Chef John See of A Wonder Bowl got his menu offerings right, considering that his aim is to bring varied, interesting dishes to the lunch crowd at humble Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre.
The exciting names of his rice bowls, from Hotplate Salted Egg Fried Rice to Crab Meat Pao Fan, caused the millennial in me to take a double take at his stall which opened just a few months ago.
Prices are unbelievably attractive, with a bowl of Minced Meat Mee Sua selling at just $2.80!! The rest of his rice/noodle bowls are at an average price of $3 to $4, and they come with quality ingredients and at a portion size you cannot believe you can get for less than $5 in your wallet!
I would love to keep this hidden gem for just me and my friends, but I know that if I want to continue having such creative and value-for-money food in our hawker centres, I will need to share about this stall. This lousy virus has hurt so many of our local F&B businesses. I hope it goes away soon so we can all continue to support our young local F&B entrepreneurs and keep our hawker culture alive!
1. Crab Pao Fan, $5
Having just eaten the best (in my opinion) Flower Crab Pao Fan recently, I grew interested in Pao Fan and my heart skipped a beat when I saw that A Wonder Bowl has a Crab Pao Fan at only $5! If you were tantalised by my Flower Crab Pao Fan review at T.K Kitchen but are #foreveralone, A Wonder Bowl is here to offer you a nourishing, hearty bowl of rice soaked in homemade-style seafood broth that is just as delicious.
The single-serving Crab Pao Fan is topped with a generous amount of corn, eggs, fried fish, Snow Crab meat and fried shallots that will make your heart sing.
The ingredients atop this Pao Fan are really perfect – the corn gives every bite an interesting crunch and extra sweetness; the egg and the fried shallots give the soup extra fragrance; the fried fish and mock Snow Crab make this rice bowl a very substantial and fulfilling one.
The soup clearly has no MSG and was perfectly belly-warming on a cool, rainy afternoon.
No complaints at all about this dish. I will say it’s a definite must-order if you come down to try out the food at A Wonder Bowl.
2. Lu Rou Fan (Braised Meat Rice), $4
There are actually 2 sizes for this rice bowl, but its Normal size rice bowl at $4 is insanely generous that I wonder what you would get for their Large size $5.50 bowl?
Chef John is very familiar with the locals’ tastebuds and tweaked his Lu Rou Fan to cater to young, health-conscious Singaporeans. If you are expecting an authentic, oily, tiny bowl of Taiwanese-style Lu Rou Fan, you won’t find it here.
Chef John‘s braised sauce is very clean-tasting and soupier than the original Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan. A Wonder Bowl‘s version of Lu Rou Fan also has pork belly in it. To ensure his Lu Rou Fan won’t make people gag from having too much fats and oil, Chef John deliberately chose a leaner cut for his minced pork to balance things out.
Chef John knows that Singaporeans love to try a little bit of everything, so instead of sticking to a specific style of Lu Rou Fan (Southern Taiwan’s Lu Rou Fan is served with minced pork while Northern Taiwan’s Lu Rou Fan is served with sliced pork belly), he combined both types of meat together for a bowl of Lu Rou Fan he was sure Singaporeans will be attracted to. He takes it up two notches by…ok, get this – he sous vide the pork belly for 36h and serves it as Japanese-style kakuni (pork belly, the type you find in Japanese ramen).
This is your chance to try out sous vide meats at an insanely low price point! Chef John says that he finds that the sous vide method (low temperature, long cooking time) produces the most tender braised pork where the meat will just melt in your mouth. I’ve heard about the hype for sous vide cooking for a long time and I was just happy to finally try out the supposedly big difference in meat texture.
Indeed, the meat was more tender than most braised pork belly I’ve tried. The meat didn’t melt in my mouth but the fats sure did – it dissolved in a soft, gentle manner that didn’t offend your palate with oiliness. It’s quite an interesting experience and I think this braised pork belly is the highlight of this dish.
However, this Lu Rou Fan tastes too healthy for my liking. I did feedback to Chef John that I prefer my Lu Rou Fan with a little bit more oil than his version but, well, he knows his regular customers better than I do, so I think his Lu Rou Fan would remain this way! It’s his bestseller here, so if you fancy a healthier bowl of Lu Rou Fan, this would be your wonder bowl come true!
I really like Chef John‘s passion and confidence in his food. I find it a privilege to pick his brain a little and learn about why he has opened a hawker stall here despite his prolific background in hotels and restaurants.
“It is to serve the community here. It is not easy to keep my prices so low, but I really want to bring something different here and to serve restaurant food at affordable prices for all,” he explained humbly.
Chef John keeps the menu fresh and exciting by introducing and taking away some dishes every 2 to 3 months. I really cannot wait to try all his creations. I will be back for sure.
Tip: The very famous chicken wings from Eng Kee are also nearby – another reason for you to visit Commonwealth Crescent!
A Wonder Bowl
Address: Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre, 31 Commonwealth Crescent, #02-97, Singapore 149644
Nearest MRT Station: Commonwealth (bus services 93, 105, 123, 153, 186, 855, 961 will take you there. Alight at Block 97, 1 stop later, and walk 166m to Commonwealth Crescent Market and Food Centre)
Monday to Friday 8am to 2:30pm (or until sold out)
Closed on Saturday and Sunday