Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old Mother Hen Traditional Herbal Soup (十全老母鸡小吃店)

She who stirred us with her mellow voice.

Her style was exemplary of when J-pop meets K-wave; blonde curls matched with stylishly colourful pieces. She might be wearing platforms and not know the customers by their names but her grace was comparable to the maître d’ of some reputable fine dines. Seriously. Her voice, my oh my, gentle as breezing whispers with lightness of fluffy cotton candy.

Just because it’s Geylang doesn’t mean that good service is solely conformed to the more explicitly entertaining lanes. It can be found in many restaurants in this vibrant district as well. The lady boss (or so, I assume) was amazing. Despite a small table of just two diners, she took time to describe the signatures and reasoned the plan of when each dish would be served. I should add affordable prices too. When friends asked of my Old Mother Hen experience, I’d never failed to include a few words of praise for the lady boss. She was the absolute highlight of our dinner.

For the sake of convenience, I could have gone to the Jurong branch but it was a dish served exclusively here that got me taking the MRT all the way to Kallang from my ghetto in the west, pushing my way into a bus to Sims Avenue and braving (I held my breath for as long as I could) a few fruit stalls displaying a frightening amount of durians.

Only, and only for the love of KL-style Hokkien Mee.

Honestly, I was just hoping for an average taste to satisfy my craving for comfort food. I mean, just when authentic Hokkien Mee is on the verge of extinction in KL, what are the chances of me discovering a good one in an island majoring in Teochew cuisine? Like most dai chow (tze char) stalls, it lacked origin/identity. To simply put it – typical construction of fried noodles with soy sauce, squid, prawns and pork. Don’t get me wrong. It’s tasty, especially when greased and glistened with an impressive amount of lard. I walloped the whole plate, almost. The gravy was nicely reduced too, unlike many that left it awfully soupy. But to call it KL-style would be like seeing Mickey Mouse dresses up as Minnie Mouse. Kind of misrepresented, I thought, especially in the absence of the quintessential elements of the charring aroma (wok hei) and ground dried flatfish. Then again, most Hokkien Mee stalls in KL have already forgotten these 2 elements anyway. How sad.

Old Mother Hen is famous for her claypot rice. In terms of ingredients, they scored. There was a nice mixture of flavourful ingredients like waxed sausages and salted fish to whip up the appetite. Liked the well-cooked rice too. I’m not much of a claypot rice fan, so I really can’t distinguish the good from the average. Maybe it’s all about the ensemble of everything, including the condiment of chopped cili padi soaked in soy sauce and the choice of dark, semi-sweet soy sauce because rice by itself, is bland. I still don’t get the idea of the use of charcoal for cooking rice. Does a claypot, which has higher heat capacity, render a better texture of the rice? Perhaps I will find out when I visit the famous stall in Clementi, which I’ve been wanting to visit since forever!

Among other dishes that we had were the perfect ten (十全) herbal soup and the signature deep-fried tofu with a topping of overwhelming oyster sauce taste. I liked the soup because it was dense - an indication of a good, prolonged simmer.

There are many other unexplored dishes on the menu including stir-fried fallopian tubes of sows and steamed freshwater fish. Too many choices, too little brainpower after a day at work. But I’m sure the lady boss is more than willing to lend a hand on that.

Old Mother Hen Traditional Herbal Soup (十全老母鸡小吃店)
136 Sims Ave
(between Lorong 17 and 19)
Tel: (+65) 9128 2793 (Jimmy)


Sean said...

gosh, i love the name. it's like a cross between a nursery rhyme and a decades-old chinese restaurant.
looks like real food for the soul :D

Rebecca Saw said...

Claypot chic rice!
So good with chilli padi ;)

qwazymonkey said...

Old Mother Hen in Geylang sounds too much like "Mummy" to the other chicks! LOL

Come back KL for a good grub lah. We're just a bust ride away.

ladyironchef said...

wow look at all the words flow, salute! hee clementi is so near to u, surely it will be soon since u can go all the way to the east for old mother hen? :D

J said...

(Monkey! Such a twisted mind! :P)
Mmmm... a piping hot yummy bowl of soup & comforting carbs are great soul soothing food at the end of hard work day, don't you think? :)

choi yen said...

The herbal soup dark like 墨水, taste bitter?

UnkaLeong said...

Is that Kei Chee I spy in the pot of soup? Looks dark! Wonder if it tastes anything like chick-kut-teh?

J2Kfm said...

i am still wondering where to sample realllllly good hokkien mee in KL.
i'm no fan of thick, yellow noodles, though i like them lards.

Ciki said...

why all also so brown brown one? hehe.. me no like rice.. me like soup n nudles:)

Selba said...

I want.. I want.. I want to try it all!!! The food that I rarely eat or can say almost have never eaten before :)

ai wei said...

i have no idea why my dad dun like claypot chicken rice. ended up we din get to have this at all @@

Tummythoz said...

Actually thot you posted a chicken soup recipe. =P

Consequence of not having crossed the causeway since ..omg ..cannot remember.

fatboybakes said...

what a cool name hor... wonder how that translates in cantonese....!
hairy, what a blardy bad idea to visit your blog before a proper breakfast. arghhhhhhhhh.

HairyBerry said...

sean, definitely hearty food. you'll be surprised to know that it was the hokkien mee that attracted me, not the name...haha.

thenomadgourmand, yeah! it has to have chilli to go with the rice. especially cili padi!

qwazymonkey, u have a point, especially when it's situated in geylang..haha. i miss u guys/gals! see y'all in dec!!!!! :)

ladyironchef, thanks for the encouraging words, dude!! :) yupe, we shd do a re-clementi crawl soon!!! haha.

j, agree to the max! sometimes, i really look forward to a good, comfort dinner after a hard day at work. and of course, a good sleep. :)

mimi, actually, it was not bitter at all. herbal with a hint of sweetness. but this kinda soup is usually heaty la, i think..haha

unkaleong, yupe, wolfberries there were. i think the resemblance to chick-kut-teh is there la. but the taste is milder, i feel. aiyo, long time no eat ckt d!!!!

HairyBerry said...

j2kfm, yeah, i wonder too! well, ai yuen at jalan pahang is not bad but still lacked the wok hei. hey, ipoh got good hokkien mee or not ar?

cumi & ciki, where got brown-brown??? haha. me likes noodles, definitely. but it's still carb, right? hahahaha.

selba, come come come! whether in singapore or malaysia, it'll be a gastronomic trip you'll want to remember! :)

ai wei, actually, i am also not a fan of claypot rice also. i prefer dai chow where there's a good variety of dishes. but of course, if the claypot rice is good, i'm good to go as well. :)

tummythoz, haha, i cant even prescribe the ingredients for a herbal soup la...hehehe. wei, let me know if you are coming over! we go makan!!!

fatboybakes, in cantonese, i think it's called "lou mou gai"...omg, patrick teoh's niamah comes to mind! hahahaha! glad i made u salivate, man! :)