A new tze char place, Famous JB 101 Firewokz has recently opened for business at WCEGA Tower along Bukit Batok Crescent. I was invited for a food tasting session last week and so I headed to the West to check it out.
The location is quite out of the way as WCEGA Tower is only accessible via bus if you aren’t driving. It’s about a 10-minute bus ride from either Bukit Batok MRT (take bus 77, 106 or 189 from the interchange) or Beauty World MRT (take bus 77 from bus stop just outside Exit C along Jalan Jurong Kechil).
When you walk up the flight of stairs at WCEGA Tower, just move towards the middle courtyard of the building where the open-air food court is. Even though the food court is surrounded by the building walls, it doesn’t feel like a confined space at all. Maybe because I was here on a Saturday evening and there wasn’t a big crowd, I thought the place was well-ventilated and airy although it wasn’t air-conditioned.
Famous JB 101 Firewokz is located next to Kay Lee Roast Meat which is probably a double delight for those who love Kay Lee as well.
By the way, the drinks stall is hidden behind so just walk from the left or right of here to the back row and you will see it.
Here’s the menu for info (click on image to enlarge) –
Mainly classic tze char fare including trending favourites like white bee hoon and salted egg dishes.
The stall is helmed by Chef Lim Ah Meng, formerly from Restoran See Hai at Taman Sentosa, Johor Baru, Malaysia. Chef Lim is a very amicable chef who doesn’t even mind sharing some of his culinary secrets with me. His recipes are simple, comfort food from the 1970s – nothing complicated or over the top.
This was the feast for the night – (from top left in clockwise direction) San Lao Hor Fun, Curry Fish Head, Mongolian Chicken, Salted Egg Sotong, Hokkien Fried Noodles and Claypot Beancurd.
I wanted to order Mongolian Pork Ribs but they had run out of pork ribs because it was like one of the most popular dishes there so I had the chicken version instead.
No regret in ordering this Mongolian Chicken ($10) because the sauce was just not what I expected. I thought the sauce would be more on the sweeter side just like how other tze char stalls would serve it. However, this particular one was very well balanced with a hint of spiciness from the chilli padi that slowly kicked in. Also, the addition of curry leaves really gave an extra layer of fragrance to the dish. I chatted with Chef Lim because I couldn’t decipher what went into the sauce and he said he used a black pepper sauce and milk to create the base. So yum.
Chicken dark meat was used so the inside remained tender and juicy while the outside was fried to a perfect crisp. The sliced onions gave a great textural crunch too.
When I dine at a tze char place, I seldom miss out ordering the Claypot Beancurd ($8) which I feel is the most classic ‘vegetable’ dish to order rather than having a plate of boring stir fried greens.
One unique thing about Famous JB 101 Firewokz is that we can request for the addition of fresh crab meat to our dishes with an extra top up of just $2 (per dish).
It was my first time digging into a Claypot Beancurd with crabmeat. When I took my first mouthful, I felt like I was having shark fin soup at a banquet dinner because that would always have crabmeat in it.
This crabmeat was so fresh and sweet that it had brought this otherwise normal Claypot Beancurd to a whole new level with a taste of the ocean. One minor drawback was that there were small bits of crab shell so would have to spit them out but again that simply meant the crabmeat was freshly handpicked. 真材实料!
The Claypot Beancurd itself wasn’t heavy handed with salt and the gravy wasn’t overly starchy too which was good.
The Salted Egg Sotong ($10) was my favourite dish of all especially when I love anything salted egg. The best salted egg sotong I had was at Restoran Wong Ah Wah at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and this was almost on par with it, if not better.
The crispiness of the batter was just incredible. Even though this plate sat on my table for a long while as I was busy taking pictures, that crunch just remained till the very last bite. The batter might look thick and heavy but it actually tasted airy, kinda crumbly and fluffy and you wouldn’t get that cloying greasy feeling in the mouth because the frying oil was fresh and not rancid.
Every piece of the squid was generously coated with salted egg yolk and when you put a piece in your mouth, it was like an explosion of salted egg yolk goodness. Not kidding.
This was a flawless dish for me.
The San Lao Hor Fun ($5) was nicely executed. The hor fun that was imported from Ipoh, Malaysia wasn’t soggy or overcooked (till it got burnt like some) and there was an intense wok hei flavour. Fish was also fresh and firm. As the gravy wasn’t heavily seasoned, this dish was slightly on the bland side which I didn’t mind because I like my food to be lighter anyway.
The Hokkien Fried Noodles ($4) with sliced pork, fish cake, prawn and chye sim was my least favourite dish not because it wasn’t delicious but because I don’t normally like to eat thick noodles.
These noodles were very springy like a very al dente stir fried udon. Very flavoursome ‘cos each strand of noodle was nicely coated with the black sauce that was on the salty side. The dish paired really well with sliced pickled green chillies that would help balance that saltiness.
The Curry Fish Head ($20) was another highlight of the meal. They used Ang Go Li or Gold Band Snapper for this dish. This was supposed to be the smallest portion but it looked huge because the fish head was big and it was also very fresh and meaty.
The best part had got to be the cheek area. 😉 I actually (almost) devoured the whole head myself, eye and all. There were so much gelatinous bits around the eye area – not to be missed if you’re a true blue fish eater. Shiok!
The curry gravy was so rich and creamy like a really thick and delicious laksa broth. It wasn’t overly oily too. Just look at the surface – there wasn’t even a thick layer of oil floating on top. Seriously, I could have added noodles into this gravy and eat it like a curry mee. Toppings included lady’s fingers, brinjal and tau pok. Loved that the vegetables were still crunchy and not soggy.
Simple, unpretentious food that is not laden with (too much) MSG or salt and not compromising on taste and flavour. Prices are reasonable. Portions are generous. Some might disagree but I actually like the dining environment. It was tranquility surrounded by concrete. A Saturday tze char dinner couldn’t be more peaceful and enjoyable. Also I did not have to worry about having my hair or clothes smelling like smoke or grease as the place was surprisingly ventilated and not stuffy at all. Seriously, if I’m living in the West, I would definitely see myself coming for dinner frequently.
For the Curry Fish Head, Salted Egg Sotong and Mongolian Pork Ribs/Chicken, it is definitely worth the distance travelled. You just have to come here and try for yourself. 🙂
Famous JB 101 Firewokz
21 Bukit Batok Crescent
WCEGA Tower #02-01
Tel: +65 6304 3112
Opening hours: 11.00am to 10.00pm (Mon-Sat)
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jb101firewokz
Disclaimer: This was an invited food tasting session. All opinions expressed here are my own personal views.