Author: Alex Chua
Different Wood, Different Taste
Nobody expects a custom-made griller in Hougang One, the heartlands of heartlands. The least of all me, who lived in approximate walking distance to the two-level mall since young. Here, at Meat Market, various cuts of meat sizzle and crackle atop blazing fire. One quick glance from the open kitchen window you can see beef ribs, chicken thighs, pork chops, sausages and prawns sat neatly in rows. For this month, lychee wood – a wood famous for smoking Peking duck, is used as the fire source. Come January, it could be apple wood – smoky with hints of fruity sweetness, or oak wood – which gives off an earthy smoke flavour. It is mid-December and nobody knows for sure. Such casualness, nonchalant demeanour in procurement gives it a certain neighbourhood charm and ingenuity which nowadays restaurants, usually owned by large corporations or private equity firms, found waning.
But don’t be fooled by Meat Market’s easy-going attitude and discount on its quality. Here are some comforting dishes that leaves me craving for more.
First up is the Thai Beef Aglio. The beef cubes are well-seasoned, firm with a refreshing sweet and sour taste. Served al dente, the linguine came with a generous dose of citrusy pineapples. While I would prefer a tender beef texture, this savoury dish definitely whets my palate for more.
Who doesn’t love salted egg? Generously slathered with homemade salted egg sauce, the lightly-crusted fried dory is surprisingly moist and juicy on the inside. Served with a side of fries, the reasonable-priced Salted Egg Fried Fish Focaccia makes a very convincing case for me to return back to this restaurant.
My boy friends and mah-jong mates would definitely dive straight into their favourites in this Fisherman’s Pride. Featuring all the familiar oceanic gluttonies that includes grilled prawns, scallops, salmon, squid and softshell crab, this all-encompassing platter would satisfy everyone at the table. I am particularly attached to the flavourful smoked squid which is served al dente.
And now for the die-hard carnivores – the Carnivore.
There’s never such a thing as too much meat, and I guess I could clean this up myself on a flat stomach. Heading straight to the beef, the meat possesses that nice slight pinkish centre with a thin layer of fat, and it proves to be tender, moist with a rich velvety texture. The grilled pork is equally tender, moist with a smokey flavour. The best among the assortment is the chicken, which is succulent and moist, with a slight crisp on the skin to give it a well-textured edge to the meat.
You can choose the accompanying sauce for the platter. From the usual classic BBQ sauce, herb vinaigrette to the mocha sauce for the more adventurous meat-eater!
Another local favourite – with a slight twist. The sugar-coated French Taste hides mellowly tau suan inside, complimenting the crusty bread on the outside. If you love donuts and ice cream, try the Donut Fries. Shaped into the shape of fries, the donuts became the dipper for the scoop of classic vanilla ice cream plopped on the centre of the bowl.
Hearty food. Creative presentation. Reasonably-priced. Checked, checked and checked.
There’s no reason not to give this sassy restaurant a try, just remember to come hungry. For me I would definitely revisit this place again with my bunch of friends who stayed around there. Because if I am satisfied, they should probably be so too.
1 Hougang Street 91, #01-40, Singapore 538692
Opening Hours: Daily 11am to 10pm
Author: Alex Chua