Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Singapore 1, 2012


I got home on Sunday and promptly lost my beloved cobalt blue 2-month old smart phone on Monday, third phone lost in 3 years in exactly the same way--I have a bad habit of having the phone on my seat and forgetting about it when getting out of my car. I've lost confidence in myself. I was downright depressed last night. I don't think I should have any phone worth more than RM300. I'm telling you this because I think if I lost it in Singapore, there's a good chance whoever found it will return it. My son Wey was sitting on a bench in a food court in Singapore when a lady came over and pointed to his wallet which had dropped out of his pocket onto the floor. Wey told me that he left his phone on the table several times and nobody grabbed it. Singapore and West Malaysia are only 5 minutes apart on a bridge but there's such a huge difference in terms of security.

Our first stop was 328 Katong for the Singapore laksa, one of my fave food. I don't bother to check out other places anymore because on my previous trip I ate laksa at several places including the one at Queensway which claimed to be the original laksa stall, but I found that laksa too thick while 328 was perfect. This trip, however, 328 Katong laksa  tasted rather bland and thin. The best thing about it was the cockles, lots of them, and they were sweet and springy to the bite. The other best thing was the price of S$3, 4, 5 for small, medium and large bowls, which is very cheap because in KK, noodles are RM5.00 per bowl and up. I don't convert the currency because that gives me a feel of how it feels to be local and eat like one. Of course if you want to feel like a tourist, you can convert the currency in which case, with the low Malaysian ringgit, everything will be expensive and if you are a Brit, everything will be cheap.

Bland nyonya kuihs which were pasty and "tasted of jossticks", according to Wey, who gagged and spat everything out.

These 'piggies in baskets' announce the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and remind me of my childhood when getting one of these was a treat.

Katong's very pleasant to stroll in the evening and there are so many restaurants it's hard to decide where to eat. Singapore is a lot hotter and humid than KK.


Katong laksa was for late afternoon snack so for dinner, we ended up at the food court/hawker stalls in Koven. IMO, crunchy Hong Kong shrimp wontons are the best so these Singapore wontons, like Malaysian ones, made of  mushy pork filling, FAIL.

Super crispy scrambled egg with oysters, one of the most greasy dishes, is yummy if the oil doesn't bother you.

My BIL insisted that we must try Ponggol Nasi Lemak (coconut oily rice), so good that there's always a line. We passed by Ponggol Nasi Lemak in Katong one night and there was a long queue too.

No kidding? This is one of Singapore's best nasi lemak? I was bewildered. The rice was good, fragrant with coconut milk and the brinjals were good too but the crispy chicken drumstick was just very crispy and I much preferred the Malaysian nasi lemak with curry chicken. The sambal, the most important side to a good nasi lemak, was okay but nothing compared to Malaysian sambal, which is sweet, sour, savory and full of gravy and spices. And where's the hard boiled egg? Some recipes are better left traditional.

This bowl of mee bok was good, and cheap too, at S$4.00. That Thai pandan coconut was only S$3 and twice the size of the ones we get in KK. We pay top prices for low grade products in KK.

We walked further on, and there were durian stalls but we were too full and decided to leave durians for some other night but of course we never did eat any the whole trip because we were always too full and durians couldn't be brought onto public transport and had to be eaten on the spot.

BIL insisted that we try Teochew congee so we sat down, our eyes nearly popping out from the choices of cooked dishes. The dishes above are just 1/4 of what was available.


S$2 per plate and 40 cents per bowl of congee, cheap cheap!

On the way back, I bagged this for my son because he loves pork knuckle and we don't get bak kut teh pork knuckle back home. This was only S$5.50! While walking to get a cab, my stomach started to hurt and I had to dive into a toilet. Yes, I got sick the first night and I thought it was very deja vu because the same thing happened on a previous trip. It must've been the oysters.

In one night, I had put on 1.5 kg and all my cabbage diet the weeks before was wasted. Wait till you see what we ate the next day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Shanghai Market





China is truly a land of contrasts. The buildings are tall, the cars are sleek, the number of billionaires rank second in the world and yet people hang out their underwear to dry on a street when it's sunny. It is odd and embarrassing yet kind of sweet and nostalgic.

Big zhongzi, glutinous rice dumplings, were only RMB2 to 2.50 each (RM1/USD0.30).

I stopped by a grocers and bought my Hub's favorite daediao bing, seaweed biscuits and chung you bing, spring onions biscuits.

Frozen fish. I wonder how they taste.

The market was 15 minutes' walk away and therefore very convenient for me. I bought a bit of everything, from veggies I've never seen before to goutie wrappers to glutinous rice sticks, for my in-laws.













Cutting glutinous rice cakes. The fresh wheat noodles smelt heavenly.

These are wheat flour wrappers for making Shanghainese wontons. They are eggless and much thicker than Cantonese wontons.

A tea stall.

Dried chrysanthemum buds.

I packed everything into a cardbox board because it's light.



We were ushered out of the door by Douma (oldest aunty, who's 89) who was worried that we'd miss our flight. At the exit of the shikumen, I saw a lady cook lunch, her stove and condiments placed on benches. She was frying bell peppers with chicken and it smelt awesome. As I stopped to take photos, she said to me, "You take my photos, you must try my food!" I was delighted to and about to take up her offer when Hub yelled at me from the cab and gave me a I-can't-believe-you'd-do-that look.  Xiao shushu (youngest uncle, who's 82) and Douma were equally impatient (or disgusted) with me and led me away while the gawkers on the street laughed at me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shanghai: Hai Di Lao Hot Pot

One morning, we walked to Yi's office to check out the little restaurant at the corner. It is the only restaurant in the area and Yi often eats there on the way to work.

The economy rice buffet looked rather poor.


Goutie and shuijiao in China are thicker-skinned than the ones we get in Malaysia. I like both types. 

Didn't notice until I posted this photo that the goutie were placed on newspapers. I just like the way my Olympus four thirds camera shoots. Pretty good eh?

Goutie. Yum.

Xiaolong bao. Yum too.

Yi arranged to meet us at Hai Di Lao  ('deep sea trawl') at 468 Changshou Lu, a popular steamboat chain restaurant. When we got there, people were playing board games, girls were having their hands massaged, others were having their nails done and yet others were just sitting around sipping tea while waiting for their tables. All FOC. We were served Chinese tea and slices of oranges while we waited. I should've checked out the bathrooms because Yi said the service is so amazing that the attendants will open the doors for you, make sure it's closed properly, switch the tap on for you, tear the paper for drying your hands for you...the only thing you do is ease yourself.




 Hai Di Lao has many chain restaurants all over China and is popular with young people because the choices of steamboat ingredients are endless and the service is what I'd describe as intense. A waitress stood at our table most of the time, ever ready to serve drinks or help us cook. She wasn't overbearing though, just very friendly and well-trained and ever so polite and ready to get us anything. For such a huge restaurant, the number of staff must be astounding because there was a waitress to every table.


The highlight of the meal, other than the service fit for an empress, was the dancing noodles. A guy in a white track suit (I'd like to know why) came to the table and starts pulling a piece of dough, stretching until it is like a long flat ribbon. He turned and twirled, never stopping and the ribbon of dough became so long I thought it would touch the floor but it didn't. Within 30 seconds, the dough was done and he tore the long ribbon into short lengths and dropped them into our pot of soup. The noodles were slippery-smooth with an el dente bite and very delicious and cost incredibly cheap, only RMB7/RM3.50/USD1.10.


Two types of soup base, a Sichuan hot oil peppercorn soup and an herbal mushroom soup. Both were good but I prefer the herbal soup because the Sichuan hot oil soup made everything taste the same.

Hai Di Lao wasn't as cheap as it looked on the menu because with so many items, and the portions were small, we ordered quite a bit and that added up to a hefty bill. But Yi paid for dinner and it felt good to have a kid who's working, finally.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...