Last Updated: July 20, 2021
The beauty of hidden gems is retained till it’s uncovered, spread through word of mouth. And as much as I’d love to keep this, yes, lucky find of a coffee shop with 40-cent kopi-o to myself, it’s my calling as a food writer to uncover them, at least for any stall owner’s sake. We’re talking about Director of Porridge (Zhou Dong 粥董) here—a humble stall in Jalan Benaan Kapal Food Centre.
Nestled in a placid road, it houses companies, vehicles, and workers who seem to have a life of their own away from the main road. While its ambitious namesake, a word play on Jay Chou’s moniker, belongs to this off-the-beaten-path stall, I can’t help but explore to see if its porridge truly has the chops to be a lead in this pivotal dish in our lives. Also, just a heads up—it’s easy to be distracted by the likes of fast food and air-conditioning at the start of your ten minute walk from Mountbatten MRT. But I’m imploring you to stay strong.
From porridge classics like their Signature Porridge (S$4.50) to Siew Mai (S$2) and Chee Cheong Fun (S$2), it’s not a scant breakfast menu situation at Director of Porridge. Boasting quantity, I ordered their Signature Porridge, hoping it hits the mark for quality as well.
The porridge here is thicker and more viscous than the norm, which I appreciate, as a base for the ingredients it houses. Tinged with a yellow hue from the century egg, I looked forward to the salty, hearty tastes of it in every bite, which sure enough, didn’t disappoint. Each spoonful of porridge contained the remnants of the egg white, riddled with savoury, salty goodness without lacking in texture. At the same time, chicken bits permeated, adding chew and some meaty flavours. I thoroughly enjoyed the offerings in this bowl.
While many lament that porridge is a typical ill-person’s food, this bowl is the exact athwart—one that you would reach out to for flavour. It’s heavy, it’s hearty, it’s substantial. It’s one where you realise it’s cloying after going through half the bowl. But before you rid yourself of it, the dash of spring onion may change your mind with a refreshing zest that cuts through all that’s going on.
Moving on, the Chicken Porridge (S$3) is definitely one I appreciated after a heavy bowl. I know, how could it top the last one in flavour? But still, we’ve got to give credit to lighter numbers. Salted, smooth plain porridge with tender chicken chunks make for porridge that’s lighter on the palate, but still comforting, though, a dash of pepper and some soy sauce would accentuate it a bit. It’s not much to write home about, but an essential in every stall for the ones who don’t wish to go big on porridge.
The MVP, though, has got to be the youtiao. Unlike many stalls that cut it up for scattering, in my humble opinion, the true heroes leave it whole (or half), doing justice to this fried number. A stick of youtiao may be less convenient to eat, but all’s made up for when the insides retain their fluff. The one here is less salty and oily—a case of less is more made in point. Crisp with a thick dough, you get resistance in every bite, hitting the jackpot when you pair it with a lighter number of Chicken Porridge. But with the Signature Porridge, go easy.
The Chee Cheong Fun (S$2) is a decadent rotund stage draped in sauce that breaks apart easily into thick and heft pieces. It’s thicc, and I instantly wished I tried this first.
But despite being slathered with an ominous, potent sweet sauce with savoury chilli on the sides, the noodle rolls didn’t absorb them much. It’s a pity. Adding too much sauce would be way too heavy on your palate, while the right amount would disappear before you finish chewing, leaving you with bland pieces. Of course, I didn’t master the art of balance with this one.
Staying true to the theme here—it’s a heavy one. I just wish the flavours seeped into the rolls more.
At a simple coffeeshop frequented by mostly workers nearby, and uncles/aunties who just want a quick bite, I could almost hear their Gen Z commentary about us photographing anything and everything. But work calls, and no regrets for feeling like a fish out of water because I definitely found a hearty, fuss-free breakfast spot in Director of Porridge, after a workout at Stadium. Or you know, some fuel before I ever scream my heart out at a concert there.
We’re not expecting anything Michelin-star tiered here, but rather a flavourful fix for porridge cravings or just anything breakfast that’s not fast food. Serving bountiful bowls with ample, seasoned ingredients, Director of Porridge has proven its worth indubitably, as a go-to for people working nearby.
Well, it’s not leading in the porridge ranks, but it’s surely not one of those quieter ones you should forget about. Every bowl is packed with ingredients, flavour, and sincerity, that would shine better with just less heaviness.
Expected damage: S$2 – S$5 per item
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Our Rating: 3 / 5
Director of Porridge (Zhou Dong 粥董)
42 Jalan Benaan Kapal, Singapore 399637
42 Jalan Benaan Kapal, Singapore 399637