Down n out in Toa Payoh?

Was going to go for the nyonya buiffet lunch at Chilli Padi in North Bridge Rd with mum n maid, to give both a treat since I’ve been away for a few days in Penang and they didn’t give me any unnecessary excitement eg fone calls abt not functioning aircon and/or washing machine…

Alas, as with all good intentions. Ran into neighbour PP from Hongkong who has been spoiling us with her slow boiled soups and she wanted to go to Toa Payoh to pay her tontine money. Gave her a lecture abt the danger of such investments and also gave her a lift to TPY. Having hit TPY and it was almost 1pm made it silly to try to go into town so settled for HDB hub.

And voila! Discovered that slumming in the B1 foodcourt could be quite tasty and easy on the purse. For the three of us the total bill came to $12!! A sum that could be spent easily on one person alone, even in a food court and most definitely at places like Ajisen.

Mum and I had wonton noodles with char siew; $5 for two persons. Siti had Ipoh kway teow with steamed chicken: $3.

$2.50 n good to last strand

$2.50 n good to last strand

 We shared a dessert of peanut soup with sweet dumplings (tang yuan): $2. Then I got adventurous and decided to take home some rojak, not because I was still hungry but because it was the only stall (number 25) in the whole food court with a queue number system.

It said “68” and I was curious. Since its prices seemed reasonable enough, starting from $2, I decided to have a go and asked Siti to go take a queue number plus the instruction to tell the uncle not to put crushed peanuts on top of the rojak.

Mum and I waited for a good 5 minutes + another 5 minutes wandering around the foodcourt checking out the food and drink offerings be4 I panicked that the maid might have got lost, as surely the queue couldn’t be that long!

We headed back to Stall 25 only to discover the board showing 90 and Siti with a disk that showed 7. What the heck did that mean? I marched up to the stall for clarification to be told that once the system reached 100, it would start from 1 again.

I must give the rojak uncle and his assistant top marks for politeness. Bceause despite being so busy, they entertained my repeated reminders: “hey, I don’t want crushed peanuts”; “hey I want bungkus (takeaway)”, after having already explained their numbering system.

I watched the uncle shave the cucumber freshly into each portion he tossed, and gave him another plus.

Sure enough, when my turn came, my rojak was neatly packed, with two bamboo skewers thrown in to be used in lieu of forks.

When we got home, the rojak’s ingredients were as fresh as any I’ve eaten, including the self-made kind at buffets. Although I’m not fond of “you tiao” (Chinese crullers/fried dough sticks), the really crispy yet unoily version in the Soon Heng rojak well marinaded in the black prawn paste was so lip-smacking tasty that I ate several pieces. The rojak’s even got a few slivers of “jiu hu” or rubbery cuttle fish.

take the cue!

take the cue!

I’ve never heard of Soon Heng so after the tasty rojak decided to google to see if it’s been written about be4. Seems like Camemberu is there be4 me with better pix to boot. And seems like Soon Heng is a place many people know about, except moi!

While the basement 1 food court at HDB Hub isn’t the most salubrious dining place in S’pore, it’s great value for money, the food actually edible, and no more crowded than at Great World City or Bugis Junction. Parking costs just $1.22! Better still, the loos at the hub are remarkably clean (despite the presumably huge traffic) and large.

There are soap and self-service toilet rolls outside the stalls a la the loos lining both sides of the North-South Highway. The quality of the loos at the hub puts some of those at our so called premier shopping centres to shame.

Well, if being down n out in S’pore means making the hub your personal dining room, then I can’t think of a better place to be down n out in than S’pore!


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