The husband and I often come to this coffeeshop where Astons Express is located and every time we are here dining, we would see people ordering various delectable vegetarian dishes from this particular stall. The frying aroma of their carrot cake and oyster omelette in the air was so tempting too hence we decided to come back and see what Ci Wen has to offer.
Besides the mixed rice section where you can select dishes from a limited variety, there are also ‘tze char’ style of carb dishes like Hong Kong Noodles or Claypot Noodles as well as some familiar local hawker fare like Lor Mee, Fish Porridge and Chicken Rice. Prices range from $2.50 for a tahu goreng to $4.50 for a Sweet & Sour Pork Rice. The menu looked pretty impressive for a hawker stall like this.
This is deep fried tau kwa (firm tofu) with julienned cucumber and carrot, topped with coarsely ground peanuts and a sweet chilli sauce. It tasted average, just like the standard tahu goreng we can get from anywhere else. While others might be just a piece of tau kwa cut into large cubes, this was first sliced into half horizontally before frying so each cube wasn’t too thick or too big a mouthful. It would be nice if the exterior of the tau kwa was a bit more crispy.
The Chicken Rice was supposedly their signature dish and it was also the best (among the worst?) dish of the entire meal. The dish might look bare and dry but the rice was surprisingly flavourful like it had been cooked in chicken stock. The mock chicken which was made from beancurd skin was quite tasty too and because of the many layers stacked together, it gave a firm and meaty texture to it. The chilli sauce that we could help ourselves to was quite watery and sweet but it made a good accompaniment with the mock chicken and rice. The only downside was that the rice was a little soggy and sticky and that this dish could do with a few more slices of cucumber and/or tomatoes just for the colour.
Portions of ingredients looked miserable around the huge heap of rice. The mock pork belly was dry and flat in texture and tasted of MSG which is common in most mock meats. The braised mushrooms were tender and juicy; the braising liquid wasn’t overly salty. The stir fried brinjal was moist and soft but a little greasy.
Overall, the meal (and service) wasn’t spectacular especially when we had to wait really long for the tahu goreng while looking at the man taking his time to peel the vegetables and fry the tau kwa as our chicken rice and mixed rice sat on the counter and turned cool by the time we were starting to eat. Will we be back? I don’t mind trying the other dishes on the menu but I’d definitely not go for the mixed rice again.
Ci Wen Vegetarian
Blk 721 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 #01-2823
Fu Chan Coffeshop
Tel: 9478 0608/6552 1273
Opening hours: 8.00am to 11.00pm daily