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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Katong Laksa

On the last night in Singapore, I was alone with no one to join me for dinner. I remember seeing some brightly lit shophouses behind the hotel I was staying everytime I drove past. So, I thought I take a short walk and check out the shops.

Little did I realize that I had stumbled on the row of restaurants famous for the Katong Laksa. There are several shops serving the Katong Laksa and each claiming to be either the original or the best. They have signs and photos plastered all over the open-air restaurant supporting the claims.

I counted four restaurants along the stretch — each of them numbered. After surveying the stalls, I decided to try out the “49″ shop. It’s on 49 East Coast Rd.

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Unlike the other type of Laksas, Katong Laksa uses noodles that are cut up into smaller pieces so that the entire dish can be eaten with a spoon alone (without chopsticks).

The cononut-based broth is much thicker than the other variants of Laksa. It is certainly more richer. Also, instead of yellow egg-noodle, they use white lai-fun noodles.

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This is what makes a great Laksa — Cockles! I had not come across laksa with cockles all the years I am in Vancouver. I enjoyed the Laksa a lot. It was really good even though I was sweating profusely on a hot and humid day in a restaurant with bad ventilation.

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It appears that next to each of the Laksa stall were Fruit Rojak (fruit salad). Since I did not want to stay on in the restaurant, I bought some to-go so that I can eat in the comfort of my hotel room. The rojak is really good too. What I like best is that they toast the tau-pok and yutiao before they mix it up. This makes them really hard and crunchy — not mushy at all.

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I’ll blog about Malaysia from tomorrow.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: East Coast Lagoon Food Centre

I met up with Keng Choong, Chee Ming and Eng Keong one of the nights I was in Singapore. In my secondary school days, we always hangout together after school and were serving in the Boys Brigade for many years. We were close — we sat next to each other in class too. After secondary school, we each went our way — one went to the US to study, another went to Singapore. We had only met once in the past twenty years.

We have remarked how little each of us had changed. I was really glad to catch up with them and learning how successful they had become. Needless to say, we talked about the good old times in school, and the Boys Brigade.

We met at the East Coast Lagoon Food Centre. It’s a hawker centre where there are stalls serving a host of variety of cheap food. It was really hot and humid that night. I was so thirsty. I ordered a cup of iced cendol.

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The shaved ice was refreshing and cooling. The ingredients consist of white coconut milk. thin worm-like pea flour noodles and palm sugar. In addition, they added red beans and jelly.

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We ordered some traditional Malay satay to share.

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Keng Choong ordered the petai. The seeds have a very peculiar taste and are an acquired taste. I tried just a few but decided I did not like it. I think only Keng Choong ate this.

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This dish below is the BBQ stingray in chilli sauce.

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The flesh were white and stringy. It went well with the sourish chilli sauce.

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It was so hot, I ordered a second drink. The freshly extracted sugar cane was delicious.

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I know it’ll be sometime before I will meet up with them again. I just hope that it’s not gonna be another 10 years before we meet the next time. Although the hawker food was good, what I enjoyed most is catching up with them.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: East Coast Seafood Centre

I returned to Singapore on work for three days. The days at work is somewhat OK … not gruelling as I originally anticipated. At the end of the second day of work, Patrick invited the project team out for dinner.

We went to the East Coast Seafood Centre where there were a lot of major seafood restaurants concentrated in the block.

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Crabs, in particular chilli crab, is very popular in Singapore. Many people consider the chilli crab the defacto national dish of Singapore. So, the East Coast Seafood Centre is undoubtedly the place to bring guests and visitors to.

Even on a weekday night, the parking lot was quite busy. I was told that the traffic and parking is worse on weekends.

We went to this restaurant which had an unique name: “No Signboard Seafood”.

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We started off with a plate of Fried Crispy Baby Squid. I had never tried this before. They were very good — very crispy. A great starter dish.

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I told Patrick I wanted to try their chilli crab and left all the ordering to him. However, when the crab came it was not chilli crab! Grrr … instead what he had ordered was the White Pepper Crab (or I think that’s what Patrick said it’s called).

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It wasn’t bad at all, in fact, it was quite good. It’s just that it’s disappointing that we did not have the chilli crab. The chilli crab gravy would have been great with hard-crusted bread or rice. This one does not have gravy.

The crab was fresh and very fleshy. It was good but wished it was chilli crab … just can’t get over missing chilli crab!!

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This is something new too to me — Crayfish (or crawfish). I think they were fried with butter, I am not sure.

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The crayfish looked like a cross between a lobster and a very, very large prawn. The flesh tasted a lot like lobster. What I liked best was the flakes from the fried butter. Great on rice.

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The below is a squid dish wrapped by yutiao. This is unique but does not have much of a taste.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: My Comfort Food

I just realize something about myself.

While waiting for my connection from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, I had a few hours to kill at the Changi Airport. I am impressed with the Changi Airport and do think that this is really the best airport in the world. They have won countless awards over the years. Just this year they were awarded the Best Airport by Skytrax. Why, they have almost anything a traveller would need — they have internet stations everywhere — for free. The internet stations are even equiped with video cam.

After checking out the airport and the shops, I headed to the 24-hour food center. It was late and not many stalls were opened. I thought I grab something to eat, sit down and do some reading. I ordered the BBQ pork noodle soup which costs $7.

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Man, I suddenly realize how much I missed a simple bowl of noodle soup. Despite the gourmet meals I had on Business Class hours ago, this simply beats them hands down. I felt so good and it suddenly hit me how close I am to “home”. This is truly my definition of comfort food.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Business Class on Singapore Airlines

This was one long haul trip. I was travelling from Vancouver to Singapore a few days ago on work. Since Malaysia is just minutes from Singapore downtown, I will be taking at least a week off work to visit family and friends — and most of all eat all the food I so missed all these years.

The trip took a total of 19 hours. At least I was travelling in Business Class. Singapore Airlines’ Business Class is known as Raffles Class. I normally dread long-haul flights but this time I really enjoyed myself. The food was great, the service was superb. I felt so pampered and full rested by the time I got to Singapore. What made the difference the most was the fact that I could sleep on flight because the seat could actually recline!

Even before I got to settle down, the stewardess came around with a tray of champagne, juice and cocktail. I chose the Golden Spice cocktail which was really refreshing. This appears to be a lime cordial with a spicy relish, pineapple juice and ginger ale. I had a lot of drinks during the flight and tried to try every one on their menu.

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The flight has an in-flight entertainment system which includes movies, TV shows, and Nintendo games. Each seat has its own personal television. The movies and TV shows were the on-demand type where I could pause, rewind and so on from my seat control. There was a selection of 80 movies of various kind. On the flight I caught the Da Vinci Code. I like computer games but the Nintendo games was downright childish and game that a miss.

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Next they issued me socks. Nice touch. It felt so good taking off the shoes and donning the socks.

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Of course, there is the obiquitious packets of nuts.

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There are a total three meals served throughout the 19hr flight. Two of the meals are full meals while one is what they called a light meal — which is not light in every sense of the word!

For the dinner menu, I started off with Satay with onions and cucumber.

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Oh yeah, they actually setup the seat tray with table cloth. The tray was large and I really had the meal in comfort.

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Next came the Marinated Prawns salad. The prawns were succulent but I am not a great fan of cold prawns.

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They came by with a basket of various type of bread. The garlic bread looked really good. They looked better than it tasted. I mean, I had much better garlic bread before. I prefer garlic bread which is crusty but this one is a soft.

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For the main, I selected the Poached Chicken Breast with garlic mashed potato, sauteed spinach and creamed morel. I selected this primarily because the menu indicated this is an exclusive creation by Nancy Oakes (who?) of San Francisco.

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I also had the coconut and mango ice-cream. The taste was unique but too airy.

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They next came with a push cart of some gourmet cheese selection. I asked for one of each to sample.

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For coffee, I chose the Kenyan AA Kilimanjaro coffee from their gourmet coffee menu. This is a very dark brew with an intense flavour. It was so good that I ordered this two other times during the flight.

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To end the meal, they came by with a nice tray of chocolates. I felt like asking them to leave the entire tray with me!

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That was just one meal. Frankly, it was too much food. By the third meal, I could not finish what was on the plates. You know, I had weighed myself before I left for the airport. At the rate I am going, I am afraid I will have gained quite a lot of weight.

Anyway, I really had a great time on the flight. There are a few more pictures of the food I had on the flight. Click on the link below for them.

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