Taiwanese food isn’t the cheapest but thanks to the relative accessibility of our hawker culture, prices are more affordable at these stalls. I had completely missed Chong Jia Food situated in a corner of Yuhua Market & Hawker Centre until a short quest brought me to the area recently.
Run entirely by siblings, Chong Jia Food is a product of their love for Taiwanese fare. It stemmed from an idea they had since the eldest sister, Chong Siew Fong picked up cooking from her Taiwanese relatives. They now operate out of 2 stalls, one at Yuhua Market & Hawker Centre and the other at Pasir Panjang Food Centre.
The name ‘Chong Jia’ (‘Jia’ means house or home) represents the siblings’ family name and their goal of bringing the taste of ‘home’ to their customers’ plates.
What I tried at Chong Jia Food
As one of the icons of Taiwanese comfort food, Chong Jia Food has done Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice (S$5.50) justice and then some. Relegating the approach of a compact bowl piled with ingredients to the smaller rice bowls, Chong Jia presents their braised pork rice on a wider plate with accompaniments carefully framing the mound of rice at its centre.
That attention to detail extends to the small garnishing of sesame seeds at the peak. My eyes were already feasting before I dug in.
I’m a sucker for sensuously fatty meat and braised pork belly – they carry a certain appeal that triggers a fervid response in me. Gorgeous brown against snowy white rice and a sheen that denotes a thoroughly moist mouthfeel — utterly irresistible! The fat that had taken on the colour of the braising mixture spilt its succulent contents and worked with the tender meat so that each bite had an ample mix of textures.
A formidable combination of sweet and savoury was the cherry on top. Had this been my only order, I would have polished it off in a minute.
The braised peanuts were less alluring (to me) but with the braising liquid working its magic, the bland insides were imparted with its soy sauce profile. I detested the texture of peanuts though, as I chewed, the combined fragrance of both was rather enjoyable. Finishing these turned out to be easy.
I prefer when egg yolks retain some of their former yolk-ey quality instead of the hard-boiled chalky texture that braised eggs usually have. But dry chalk can still taste good with enough time face-down in a shallow pool of the pork belly’s juices. The bouncy egg white vessel needed a few precise bites to sever.
The least interesting element was shredded cabbage. There’s nothing outrightly spectacular about its inclusion, much like the taste. Its biggest contribution here is visual, lending its pleasant green to a plate of mostly dull colours.
The bowl of Signature Minced Pork Noodles (S$5.50) receives the same company of braised peanuts and thinly shredded cabbage, replacing pork belly and rice with minced pork and noodles.
A few tosses later, the noodle strands were sufficiently coated in the sauce that had pooled underneath. It wasn’t traditional al dente but soft on first contact with a more chewy middle. The mild sweetness from its brown colouration was very much welcome.
The finely minced pork was reminiscent of ragu, bursting with juices at every bite. Since there were no distinctly fatty bits, it was a touch less decadent than the braised pork belly. A few sliced shiitake mushrooms scattered throughout conferred light taps of umami.
The mellow braised concoction kept the flavours from overwhelming my palate even alongside mouthfuls of noodles coated in the same mixture. In comparison to rice, the bowl of egg noodles packs a lot more flavour.
We had a few side dishes, the first being Braised Beancurd Skin (S$2.50). The strips were not overcooked to the point that they would shear at the slightest force, and instead possessed enough toughness to yield with surprising density. The beancurd soup kept every strip moist and flaccid throughout the meal, yet I found it too light and had them tossed with my noodles to enhance the beancurd skin’s profile.
As a fried chicken fan, I was delighted to see a side dish of Taiwanese Salt & Pepper Chicken (S$5.50). The dashes of orange chilli powder contrasted beautifully against the craggy exterior. Each piece subjected me to a whiff of the pleasant spice.
Just slightly under bite-sized, the chicken’s salty crust more than delivered on crunch. Chong Jia Food knows what we want out of our fried chicken sides; not a balanced ratio of batter to meat but one that’s properly indulgent. The chicken meat underneath the mantle was also rightfully succulent.
To take it a step further, Salt & Pepper Chicken Noodles (S$6) and Salt & Pepper Chicken Rice (S$5.80) are also on the menu.
The Taiwanese sausage (S$3.20) was depicted with some zucchini on the menu but we didn’t receive any with ours, not that I minded all that much. Like the fried chicken, both skewers received a marked dose of chilli powder on their scored surfaces.
The thin wrapping of intestines around each sausage had been fried to a crisp film, easily bitten through to reveal soft delectable flesh within. It wasn’t greasy and complemented the subdued sweetness of the braised soup of the noodles extremely well. If you need something thoroughly sweet to elevate the flavours, their Taiwanese sausages are a must-get.
Served as a condiment, the oily mix of garlic and chilli should be applied with reserve as the resultant earthy kick can be quite off-putting. I unloaded almost all of mine into the minced pork for a deep punch.
Our braised pork rice and minced pork noodles each came with a small bowl of sweet corn and carrot soup. The delicate flavours make a good closer to a meal chock-full of briny dishes and hearty meats
I’ve gotta kick myself for missing this stall for as long as I have. Instead of travelling out to the malls or searching while I’m out and about, I’ve found a place serving one of my much sought-after cravings, and within walking distance at that.
At an affordable S$5.50 for a plate of braised pork rice/noodles or minced pork rice/noodles, Chong Jia Food is a compelling choice over the bigger Taiwanese cafes and eateries. In comparison with other hawkers, they’re also priced on the lower end. If you’re just looking to get a small meal, their Small Braised Pork rice (S$4.50) is also an excellent choice. I’m confident those portions are well and above what you pay for elsewhere. Take it from this self-proclaimed big eater.
Expected damage: S$5.50 – S$8 per pax
The post Chong Jia Food: Family-run Taiwanese hawker stall’s solid braised pork rice & noodles from $5.50 appeared first on SETHLUI.com.