I came to a realisation the other day that I have never actually been to Boon Keng, despite living just down t’road from it. I always seem to get distracted by the many (and there are many) curry-rific wonders of Little India, and am never able to venture further north than Balestier Road. Until about 9am on Sunday 19th April, that is. What drew me north was, in all honesty, Hungry Ang Mo’s touting of the Bendemeer Market and Food Centre as a “wonderful hawker centre”. And it really is – I counted no less than six (yes! SIX) vegetarian stalls here, including a vegetarian you tiao place. Now that’s not something you see every day, believe me. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was part of the culinary mainstream, and I must say I rather enjoyed it.
Whilst the hawker centre itself is a pandora’s box of little vegetarian treasures, it’s Fo Xin Vegetarian Food that HAM claims to be “the most impressive vegetarian stall” in the whole place. It’s a very big place, so this is a statement that is not to be taken lightly. Indeed it does look like it has some sort of a feather in its cap – just look at the queue in the picture! Extensive (and loyal) fan base aside, another distinctive feature of Fo Xin is that is only offers a small(ish) selection of dedicated dishes – not the usual rice and veg options usually offered by vegetarian hawker stalls. Quality over quantity – a stratagem that rarely fails to please.
The crispy noodle (SGD 3.50) was actually my second-choice dish. First was Hokkien mee, but cannot alleady lah. I think that meant it had either finished, or was never started. I was offered mee rebus, but stuck to my guns and went for crunchiness over the curriness. The kway chap also seemed popular, although I always struggle to imagine why (fake pig innards in scary sauce…?! Please).
Anyway, down to the business end of the deal: the taste. In a word (multiplied): so-so. Perhaps it’s because i’m not usually a big consumer of Canto-style crispy noodles, but I found the taste of the noodles and sauce to be quite flat. A bit bland. Or too subtle, perhaps? The pickled green chillies were nice, as was the selection of mock meats and beancurds, but the noodles – the noodles! – failed to make much of an impression. And they were difficult – really difficult – to eat. I felt like my chin got to taste the sauce much more than my mouth did, which was a little embarrassing. Nonetheless, I still have absolute faith in the potential of this stall, and in the overarching quality of Bendemeer Food Centre as a vanguard of vegetarianism. I just hope that next time they have Hokkien mee!
Fo Xin Vegetarian Food
#01-75, Bendemeer Market and Food Centre, Block 31 Bendemeer Road
Open 10:00-19:00 Tuesday-Sunday