Friday, February 26, 2010

East vs West!

One thing I notice in Singapore is that there are many many many different types of cuisine here. Though the main ethnicities are Chinese, Malay and Indian, everyone is Singaporean and so the food, whatever cuisine, always has a Singaporean take on it.

The food is exceptionally cheap. Usually a plate of noodles from a hawker centre is just $3. Can upsize for $5 - the portions are usually quite small, but well suited to the climate. If you eat a large portion, you may be feeling quite heavy and lethargic in the afternoon heat. Western food is comparatively more expensive. The usual chains like McDonalds run about $6 a meal, and Western food in a cafe or restaurant won't drop below $10.

Last night we ate at 15 Minutes, the on-campus cafe at Lasalle College of the Arts:

They serve a good selection of burgers, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas, as well as beer and other alcohol!

Lychee Soda.

Sotong (squid) balls. Made from real squid - YUM! Fried goodness, light and puffy. Good with chili sauce.

Mushroom rocket salad.............. in a JAR! This one's for you, Dan. You'd love this place! Quirky idea, huh?

My meal: Chef's burger - home-made patty, salad, mushrooms, garlic, swiss cheese, fried egg! Reminds me of home haha. Patty was really decent aye, I'm really loving the home-made patty. Really decent chuck, medium grind, good outer char, left rare in the middle - now that's a real burger! Mix of ingredients here worked really well. You know I love teh burgers! Can't wait to try Carl's Junior. Shek, recommend me that burger again??

Ham and Mushroom Pink Sauce Linguine - damn creamy and delicious, with a really strong hard cheese flavour. Ivan couldn't finish, it was so rich!

Jasone's pepperoni pizza. Good thin handmade base! Maybe should have been cooked at a higher temperature for more crispyness, but it was good. The pepperoni wasn't real pepperoni after Sal's NY Pizza back in Auckland. I miss you Sal's!!!

Let me tell you something about Jasone: he likes to eat. Being a young guy (19), he can eat and eat and his metabolism takes care of everything - he is so skinny! On the first day in the office, he ate two lunches and two dinners. I wish I could be like him again.....

Today's lunch was at Koufu - a foodcourt near work. The name is hilarious.

Inside are a bunch of stalls lined up - generally they specialise in one particular cuisine or dish. Of course, there's the ubiquitous Chicken Rice stall too!

Yum! But no prawn?? =(

Lunch: Char Kway Teow. Mark says this is the best Char Kway Teow in the area - and from a foodcourt no less. It was YUM! Real good wok hei (wok air) flavour, lots of spice and depth of flavour from the different sauces used in the mix. I'll have to go back and find out what exactly goes into this. Apart from the hokkien noodles, got lap cheung (Chinese dried sausage), fish cake, mini oyster, bean sprout. Delicious! Mark is going to take me to the BEST (in his opinion, of course) Char Kway Teow on the island - near to the old office at Haji Lane. Can't wait!!

Iced Lemon Tea to cool me down while eating the Char Kway Teow.

After lunch we went to the local supermarket to buy fruit. Look at these KOREAN strawberries. Shipped all the way here! They are elongated and half white colour - not very appetising compared to the ones we pick back in NZ. However, I had a chance to try them and they are actually sweet and with a decent flavour. No comparison with NZ strawberries though!

Watermelons! Not a bad price for how damn big they are! Yum, gonna love eating all the fresh tropical fruit over here.

That's today's meals. More to come tonight :D

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The OTHER national dish!!?

The afternoon began in the sweltering heat, trekking from Orchard over to the office at Commonwealth. There I met with Jasone who introduced me to a way of life in Singapore - Teh Peng! Teh = tea and Peng = ice, so Teh Peng = iced milk tea! Sure, you might say, all the other Asian countries have iced milk tea too. What's special about the Singaporean one? THIS:

It's in a bag!!! WTH!!! Who would think that you can take a perfectly normal drink like milk tea, which is easily drunk out of a cup or a can or a bottle, and put it in a BAG?! WHAT!? Fill the bag with ice, tie it up with string, chuck a straw in it and BAM! Instant Singapore street culture. All for $0.90!

Dinner tonight was at Ang Mo Kio, at a place famous for Chili Crab! Chili Crab is renowned as being the very essence of Singapore - the spice and depth of flavour of Singaporean style food and the fresh seafood! You have never had crab like this before!

The place was packed as - people lining up everywhere. Generally, I'll try to only go to places where people are lining up - if the locals love it and are willing to line up for it when there is so much choice and competition, it must be good!!

So many different styles of crab! I want to try them all!!!

Pricing the crabs by grade and weight.

Long as queues to get inside. People have been lining up for almost an hour....

And after we order.. another hour of waiting time!!! :O

The requisite peanuts and chilis.

I start with a cool refreshing young coconut to drink. There is no aircon here so I'm sweating like the crabs in a pot of steaming water.

Stir-fried vege with chili. Don't know what kind of vege this is but its super yum!

Seafood with broccoli and egg tofu. YUM! The silky soft egg tofu is another specialty of Malaysia and Singapore. HK, China and Japan style tofu just cannot compare!

Sweet and Sour Pork - true Chinese style!

Cereal Prawns! The large prawns are coated in crispy crunchy cereal bits before being deep fried with a salt and pepper mix and spring onion and chili! Yum! The left over cereal mix is especially good with rice.

The MAIN EVENT! Chili Crab! A dish you can only find in Singapore - this, like the chicken rice, comes in many many different iterations across the island. The sauce is based in tomato, egg and chili, an intense, slightly sweet flavour, and a mild burn of chili. All this enhanced by the crab meat and crab fat soaked into the sauce.

Deep Fried Bun (mantou) to dip in the sauce! Genius idea!!!

YUM! Uncle Shun, Aunty Heidi, Aunty Lynn, if you are reading this, come to Singapore! You will love the seafood here!!

Me chowing down on a crab claw :D

Had to have a second drink to cool off from all the excitement! Lime Juice - how refreshing.

The aftermath of the battle... I wish we had another plate of mantou to mop up this delectable sauce! But was stuffed max...

My plate of shell. What a meal to start off my eating tour of Singapore! First day and two national icon already eaten! No doubt I'll be trying this again soon....

One Love.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The national dish?!

First day in SG and the sun shines upon my arrival! (or more likely it just shines all the time..)

Here's the food intake for the past 12 hours, beginning with yet another round of plane food (bleurgh!) Was seriously debating whether to skip this meal and just eat more upon my arrival but.. I can't say no to food. No matter what it is..:

Fresh fruit selection - not bad not bad! As y'all will know, I love them melons :D

Followed by croissant. As you can see, I've got this lid-heating method down pat.

Some average butter. Another cold roll (didn't eat) and some jam (didn't eat). This butter is some Fonterra brand, but it just ain't anchor! (for those of you following the sweepstakes, i ate about 2g of butter..)

The main event: grilled beef steak (dry eurgh...), veal sausage, 'Boston' baked beans, hash brown. Pretty meh over all, soggy, tasteless, mush. Can't wait to get to SG and have some real food!!

So after all that disappointment (well, what should I expect?) here is it. The inaugural meal in Singapore. And, to be honest, I couldn't really think of a more fitting first meal. This is a staple of the Singaporean lunch/dinner diet - something you can get everywhere, but something that is impossible to PERFECT. Nevertheless, a great way to start my eating adventures in SG - Hainanese Chicken Rice!!!

This specimen here from an unidentified foodstall across the road from where I'm staying. Un-airconditioned, plastic stools, old men arguing over newspapers, grumpy stallholders, I LOVE IT!

This is sort of like a mini hawker centre. The type of place locals go for breakfast. Grubby, cheap, i love!

Hainanese Chicken Rice!!! Served with the requisite chilli/crushed garlic sauce and broth on the side. This cost only $2.50 for one la! How cheap is that!? (Thanks Winsie!)

Winsie's Roast Chicken Rice. Didn't have a try, but it was served in the same style as the Hainanese Chicken Rice - looks nommy!

A close-up of the nomness. What is so special about Chicken Rice? For those of you who don't know what it is, the rice and chicken are steamed together, or the rice with chicken stock, so that the rice is soaked with a delicious chickeny flavour. The chicken itself is smooth and very tender, and served warm or cold with a bit of stock sauce. Cucumber on the side. I couldn't really say if this was a good example or not of this beloved dish, but it was certainly tasty! Look out for more Chicken Rice coming up later in the blog!

Served up with some 100 plus - Isotonic drink to replace all those fluids I sweated out before :P Comes straight out of the chiller and with a cup of ice - that's how hot it is here!

Beverage of the afternoon - Caramel Frappucino at Starbucks. I don't like Starbucks and this was more expensive than 2 x my lunch, but I wanted to use the internet..... Inside Starbucks is about 5 degrees cos of the OTT aircon - compared with the 30 degrees outside! So hard to adjust..

That's it for now folks, check in again for dinner!!

/End Hiatus

My apologies for being so slack with the blogging recently! (And by recent, I mean the last 4 months.. ><) Have had stuff to deal with RE uni, work, holidaying.... erm.. yeah. And just laziness in general, y'all know me.

Here's the end of the hiatus - and with it a new new beginning - Singapore! Eating capital of SE Asia! (bar my beloved HK of course, does this count as SE Asia?)

You can read about my Singapore travels over at but here is where I will be posting all FOOD related stuff. And there will be a LOT of food. Singapore - home of the Chilli Crab, Pepper Crab, Salted Egg Yolk Crab, Crab Bee Hoon.... yeah.. there will be lots of crab. And Chicken Rice stalls as far as the eye can see! HEAVEN!

Just a heads up, my good friend James will be starting up a sweepstakes on facebook as to how much weight I will gain!! Wahahaha... expect me to keep good tabs on this and keep updated for tips as to how I'm doing! You'll be able to read about the food I eat, what I drink, how much daily consumption is going on - and how much exercise I'm doing! (HA!) Know by now that I am prone to excess, especially where good damn food is involved. Tip #1: When I was last in TW, I gained 3kg solid over just less than 2 weeks. Damn that good street food! Expect more of the same in SG? Wait and seeeeee :P Join the sweepstakes and be in to win!

Today - the first day. Here's what I ate.... on the Emirates flight from Auckland to Brisbane:

Pineapple Pecan Cake served with Vanilla Sauce Anglaise. Meh. I always eat the cake first while I wait for my bread to heat up --------->

I hate the airplane bread being served cold! I remember once upon a time when airplane bread was served hot.. those times are long gone. Tip for travelers who prefer their bread hot - cut in half and lay face down on the top of your sizzling hot main tray. Hot bread perfect for buttering! Yum!

Anchor spreadable butter, Kapiti Egmont with Arnotts crackers, Emirates chocolate! What more could one ask for?

Cajun lamb loin salad with roasted vegetables and beetroot relish. This was pretty meh too, the lamb was chilly cold and I couldn't be bothered heating it on the lid :P

The main event - Kung Pao chicken - stir fried with rice and vegetables. Again, average. But really, what can one expect from airplane food!? I know NotQuiteNigella had a post not so long ago regarding airplane food in all its (not so much) merits, but I have never thought a whole lot about it!!

Apparently there is an 'As You Like It' option for the Brisbane-Dubai leg which involves vegetable pie, classic beef gravy pie, fresh seasonal fruit and assorted chocolate bars. Does this mean you can order as much as you like of these when you want?! I want! We'll see what I'm offered on the Brisbane-Dubai leg. Coming soon! Look forward to more exciting airplane food as well as deets of my first meal(s) in SG! Wahahaha.

One Love.