Updated: Aug 11, 2018
(Updated: 30 Dec 2017)
I usually go hiking in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and will lunch at Beauty World Food Centre after the hike. Having been eating at the food centre on weekends for almost 1.5 years, I have not thought of writing a post on my food trail there — until I was told it may be closing down soon. And if that is true, I think it is good to share the nice food here before they disappear.
Beginning 2017, there were news that the food centre on the 4th floor of Beauty World Centre will be closed down for sales to a potential buyer. Stall owners then started vacating their stalls and some of them retired. But the management decided to shelf the plan due to some technical issues and stall owners returned to continue serving their delicacies. However, the fate of the food centre remains unclear — at least until early 2018.
Going into December, the invisible timeline is probably drawing closer. And the time frame to savour the cheap and good food on top of Beauty World Centre is also getting shorter. If you are still thinking to try the food here, it's about time to act now!
Most of the food in the food centre are nice but I can't list all of them here. So, I will highlight the stalls that I frequent most. Do try the other stalls of your choice when you are there.
1. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle Rice (香港玫瑰油鸡面饭)
This soya sauce chicken noodle rice stall is lesser known to many people but for people who have tried it, they will definitely go back again — including me. During lunch time, the stall is never without a queue, so go early.
I will always order the soya sauce chicken noodle added with barbecue pork. Both the chicken and barbecue pork are tender and juicy. The springy noodle is accompanied by soya sauce that has a distinctive rose flavour.
Another of my favourite here is the shrimp dumplings noodle or soup (usually with 3 pieces of big shrimp dumplings). Wrapped in each dumpling is generous number of whole shrimps with minced meat. Savour the crunchiness on each bite!
Operating Hours: 8:30am to 6pm daily
2. Penang Home-Made Beef Ball (槟城自制牛肉丸)
I have eaten at this stall several times, trying each of its different styles of beef noodle. Other than its homemade beef balls noodle, I have also tried the mixed beef noodle, braised beef hor fun (white flat noodle) and beef fried rice.
My usual pick is the braised beef brisket and tendons noodle. The soft tendons have became a must-have in any of my orders at the stall ever since I tried it the first time. For those who love collagen-rich food, go for the tendons.
Operating Hours: 10am - 7pm | Closed on Thursdays
3. Feng Ji Shu Shi Char Kway Teow (豐記熟食炒粿條)
Traditional char kway teow with cockles has always been my soft spot and Feng Ji Shu Shi (or Feng Ji Cooked Food) is one of the few char kway teow outlets that I usually go to when I have cravings for fried noodle.
Feng Ji char kway teow is surprisingly not oily and the sweetness is just nice. The cockles are usually slightly cooked to make it less raw although I will like it slightly raw. To be on the safe side of food safety, it is always better to serve the cockles slightly cooked.
Operating Hours: 12pm - 7:30pm | Closed on Mondays
4. Jin Li Satay Bee Hoon (锦利沙爹米粉)
Jin Li Satay Bee Hoon stall is a new stall of few months in Beauty World Centre but has attracted attention of diners who frequent the food court. Always eager to try new stuff, I tried their signature satay bee hoon with pieces of fresh cuttlefish and prawns. The peanut sauce is not too thick, not oily and just right without the overpowering peanut flavour.
Jin Li serves laksa dish too. As laksa is also one of my favourite, I went for it several times. The laksa noodle is topped with tau pok (tofu puff), prawn, half a hard-boiled egg and slices of fish cake. I like the smooth coconut-curry gravy that does not induce choking when drinking it. Laksa is available on weekends only.
Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm | Closed on Wednesdays
5. Hong Wen Mutton Soup (红炆羊肉汤)
For many years, Beauty World Food Centre is one of those few places to look for good Chinese mutton soup to warm the body. Today, Hong Wen is the only stall in the food centre that sells it. And fortunately, it does not disappoint. I have eaten the mutton soup here for more times than I can remember.
I will usually order mutton soup although I will go for a mix of mutton and lamb stomach for more textures on some occasions. The mutton is tender and the stomach is chewy. And I just love the herbal soup. It is not oily as compared to Indian-Muslim's sup kambing.
Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm | Closed on Mondays
The name "HamBaoBao" is a mixed of English and Chinese pinyin for "hamburger", and the stall serves none other than just hamburgers. The western stall is a hot favourite among youngsters and foreigners who visited Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. A waiting time of 15-20 minutes is minimum if you are not the first few customers of the day.
HamBaoBao has just a few items on its menu: classic beef burger, dory fish burger, crispy pork belly, spiced pulled pork burger and buah keluak minced chicken burger with additional options of thick fries and bacon.
After checking with the stall owner on the mysterious "buah keluak" burger, I went ahead to try the bitter-spicy chicken burger — bitterness is never an issue for me as a bitter-coffee drinker. And I like the special-taste burger. I have also tried the beef burger and will be back again for the others.
Operating Hours: 12pm onward | Opened Wednesday to Sunday
7. Ah Song Noodle House (亚松卤面家) - CLOSED
(Added 30 Dec 2017)
For several months, Ah Song Noodle House closed its stall and I thought they had retired. But it re-opened for business a couple of weeks ago. Is this a sign that Beauty World Food Centre may be continuing operation for longer term?
I like Ah Song's lor mee because the gravy is not too starchy and it's full of flavours. The amount of vinegar, garlic and sambal chili are well-balanced without either one overpowering the others — I usually let them add the condiments so I will not upset the balance myself. To have more ingredients, ask for lor mee without the fatty pork and they will replace it with other stuffs like fried dumpling or more slices of 5-spice sausage roll, whichever available.
Updated 4th August 2018: Closed. The old couple probably really retired.
8. Victory Thai Boat Noodle
Apart from the food centre on the 4th floor, there is also a Thai noodle shop on the first floor that we visited several times since it started operations. This is a good place to go for Thai boat noodles at reasonably cheap prices.
Victory Thai Boat Noodle serves beef or grilled pork boat noodles and various popular Thai dishes like papaya salad and mango glutinous rice. I like the beef boat noodle and have ordered it almost every time I visited the shop.
And the papaya salad with deep-fried small fishes is a nice side dish to have with bowls of boat noodle.
Operating Hours: 11am - 8:45pm daily
If you like to try the food you are seeing above, do act fast before the food centre closes (if the plan is still on the management's plate). If it does close down, most hikers to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will have fewer cheap and good options.
Try more local food in Chinatown: