WHEN THE BONSAI MET THE DUKE – A tale of CIA Porridge, Robust Prawns and Luscious Bak Chor Mee at the Reservoir

Tony Boey of the famous Johor Kaki Blog gave a nice review about this place called Duke of Congee situated in a Coffeeshop at 704 Bedok Reservoir Road.

https://johorkaki.blogspot.com/2021/02/duke-of-congee-704-bedok-reservoir-rd.html?m=1

This stall was opened by two graduates from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) degree program, Chen Tien Jia and Lilyan Baptist.

I think it is great that our F&B sector is being staffed in recent years by graduates of the CIA.

I think it is even more gratifying that graduates from the CIA like Tien and Lilyan are going the hawker route instead of going the conventional Restaurant and Bar route.

This augers really well for our once fledgling hawker culture (at one stage because the young people did not want to be hawkers) and is the lifeline to invigorating and sustaining our UNESCO worthy hawker culture for years to come.

I came here several weeks ago to check it out.

I ordered the Signature Congee and it came chock full of ingredients.

Chok (Porridge) without Yue Char Kway (Dough Stick) is like Romeo without Juliet.

So I ordered a giant Yue Char Kway which they fry fresh on the spot.

The porridge was delicious. Tasty and creamy.

All the ingredients tasted good too.

What stood out for me was the pork balls which were soft, well seasoned and munchy.

The other ingredient that really stood out were the Toman fish slices – fresh and beautifully cooked. The century egg slices were delicious too.

The selection of ingredients at their stall is staggering. From the single fish sliced porridge to the ultimate Abalone bowl priced at $9 which seemed reasonable for the ingredients they offer.

They even had interesting items like pig heart, pop corn chicken, double scallops and triple testicled Bhutan dragon fish (ok I lie but the others are real)

Next to Duke of Congee is a prawn noodles store which has a 10-15 men monster queue that didn’t stop.

There’s a saying:

“Great Minds think alike “

But don’t forget the second line:

“But fools seldom differ”

But it has to be investigated.

58 Prawn Noodle & Minced Meat Noodle

So I came back today to try the prawn mee with some Makan Kakis.

When we came at 11-15 am, there was no queue. But by 1130am, the queue was already 8 man deep.

It was to be a consistent queue throughout the time we were there.

This stall is owned by a Mr Goh who actually started work in his younger days at a famous Bak Chor Mee stall known as 58 Minced Pork Noodles at Block 58 Upper Changi Road many years ago.

Hence the name of his present stall and also the reason why he sells prawn mee and minced pork noodles side by side.

This is the very friendly Mr Goh, the boss owner of 58 Prawn Noodle.

He also owns the stunning bonsai garden at the front and back of the Coffeeshop.

What a nice man. He saw us hovering around his bonsai plants garden which was at the back of the Coffeeshop.

He was at the back of his stall and through the grills of his stall, he asked me if I liked bonsai plants.

I said the bonsai were certainly special and asked if we could have a few words with him and he very kindly came out to the back.

Mr Goh told me that yes he worked for No 58 Minced pork noodles in his younger days many years ago, and when he opened his own stall at this Coffeeshop (more than 10 years ago) , he decided to also sell Bak Chor Mee to cater to some customers who dont take prawns.

He would prepare a limited amount of Bak Chor Mee per day and they tend to run out in the morning.

Indeed, when I tried to order his Bak Chor Mee that morning, they had already sold out by 1130 am 😩.

The minced pork noodles he sells by the way is not the “Tai Wah” sort but the “Famous Eunos/Blk 58/Blk 85 Fengshan” type – usually served in soup with minced pork, fried garlic, wantons, pork balls etc.

I read a write up somewhere about Mr Goh’s Bak Chor Mee and the writer gave glowing reviews.

So I have to come back again for the Bak Chor Mee.

Without Bak Chor Mee, I ordered their standard prawn mee with sliced pork in a dry version, and a soup prawn mee pok with pork ribs.

My Makan Kaki, Yu Li, went to queue at Duke of Congee for their signature congee with an extra order of intestines.

Everything was communal sharing as we all wanted to taste everything.

The prawn broth was rich and robust. It was beautifully offset in the prawn/ porky balance (to me that balancing is important) and aided by a generous portion of pork lard.

The pork ribs were soft to the bite and succulent.

I liked the dry version. Chilli was good and fragrant.

The Porridge was as good as I remembered it to be the last time I came.

It really is one of the better ones I have eaten in the east.

My go to porridge elsewhere is Johor Road Boon Kee Porridge at the Coffeeshop in Veerasamy road (also housing Mui Siong Minced Noodles) and Weng Kiang Kee at Chinatown complex.

The other porridge I like in the East is at Tampines Street 43:

https://www.facebook.com/834494239/posts/10159573083204240/?d=n

Epilogue

If you want to eat great prawn noodles and Bak Chor Mee or savour delicious Congee, this is the place to be.

Or just to get lost in the beautiful and exotic bonsai garden.

And if you looked carefully enough, you might just spot the mystical triple testicled Bhutan Dragon Flying Fish.

PS : The beautiful pictures above were all taken by Yu Li. Mine looks like cartoon.

58 Prawn Noodle and Minced Meat Noodle at 704 Bedok Reservoir Road Singapore 470704 Opening 6am to 2150pm (closed Mon and Thur)

Duke of Congee at 794 Bedok Reservoir Road Singapore 470704 Opening 730am to 3pm (closed Tuesday)

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