Before you get flustered with more meal invitations to yet another round of Yusheng salad, more fish, prawns, chicken, pork, mushrooms and sea cucumbers etc..(nothing wrong with that except for the over-doing and repetitive part) I have to invoke the Chinese New Year act again- if the old don’t go, the new won’t come. So make some space for a new think in your bowl of makan this week. This “thinking” new breed of hawker studied at the local at-sunrice culinary academy and went on with gigs in Shangri-la hotel and other restaurants. Jovan Goh later decided to pack it up and slogged for no remuneration at the highly awarded and ranked Bo.Lan restaurant in Bangkok under the guidance of Duangporn Songivsara or Bo. She was a presenter at our World Street Food Congress. Jovan’s key takeaway from her was how he must “utilise natural ingredients to create the flavours of your land”, in short stay away from opening packets and boxes, where possible.
He opened Leggy Business (because he uses only the legs of chicken and pork) with his former banker brother Joel and I quietly checked out 4 of the 5 items in Jovan’s menu, I felt a lost sense of comfort (stay with me here, I will explain). They offer Asian influenced rice bowls (plus a noodle) and it’s quite well thought of. The signature Leggy Bowl ($7.50) has quite a bit going on with touches of Thai Braised Pork (sous vide and fork soft), minced meat sauce, pickled papaya, an onsen egg plus some vegetables. So the symphony of flavours and textures, with a rich umami with pickled accents plus rice smoothen with the runny yolk was music in my mouth. But I could not put a finger to the love until Joven reminded me of his Bo.Lan lesson- he makes all the sauces with natural ingredients and his pork, sauces and meat stocks had been simmering, chilled then refreshed each day- for the last six months (since they opened). It was the all-naturel flavour that got me, and the sweetness came from palm sugar, not out of a pack. His Zha Jiang Mian ($4), to me, has elements of the Philippines- the sauce was made with a complex blend but had an own blended peanut paste ringing softly in there. It felt like a boldly savoury Kare Kare (peanut butter stew) noodle dish with white sesame paste and minced meat sauce. It was no Zha Jiang Mian as we all know it to be, and that’s the Asian progression in his kitchen. The one that made me do double take was the Red Curry Chicken Bowl ($5.80). The chicken leg was smothered in a red curry rempah and again, Jovan blended his own curry paste and you can tell it does not have that “member curry taste”. I adored the kaffir lime leaf pings in the bowl and just when you thought this may be too spicy and adoringly strange, you realise he has longans in the meal bowl to sweeten up things just a bit. By now, the Bun Cha ($6.50, Vietnamese grilled pork noodle) done with rice instead, was tame, only because I had 3 other bolder dishes before. But I could taste the 12 hour pork stock sitting with the rice and the lemongrass grilled pork had bite and flavour. The tempura enoki, sweet basil, onsen egg with bits of deep fried lemongrass was beautiful side accents in the bowl.
So again, have a great Year of the Hog, eat well, be well and celebrate new thinking hawkers like Jovan and his brother Joel.
01-12, Starhub Green
67, Ubi Ave 1.
Jia Wei Food Court
10am-3pm, closed on Saturday and Sunday