MOVED: Truly Curry Rice has opened its own coffeeshop called Truly Test Kitchen at 153 Kampong Ampat, Jun Jie Industrial Building #07-05, Singapore 368326.
My trader friends earn 5-digit salary monthly, with 6 months’ bonus. Deniece Tan and Joel give up their cushy trader jobs to be hawkers, waking at 4am everyday. Joel doesn’t see it as a sacrifice: his past has nothing to do with his future, he says, and when passion meets opportunity, he grabs it. This must have been a truly difficult decision for them both.
The opportunity arose when Deniece’s father, who was a hawker, wanted to give up his stall. Deniece and Joel take over with the latter doing the cooking. Their philosophy is to present the freshest food: ALL sauces are made from scratch (including the super tok kong sambal chili), little MSG, and the stall is equipped with a UV light display to keep the food consistently warm.
Pundits may be concerned that the style isn’t Hainanese but I don’t care. We live in a globalized city, nothing is “authentic” anymore. The only benchmark should be if it’s delicious or not. And I love everything I ate.
The things to look out for in curry rice are the curry, pork chop, and chap chye. While the pork chop and chap chye were ok, the curry (Deniece’s dad’s recipe, with some tweaking by Joel) was fantastic: A heavy aroma of tomato, giving it a sweetness, and mellowing into an aftertaste of tingles and complex spices in the mouth. A very smart move: The rice was slightly hard, so that it would soften to a right texture when absorbed by the curry.
The two MUST ORDER dishes are the eggplant, a sweet chili sauce with lots of hae bee without the stinky smell; and handmade ngoh hiang from Joel’s mom’s recipe. Deniece chops the ingredients by hand at 4am every morning, so the ngoh hiang has chunks of pork and prawn, giving it a very AMAZING texture, and the taste was explosive, lingering. Without a doubt, this is BEST NGOH HIANG I’ve tasted.
I love everything I ate, but I’ve a disclaimer: it is said that I’ve modern tastes and the older generation may be less used to food that is slightly sweet. For example, the curry, eggplant, sotong, and lionhead (balled minced pork) were slightly sweet, rather than savory. The braised pork belly was lean, had a bite, and was lightly flavored, which I liked, but the elders may prefer it fat, tender and heavy handed. The seniors may find the sotong out of place in a curry rice shop, but I savored its hints of assam and lemongrass although it was a tad overcooked. Some like the prawns to be more thinly battered, but this 5 spice-flavored batter that remained crispy after some time in the open worked very well for me: it gives a rich mouthfeel, not doughy at all, when you eat it as a whole.
I have eaten at a few famous curry rice stalls before but I don’t see the fascination because it’s only cai fan with curry what. Cai Fan everywhere also has. But Truly Curry Rice changes me. The food is different because it is homely, sincere AND modern. Anyone below 35 will love it. Consider me a fan. Truly, deeply, madly.
Truly Curry Rice
Blk 79 Telok Blangah Drive Food Center #01-29 Singapore 100079
M-F: 10.45am-sold out (about 1pm)
S-S: 10am-sold out (about 1.30pm)
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thanks, Charleen (gninethree) for the tasting and introducing me to Deniece and Joel.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.