Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Taste of Nostalgia (Singapore)

Singapore is synonymous to a food haven. Ranging from quaint Kopitiam tucked away under a building to the World top 50 renown Iggy's restaurant. While those ubiquitous Western fast-food chain continues to infiltrate Singapore, I find myself craving for the authentic street food in this little red dot I have called home for almost 4 years. This short trip back to the island was like walking down a memory lane and more about tracing back my old favorites, rather than finding new ones. Enjoy!

The almighty Yakun kaya toast Set A with iced coffee, my all time favorite. In between the crispy toasts is kaya or coconut custard spread and slabs of butter. Mix those gooey egg yolk with a bit of soy sauce and eat it the Singaporean way- lather those scrumptious yolk on the toast and sink your teeth into heaven! Wait till you hit the thick slab of butter, it only gets better with the slight salty taste of butter amidst the sweet fragrant kaya. I have tried various other toasts around Singapore, from Toast Box to Killiney Road coffee shop, but Yakun kaya is still the winner!

I am also unabashedly addicted to its iced coffee or kopi peng - iced milk coffee (sweet). Coffee, condensed milk and ice never taste better!

A trip back to Singapore will not suffice without eating its national favorite food- chicken rice! My personal favorite has always been Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice. Conveniently located at Thomson Road, Novena, this place serves the most succulent, plump and silky chicken. I like my chicken steamed, not roasted, simply to savor the juicy skin. The rice is fragrant and separated, just the way chicken rice should be. The chilli here is sans rival! It has the garlic kick needed to spice up the chicken to another new level, a perfect balance of spiciness and sweet. Scoop the rice, chicken, chilli, a tinge of ginger and drizzle it with sweet soya sauce. Now that's the perfect scoop for you!

I have also tried the exorbitant version of chicken rice at a whopping $25 per plate in the new Marina Sands Bay and it does not even come close to Wee Nam Kee! As a testimony to how much I love this dish, I came back to this place thrice during such a short trip.

Just a few shops beside Wee Nam Kee is a famous Mee pok stall- Whitley Road Noodle. This has been one of my favorite local haunt for dry Mee pok! Upgrade your noodle to a $4 Mee pok and you get generous toppings of fish balls, sliced fish cakes, minced meat and tauge (or bean sprouts). Consisting of chilli, oil, vinegar and soy sauce, the sauce is a testimony towards the cook's skill and experience. The lard (so bad for the waistline but heaven in your mouth!) also adds to the smooth texture of the noodles. The noodles here are springy with a good consistency, so well cooked that you'll be slurping the noodles with such vigor that heads turn and mouths drool!

Sambal belachan is a staple in Singapore dishes. This condiment is made from pounded chilli with toasted shrimp paste (belacan) in a stone mortar to which sugar and lime juice are added. You will see this chilli paste added almost anywhere to your dishes, especially noodle dishes like Mee pok.

I am paying homage to another noodle place- Tiong Bahru Wanton Mee! This noodle is of a different texture than a meepok. Smaller in size, its a smoother version of egg noodles. This dish has char siew, crispy wantons, ngoh hiang (minced pork and prawn, rolled inside a beancurd skin and deep-fried) and of course, sambal belachan.

Never underestimate the sea of people queuing for food during lunch time. Singaporeans are willing to wait for good hawker food, regardless of the heat and jostling. Getting a table in hawker centres in Singapore is also near to impossible, requiring ample of patience and a bit of selfish die-hard mentality. The only way to ever get a table during lunch time is with a "Tissue-booking of tables" system- literally placing packets of tissues on the table to indicate that the tables are taken.

This trip is not complete without snacks! Squeeze in time to try all these:

- Bon Chon chicken wings at Ion. The new rage from Korea! Finger-licking good.

- Durian pancakes for the durian lovers at Takashimaya Food Hall. The pancake is crispy to a crepe texture with cold, creamy durian flesh wedged generously in it.

- Beard Papa cream puff at Takashimaya Food Hall. Scrumptious cream puff coated with chocolate with vanilla bean filling. YUM!

- Japanese tako yaki balls with diced octopus filling. It is topped with okonomiyaki sauce, ponzu, mayo, green laver and fish flakes

- Udders Icecream at 155 Thomson Road (besides United Square). Ice cream for adults with flavors so wild it blows your mind. I have tried their Connoisseur section inspired by alcoholic beverages. They have flavors like Rum Rum Raisin, Bailey’s & Bourbon, Lychee Martini and Orange Choc Bitters, not to mention the Asian-inspired flavors and my personal favorite, their Mao Shan Wang Durian ice cream!

- The $1 ice cream vendor by the road side. Blocks of icecream sandwiched between wafers or bread, your choice!


chocolatesuze said...

ohmygawd i miss singapore! i want kaya toast with incredible amounts of butter!

nomnomnomphile said...

@chocolatesuze: owwwwhh yeshhh! those gorgeous golden slabs of butter! *drools*

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