Zion Riverside Food Centre, also known as Zion Road Food Centre, is one of those unusual popular centres located next to a ‘river’ – technically Alexandra Canal.
This is where you can still find affordable eats, with many stalls still being here since as I was young.
During the ‘good old days’, Zion Road Food Centre was a popular supper place for those who chiong Zouk and clubs nearby. Those were the days.
Even though there it may be one of the smallest food centres around with 32 stalls, its offerings definitely do not pale in comparison to any of the other famous ones.
It has recently undergone a few months’ renovation with a brighter-lit interior, new rooftops, an automated tray return point, and addition of some tables.
Here are 10 of the Zion Riverside Food Centre Stalls: (Note: several stalls are typically “sold out” before indicated closing hours)
No. 18 Zion Road Fried Kway Teow
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-17
Opening Hours: 12.30pm – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Char Kway Teow With Michelin Recommendation Previously Patronised By PM Lee
Easily the stall with the longest queue. The stall sells only Char Kway Teow fried-to-order in varying sizes, with the $4 plate being the basic option. It has even been patronised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before.
Their Char Kway Teow ($4, $5, $6, $8) is known packed with robust flavours and a hint of spiciness with pieces of crispy pork lard.
I found that the rice noodles were darker than usual, due to the substantial addition of the sweet sauce which also gave it a robust flavour.
The kway teow (flat rice and egg noodles) was springy and full of wok hei, mingling with a medley of fresh juicy cockles, fish cake, crunchy bean sprouts, egg, and lup cheong (Chinese sausage) blended in a black sauce and topped with gu chai (Chinese chives).
If you love cockles, you will love the many pieces that are in your plate.
Some love the wetness of the noodles (or should I say dryness), though others thought it could be moister overall (compared to say Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee).
However, I do find the standard slightly inconsistent at times. But when I get a good plate, it is really worth the calories. (Again, not all the times.)
Zion Road Big Prawn Noodle
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-04
Opening Hours: 11am – 10:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Hae Mee With Broth That Packs An Umami Punch
This Michelin-Bib Gourmand Prawn Noodle stall has done well enough to open a full-fledged eatery at South Bridge Road, though I thought there were differing standards between the two.
If you find this reminding of you the Prawn Noodle stall at Adam Road Food Centre, that is because the two hawkers are siblings.
To differentiate, this stall has been renamed from the original Noo Cheng, Fresh Taste Prawn Noodle, to the current Zion Road Big Prawn Noodle.
The stall serves both dry and soup versions of their signature prawn noodle from $6 onwards. The size and number of the prawns do get progressively larger with the prices, but I always order the most affordable bowl.
Some new-comers may just scream at the price, at $8, $12, $16, $20, $25 (no more $6 bowls). Do not be surprised, I actually hear the $20/$25 orders more frequently than expected.
Because I am there really for the soup. Cooked for hours with pork ribs and prawn head, the broth was incredibly tasty (and I don’t get MSG attacks after.)
However, the quality can be slightly inconsistent and depends on what time of the day you head down. Fresh Taste Big Prawn Noodle (Zion Road)
Lau Goh Teochew Chye Thow Kway
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-26
Opening Hours: 11am – 3:30pm, 6pm – 11pm (Mon, Wed – Sat), 8:30am – 4pm (Sun). Closed Tues
Black and White Carrot Cake by Deaf Hawker
Carrot Cake seller Peter Goh might seem to be your usual hawker at first sight. In fact, he was extremely polite and smiled thoroughly, asking if you wanted more chilli and pepper.
It was only after reading a sign that I realised that he was deaf, and had to take orders by either lip-reading or through gestures.
Disability had not prevented him from taking over this popular stall from his father (who is Lau Goh).
The stall specialises in classic Teochew style carrot cake and sells both black and white carrot cake ($4 onwards depending on portion size). Those who cannot decide between the two options can simply get the black and white mixed version – the best of both worlds.
I found his version to taste ‘healthier’ and less greasy than usual, probably because Peter used vegetable oil instead of lard.
Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap Braised Duck
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-24
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Tues, Thurs – Sun), Closed Wed
Michelin-Recommended Tender Braised Duck and Smooth Kway Chap
I initially wondered about the stall name, though it had no relation with the other famous chicken rice of similar name.
Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap Braised Duck specialises in Kway Chap ($3.50 onwards) which comes with braised eggs, duck meat and other ingredients. I liked that the rice noodles used was smooth and silky.
There are two types of chilli sauce, and I would recommend a combination of both. The thicker chilli for the meats, and the watery type for the kway and beancurd.
As for the Braised Duck Rice ($3.50, $4.50 for set), the braised duck would be soaked in the salty braising sauce, moderately-tender and flavourful.
The stall is run by a relatively young Madam Yang, and although the recipe was derived from the internet and through experimentation instead of being some age-old family recipe, it has already earned the stall popularity from customers. Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap Braised Duck (Zion Road Food Centre)
Xin Fei Fei Wanton Noodle
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-06
Opening Hours: 9.30am – 1:30pm (Mon – Wed, Fri – Sun), Closed Thurs
Springy Old-School Wanton Mee
Seriously, I have no idea what the relation to the famous Fei Fei Wanton Noodles is. But to no offence to Fei Fei fans, I liked this version much more.
The stall specialises in Wanton Mee ($4.20, $5.20, $6.20). While it looked plain and unassuming in presentation, once you take a bite, you would know what I mean.
The noodles were thin and springy, coated in this addictive, somewhat lardy sauce. Its slightly plump and crisp deep-fried wanton were also worthy of mention.
Even though the bright-red char siew looked on the dry side, it was surprisingly not-too-tough with a sweet tinge.
Long queue, long wait.
There are also offerings of Dumpling Noodles ($4.20), Wanton Soup ($4.20), Fried Wanton ($4.20) and Oyster Sauce with Vegetable ($3.20).
Ah Wang La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-22
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Cooked To Order La Mian and Guo Tie
This is one of the newest and most popular stalls in the food centre. It moved several times within the same place (three times?), and is now located at Unit 22.
Ah Wang La Mian Xiao Long Bao specialises in Guo Tie or Pan-Fried Dumplings ($6.50 for 10 pieces), Xiao Long Bao ($5 for 7 pieces), and Steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings ($5.50 for 10 pieces).
The Guo Tie dumplings had a thin and crisp outside layer, while the fillings of minced meat and vegetables were juicy. The stock within might just spurt out if you eat them hot.
For you would prefer something more substantial, you can try the Dan Dan Noodles ($4.50), Beef Noodle Soup ($4.50), Zha Jiang Mian ($4), Sour & Spicy Noodles ($3.50) or any of the other La Mian offerings.
I noted that the Hot & Spicy Soup seemed popular as it was often sold out.
Seng Huat Western Food
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-12
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 8:30pm (Wed – Sun), Closed Thurs
Western Food That Has Been Around Since 1986
The stall operated by an elderly uncle and auntie has been around since 1986. It sells classic western food items such as Sirloin Steak ($9), Mixed Grill ($9), Grilled Fish ($5) and Pork Chop ($6.50). (They used to have more exotic options such as Ostrich Steak.)
They also have Chicken Chop and Chicken Cutlet Rice dishes which comes with fried egg for just $4.00
If not, go for the old-school classic options such as Grilled Chicken Chop and Chicken Cutlets ($6.50) which comes in sizeable portion of fries and baked beans.
Riverside Good Food
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-20
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:30pm (Wed – Mon), 11:30am – 6pm (Tues)
Fried White Kway Teow and Hokkien Mee
Interestingly, this stall used to generally have a shorter line than the other Fried Kway Teow stall, but gotten much attention of late due to a television documentary feature on Channel 8.
Riverside Good Food operated by a husband-and-wife team, sells a variety of local delights such as Fried Hokkien Mee ($5 onwards), Fried Bean Sprouts with Cockles ($6, $8) and Fried Oyster Omelette ($5 onwards).
The special item here is the White Kway Teow ($4.50 onwards) in order to differentiate from the other Char Kway Teow stalls. It tasted much like the usual fried rice noodles without the addition of sweet black sauce. Perhaps less flavourful and ‘healthier’, so might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Soon Lee’s Pig Organ Soup
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-13
Opening Hours: 10am – 2:30pm (Mon – Sun)
One of the more underrated stalls here, and has been in the food centre for one of the longest.
They serve up bowls of Mixed Pig Organ’s Soup ($4.20, $6.20), Lean Meat Soup ($4.20, $6.20), Mee Sua ($4.50, $6.40) as well as Meat Ball Soup ($4.20, $6.20). The soup had a pleasant taste with sweetness coming from the preserved vegetables, and not as peppery as expected.
Add on ingredients such as braised egg, tau pok, salted vegetables, braised pork belly, braised intestines and braised stomach ($0.60 – $2.00 per serving)
For rice lovers, look out for their specials of Pig’s Trotter Rice ($4.20), Braised Intestine Rice ($3) and Minced Pork Rice ($3). Top it up to a set-meat with includes a choice of Mixed, Meatball or Lean Meat Soup. Though I must say the Minced Pork Rice ($3) is quite unlike the Taiwanese style of Lu Rou Fan, and has more of a local flavour to it.
Mohamed Sultan Road Hot & Cold Cheng Tng
Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-32
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Cheng Tng of Old Family Recipe
I need to tell you that this version of Cheng Tng is entirely different from the traditional types you may be used to. If you come here expecting the usual Cheng Tng, you may be quite disappointed.
Their version of this dessert comes with canned longans and lychees that may put off some fans of the classic recipe off.
The base is also clear (and not brownish), with some of the sweetness coming from the canned syrup (I guess). Can be too sweet at times due to the syrup included.
The stall only sells a few items, including Hot/Cold Cheng Tng ($2), Ginkgo Nut Longan Soup ($2.50), Ginkgo Nut Soup ($2.50) and Ginkgo Nut Sweet Potato Soup ($2.50). I would usually add on the soft ginkgo nuts.
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