Good food hunting in the wild wild west

Good food hunting in the wild wild west

There are no dusty cowboys and squeaky-doored saloons in Singapore's 'wild west.' Just awesome food
Joo Siah stall
Joo Siah Bak Kut Teh: famed for its bak kut teh (pork rib tea).
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Some 30 years ago, the far western part of Singapore was a sparsely inhabited industrial zone, with a few patches of rustling grass fields. Expanding urbanization and a better transport system has now made it a thriving suburb and home to some good eats.

Joo Siah Bak Kut TehJoo Siah Bak Kut Teh

Singaporeans love a piping hot bowl of bak kut teh (pork rib tea). Joo Siah not only serves residents in the west but draws in fans from the opposite end of the city-state. It serves the Teochew variety of bak kut teh which is clear, garlicky and very peppery. The long premium ribs sell out quick, often well before lunchtime, so go early. Prices are extremely reasonable too, just S$4-6 a bowl.

While you're there, try the excellent braised pork trotters (S$4). Bite into the meltingly smooth pig skin and discover large, juicy chunks of meat stewed until silky soft. The perfect mouthful? Scoop up a spoon of rice, layer on some broth and dip a piece of meat into the thick chili-infused soy sauce.

Block 347 Jurong East Avenue 1, #01-220 Yuehua Market and Food Centre, Singapore 600347; open Tuesday to Saturday: 8:45a.m. to 8p.m., Sundays: 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Mondays)

Boon Lay Power Nasi LemakBoon Lay Power Nasi Lemak

The long midnight queues spilling out to the carpark are testament to this nasi lemak's popularity. The secret lies with its rice, served piping hot and boiled in coconut milk with just a touch of ginger. The chicken wings are  crispy and freshly fried and go perfectly with the other accompaniments: crunchy fried anchovies, a fried egg, some slices of cucumber and the requisite dollop of sambal chili. There are also other side dishes you can pick at, such as otah, begedil (potato cutlet), sambal squid, ayam masak merah (red chicken stew) and hash browns. A full meal can be had for less than S$5. Note that this stall only opens in the evenings, so it’s perfect as a late night supper treat.

Blk 221B Boon Lay Place, #01-106 Boon Lay Place Food Centre, Singapore 640221; tel: +65 9023 4495; open daily 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Hot Box Bistro

Hot Box Bistro

Fancy homestyle Italian pasta in the western heartlands? Hot Box Bistro is a gem hidden away inside a coffeeshop, where the chef whips up pastas and grills that rival those served in fancier Italian establishments. The Creamy Mix Spaghetti (S$7) is loaded generously with smoked bacon, garlic and fresh shiitake mushrooms, and comes served al dente, something that’s not often achieved in Singapore. You also get excellent service, something not common in hawker-style places, as well as a wide range of reasonably priced choices, everything from your standard carbonara, aglio olio to pink cream sauce pastas.

Block 503 Jurong West Avenue 1, #01-855 Kopitiam, Singapore 640503; tel: +65 6560 3880; ppen 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (closed Tuesdays)

Taman JurongTaman Jurong Market and Food Centre

Sandwiched vertically between a wet market and a car park, don't let the unusual location of this two-story food center put you off, just head to levels 2 and 3 to uncover some great finds. Tien Lai Rice Stall (#02-66) may be hidden on the outer rim of stalls, but it sees a queue for its excellent Hong Kong style roast duck and caramelized charsiew, specifically served only with rice and not noodles. On the third level, Lee Kee is easily identified from the massive bunches of bananas hanging from the top of its signage. Its signature goreng pisang (banana fritters) is a winner for its crispy batter and use of one-and-a-half bananas for an extra indulgent mouthful. Sin Sheng Gor Hiong Prawn Cracker (#03-163) has an assortment of sinfully fried crackers, prawn-encrusted fritters, fish cake, fish balls, sausages and “wuxiang” (five-spice rolls). Other popular stalls to try are the curry fish head, grilled seafood, claypot rice, fish soup and porridge, minced meat noodles and mee siam.

3 Yung Sheng Road, Singapore 618499

Jurong PointJurong Point

Boon Lay used to be synonymous with the "boondocks" and for many years, Boon Lay MRT was the terminating station on the West line. And then the Jurong Point shopping centre (or JP for short) sprung up next to it, injecting life into the neighborhood. It grew so popular, it was expanded twice. If you find comfort in familiar chain stores, this behemoth mall has it all. There are 103 food outlets there at last count. Crystal Jade, Din Tai Fung, Pu Tien, Soup Restaurant, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, Starbucks, Haagen Dazs, Kuriya, Botejyu -- they’re all here. Even Tong Heng, the egg tart specialist, has set up a branch. There is also a 24-hour Xin Char Chan Teng and outdoor food court (Jurong Point Link Food Alley) where some of the more famous local hawkers have congregated in one spot -- Thye Hong Hokkien Mee, Port Klang Bak Kut Teh, Chong Pang nasi lemak, and Boon Tat Street Seafood to name a few.

1 Jurong West Central 2, Singapore 648886

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