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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

So shiok sambal sotong

Feng Ji's food is not fancy, but its homey vibe is just right on nights when you don't feel like cooking.
The Straits Times - September 9, 2012
By: Tan Hsueh Yun
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So shiok sambal sotong Robust flavours: Sambal Sotong (above), Chinese Wine Chicken and Black Bean Sauce Fish Head. --rnST PHOTOS: TAN HSUEH YUN

Some people gravitate towards certain stalls in hawker centres, knowing that these are places to get a quick, comforting meal.

One of my friends seems to eat at Feng Ji Xiao Chi in Bukit Merah View a few times a week, judging from her posts on Facebook.

I decide I have to try the place out. When I get there, I see why she likes the place.

The stall is in a bright, clean hawker centre with lots of buzz and other interesting food offerings. In fact, I plan on going back to check them out. Parking is easy to find if you go early enough and there's a good neighbourhood feel about the place.

Feng Ji's food is not fancy, but its homey vibe is just right on nights when you don't feel like cooking.

Sambal Sotong ($8) comes with thick, tender rings of squid in a punchy sambal gravy that is made for spooning over rice.

The stall's Sambal Kangkong ($5), however, has a layer of oil under the limp vegetables. It is not very appetising, alas.

But the other dishes make up for it.

Chinese Wine Chicken ($10) has chunks of well- marinated chicken, mushrooms and spring onions. The wine isn't overpowering, thank goodness, and this is a good comfort dish.

Frog Legs With Spring Onion And Ginger ($10) is also good, although my dining companions shudder at the prospect of eating Kermit. I have no qualms and extracting every last bit of meat around the bones proves rewarding.

Both the chicken and frog dishes come with identical-looking brown gravy, but the chicken is scented lightly with wine and the frog has a gentle heat from ginger.

While talking about hawker food with a friend recently, he lamented that some dishes have lost their punch. The dishes are muted, he says, hawkers are afraid to use lard or to really go for robust flavours.

That cannot be said of Feng Ji's Black Bean Sauce Fish Head ($17).

The slices of bittergourd live up to their name and stand up to the unabashedly salty and savoury black bean sauce.

Better yet are the chunks of fish, first deep-fried. Traces of crispness in the skin remains, adding a smoky flavour to the dish.

Prawn Paste Chicken ($8) is crisp and not greasy, but I wish they would not hold back on the prawn paste. If customers want to eat plain old fried chicken, they will order that.

I have been disappointed by this dish at several zi char stalls. It is time to hunt down a good one.

FENG JI XIAO CHI

Block 115 Bukit Merah View, 01-08,

tel: 9752-5435

Open: Noon to 2pm, 5 to 10.30pm daily

Rating: ***

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