You know how you never treasure something until it’s gone? Well that pretty much sums up my relationship with hawker centres. I never really gave them much thought, but after living abroad for awhile I finally get the fascination that foreigners and tourists have with our hawker centres. Food Courts in North American countries equates to bad food from chain franchises at high prices, like a gathering of fast food outlets. It’s really quite a special thing we have going on in Singapore – these little stalls of small entrepreneurs doing one dish (or a few), and doing them well at an affordable price.
Enough on that. I’m now just wondering what took me so long to get to Zhen Zhen Porridge.
This little stall in the famous Maxwell Food Centre has received multiple accolades, including a full 3 pairs of chopsticks from KF Seetoh in the MakanSutra Food Guide (the quintessential guide to hawker food in Singapore). I had the SGD$4 portion of plain porridge with sheng yu, which is thinly sliced raw fish.
The first thing that hit me was what a generous portion it was! I was expecting a small pile of fish slices but this was a plate full! Scallions, sesame seeds, fried shallots and sesame oil are heaped a top the fish, and presented with limes for you to squeeze over the whole dish. So clean, fresh tasting, and absolutely addictive, like local sashimi.
The plain porridge is anything but plain. This porridge is the thick-as-goo type, where the rice grains have been cooked till they have completely fallen apart and are no longer discernible. Tons of sesame seeds, scallions, shallots and oil are then thrown in to give it flavour, tasty enough for me to have it on its own. I normally don’t like super thick porridges but this one’s an exception. Such comfort food.
Be prepared to stand in line and wait for 30 – 45 mins for your order – the queue is as famous as the porridge itself – but darn it’s worth it! And $4 for a meal that will put you into a food coma. Gee.
Zhen Zhen Porridge
Maxwell Food Centre
Stall No. 54