Tuesday, 10 September 2013

126 (搵到食) Eating House

In Mandarin, 搵到食 is pronounced 'Wèn Dào Shí', but as a Cantonese Dim Sum establishment, the Cantonese pronunciation 'Wan Dou Sek' sounds like the place's street number 126 if you have a Chinese accent and a very bad cold. It basically means to search for food, and what a find this was. 

Drinks come in plastic containers like these, which means you get a whole lot more than in normal cups
IC was off to meet a designer the company had hired for our brochure, and I asked to tag along for educational purposes. With their office all the way in Ubi, IC suggested we go East for lunch. He suggested 搵到食, since I'd never tried it before, and assured me that it was really good food. 126 Eating House is located in Geylang, which turns into a hotspot for all kinds of dodgy activity at night. In the day though, you can enjoy all the glorious food there is to offer without being having to contend with near-constant leering or the odd snatch thief.  

Really thick, silky fish porridge
We reached in time for a late lunch, and found a seat with no problem. Once the evening rolls around, a queue forms and starts snaking down the walkway outside, and some people who can't get a place here end up going further down the road to another Dim Sum establishment on a street corner, whose only existence seems to be as a Plan B to this place. 

Deep Fried Frog. Good stuff. 

To order, you're given a blank piece of paper and a pencil with which to jot down the item number of all the dishes you want. The menu's thick and battered, with just about big enough pictures and handwritten everything else. To be absolutely honest, it kind of looked like a Health Education project I did when I was 8 and had to come up with my own menu for a restaurant, only the writing here was obviously nicer than my own chicken scratching. 

Kong Ba Pao - Stewed Pork Belly Bun. Melt in your mouth

At 1.30 in the afternoon, everyone else at the restaurant looked like they were skiving off work. It was like we were all in a Twilight Zone-esque bubble of existence in this restaurant quite apart from our normal experiences. This vaguely off-kilter atmosphere was greatly enhanced by the near constant caterwauling coming from the kitchen. Someone was very passionately trying to sing. He failed, pretty much. 

Char Siew Chee Cheong Fan. The thick sauce tasted like Ba Kwa marinade
IC very sagely nodded when the first keening wails cut through our comfortable silence in between bites, and told me that was how the kitchen staff entertained themselves while working. It was faintly amusing, because the screams were off-key and so anguished. With ambience like this, a rough neighbourhood outside and a rather shabby-looking interior, it's fair to say that the food is the only draw. And the food is great.  

Siew Mai Wang (King) - One and a half times the size of the average Siew Mai!
We ordered so much that when I went home I lay on the sofa and croaked "I'm still carrying this food baby, please don't try to feed me any more." Between me going "Oh hey this looks good." and IC suggesting things, we had eight dishes between the two of us (Another porridge was so quickly consumed I forgot to snap a picture of it until it was far too late.), which was excessive but awesome. 

Soupless Xiao Long Bao
Apart from the Xiao Long Bao, which was rather sadly soup-free and dry for the sort of dumpling it should be (Though perfectly serviceable as a normal dumpling), everything else was really enjoyable. The porridge was thick but smooth and the fish used was very fresh. The 'King' Dim Sum were filled with much more stuffing than usual ones, and good stuffing too. The tender fried frog reminded me of the fried quail I love so much. Then there was the Kong Ba Pao (Pork Belly Bun). Usually, I just eat the bun and sneak my pork belly to someone else because the layer of fat, when cooked badly, becomes a tough mess. But this one was special. Not only was the belly cooked to perfection with soft jelly-like fat and a hint of cloves, the bun was also more like a thin, fluffy wrap than the usual semi-circular bun you get.  

Har Gow Wang (King) - Twice the stuffing of the average Har Gow!
On our way back to the car, the walkway was blocked by a group of men having a shouting match. One was threatening to kill another if he ever set foot in China, and his would-be victim was screaming "Do it! I dare you!". We had to walk on the road to avoid get caught in the cross-fire. First fight I've ever seen. Exciting stuff. 

126 Sims Avenue, Singapore 387449

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