Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tian Ji Porridge, Maxwell Food Centre

Fish Porridge and Yu Sheng

Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore has a couple of fairly popular Chinese porridge shops: Zhen Zhen and Ho Kee. But there was a third porridge shop that was always closed whenever I went there, and yet the stall's signboard was consistently there over the years, so it seemed like it was still in business all of this time. It only dawned on me recently that perhaps this was one of those places that was only open in the morning. Today I was up early enough that I figured I had a good chance to prove my hypothesis.

Surely enough, stall number 13 was open...and I got there just in the nick of time too. I pretty much got their last serving for the day before they shut down - and this was just after 8 AM! They definitely did things differently from the other guys: the portions were much smaller, and yet it was full of flavor...and in the smooth creamy consistency that I like too. The yu sheng in the background similarly had only a few thin slices of fish under that pile of lettuce, but the combination of cilantro, fried shallots, and oil made those few pieces of fish a delight to eat. A Straits Times story that I just dug up confirmed that they are only open from around 5 AM - 9 AM, so I guess the early bird really does get the worm.

8 comments:

Genie said...

Mmmm....congee for breakfast is lovely. I wonder if the owners have another business to run after 8am? Otherwise, it's surely a very short working day. When we holidayed in Hong Kong I had congee for breakfast almost every day. We didn't get up until well after 8am though.

han said...

finally someone found the gem in maxwell hawker centre and wrote about it too. forget the crap chen chen dished out...way over-rated for far too long. i am really beginning to wonder about the taste buds of singaporeans in general.

foodbin said...

like the consistency of the porridge-must be lovely with sliced fish

Grace said...

i agree that this is a hidden gem. It's chockful of flavour and their raw fish is fresh and delicious. The owners start work really early , sometimes as early as 4 am to cater to the customers who are knocking off their " night shift". They are doing very well, that's why they sell out their food within a few hours. If you want to try, come before 8 am.

Anonymous said...

peas porridge hot, peas poriddge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old. Common folk feel lucky to have food, and don't throw it out just cause it aint sauced right. we keep a pot of vegtables. for up to 5 days, older it gets, beeter it tastes. also fly/ travel cattle class without complaint ( when we fly or travel at all - kind of third class, you know: have basic 15 buck cable etc...). and drive old vehicles - no payments. We also are getting by better than many. Not condeming, just saying. If your common diet is fish sticks, you don't miss the lobster, when it is gone. But you sure enjoy a treat, once and a while.
Tom

Anonymous said...

Complain an moan. That is all I do lateley I am truely sorry if I offended anyone. Used to, I could fly bussines class. Those were the days. My modest little house is paid off. and I sure aint looking to trade it, nor buy a new car. In fact, I have been downsized fired) cant aford the cobra eithier. Well, happy St. paddys day.Smile, al least there is not a potato famine in this land!!

boston said...

Hey, this couple has been selling porridge since early 80s' and they started out in a humble stall @ China Street Hawker Centre (demolished). I'm suprised that someone has FINALLY notice this stall.

Anonymous said...

Actually they do very well without anyone discovering them!

I've lived near Maxwell all my life and I remember a time when I was still able to enjoy my porridge with my parents on sunday mornings (10am). These days, everything is gone by 8.30.

*grumble* (in case anyone thinks I'm a crusty old fart, I'm only 25)