Makan Around Camp: Nee Soon CampToo many good food options around Nee Soon Camp? We've got the scoop on some of the best – welcome to the second of PIONEER's Makan Around Camp series!
//Story by Teo Jing Ting
//Photos by Chua Soon Lye
One of the more centrally located camps, Nee Soon Camp is home to many units within the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
They include the Army Deployment Force, Singapore Combat Engineers, SAF Medical Corps and even the SAF Band.
These personnel have it good when it comes to lunch options – the Upper Thomson area is also known to be a food haven!
Craving for some overseas food? You can get your Hong Kong eats at char chan teng (Hong Kong style cafe) Friends Cafe or a plate of KL dai lok mee at Daruma Tavern, both of which are conveniently located opposite Nee Soon Camp.
There are also roasted meats and zhi char (stir-fry dish) options at Wong Chiew Restaurant just further down the road; prawn noodles; and a wide variety of prata flavours from famous prata chain Springleaf Prata Place.
Located just two bus stops away from Nee Soon Camp, Springleaf Prata Place is known for its innovative creations.
This restaurants offers a wide array of flavours – from salted egg prawn prata and prata alfredo (chunky rosemary-smoked chicken in prata filled with creamy Alfredo sauce) to Umami-50 (comprising chicken luncheon meat, egg, chicken floss, mozzarella cheese and mayonnaise all encased in crispy prata skin).
But as we all know, sometimes the best gauge of a restaurant's standard is to order the simplest thing on the menu. We got a plain ($1.40) and a mushroom, egg and cheese prata ($5.40), and a cup of teh tarik (Malay for pulled tea) ($2.20).
The first thing that struck me was the size of the mushroom, egg and cheese prata – it was bigger than the plate!
A shiok (singlish for pleasing), crackling sound could be heard the moment I stuck my fork into the prata. I peeled it apart and was delighted to see the cheese pull.
Beneath the crisp golden skin was an explosion of flavour – the saltiness of the cheese contrasted well with the chewy button mushrooms. The ingredients were generously spread out and there were mushrooms, cheese and egg in every bite.
The plain prata was flaky, crispy and savoury. I dipped it in the fish curry and oh boy, it was good. I wished I could order another but I had to save my stomach for more food.
Springleaf Prata Place has definitely mastered their craft.
What Nee Soon Camp personnel says:
"Springleaf Prata Place (Springleaf Garden) offers many different varieties of prata and it's a hit among the younger generation. Commanders and superiors often bring their NSFs there to treat them for their good performance. It helps build strong teamwork and cohesion too!" – ME3 Mazlan Bin Mohamad Khalid, Chief Master Trainer, SAF Medical Training Institute
Springleaf Prata Place (Springleaf Garden)
1 Thong Soon Avenue
Opening hours: 8am – 11pm daily
Yong Tau Foo with a twist
Craving something a little healthier? Then head to 922 Beng Cheng Hakka Ampang Yong Tau Fu.
Just a 5-minute walk from Springleaf Prata Place, this was obviously a favourite haunt among Nee Soon Camp personnel – we bumped into several uniformed personnel during lunchtime.
What caught our attention was the wide array of yong tau foo (stuffed beancurd) selection – from fried tau kee (beancurd skin) and tau pok to healthier options of stuffed bittergourd, ladies' finger and steamed fishballs.
You can either select your own dishes or order a standard set for one.
At $6, the latter comprises nine ingredients which includes bittergourd, ladyfinger, eggplant, fishball, fried dumpling, tofu, tau pok, fried tau kee and vegetables. A two-person set costs $13 – it has twice of everything above, plus two quail eggs.
A bowl of white rice costs $0.80 while yam rice is priced at $1.
Instead of the typical sweet sauce that we're used to, the yong tau foo came drenched in their signature starchy brown sauce and we ordered a bowl of yam rice to go with it.
The gravy was savoury, gooey and paired well with the fried beancurd dishes as well as the yam rice (which could be a little bland on its own).
As recommended by the lady boss, we ate the fried tau kee first. One bite and I could see why it was the most popular ingredient. Crispy and crunchy, it tasted like freshly fried keropok (malay for crackers) and I enjoyed every bite.
As I slowly savoured the rest of the dishes, I could taste the freshness of the ingredients, especially the tofu and the tau pok.
The unexpected surprise was the stuffed bittergourd, which didn't have a hint of bitterness when paired together with the savoury minced fish paste.
I wanted to snag the second piece but it was fastest fingers first and sadly, my dining companion won.
If you're looking for some good ol' comfort food, check out this stall when you're in the area!
922 Beng Cheng Hakka Ampang Yong Tau Fu
922 Upper Thomson Rd
Opening hours: 7.30am - 8pm daily
Closed every alternate Tues
Black noodles with wok hei
You won't miss this stall – the words "Daruma Tavern" are large and brightly lit in neon orange lights.
Situated right across Nee Soon Camp, this air-conditioned eatery serves up a large variety of cuisines – from Japanese rice bowls and western fare to Thai wonton noodles and local eats like nasi lemak and hokkien mee.
It's best-selling dish? The KL dai lok mee (Cantonese for thick noodles).
Don't be put off by its unattractive "black" appearance – the fragrant aroma of the noodles is sure to whet your appetite.
My companion, who was stuffed from all the food earlier and had declared that he couldn't eat anymore, was suddenly hungry again.
Each strand of thick noodle was beautifully coated with sweet black sauce. The dish, which costs $8.90, came with two prawns, some slices of fishcake and strips of thinly sliced pork belly.
There was a distinctive wok hei (the flavour and taste of food stir-fried in a wok) in every mouthful of the dai lok mee.
The noodles soaked up the smoky flavour of the sweet and savoury sauce, which reminded me a little of black fried carrot cake but tasted more satisfying.
While slowly savouring my noodles, I saw that my companion had finished every last bit of his. So much for being "full".
Needless to say, I understood why this was easily the most popular dish on the menu. It was also seen on almost every diner's table while we were there.
25 Springside Green, #01-14
The Brooks II
Opening hours: 10am - 12am
Feeling hungry yet? If you've craving any of these dishes and happen to be around Nee Soon Camp, here's your guide!