There are a lot of hawker stalls in Farrer Park but none of them can really be classed as great except the 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist. In fact, amazing is probably a better descriptor. I have no hesitation in saying their original stall serves the best wanton mee and roasted pork belly in Singapore.
Flossie’s rating: ★★★★★
There is some terrific hawker fare to be had in Singapore. But, there are also an equal number – if not more – lacklustre experiences as well. High rents and the pressure to keep meals under $5 a bowl quite often leads to skimping on quality ingredients. Somehow, the 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist keeps prices reasonable and the food is world-class.
The First 88 Hong Kong Stall at Farrer Park
88 Hong Kong have been in Farrer Park since 2017 although I only discovered them a year ago. Their first hawker store is nestled in the food centre on the corner of Beatty Road and Tyrwhitt Road. There is always a crazy long queue of hungry patrons regardless of the day or time. Recently, 88 Hong Kong opened a second stall closer to Lavender MRT although the food there is not nearly as good.
The biggest seller at 88 Hong Kong is the wanton mee. This is a popular southern Chinese dish consisting of egg noodles seasoned with chilli, and served with wontons and roasted pork (also known as char siew). It is most commonly served “dry” which means the noodles and pork are tossed together while the wontons come in a separate side bowl with soup.
I still remember the first time I tried this dish. It was love at first bite… the char siew was incredible. The generous portion of meat (more than six pieces of pork) was soft and succulent without being fatty. More importantly, the sticky brown coating had only a subtle smokey-sweet flavour. Getting the smokiness right is where many char siew attempts fall down. It is a rookie error to over-season and over-smoke the pork. The side of soup was also tasty. It was not at all like the watery-variety of slop you’d expect in China Town. The accompanying steamed wantons were small but filled with prawn and water chestnut. I slurped it all down to the very bottom of the bowl.
A year later and the quality of food at 88 Hong Kong on Tyrwhitt Road remains unchanged. I go back time and time again. If you know how fussy I am, then you will appreciate what it means.
My favourite dish is the wanton mee but “wet”. This is where roasted pork, noodles and wontons are dished up in a large bowl of yellow soup. It’s the best way to enjoy the dish because you can relish the salty, smokey, sweet and oily flavours together with each mouthful.
Occasionally I indulge in a serving of the roasted duck. Those muscular ducks hanging in the window, with their gleaming crispy-red skin, are hard to resist. It is not as easy to find good roasted duck in Singapore relative to Hong Kong. The duck at 88 Hong Kong is good. The crunchy skin is delicious (I could happily just eat that skin on its own!) and the flesh is not at all boney, although it is sometimes a little dry.
I would be amiss not to mention the roasted pork belly, also know as sio bak. This is what gets the crowds droolling! The flesh of the pork glistens white with a thick line of gooey, yummy fat connecting it to a crunchy layer of crackling. Ooooh… that crackling. It’s roasted to a tee – very crunchy and salty – and well worth the calories. If you order a side of vegetables, they will quite often top it off with some pork fat or a couple of slivers of crackling too, if you’re lucky!
For around $10 you can order a plate of roasted meats consisting of roasted pork belly, char siew and roasted duck.
88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist
153 Tyrwhitt Road
New 88 Hong Kong Stall at Lavender
Recently, 88 Hong Kong branched out and opened a second venue just a few blocks away from the first. Their new branch is fitted out like a casual open-air restaurant. That means there is plenty more space for cooking and eating, no doubt in order to help manage all those long queues!
Sadly the quality of the food hasn’t quite lived up to expectation. The roasted meats are still excellent – I have tried the pork as well as the duck and they remain perfectly seasoned and deliciously succulent. But this is where the similarities end.
A good meal considers all the details. The soup at this new location has become yet another watery-yellow variety of slop. It is just like what they dish up in the touristy parts of China Town. In other words, tasteless. I find this personally disappointing given I prefer my wanton mee “wet”.
They have also started skimping on ingredients by no longer serving the piece of bok choy with the wanton mee (neither the “wet” nor “dry” variety). Now you only get a sprinkling of spring onion.
I highly recommend the original 88 Hong Kong stall. This new joint is still in its early days but has a long way to go still. It is good – above average – but not excellent.
88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist
308 Lavender Street