with some key ingredients ordered from Singapore and a Singaporean chef conceptualizing the menu, which stamp authenticity to the place.
Check out their chicken display upon entering, which looks the same as the Hainanese chicken rice stalls in Singapore. We try out half a chicken (Hainanese Chicken with Rice for Two, P448), which is already humongous for a party of two.
Hainanese Chicken with Rice for Two
The usual condiments are available—dark soy sauce, pounded ginger and chili paste—requisite staples for a satisfying Hainanese chicken rice meal. The chicken is plump, with its juices and oil pooling around it on the plate. The rice is fragrant and flavorful—with just the right amount of sesame oil infused in it. Know that Hainanese chicken rice that chef and world traveler, Anthony Bourdain, raved about when he was in Singapore? Ang Mo Kio’s version tastes just like that. So yes, this calls for another visit.
Their Laksa (P308) is a best seller, which is no surprise, given the Filipinos’ love for anything with noodles. Instead of using vermicelli, Ang Mo Kio uses egg noodles in this Peranakan version, which gives a full-bodied texture and more curdling. Rich in seafood like cockles, prawns and fish cake, the dish becomes more spectacular with chili paste. As if that’s not enough, they added dried shrimp to the mix, making it the kind of comfort food you’ll crave for again another day.
Eat this as soon as possible, as the egg noodles will absorb the coconut curry soup over time, giving you a pudding consistency, instead of soup.
Another popular hawker noodle dish is the Hokkien Prawn Mee (P275/single), comprised of yellow wheat noodles (Hokkien noodles), bee hon, tau geh (bean sprouts), prawns, eggs, sotong (squid) and pork belly slices. Served with a dash of sambal (chili paste) and calamansi (Philippine lemon), it is reminiscent of our own pansit canton, albeit less oily. This version also has belachan served on the side, a kind of Malay shrimp paste that is like our bagoong, but saltier and devoid of the sweet taste. It goes really well with the noodles, making it spicier and upping the ante of its seafood flavor.
Hokkien Prawn Mee
The name, Bak Ku Teh (P285/single), translates to “meat bone tea,” which is interesting to note because this dish doesn’t have actual tea in it. Its broth is made from pork ribs stewed in a mixture of fragrant herbs and spices, such as garlic, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds and coriander. The name is derived from the Chinese oolong tea commonly consumed when eating this because it is believed to help dilute the large amount of fat in this pork dish.
Bak Ku Teh
I recommend eating this with steamed white rice, although some folks like it with noodles. I like dipping the meat in light soy sauce and chili paste and then eating it with freshly-cooked rice drowning in the tasty broth.
Ang Mo Kio also has options for vegetarians, one of which is the Roti Prata (P95/ two pieces), which could be an appetizer or a light snack. Soft, filling and chewy, the bread is a perfect pairing for milk tea, which is also offered in this place.
Rose Milk Tea
Here’s a brave choice: the Rose Milk Tea (P70), which is a soft, creamy pink! It tastes like how perfume would taste like if you accidentally spray it on your face. I imagine people getting this for the experience, because it’s more of a novelty drink than a thirst quencher. It’s pretty amazing how it smells and tastes like real, freshly-picked roses.
A safe and common choice is the Teh Tarik (P70), which literally translates to “pulled tea.” Its name is derived from the pouring process of "pulling" the drink during preparation. The beverage is composed of black tea, evaporated milk and condensed milk. Made fresh upon ordering, it is the best drink to pair with roti prata. The duo is a typical breakfast meal in Malaysia and Singapore, but Filipinos usually eat this during merienda time.
Another thing worth noting: Ang Mo Kio doesn’t use MSG. They guarantee this, because they take pride in providing authentic flavor using the best ingredients available. Want to up the realness factor all the way? Get a bottle of Tiger beer, Singapore’s first locally-produced beer. Ang Mo Kio has them and they serve them cold. Perfect for those days you’re hankering for a little Singaporean experience but can’t fully commit to a trip.