the great singapore food tour
I’m supposed to be in Bangkok right now relaxing with some iberry after a long day of ziplining in the rainforests of Chonburi. Instead, I’m chillin on the couch watching the first season of The OC with the brothers. What are the odds that my brother would develop a 101F fever, sore throat, and nausea 8 hours before our flight? Sigh. Grounded.
This does mean I have lots of time on my hands and thus have fewer excuses to drag my feet on the ol’ blog. In truth I’ve been feeling wishy washy about it. To blog or not to blog? I’ve been taking the camera out less and less, feeling less impressed and less intrigued by the yum yums to be had all over the island. Too lazy to document any culinary magic happening in my humble kitchen. In short my friends I’m feeling all blogged out. I’m trying to get revved up about it again so let’s begin by a post that needs, nay aches, to see the light of day.
Nags and I with the leadership of some of our favorite true blue Singaporeans, Melina and Isaac, put together an office food tour to visit 4 of the island’s tastiest hawker stalls. Please make way for the gluttony of 1 rainy Saturday in Singapore, 17 hungry tummies, and 4 hours of num nums in the tum tum.
The fun started in Tiong Bahru which I have to say has a pretty nice, modern hawker center. Very spacious, adequately clean, and lots of variety.
This chwee kueh blows my previous chwee kueh run in out of the water. Super soft rice cakes smothered with fried radish and garlic. A dash of spices a sprinkle of love and a side of chili and you have some rice cakes that are hard to beat. This stall (Jian Bo Shui Kueh) does steady business and has tons of awards hanging for good reason.
Most people were not quite adventurous enough for the pig organ soup but I tried a bit. Thumbs up for the meatball (porkball? fishball?) and the heart bits.
Steamy smooth delicious porridge with century egg and a surprise. Those brown bits? Not you tiao. Nuh uh. Those are fried pig intestine. A familiar crunch not unlike pork rinds (this is a good thing) with a meatier aftertaste. Slurp slurp.
A perfect little bun. So pretty to look at and brings plenty of the num nums too. These are char siew filled with a nice thin skin of dough. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the dough to filling ratio in Singapore is ON POINT.
Cheng teng to wrap up our stay in Tiong Bahru. Similar to one of the flavors used in ice kacang – a flavor that tastes kinda like barley and kinda like wintermelon. Little beans and other goodies are under that ice mountain.
Stop number 2 on the world tour of overeating was Jalan Kayu. It is upsetting to see this place on the map and realize how freaking far and not convenient it is to get to. By far this is the stop that took us all from delicate nibbles to binge eating with a vengeance.
Do you see now why this stop was so epic? Seven types of prata? How is it even possible?
Let’s get the non-prata out of the way first. Overflowing bowls of orangey chicken goodness perfect for the dipping, dunking, and drowning of buttery, flaky prata.
Burn your fingers hot roti prata. Om to the nom nom. Heck yes.
Tissue roti. Ideal for picture taking due to it’s teepee like structure. Papery thin (hey, like tissue!), sometimes crispy and sometimes soft, but doesn’t quite hold up in the sea of curry. Try to resist the urge to wear it on your head like a hat.
Hey, let’s change your life a little bit. Take some roti, add about 5 cups of extra ghee, and then smash up some bananas up in there. Then, if you really want to throw a party, add just a wee bit of condensed milk. Bam. Life changing. Want to eat all day every day.
Melina’s initial suggestion of going to Jalan Kayu included an high pitched squeal of delight and hand clapping coupled with the words: fudge cake!
Love you fudge cake. Love you like a fat kid loves cake. Not everyone was a fan of this. But I like my cakes soft and moist like a delicate cloud of chocolately heaven so this was all good. If you like cakes with more texture and heft this is not for you which is fine by me because that means more for me. The frosting is less like frosting and a lot more like Bill Cosby Jello chocolate pudding. This means it was magically delicious and transported me back to 2nd grade. To grab your own: Jane’s Cake Station 265 Jalan Kayu.
As you can probably guess, we were stuffed after the JL stop. However. We had signed up for 4 stops and if it killed us or caused gastric ulcers it was gonna happen.
Our plans hit the proverbial bump in the road as Stop 3 (Chomp Chomp Food Center) was not open until dinner. Undeterred we soldiered on to Serangoon Gardens Food Center just a pork ribs throw down the street.
Finally a drink that any hawker center would be proud of – fresh sugar cane juice. This takes some muscle to produce and some muscle to bring to the table. Them big glass mugs are heavy! Lovely and refreshing but methinks a semi-acquired taste as there was plenty of not-finished mugs at the tables.
No food tour would be complete without some carrot cake (we’ll get to the fried kway teow later obvs). As a review, carrot cake is neither carrot nor cake. It’s radish cake chopped up, fried up, and mixed up with some egg. I prefer the black carrot cake to the white but for a white carrot cake this was not bad at all. I paid special attention to the crispy bits because that’s the kind of girl I am.
Satay. Run of the mill for me with a so-so sauce. But wow look at that picture. It’s quite nearly professional.
And then finally stewed duck. I’m not a huge duck fan as the globs of fat and oft tasted essense of gaminess ruin the enjoyment for but apparently if you stew it up to within an inch of it’s life in some brown magic sauce then I will gobble it up no problem. This was moist and tender and melt in your mouth duck.
Hang in there homies we are nearing the end of the road. Our last stop took us round to Old Airport Road Hawker Center a mere stroll (ok more than a stroll) from my own crib. Feeling like we had missed two of Singapore’s most treasured dishes we started with some char kway teow.
This was probably delicious but the amount of food already making itself home in my stomach prevented the usual enjoyment that I usually get from flat noodles stir fried with a dash of pork lard in a very, very hot pan. I had just a few nibbles.
Rojak (not the rojak of Geylang Serai fatalities fame, mind you). No matter how you slice it explaining rojak to non-Singaporeans and non-Asian people is a tough sell. In this rojak: cucumbers, pineapples, fried bean curd, bean sprouts, peanuts, and some shrimp sauce. Lost ya with the shrimp sauce, huh? It’s fermented too. Just to give it that extra stank. I love shrimp and sauce and fermented things. The combo of savory and sweet appeals to me and my not very discerning palate. Me and Sylvia actually worked together to polish this bad boy off.
Ok keep your tears in check there. We are at the finale. Ice kacang! Singapore’s version of shaved ice with indiscernible flavors made of probably toxic food coloring. This version has creamed corn. If you know me you know I will eat almost any dessert that includes corn. Lovely way to wrap up a day of sheer and utter gluttony to the nth degree.
Except when noted I have no idea exactly which food stalls these are from. If luck is on our side, Isaac and/or Melina will perhaps include some tidbits in the comments although I suspect they find the stalls based on location-memory rather than stall number.
Thanks to everyone who came out to join us on the first ever food tour! Check out the map to plan your own. 😀