In the words of Anthony Bourdain: “Nearly anyone - after a few tries - can grill a fillet mignon or a sirloin steak. A trained chimp can steam a lobster. But it takes love, and time, and respect for one's ingredients to properly deal with a pig's ear or a kidney."
Indeed, transforming cheap cuts and unwanted scraps of organ meat into delicious dishes is a true labour of love that often involve hours spent hunched over a sink cleaning out intestines or slaving over vats of hot boiling soup. By turning beef lungs into spicy, stir-fried paru goreng and kidney and liver into flavourful herbal soups, Singapore’s street food hawkers are keeping an important part of our culinary heritage alive. Here are 8 MICHELIN Bib Gourmand establishments for a taste of tradition.
Chai Chuan Tou Yang Rou Tang
This 30-year-old establishment at Bukit Merah View Food Centre opens for merely three hours every day, and regularly draws a long line of patrons eager for its herbal mutton soup (pictured in banner). Customers can pick from a whole range of mutton parts for their soup, including prime ribs that are so tender the meat slides off the bone, springy meatballs, tripe, tendon and even lamb brain. The herbal, umami-rich soup is served garnished with a handful of coriander leaves for a refreshing lift, along with a side of rice and some tangy chilli sauce for dipping.
To-Rico’s Guo Shi
A new entry in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019 Bib Gourmand selection, To-Rico’s Guo Shi specialises in kway chap, a classic Teochew dish that comprises an assortment of soya sauce-braised offal served with a separate bowl of slippery flat rice noodles in soup. Pork offal such as large and small intestines, stomach and skin are thoroughly cleaned before they are braised in a rich and herbal soya sauce. The chewy texture and umami flavour are a perfect complement to the silky rice noodles.
Koh Brothers Pig’s Organ Soup
Another new entrant into the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand 2019 selection is this non-descript stall in the foodie haven of Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre that specialises in zhu zha tang, or pig’s organ soup. The Teochew-style clear soup is made from boiling pork bones and offal with tangy salted preserved mustard vegetables. The peppery soup, brimming with liver, tripe, intestines, fatty pork belly and meatballs, is served with rice and a piquant chilli sauce. The stall also offers a dish now rarely seen in Singapore: glutinous rice intestines, a rice sausage made from stuffing a mixture of pork, glutinous rice and chestnuts into pork intestine casings.
An outpost of the Tokyo-based Toritama group, this cosy joint delivers an authentic yakitori experience with over 20 chicken parts to choose from. The menu reads like a biology textbook with skewers of chicken heart, liver, gullet, stomach, gizzard and cockscomb among many others, each one char-grilled to smoky perfection. A rare yakitori delicacy to try is chochin, unfertilised egg yolks grilled in its own membrane that burst with rich gooey goodness.
Located in a narrow street just behind the Masjid Sultan mosque at Bugis, this wildy popular nasi padang restaurant is always bustling with customers who enjoy picking from a wide array of Malay and Indonesian dishes. Those in the know head for the more unusual offal dishes that are notoriously time-consuming to prepare: the paru goreng balado features chopped up beef lungs fried in sambal balado, a fragrant chilli paste of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, while the sambal goreng pengantin is made by simmering beef lungs and liver until they are tender before they are cubed and stir-fried in a rempah (spice paste) with fresh prawns.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, and
Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
Hainanese chicken rice, with its silky smooth poached chicken meat and aromatic oiled rice, might well be one of Singapore’s most recognised hawker dishes, but it’s the locals and true connoisseurs who will appreciate the traditional add-ons of springy chicken hearts, creamy lobes of liver and gizzards with that satisfying crunch. Open yourself to a whole new world of textures with these unconventional off-cuts the next time you’re at these two Bib Gourmand chicken rice stalls.