SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

September 20, 2010

Famous Nasi Padang in Hoy Fatt Road

Filed under: Food,Singapore,Travel — Alex @ 11:27 pm

I can’t express how much I really love the food scene in Singapore. As most of you all know, Singapore is made up of Chinese, Malay and Indian. Even though the Malay and Indian make up 22% of the total population in Singapore, their food are available in every parts of Singapore. For example, if you are in the US, I’m sure you can find Indian food but it is not as easy as getting it in Singapore. Singaporean from different ethnicity has good knowledge on each other dishes. It is safe to say that when it comes to food of Asean region, Singaporean are pretty familiar with almost all of it.

Take this nasi padang joint for example. It is located in Hoy  Fatt Road and most of the customers are Chinese. This proves that the Chinese in Singapore has already accepted Malay dish as their daily staple. Is not something exotic anymore to them as they are very much exposed to Malay dishes.

The name of the stall is Istimewa Nasi Padang. When I arrived with my friend at 1.30pm ( lunch break for most office workers ), the que was very long. I had to fall in line and waited for 10 minutes before I can choose my food. I am still new to taking pictures of people queing up and those who are enjoying their food. It seems kinda rude of me to take their pictures without their consent. However, I managed to snap some pictures of the stall and the food that I ordered. The owner of the stall ( a nice Malay lady ) did asked me why I was taking the picture of her stall. I just told her that I wanted to blog about it as her stall is very popular. She just smiled and told me that she thought I wanted to take pictures and complain about her stall.

Beef rendang and Asam pedas side by side. Even though it is only 30 minutes into lunch break, most of the dishes are gone.

I ordered 2 pieces of fried chicken Malay style, one cucumber acar and sayur lodeh. I also asked for some sambal belacan and gulai ayam gravy ( gravy and sambal belacan is always given free in Malay stalls like this ). It cost us slightly below SGD10 with two plates of rice.

Istimewa Nasi Padang’s Sambal belacan tasted really good. The mixture of belacan and chili are well balanced. The color looked like the Chicken Rice chili dip but I can assure you the taste is totally different.

There are 2 ways of eating Nasi Padang. If you go alone, you just get a plate of plain rice and have all the dishes and gravy you want being placed on your plate of rice. If you go with a big group, you normally tell the server “makan hidang”. Makan hidang means that your dishes will be placed in individual plates for each dishes that you select. Then plain rice is being served separately. You can order hidang too if you go solo, but normally it will be slightly more expensive and not so practical.

September 18, 2010

Kway Chap is not white man friendly

Filed under: Food,Singapore,Travel — Alex @ 12:39 pm

Whenever I eat a certain kind of food, I appraise the food mentality in my head whether the food can be accepted by the white folks. I love introducing new tastes to my Caucasian friends as our food taste totally the opposite. Sometimes what we find totally delicious might be totally gross to the Westerners.

Everybody in Singapore and Malaysia knows what Bah Kut Teh is. It’s a kind soup dish where pork ribs and spare parts like stomach and intestine are the main ingredient. The soup however has a little bit of herbal and Chinese medicine taste to it. Almost all pork lovers in Singapore love this dish but that cannot be said for Westerners.

I am guilty of being to eager to play host to a Belgium friend 1o years ago. I love introducing food to friends and I made the mistake of not understanding their taste buds. I took him to the best Bah Kut Teh joint in town and swore that he will love the food. He struggled to eat the food and I didn’t even notice. We got closer as friends and one day we were casually talking about how sometimes when people meet for the first time, the relationship is a little bit formal. You normally do not tell people what you like and dislike when you first meet.

Since we are so close now and we can utter words like “F@#K YOU” to each other in our daily conversation, he reminded me of that Bah Kut Teh incident. He almost fainted when he saw those intestine floating in the pot. He nevertheless try to eat it but hated it so much. He did not dare to say he hated it as I was being a sensitive prick and telling him how good the food is. Now that we are close, he told me the boiling tubes ( referring to the pork intestine ) are one of the worst food he ever tried. We just laughed about the incident and it made me more aware of introducing food to friends.

Now I normally introduce food to Western friends by stages.Sweet and sour pork, Egg Foo Yong, Chop Suey and many more are considered white man friendly food and after they tasted all of that, you can take some risk in trying to let them taste the more challenging stuff. Or better yet, wait till the day you can say Fuck You to your friends and only then you try to introduce them those funky food that you love so much. Oh and by the way, my  Belgian friend still doesn’t like Bah Kut Teh after all these years.

This is not Bah Kut Teh, this dish is known as Kway Chap. The soup is almost similar to Bah Kut Teh but instead of rice, Kway Teow is used and served along with almost every part of the pork. Bean curd and egg are normally used as well. The pork is normally cooked stew Chinese style.

This is the Kway Chap stall that I ordered my food in ABC food court in Jalan Bukit Merah. I need to get the habit of asking the stall owner of his address as he graciously allowed me to take his pictures while he is at work. Just look at all the varieties of food in the big pot. He can normally sell all that in a day without the help of Caucasian customers.

Close up of the Kway Chap vendor’s goodies. I am very certain that Filipino will love Kway Chap as I am quite familiar with the Pinoy taste buds.

September 13, 2010

Tea time Singapore style

Filed under: Food,Singapore,Travel — Alex @ 9:57 pm

One of the coolest past time in Singapore is tea time. The Cantonese call it “Yum Cha”, the Hokkien call it “Lim Teh”, the Malay call it “Minum Teh” and the Indian call it “Teh Tani”. The meaning is all the same and the direct translation to English is Drink Tea. The Filipino normally call it mirienda.

Is not necessary that we have to drink tea but is just how we call it. You can actually drink coffee or even soft drink.  All the term above represents more to the occasion rather than the action of drinking tea. I love tea time in Singapore because the meal is more relax and casual. This is when you normally catch up with the latest office gossips while having a drink and nibble on some tea time dishes.

There are literally hundreds of tea time food ( I counted it real quick mentally and yep, I’m not bragging with my claim ) available in Singapore. Here are my choice of food when I had tea time session with a friend few days ago.

This is popiah and cucur udang. Popiah is known as lumpiang in Philippines but the popiah I had has no meat. Only bean sprout and turnip. Cucur udang is just flour mixed with some small shrimp, bean sprout and onion leaves. Taste really good with the special chili sauce.

I had some icy cold cendol kacang instead of tea. This is quite similar to halo halo but is made of some green pandan jelly, coconut milk, gula melaka and red beans. I think if cendol is being sold in the Philippines, it can give halo halo a good run for it’s money.

Nowadays the young generation prefers to have tea time in Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Over priced cheese cake and coffee are preferred as it is way cooler to be seen having tea in these coffee joints. I still prefer having my tea in the local food court as it is way cheaper and I prefer the selection of food offered. Maybe I am just a cheap bastard.

September 11, 2010

Hari Raya open house Singapore

Filed under: Food,Singapore,Travel — Alex @ 1:36 pm

September 10th 2010 marked the first day of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Some parts of the world especially in the western world call it Eid. It is a joyous occasion for the Moslem community everywhere in the world. I am however very familiar with the celebration in Singapore.

As a non Moslem, I get to participate too on this special day. My Moslem friend would normally have “open house” where everybody is invited to visit and enjoy special Hari Raya food. The time of visit is normally from 11am – 7pm. It is not written as a rule but everybody kind of know the right time to visit.

This year  I visited my dear friend Marsha and they prepared quite a number of dishes for the guests. Rendang and ketupat is a must for this special day and they are usually known as the Raya food. Back in the days, rendang and ketupat could only be found once a year during the Aidil Fitri. Nowadays you don’t have to wait once a year as they are vendors selling this dishes whole year round.

Since I am old school, eating dishes prepared by your friends is way better than buying it from the shop. Is not because it is free but is that special day that makes eating rendang and ketupat really awesome.

I’ve been slacking with providing more info or recipe and the food that  I’ve been eating in Singapore but I hope to provide all these information one day. However I can provide you some pictures of rendang and ketupat to make you envy.

Ketupat is the square rice cube. The leafy thing is being used to store the rice and cooked in boiling water. At the side is the beef rendang. The big bowl is peanut sauce and it can be eaten with ketupat when beef rendang is not available. I prefer to eat ketupat with rendang when I am really hungry but when mouth is itchy, I’ll just eat it with the peanut sauce. This is something Filipino would really enjoy as ketupat is made of rice.

Thank you Marsha and Joey for inviting me and wish you guys a Happy Hari Raya Aidil Fitri Day.

September 8, 2010

Typical supper food in Singapore

Filed under: Food,Singapore,Travel — Alex @ 6:44 pm

One of the favorite past time in Singapore is having supper with your friends. A meal between 9.30pm – 3am can be considered supper. It is a meal after dinner and when the mouth is itchy, you go for supper. It is not meant for filling up your tummy but more of food tasting kinda meal.

So here are some typical supper food where it is commonly found in food courts all over Singapore. My friends invited me to go for supper as they know I am into food blogging nowadays. I still feel very awkward taking pictures of food and thanks to my buddies who reminded me to snap the pictures of the food before being devoured.

BBQ chicken wings that is best eaten with special chili sauce that came with the wings. These wings are normally marinated with soya sauce and occasionally honey to make it taste a little bit sweet.

I have  no idea what you call this shell in English. We just call this Gong Gong and the texture of this creature is kinda rubbery. It is normally boiled with ginger and then you pluck them out and dip it with the chili sauce. It has some fishy smell to it and basically tasteless. I have no idea why people liked it and my guess is maybe more of wanting to bite on something rubbery like a chewing gum.

This is how gong gong looks like after pulling it off it’s shell.

All time favorite kangkung belacan. In English is known as Morning Glory With Shrimp Paste. Very tasty.

Grilled Mackerel or “Ikan Kembung panggang” in Malay. It is normally cooked with some special mixed of chili paste on a banana leaf to give a fragrant smell to the fish. We actually wanted the grilled stingray instead of this but they ran out of stingray. Sting ray wold be a better choice for this type of cooking as the flesh of sting ray is much softer and smoother. The dipping for this grilled dish is the cencaluk.

Chicken and beef satay. I’m sure by now everybody knows what satay is.

The food court that we went to for this supper excursion was in Pasir Panjang. Not really a big food court but they are quite a bit of selection of noodles, seafood and other types of food as well. Since there’s only the 3 of us, we can only manage to order these few items. Dining in Singapore is best to go in one big group of 10 people. That way you can order more food and share among friends and sample everything. Sometimes foreign friends do get confused with all the sauces that accompany the dishes. To get a good dining experience, you need to use the right sauce for the right dish.

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