JB Ah Meng (新山亚明小厨)

It’s a bit shameless of me to start by reviewing this eatery considering I’ve only been there once. Charlotte, on the other hand, visited this place 5 times in the span of 3 weeks… I think she might be on a first names basis with the aunty soon.  Too bad la, who call her never bring camera?  You’re only as good as the pictures you take 🙂

So I did a bit of research on HGW and realised this place was located in one of the seedier Lorongs in Geylang, plus there’s an urban legend that this is a hot spot for gang fights.  How exciting right?  Thing is, you don’t actually understand how dodgy the locale  is until it hits home that you’re spending New Year’s Day surrounded by many shady-looking uncles looking for a hearty bite before, I dunno, making a shady deal – the ratio of males to females is around the region of 99:1, I kid you not.  But shadiness aside, uncle crowds tend to be highly accurate indicators of the presence of excellent food.

Snake beans with lotus root (蛇豆炒莲藕)

The first dish to be served was the snake beans & lotus root ($10, small portion).  This was a dish I would never have ordered had it not come highly recommended on HGW – snake beans are not my favorite veggies.  Yet I was glad I had heeded the advice of the reviewers, because the lotus root chips were excellent.  They were sliced into thin flakes and coated with a small amount of batter, then fried to the point where they were crispy but still retained their mild, natural sweetness.  I would totally buy a packet of these to snack on at home.

Deep fried fish skin (香炸鱼皮)

Another dish I was reluctant to order ($10, small portion), this time because it sounded gross.  Terribly unadventurous, I know.  S persuaded me to order it as an appetizer whilst we were waiting for B and L to arrive.  I ended up polishing off half the dish because these babies tasted nothing like the gloopiness and slime that I’d imagined fish skin to be.  They were crisp (and stayed that way 2 hours after they were served), not too greasy and had the fragrance of fish keropok.  Paired with the raw mango slices and dipped into the accompanying chilli sauce, each was a crunchy and tangy slice of heaven.

King pork ribs (排骨大王)

Went off the tried and tested route to order the pork ribs ($10, small portion) because it sounded delish. We were on the fence for this one: S and L thought it was average – S said you could find this at any zhap chai bng stall and L was nitpicky about how the meat wasn’t fall-off-the-bone tender. On the other hand, B and I liked it because… I guess we just like to eat pigs lor.  The sauce was defo a bit too sweet for my liking though.  It’s still an above average dish la, just looked a bit lacklustre beside the rest of its outstanding peers.

White pepper crabs (白胡椒螃蟹)

Friends, I have no idea what breed these crabs are, but they’re damn meaty (market rate; aunty charged us $32 for 2 crabs that day).  I was picking out meat from every nook and cranny of the crab’s body and the flesh was sweet and firm.  I don’t know if we simply got lucky, but something tells me these folks have a stringent criteria for selecting the crabs to use in their dishes. Crab aside, the creamy white pepper sauce was outstanding.  It packed a punch without being too spicy – my nose runs whenever I eat something too spicy for me, and my nose remained where it was throughout the course of this dish.

JB “sanlou” meehoon (新山三楼米粉)

You know how there’s a genre of rom-coms where there’s a super handsome dude who pretends to be a servant/low-level salaried employee/beggar but is actually the heir to a multi-million dollar conglomerate?  This, ladies and gents, is the food equivalent of that dude.  The nondescript appearance of this plain-looking beehoon ($8, medium portion) belies the fragrance and flavor that it packs.  I still think they could be more generous with the squid, eggs and prawns, but the conspicuous absence of these ingredients might actually highlight the taste of the beehoon.  The minute it touches your tongue, a flavor burst of unadulterated wok hei explodes in your mouth.  I’m quite sure this is the best beehoon I’ve tasted.

Salted egg prawn balls (咸蛋黄炒虾球)

The last dish to be served ($18, small portion) was also the undisputed star dish of the night.  This dish has received a number of mixed reviews – apparently it’s lauded by Makansutra and ieat but panned by a number of other bloggers.  For us, it was a hit.  All four of us did that eye-widening thing the minute we bit into one of them juicy prawns… who doesn’t love the lethal combination of salted egg + crustacean?  The little balls of fried salted egg bits that crowded the bottom of the dish pan tasted sooo good we kept shovelling them into our mouths.  Only gripe I have is that the batter could be crispier, although admittedly that could require more flour which would affect the taste of the batter.  Also the name prawn ball is a bit misleading – the prawns are not minced, they’re whole.  And so damn good.

Considering how much L and I love brinjal, it’s tragic that we didn’t order the Brinjal Potato with Chilli, which, according to Charlotte, is the best dish on the menu.  Never mind la, we’ll be back for more.  Maybe on a weekday evening.  At 5 p.m. Gulps.

Jokes aside, I actually thought the tense atmosphere (our sole guy friend, B was constantly shifty and looking nervously behind him throughout the meal, then became the poster boy for bravado when we dashed back into the safety of S’ van) enhanced the entire experience.  It’s one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had.  If you’re looking for some excitement in SG, I suggest you head to Geylang Lorong 23 on a weekend night.  Just remember to bring some pepper spray (or a bodybuilder friend) along.

JB Ah Meng (新山亚明小厨)
2 Lorong 23 Geylang
Singapore 388353

Tel No:  67412418
Opening hours: 5pm – 3.50am daily

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