SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

November 27, 2010

The infamous Sin Huat restaurant

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Singapore — Alex @ 1:56 pm


I have to admit that I never heard about this restaurant named Sin Huat before. While I was in Thailand, a Singaporean friend of mine sent me a link to a You Tube video. The video was a segment of the famous Anthony Bourdain show featuring him on his “makan” expedition in Singapore and Sin Huat restaurant was featured in that segment. One of his guest was See Toh, the Singapore “makan” guru who also has his own TV show called Makansutra.

I decided to search the net after watching the video to get more information about this restaurant. To my amazement, Sin Huat is a restaurant that is famous and yet infamous according to some reviews I read. To begin with, the owner of the restaurant is given the nick name Food Nazi. There are claims that he is really arrogant and likes to dictate what you should eat or order. If he doesn’t like the way you order or behave, he will not sell anything to you. His pricing for the food is really incredibly expensive. For a no air condition kopitiam kind of settings, the price of the food can go as high as eating in a 5 star gourmet restaurant. The worst part is, you need to wait for an hour or so just to get your food. This is not due to the fact that the restaurant is packed with customers, but is more of short of staff. The owner is kind of like a one man show but occasionally helped by the wife.

Despite all that, many people still claim that Sin Huat restaurant serve the best Crab Bee Hoon and other Chinese kopitiam dishes. Anthony Bourdain and See Toh clearly think so too. So I have to admit with all the tales, bad or good it made me really curious to eat in this restaurant. Of course after seeing Anthony Bourdain and See Toh praising the food in the You Tube video made me even more determine to try it.

What deter me from doing it is that I would probably end up being harassed by the food Nazi himself, pay exorbitant price for good food that is similar elsewhere and wait for hours just to eat his dishes. So I began to think really hard should I do it or not. After deducing all the pros and cons, I decided not to go after all. I think I would feel moronic just to do it and I don’t think I will regret for not trying it ( this is just me and I don’t mean anyone who ate there is a moron ). I heard his Gong Gong is selling for $25 a kilo. That’s like few times more expensive than other places. Customers of Sin Huat claims that his price is reasonable because he has the best chili dip for those boiled seafood.

Few days past and I’ve totally forgotten about Sin Huat restaurant and it’s funky tales. But on one typical evening, I received a phone call from a friend ( the same dude that gave me the You Tube video ), and he told me not to eat anything as he will “tapow” ( a Cantonese word for take out ) two dishes for me from Sin Huat eating house. I then asked him what’s the occasion and he just told me nothing. I didn’t press further but I still find it odd. Why would someone buy me dishes that would cost 4-5 times more expensive than other restaurant. Since he was insistent, I just accepted his offer. I would like to imagine that he loves reading my blog so much and he wanted me to write about this restaurant. Lol.

One hour later, he asked me to go down from my apartment and passed me two heavy boxes of food from Sin Huat. He then told me to enjoy and just drove off. I went upstairs feeling really excited as I get to try the infamous Sin Huat dishes tonight. I told myself to be really open minded about it and not to associate all the negativity about the restaurant with the food.

First thing I did was to take out the camera and snap some pictures. Placed the food on some plates and after picture taking is feasting time.


The crab bee hoon in the white box. A lot of crab roe and still didn’t get the aroma that normally turned me into a hungry ghost like other favorite food of mine. Placed it on a plate and started eating. Tasted pretty good but I will give my verdict at the end of the post. We will move on to the next dish.


Another dish that my friend got me was this garlic prawn dish. The prawns were really fresh and really big in size. This is just like 1/3 of what was in the box. Another thing about the Food Nazi that he does not care about portioning. There’s no way to tell him is for one person or for 5. His portioning is always big according to my friend.

Maybe this picture you can see clearly the size of the prawn. Just looked at the length compared to the chop stick.

The two dishes that was given to me by my friend I would say is good for 4 people. While tasting the crab bee hoon and garlic prawn, I was already making mental note about this blog post.

My final verdict I have to say that the crab bee hoon is good. But I don’t think is good enough for the owner of Sin Huat to charge those exorbitant prices, being treated bad ( didn’t experience myself but read from forums ) and the long wait. Is definitely something you can give it a miss and you will not miss anything. If the price of the food is the same as other restaurant, I would go eat there once in a while.

As for the garlic prawn, the taste is over powered by garlic. Just too much garlic and can’t taste other ingredients. A Thai pepper dish with garlic prawns will beat this dish anytime of the day.

I sometimes wonder if the owner of the restaurant is doing some sort of business tactics to get people to go to his restaurant out of curiosity. Maybe he is just an eccentric person but I don’t think his food is that good to give him the rights to act like a genius chef.

So for those of you who are reading this blog post, it is not my intention to discourage any of you who would like to go give it a try. My blog has never intended to sound like a food critic as everybody has their own taste and preferences. I have to admit that I was really happy to have tasted the food from Sin Huat. Most likely the reason being that I got to taste it for free. I wonder how I would react if I were to pay for the food myself. This is a question that I know definitely will never be answered.

November 13, 2010

The Banana Leaf Apolo

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Singapore — Alex @ 11:08 am


After coming back from Thailand, I got to slow down a little on having big meals. Sometimes is hard to do as I just love food too much. Sometimes it is almost cruel to think that indulging in good food can lead to sickness and obesity. Why all the tasteless foods are the ones that can make us healthy.

After taking a few days break, I decided enough is enough. I will go to my favorite banana leaf restaurant in Little India. Been patronizing this restaurant for many years now.

Some of you might not be familiar with the term “banana leaf restaurant”. Is basically an Indian restaurant serving you food on real banana leaf. North Indian and Indian Moslem restaurants do not cut it as banana leaf restaurant. The Indian Moslem restaurant are commonly known as Mamak restaurant here in Singapore and Malaysia. So it is quite safe to say that banana leaf restaurants are mostly Southern Indian cuisine.

I guess the desire for me to visit Banana Leaf Apolo Curry House on that was my mouth lacked the presence of spices. My body need to get spiced up to function normally. Also maybe I just wanted some Indian food due to the Deepavali fever.


Arrived at 2.30 pm to avoid the crazy packed lunch hour crowd. There were still quite a few customers as most of the lunch crowd have gone back to their offices with a full stomach.

I already knew what I wanted before even stepping out from my house. But I still love to go over to the food counter to look at those delicious Southern Indian dishes. Seen here are some flower crab curry and the tasty prawn masala. I wish I was there with a big group as we can order ADT. ( Any Damn Thing ).

Some more dishes by Banana Leaf Apolo. Mutton masala and some other dishes. This restaurant is famous for its Fish Head Curry. It is not displayed in the food counter as it specially prepared in the kitchen.

indian-curryFirst came the banana leaf, then followed by plain rice.

curry-vegetablesThen followed by the vegetables. You don’t need to select the vegetables as it only has 2 choices. Typically in a banana leaf restaurant, you can add as much rice and vegetables as you wish by paying it only once. The curry gravy and papadam are also free. In Apolo, it cost SGD3.50. So is actually a good deal if you can eat a lot.

Generous serving of papadam ( Indian spiced chips ). Taste really good with rice and curry. Add as much as you wish.

masala-chickenThis was what I wanted when I decided to visit Banana Leaf Apolo. The spicy and super delicious chicken masala. It cost SGD4.50.

rassamThis is rassam. I not sure if it rassam qualify as a soup. Normally soup is a dish where it can be eaten by itself. I seldom see people just consume rassam all by itself. Rassam is good to eat when you pour it all over your rice and curry. Taste of rassam is sourish ( I think is tamarind ) mixed with aromatic Indian spices. My Indian friend told me that rassam can cure sinus. I’m not sure if it is FDA approved and I don’t care. It just taste so good.

After sucking all the gravy from my chicken masala ( now chicken bones ) and finished meal, I need to sit down for a few minutes to let my stomach settle down. When it is time to pay, you need  to go to the counter. My meal cost me SGD10.70. Is quite pricey for Asian standard but hey, Singapore is a first world country.

While waiting for my change, I just took more pictures of awards given to Banana Leaf Apolo. I saw the picture of Mel Gibson being displayed. I think I’ve mentioned in some of my older post about restaurants using celebritiy pictures to “impress” customers. I for one are not those who will be impressed. What makes all these celebs knows more good food than I do?

If I were to own a restaurant one day, I will put pictures of older women or housewives customers. These are actually the kind of customers that we should trust as they are very picky when it comes to eating out and they been cooking for years. I bet if I were to hang all these random housewives pictures, the restaurant would probably have a lot of curious customers staring at the wall and trying to figure out who the heck are these “famous” women.

>>Click here to visit Banana Leaf Apolo website here<<

November 8, 2010

Nasi Dagang in Singapore

Filed under: Food — Alex @ 6:48 pm

Tasty Nasi Dagang With Gulai Ikan Tongkol

It has been years that I’ve eaten Nasi Dagang. I’m sure many of you have never heard of this dish. It is a dish that is very popular in the East Coast of Malaysia. Even up till today, Nasi Dagang could hardly be found in the West Coast of Malaysia. Nasi Dagang is typically served as a breakfast food in Kelantan, Trengganu and Pahang.

Nasi Dagang is actually a rice dish that is served with Gulai Ikan Tongkol. Ikan Tongkol is the Malay word for tuna fish. The word “gulai” is actually a Malay word for a certain type of cooking. Since there’s no English word for gulai, it is commonly referred to many as Malay Curry. The color looks like curry but it does not uses any Indian curry powder to prepare this dish.

What makes Nasi Dagang special is the way the rice is being cooked. The rice is soaked in water and then later steamed together with coconut milk, lemongrass, slices of ginger and fenugreek seeds. Some Nasi Dagang rice is actually a combination of plain rice and glutinous rice. Certain area uses a kind of wild rice that is slightly brown purplish colored rice.

I remember when I first tasted it as a kid during my holidays in Trengganu, one packet of Nasi Dagang would cost RM0.20. This was probably 30 years ago. The Nasi Dagang is normally wrapped in a cone shape with banana leaves. I remember how my dad would wake us up early in the morning just to go to the famous stall in Trengganu just to get the freshest Nasi Dagang. A hot Teh Kosong ( hot tea with just sugar ) would be my choice of drink and it cost RM0.20 too.

I’ve never encountered anybody selling Nasi Dagang in Singapore. Based on my experience, I am pretty sure this dish can do very well here in Singapore. So how did i get my Nasi Dagang in Singapore? Well, allow me to gloat for a moment. I got it by presumably being a nice guy. I have a friend whose name coincidentally is Alex too. He is from from the East Coast of Malaysia but he works in Singapore. So during the long weekend of Deepavali, he went back to his hometown. Since he knows I will be in Singapore coming back from Thailand, he told me that he will fly back some Nasi Dagang with him.

True to his words, he kept his promised and flew back to Singapore on Sunday with a few Tupperware filled with Nasi Dagang. If he were to drive, I don’t think this is possible as the long journey would make the rice go bad. ( Coconut infused dish is easy to get spoil with heat ). I had a blast on that Sunday “whacking” the Nasi Dagang with no mercy and shame. It is little things like this that makes me so happy with life. I felt like the richest man in the world ( even though my bank account contradicts this statement )by having Nasi Dagang flown back specially to me.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friend Alex for making the effort to fly back the Nasi Dagang. I will be waiting for your next trip to East Coast Malaysia and eagerly awaits for your surprises. Hahahahha….I know I am pushing it.

November 7, 2010

Ko-Khun Kunthong, a beef affair

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 2:02 pm

This is my last post on my recent trip to Cambodia and Thailand. I am so happy that the day before I go back to Singapore, I managed to eat in this place that is new to me. The name of the restaurant is Ko-Khun. The restaurant is famous for it’s beef dishes. Mainly hot plate beef where you can order different cuts and grill it yourself on the hot plate.

According to a Thai friend of Zach, the beef comes from a certain area in Thailand. Maybe is something like how Kobe, Japan is famous for it’s beef and so is Batangas, Philippines.

I’ve been to Thailand so many times for the past 10 years but there’s always places that are new to me. This is why coming back to Thailand over and over again will not get old. I am so glad that Zach saved this for my grand finale meal. I got so excited upon hearing that Ko-Khun is the type of restaurant where you have to cook your own food. Like hot pot in MK or BBQ Plaza. One thing appeals to me about Ko-Khun is that we dine in open air.

The place is not really foreigner friendly but the menu however has pictures of certain cuts of beef with prices on it. Zach has never been here himself but his Thai friend highly recommended this place to him. We didn’t waste anytime and started point at the food that we wanted and with our halting Thai language, we managed to get our orders across.

After we placed our orders, the staff brought us our serving plates, chopsticks and this basket of vegetables accompanied with 2 bowls of special chili sauce. I immediately took the long beans and dip it into the chili sauce to taste it. The chili dip is really good and my saliva starts to build in my mouth imagining dipping those grilled beef into it. Can’t wait for the feast to begin.

Next to arrived was the grilling plate on burning charcoal together with the raw cut of beef. We put some butter on the grilling plate and start to grill our beef. Since you are the one who cook your own meat, is up to you if you like your beef well done, medium rare, medium or rare.

We also ordered some bacon as we love swine a lot. If only my departure tomorrow wasn’t on an early morning flight, I would have ordered a bottle of wine. That way we can SWINE AND DINE. Lol.

Let the grilling begins

As we were grilling, I noticed our next table, a group of Thai customers has this claypot on their table. We asked the waiter what was that and he told us it was some spicy and sour soup dish. We can put in our beef and vegetables to slow cook it. Egg and some glass noodles will be provided myself. What happened next was we ordered it too. This was my last night in Bangkok, Thailand anyways.

The spicy and sour soup was unbelievable delicious and  appetizing. We put some thin slice of beef, add in cabbage, long beans, Chinese cabbage, some minty leaves and break an egg into the soup. Being an Asian, I had to order a bowl of rice to have the maximum pleasure of savoring this soup. I’m glad that I ordered this soup dish.

Just look at this picture. I bet it just made you swallow your saliva. I can’t tell you how much i enjoyed the experience dining here.

I can’t stop looking around at tables around us. I want to see what the Thai people are ordering and I want to get the same too if the dish appeals to me. I saw a few tables away that some customers were having some fish. We ordered it too and I can tell you it was pure heaven dipping the fish meat into the chili sauce.

Even after ordering so many different cut of Kho-Khun beef, we ordered the most expensive cut of all. I think this is the special marinated sirloin meat that cost around 220 BHT. I think this is the tastiest of all the cuts of beef.

Just another picture to make you hungry

Our well done beef

We were so full after devouring all the food that we ordered that night. Is not the first time that we experienced this over eating situation. Being experts in gluttony, we just sat for a while and ordered for the bill. The bill came to about 920 BHT. The food was amazing and now even the price was unbelievable. I swore if we still have space in our stomach, I would order some food again. I will leave Thailand a happy man but I will definitely be back soon.

For those of you who wants to visit Ko-Khun in the near future, this is their website :-

Ko-Khun Kunthong

November 6, 2010

Khao Tom U-Thong ( I think )

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 12:42 pm

Khao Tom U-Thong

I’ve been eating in this food joint for more than 2o times at least. I am not keeping count but it is safe to say that I actually did eat here more than 20 times. The reason I never blog about this popular food joint is because I never know how to spell it. I’ve been asking many Thai people and everybody gives me a different version. I just referred it as the “Goong Place”. As you all know Goong in Thai means shrimp. I call it the Goong Place because Zach and I would always order 3 types of shrimp dish.

This restaurant is located at the main road of Ratchada just at the corner of Soi 10. It opens in the evening around 6pm and close at 4am. This place is always pack with customers. The name of the restaurant is “Khao Tom U-Thong”. I hope I got that right. Khao Tom means congee or porridge and U-Thong is a family name. That’s what I’ve been told at least.

This place does not only sell porridge but it’s just famous for it. Is just like any other Thai restaurant where you can order varieties of dishes, but you eat it with porridge instead of rice. They do however serve rice too.

Based on the menu, the restaurant has at least 100 choices of different kind of dishes. I’ve seen some Thai customers ordering some dishes that is not on the menu. If you decide to visit this restaurant, I suggest you go with a Thai friend in order to get a better dinning experience.

I love seeing those Thai people hanging out in this restaurant and they always bring their own Thai whiskey. I am not sure if the restaurant charge them any cockage fee. Maybe you just have to purchase ice and water from the restaurant. They will order a few dishes and so cool to see them chatting with friends, sipping their whiskey and nibble on the food. You can see fulfillment on their faces.

Look at the crowd at 12 am midnight. You will be surprise to see more customers will come at around 2am. The restaurant just equipped itself with basic furniture and no air conditioner. Just some electric fans to keep us cool. Never be fooled with the outlook of restaurants around Thailand. You might miss a gem for doing that.

The Tom Yum is kept hot with this device. There’s charcoal burning below this funky pot.

You can tell this Tom Yum good by just looking at it. The colors and all sorts of ingredients floating in it.

It took 2 years for my Caucasian friend Zach to actually turned into a fan with Tom Yum Goong. Initially he got confused on how to eat this King Soup of Thailand. He found it hard to tell what is edible and what is not. Especially there are so many spices that is used in this dish. The spices used are actually meant to make the soup tasty but not for consuming purposes. Like the lemon grass and the galangal ( blue ginger ). But is not that hard to know what could be consumed after a while, if you eat it often.

I love Khao Tom U-Thong’s version of TomYum Goong  very much compared to other places in Bangkok. I’m pretty sure there are places that has better TomYum or at least match their version in Bangkok. So far I’ve never got the privileged to taste it yet. I will keep on hunting in the future but for now, Khao Thong U-Thong is my favorite place for Tom Yum Goong.

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