Ten days in Singapore
I'm on my way to Singapore again. Business trip, with a few other co-workers. We've all been there many times before, and have our favorite haunts. I thought I'd post my experiences on this trip here. I haven't seen similar postings, so let me know if it's inappropriate.
On my first trip, as we were headed to the hotel from the airport, my friend asked if I'd like something to eat. It was midnight local time, but 8AM California time, so why not? He took me to the Long Beach Seafood Rest. in East Marina area. The waitstaff greeted him by name, seated us, and stayed open for an hour+ while we polished off Chili Crab, Lobster Curry, baby gailan, deep fried buns, and mango custard.
On other occasions I sampled a workingmans banana leaf thali rest. in Little India, and durian from a truck on the side of the road.
Let me know if this little project is a good idea.
BTW I'm looking for a cooking class on the weekend of November 11-12. 2-5 hours, Singapore fusion, Malay, Chinese, or Indian. Roxsana? Also cookbooks.
Long day at work. Breakfast in the Marriott cafe, tried not to gorge on fresh fruit (dragonfruit, jackfruit and papaya), and some apple pastries. Then dim sum. Nothing special for Singapore really, but what a combination.
Lunch at the factory in Malaysia. Fish in a thin sauce, kangkung sambal, and a thin noodle dish. The preparation was not nearly as good as the dinner with Roqxana, but tasty nevertheless, and filling.
Back in Singapore. Dinner at Akashi Japanese Rest. on Tanglin, near the Bombay Woodlands vegetarian Indian resto, that I like very much. I'm not much of critic of sushi, but Akashi's offerings were very tasty. The maguro was very dark but good. Shrimp tempura was delicious, as was a roll made of crispy fried crab, and coated with sesame seeds and a bright green herb. (You can tell I wasn't ordering.) Finally, the unagi sushi came and was very good. Small amount of rice, larger piece of fish. We agreed that it was a good ratio of fish to rice. The two components were anchored to each other with a strip of nori and coated with a thick sweet sauce -tamari?- and some sesame seeds. Excellent I thought.
After dinner I browsed through the Barnes and Noble across from the hotel, and noticed a couple of food guides to Singapore. MakanTime looked good, listed a few restaurants that I know and like. Will come back and have another look.
I just came back from a Malay cooking class with Roqxana. She graciously agreed to teach me a few Malay dishes, even though no one else had signed up. We talked and cooked in a house that she uses for her cooking classes, near Tanjong Katong Road on the East Coast. She prepared 3 dishes: Grilled Fish in a Banana Leaf (ikan panggang), Turmeric Rice (nasi kuning), and Fried Water Spinach (kangong sambal), and gave me printed recipes. I was able to sit with her in the kitchen, and quiz her on ingredients, techniques, substitutes, and so on. She worked very quickly despite my interruptions, and the meal was ready in about an hour and a half. There might not be as much opportunity to chat in an normal class with several others, but the setting is very informal, and conversation flows easily.
As I mentioned above, I have just finished reading 'Cradle of Flavor', and the book even has recipes with the same names as the ones Roqxana prepared. As I watched her prepare the dishes, it was obvious that she was not following a recipe other than in a general way as to the ingredients. She constantly tasted the dishes as we went along, declaring the spices for the kangkong to be 'really hot' but still needing salt. So what I was getting was not so much the formula for a dish as a sense of the flavors and textures that the dish should or could contain. For instance, the Turmeric Rice had a knot of pandan leaves in it, but I couldn't identify it in the final product. 'Oh, it's more for the aroma. Couldn't you smell it as the rice cooked?'
Roqxana herself is native Singaporean, of Indian descent, and as it turns out, loves Italian food. I highly recommend her classes. Her web site is http://www.cookerymagic.com.
One very good tip I learned is: don't fry the spices inside the house. We were working outside, and even her neighbor started to cough when the seasoning mix for the kangkong hit the wok.
On the way back to the hotel I wandered through the food court in Wisma Atria, the Cold Storage supermarket in Shaw House, and the market in Tang Plaza. I made mental notes but didn't buy anything. The variety of tasty items in those three corners of Orchard and Scott Street is overwhelming. Maybe dinner.
I've heard good things about Roxsana -- I had recommended her to a couple online friends who had gone to Singapore and they enjoyed her classes. I personally haven't done the class myself -- my mom is from Singapore, and all her family is in Singapore and Malaysia, (plus we are Indian) so I pretty much know how to cook the different ethnicities already, from my mom and also from visiting the area so often. I would like to try her class once just for the experience though.
I'm not quite sure what project you have in mind though -- do you mean posting your daily meals here while on your trip? Or are you looking for suggestions on what to eat during your stay?
I was thinking about the idea of posting my eating habits for the ten days that I'm here. But of course I'm always open to suggestions.
By the way, I picked up James Oseland's book 'Cradle of Flavor' before I left, and read it on the plane. He's a real chowhound; even mentions the site! A couple of quotes: "As someone who usually plans his every waking moment around food..." and "After years of visiting, I plan my days around what I'm going to snack on." I like the book, and he does a good job of explaining ingredients, technique, and culture, but I wish there were more recipes.