The hugely popular Penang Hawker’s Fare is back at White Rose Café with 12 hawkers specially handpicked by York Hotel to fly into Singapore to whip up perennial favorites such as Char Kway Teow, Penang Laksa, Cuttlefish Kang Kong and Ban Chang Kueh. This is also the 30th anniversary of the Penang Hawker’s Fare so diners can expect a few extras for this particular round.
The Penang hawkers will be in York Hotel for slightly over two weeks which makes it pretty convenient if you’re in the Orchard area to do some Christmas shopping. I was invited for a media tasting during the first day of the buffet and was pleasantly surprised to find the dining hall already brimming with people. As with previous years, the buffet stations are arranged by dish. You can eat as much as you like during the duration of the meal but do note that you can get up to two plates each time you queue.
These were some of the dishes I managed to try:
Compared to the Singapore Laksa, the Penang version lacks the coconut milk base. Instead, what you get is a distinctly sour flavor brought about by the tangy tamarind. This laksa also contains mainly plant-based ingredients such as pineapple, cucumber and a bit of chili which further adds complexity to the taste bud.
Penang Prawn Mee
My favorite among all the soup-based dishes in the buffet, the Penang Prawn Mee came with a highly addicting broth that had me slurping for more. I also loved the pork ribs which were provide generously – tender and meaty.
Char Kway Teow
This was the one dish that got me all excited about the buffet. The char kway teow stall is hidden in a separate corner of the restaurant (as it has always been the past few years) to allow the hawkers to cook with a big wok. One of the first things you will notice about the char kway teow is the thinness of the noodles with a shape that’s almost similar to Pad Thai. It doesn’t take long as well for the smoky “wok hei” flavor to make itself felt as you pick up the first few strands along with pieces of delightful prawns and cockles.
The nasi lemak took me by pleasant surprise with the unmistakably fragrant aroma of the coconut milk on the rice and sweet-spicy sambal chili that I couldn’t help but mix wantonly with the crispy ikan bilis. I normally skip carbohydrates when at a buffet but I just couldn’t help but make an exception for this one. Highly recommended.
Good as an appetizer, my plate came with select fried pieces including five-spice meat rolls, prawn fritters and deep fried beancurd with chili sauce and thick soy-based sauce. I suggest having this at the start of the meal as you build up your appetite for the heavier dishes later.
This sinful fried omelette is generally my favorite hawker dish so I could be quite biased. But I have to say, the one I had during the dinner had the right crunch and came with generous fillings of oyster. The accompanying chili sauce came with a sour-spicy taste. If you are pacing yourself for seconds, make sure to save some stomach space for this dish.
Ban Chang Kueh
This crispy and buttery dessert was so popular the night I went to White Rose Café that I already spotted a queue forming for this meal ender even at 7pm! One bite into the crunchy edges of the pancake and it’s not hard to see why the Ban Chang Kueh attracted a lot of attention. The mixture of margarine, ground peanuts and sugar does sound quite sinful but any guilt is quickly dispelled by its rich nuttiness.
Chendol and Ice Kachang
Save some stomach space for these sweet endings. What’s a respectable hawker buffet without ice kachang and chendol? While you do have two cold desserts to choose from, I am quite partial to the chendol which White Rose Café does very well even during other times of the year.
For this round of the Penang Hawkers Fare at White Rose Café, the hawkers will be whipping up Penang classics from the 16th of December 2016 until 2nd January 2017. The buffet will be available for both lunch and dinner. For this particular round, lucky diners who spend a minimum of $80 can stand a chance to win many prizes including a 3D/2N trip to Penang in February 2017.
$29++ (adult) / $20++ (child) from Mondays to Fridays
$33++ (adult) / $23++ (child on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays
White Rose Café
York Hotel Singapore
21 Mount Elizabeth
Tel: +65 67370511