Last Updated: March 20, 2018
The journey to the North of Singapore doesn’t seem so dreadful if you think about the delicious food that awaits you. At least, that’s what I focused on as I made my hour-long journey to Yishun, to give Pepper Maniac a try.
A bit of a disclaimer: Pepper Maniac isn’t located in the most accessible area and you’ll either need to take a bus from Yishun MRT, or walk in the heat for quite a bit to get to it. But if you’re in the area, drop by!
Since I’d gone to a place named Pepper Maniac, it goes without saying that I had to give the Signature Pepper Rice ($11) a try. This dish comes with three types of meat – chicken, pork and beef, as well as a heap of vegetables including beansprouts, baby carrots, broccoli, and corn.
All of this is served on a sizzling hotplate and comes with a side of white rice. It’s basically a similar concept to the popular chain, Pepper Lunch!
One thing I found rather interesting was the variety of sauces that came with the meal. There was a pepper sauce for the meat, while a honey garlic sauce and a special BBQ sauce were supposed to complement the vegetables.
I quite enjoyed the pepper sauce as its flavour enhanced the umami of the meat. Thankfully, it wasn’t too peppery, but instead reminded me of Louisiana hot sauce.
My colleague, on the other hand, didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I did, so I would suggest you don’t over-enthusiastically pour it all over the meat before giving it a taste.
Out of the three types of meat, my favourite was the chicken. As it was served in chunks rather than slices, it remained tender and succulent, making it very palatable.
The pork and beef, on the other hand, became rather tough after a while. But I certainly enjoyed the char on the meat.
The vegetables, seasoned with the honey garlic and special BBQ sauce, were a nice balance of sweet and salty. The BBQ sauce added a touch of smokiness to the vegetables, which I thought was unique.
All the veggies were crunchy and fresh, and if I were you, I’d mix everything up and leave it for a bit to soak up all the sauces.
After filling up on meat, it was time for some seafood. I thus moved on to the Crayfish Hor Fun ($9). For $9, the portion was decent; it came with two pieces of crayfish, and enough hor fun for two small eaters.
Sadly, the crayfish was rather underwhelming. Though it was pleasantly firm, it was unpleasantly bland, especially in comparison to the flavourful hor fun gravy. A little more seasoning would certainly have helped.
Apart from the crayfish, the other components of the dish were decent. The hor fun was smooth and silky, while the gravy was of a good consistency – neither too thick nor thin. Flavour-wise, it wasn’t life-changing, but it did make for a satisfying meal.
Though the Crayfish Hor Fun was enjoyable, it was a little unexciting. As such, I went for something more unconventional for my next dish and ordered the Laksa Fried Rice ($6). A combination of two incredibly well-loved local dishes; what’s not to like?
Much to my delight, I received a mountain of fried rice (it was quite a lot), together with two chicken satay skewers, four pieces of keropok (prawn crackers) and a heap of shredded lettuce.
I was much less excited about the lettuce than I was about everything else because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Mixing it into my fried rice didn’t seem too inviting, and eating it alone seemed even worse. So I left it uneaten.
Anyway, on to the real deal – the fried rice. As the name suggests, it is laksa-flavoured fried rice and it even comes with some traditional laksa toppings, including taupok and prawns.
The fried rice carried a robust laksa flavour, and I could even detect a hint of coconut at the end of each bite. It was also extremely fragrant, which made it very addictive, and I was only left wishing that the spice level was a notch higher.
I thought the addition of taupok was very interesting. While it didn’t quite ‘soak up’ the laksa flavour as you would expect it to with real laksa, it was still a tasty and chewy treat. There were also slices of pork, which unfortunately were a little too dry for my liking, while the prawns were average.
Though tasty, I felt that the chicken satay was a tad too tough, probably overcooked. I can’t deny that the fried rice itself was delicious, but I found that the dish, as a whole, was rather haphazardly put together.
Apparently, every fried rice dish they offer comes with the same sides, but I don’t really see the appeal. I would much prefer to have my laksa fried rice on its own.
Pepper Maniac serves dishes that are both affordable and palatable, and I wouldn’t mind a second visit if I’m ever in the area. While some of the dishes do need a little fine-tuning, lovers of all things peppery might really enjoy this.
If you live in Yishun, give this a try and let us know what you think!
Expected damage: $6 – $20 per pax