Great posts, Rona - keep them coming!
I wrote the dinner post last night, but IE crashed when I was almost at the end! I was too annoyed to continue, but since this is my first official full week of slacking off at work, here I go!
Singapore Day 4 dinner:
On another board, some kind folks told me about their favourite "secret" Chinese (Cantonese?) restaurant specializing in seafood. They swore me to secrecy , so shhhh... don't tell anyone that I told you about it!
For our last big meal in Singapore, we decided to try SinLee on Neil Road (about a block from Maxwell Road Food Court), and fortunately, eG members Piglet (aka Emily) and Julian Teoh were going to join us! It seems we had been crossing paths a lot unknowingly--we were on the same flight to Singapore from Siem Reap, Julian was in Malaysia the same time we were, and Emily ate at The Banana Leaf Apolo the night before we did! We were destined to meet, I think.
We arrived at 6:30 for our 7pm reservation (my mother likes to call me the "Eager Beaver" because I'm always too early for things), so we walked around a bit and found The Tea Chapter a few doors down. It's a nice little tea shop that carries a variety of very aromatic Chinese teas and tea accessories, and they also hold tea seminars there. I'd have liked to attend one (they come with food), but no such luck. We browsed around for a bit, perhaps too long, because we walked out with 5 tins of tea we had no room for in our suitcases! Well, at least they were light!
Upon leaving the store, who should we run into but Emily! I had wisely given her our descriptions (short, pudgy, we look like locals), so she recognized us right away! Julian, whom we weren't sure would be able to make it, was waiting for us in the restaurant.
After we sat down, we were presented with menus and asked if we wanted tea. The only problem was that the waitstaff asked in one of the many Chinese languages which I do not know (which is all of them, unless you count a few Cantonese dim sum words). Julian to the rescue! He claims his Mandarin isn't very good, but the waitstaff seemed to understand him perfectly!
Then we had to go through the menu, which I think was in English. I don't actually remember much, because we let Julian do all the ordering. Poor guy--invited to dinner, but he has to do all the work! I did have a list of recommended dishes from my OBP, which was written (by me) in very poorly copied Chinese characters, and my only request was to have some kind of steamed fish--you know the kind with a whole fish with ginger, scallions, and some kind of very light soy-based sauce. We were able to get that, but none of the other dishes on my list were available! No razor clams! No vegetable dish made of some kind of vegetable which has Chinese characters like bean sprouts (maybe it's pea shoots? 豆苗) or 上湯九杞. I have all the bad luck!
So we went with ordering whatever Julian suggested. Do you like frog? Sure. How about prawns in oatmeal? Sure. Anything is OK. If Peter trusts you, I trust you.
I don't have any pictures of the food. We were the only people in the restaurant (maybe because it was Sunday?), and I felt like the waitstaff were hovering over us, so I felt rather self-conscious. It was probably the best service we had in Singapore, and only because there was no one else there! And it's not a very big restaurant! Plus I think I was talking too much to take pictures.
But I really enjoyed the food. I had never had prawns with oatmeal before. The oatmeal provides a slightly sweet flavour (it's dry oatmeal, not cooked) that was so delicious with rice. My mother still talks about the vegetables we had (was it kangkong?), and the fish! Tender, moist, and oh so good. I wish I had eaten the stomach, but I forgot about it. Did we finish the fish? I don't even remember. The frogs were quite delicious, as well, but I was too tired to work at getting the meat off those teeny bones. I also ended up with a lot of froggy cartilage, and I accidentally ate a piece of chile! I have all the bad luck! I was also getting sicker by the minute (I could feel the congestion building up in my chest), and I just couldn't eat as much as I would have liked.
The next time I'm in Singapore, I'm going to SinLee again. I'm sure there are other good Chinese seafood restaurants in Singapore, but I know I'll enjoy SinLee. Plus now I know what to order! I'd recommend it to others, too, and I'd recommend inviting Julian and Emily to join you. They're great company (and you'll get to order more food with more people around ), and really nice people. We were very happy they were able to join us!
And if you happen to be in Singapore on a late night stopover but don't want to get a hotel room, SinLee is open till 2 or 3 am, so you could go there for dinner, and still make it back to the airport for an early morning flight. Very convenient!
BTW, Julian, my mother is still sad about not being able to take you up on the pomelo offer. But by that point, we really had no room!