Going nutty for some herbal chicken soup
Block 161, Bukit Merah Central, Dong Fong Fatt coffee shop
11.30am to 8pm or till sold out (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays and public holidays
I WAS at a soup stall in a Bukit Merah Central coffee shop at 11.30am recently, and it had just opened for the day.
When I ordered the old coconut chicken soup, Mr Chong Chee Siang politely but firmly refused to sell it to me. Its original price is $9.80 but it is available at $7.50 until the end of next month.
The 28-year-old partner of Lim Soup said it needed half an hour more for the flavour to fully develop. Get other types of soup, he suggested.
I returned at noon to try it.
He suggested that I put all the ingredients in a bowl then stir the soup in the coconut before savouring it. This was to let the coconut flavour come through.
Did it work? Well, the broth had a nice coconut flavour, with a subtle taste of the herbs it was double-boiled with. These include dangsheng (codonopsis root), huai shan (wild yam), red dates and wolfberries.
Mr Eric Lim Chin Kwok, 40, who co-owns the stall, said only old coconuts are used as they impart a light yet distinctive taste.
The chicken herbal soup ($4.50) was not bad too, cooked with herbs such as danggui (Chinese angelica), yuzhu (Solomon's Seal) and Japanese dried scallop which enhanced the broth.
If you prefer to have rice with soup, try the organic rice (80 cents) or white rice (50 cents), both of which come with a generous helping of stir-fried cabbage topped with fried whitebait.
The organic version is a mixture of brown, red and black rice. Gravy, from cooking pork with mushrooms and other ingredients, is drizzled over the rice, making it moist.
For variation, I had the steamed chicken rice with salted fish ($3.50), which did not quite stand out. The chicken and salted fish were steamed separately, so they can be paired with organic rice (30 cents more) or white rice.
The bittergourd soup ($4.50) lived up to its name, but its bitterness was tempered with the sweetness of red dates and wolfberries. Those who like the vegetable would like the chunks which are steamed till soft but still retain some bite.