By Chen Jei Min
It’s only a few weeks into the new semester, but are you already struggling to find something to whet your appetite? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Our writers took it upon themselves to go on a food hunt around NTU in search of some of the newer eateries to see if they are truly worth the hype.
This is the second article of a two-part series featuring new food options in NTU. Check out the first article here.
1. Negative 21 Degrees @ Crespion
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice-cream! As a true-blue Singaporean frustrated by the tropical heat, the rolled ice-cream at Negative 21 Degrees was something I was dying to try. A newly opened student-run business by Elliot, Liang Hao and Justin on campus, this ice-cream stall is humbly located at the Crespion Canteen.
Begin your order by first choosing your desired ice-cream base from a line-up of flavours including Oreo, banana and vanilla. From there, you can also add toppings of your choice from a wide selection including Hershey chocolate sauce, love letters, chocolate chips and many more!
Justin, one of the founders, recommended that I tried the banana and Oreo ice-cream, topped with rainbow sprinkles and love letters.
Served in a compact paper cup, the ice-cream rolls were topped off with rainbow sprinkles, chocolate chips and love letters, making it a totally Insta-worthy dessert. If you’re on Instagram, don’t be surprised to see your IG stories reel flooded with aesthetic snaps of ice-cream from Negative 21 Degrees!
Looks aside, the dessert delivered in terms of taste as well. The chocolatey taste of the Oreo and the slight hint of banana perfectly complemented the creamy ice-cream flavour. Furthermore, the fragrant love letters recommended by Justin, added a delightfully crispy texture which only made the gooey ice-cream more appetising.
Overall, the dessert was truly delightful. It was appreciably rich in flavour but not cloying. A perfect balance of sweet and creamy, Negative 21 Degrees will definitely appeal to those with a sweet tooth.
Additionally, I enjoyed being able to see the ice-cream being rolled and chopped up for me on the spot. It was an interesting gastronomic experience to say the least!
Before we move on to our next eatery, here’s a pro tip from Elliot, one of the co-founders: if you bring your own toppings, they will make your own personalised dessert for you at a small additional cost of 50 cents. By making each order highly-customable, Justin and the other founders hoped that every cup of ice-cream would be more special and personal to the customer.
For more details (and aesthetic ice-cream photos), do check out their Instagram.
2. Taiwan Cuisine @ South Spine Fine Foods
Pining for Taiwanese chicken cutlet but cannot fly to Taiwan? We got you. Satisfy these cravings with the Taiwanese cuisine store at South Spine Fine Foods which opened only last semester. The store offers a wide variety of authentic Taiwanese cuisine at an affordable price. From various types of chicken cutlet rice, deep-fried sweet potato fries and Enoki mushrooms, it’s safe to say that there’s a little something for everyone.
I tried their signature chicken cutlet rice, topped with chili flakes for a price of about five dollars.
Exhausted from a day of lessons, I took a huge bite of out of the chicken. It was heavenly – the chicken was fried to perfection! The owners managed to artfully achieve a delicate balance between crispiness and chewiness for the chicken. Talk about love at first bite!
Furthermore, the chicken cutlet was loaded with nostalgic flavours that reminded me of the Shilin Night Market in Taiwan. Along with the fluffy white rice loaded with the rich braised sauce, I knew immediately that this was something I would willingly return to very often in the near future.
Additional brownie points to the owners for adding chili flakes onto the chicken cutlet – I loved how the additional spice was neither overpowering nor painfully tangy yet was still able to take me by surprise.
The slight punch from the chili enhanced the flavour of the chicken cutlet. Although unassuming, the chili flakes really elevated the whole dish for me. For those who are up for a spicy challenge, feel free to ask the friendly owners for more chili flakes!
Apart from the delectable chicken, the salad on the side deserves a special mention as well. When the spice from the chicken started to kick in, the fresh vegetables and pickles really offered me a much-desired respite. The sour tinge and the refreshing crunch of the pickles also washed away the oil and grease. Overall, the salad was a fitting and wise addition to the dish.
If you’re looking to satisfy your Taiwanese food cravings after lessons, don’t forget to drop by South Spine to try it out! For those staying at the North (of NTU), this stall is also available at the North Hill canteen.
3. A Hot Hideout @ North Hill
To all the meat and seafood lovers out there, have you ever encountered the problem of breaking your bank after deciding to treat yourself at your favourite Mala stall? Fret not! At A Hot Hideout, you will be pleased to know that all ingredients are charged at the same price, per every 100g.
Nested in a quiet corner of North Hill is a Mala Tang Store that is anything but quiet! One of the newest initiatives by the student entrepreneurs behind Raydy Beehoon, this Mala Tang store is perfect for satisfying your Mala cravings. Apart from Mala Tang, they also offer collagen soup and oriental stir-fry for the non-spicy lovers!
I ordered the Mala Collagen Soup, their signature soup base, when I was there. It was definitely a pleasant surprise. The robust broth was very different from a traditional Mala Tang. It was richer and had a nutty aftertaste to it. That said, I would say that the flavours were not too overpowering, and definitely compatible with a local palette.
Personally, my favourite ingredient was the fried potatoes. Unlike the normal boiled potatoes of other Mala stalls in the hood, the fried potatoes at A Hot Hideout added texture and crunch to the Mala.
Overall, the portion size of the Mala is group friendly. Hence, if you’re finding somewhere to eat with your friends, do consider dropping by A Hot Hideout!
Sharing the same space with A Hot Hideout is Raydy’s beverage stall, Take Five. They offer a selection of beverages such at the Red and Green Thai Milk Tea, that ought to remind you about your good memories in Thailand. The sweet, milky and fragrant drink goes perfectly with a bowl of Mala- something that cannot be missed!
For more information do check out their Instagram or their Telegram (@Raydy NTU), where they frequently post updates on the waiting time, queue and operating hours of the restaurant. Despite the crowd at peak hours, I would say that food this good is definitely worth the wait.
As someone who constantly gravitates to her to-go stalls out of laziness, convenience and more, I constantly struggle to find new food to eat around campus once I get tired of my go-to stalls on campus. That is one of the reasons why I chose to travel around campus searching for new food, to help like-minded individuals like me. No more “What to eat ah?”, now you know where to go to fill your stomach!