Saturday, January 05, 2008

Escaping the ATL cold spell to feast in Singapore

I make two annual pilgrimages to Singapore, the little dot on the other side of the world to see J's family, to attend lots of weddings, and most importantly, to eat! So let's dive right in!

If the only things you can focus on in the above photo are the scary teethes, then fish head curry is not for you. However, for those who drool at the thought of slurping out all the gelatinous bits bathed in fiery curry inside a fish skull, this particular dish at Ya Kwang, in Singapore's red light district, is sure to satisfy. The coconut milk-thickened curry delivered a dose of sweetness that soothed the throat after the initial intense chili blows. The freshness of the fish head was evident in the creaminess of the surprising amount of flesh found around the neck region. If you love hamachi collar, this melty flesh is a dream. The generous curry were mopped up with hot fried sweet buns. The combination may not be good for the heart, but it definitely was good for the soul.

The same Cze Char (Hokkien for boil and stir-fry) stall also specializes in crabs. Apparently, the stall owner Jason also owns a nearby seafood wholesale, so the freshness of his dishes are not to be questioned. The sauce on the chili crab was so thick from the generous addition of crab roes, I could almost pick it up with chopsticks. The flavor was not dominated by sweetness like at lesser places, but rather delivered a complex combination of spices. Again there was plenty of sauce to dredge more of those fried sweet buns in.

Yup, we got more crabs after the chili crabs. How could we not when such large Sri Lankan crabs exist only in dreams back in the ATL? And this Crab Tang Hoon is a must try course at Ya Kwang. A Teochew (a region in Canton) specialty, the tang hoon noodles acted like sponges to soak up all the wonderful juices from the crabs. The particular tang hoon used here was a bit thicker than what you usually find in similar dishes. A feature I particularly liked due to the extra chewiness.

I absolutely cannot drag myself onto the return flight without getting my fill of roti pratha whenever I am in Singapore. J has raved about Prata Shop outside of his army camp (all Singaporean males must serve for 2 and a half years and are in the reserve until their 40s) many times, but it's out of the way so we have yet to visit after my six trips to Singapore. Instead, we settled on a quick stop at the 24 hour pratha place after long hours of NYE partying. The place was full at 3:30 am! We waited for twenty minutes for our pratha, but the satisfaction was worth every minute and the memory of which sustained me through the 24 hour journey back to the atl soon after. This particular version was not the super crispy type. Instead, many ghee (clarified butter) fluffed layers were hidden under the crispy outer cover. The pockets between the layers were super at absorbing the curry dip served along side. Until the next trip, I'll be living on this memory for a while.

It's hard not to adore a man who hardly thinks about food on his own, but drags his jet lagged self out of bed at 7am to go on a hunt for the perfect bowl of Bak chor Mee (ground pork noodle) for the food obsessed one. Luckily, the perfect bowl is not hard to find at Seng Kee on Changi Road. We opted for the mee pok, a wider noodle than is normally used by this stall in their bak chor mee. The mee pok was perfectly al dente or QQ as the Singaporeans say. The sauce had incredible depth of porky flavor, which is further enhanced by the clusters of ground pork and slices of liver. An additional surprise was the soup served along side. Not at all an after thought, the broth was very savory and again porky but had no hint of MSG.

So much more to eat on my always too short and hectic trip to this part of the world! I'll save the rest for a second post soon.

1 comment:

Camemberu said...

Mmmh, the crabs look delicious!