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eG Food Blog: nikkib (2011)

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#61 MikeHartnett

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 08:13 AM

God, I wish we had food like that here.

#62 nikkib

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 08:20 AM

In fairness, i knew i was going to have a busy day as i am off tomorow and have a lot to arrange so i skipped lunch and almost missed out on dinner - Liquid dinners still count right?! I Couldn't do a blog on Singapore without a singapore sling. Invented at Raffles Long Bar in 1915 it is made up of 30 mls gin, 15mls Cherry heering, 7.5ml Benedictine, 7.5ml Cointreau, 120ml Sarawak pineapple juice, 15ml lime juice, 10ml grenadine, a dash of angostura and a pineapple and cherry garnish. Nowadays to sample this "delight" at raffles it will set you back $26 (over $30 once taxes and service are added) and they serve pre mixed cocktails in order to keep up with the demand/control consistency. At that price it is never going to be a regaular hang out - and to be honest the bar is jam packed with tourists so it is not all that appealing prospect BUT.... like a martini at the Algonquin (i know it wasnt invented there but you gotta love Dorothy Parker)a Bloody Mary at Harrys New York bar and a bellini at Harrys Bar (no relation) in Venice its almost GOT to be done. I know i will take all my visitors here and i know i will enjoy it, despite the cocktail itself being far, far too sweet for me and the price stinging a bit (to put it into context , the rest of the meals on this blog so far, added up arent as expensive as this one drink) Dinner was the "monkey nuts" served with the cocktail and shells discarded on the floor

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#63 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 11:09 AM

Nikki,

It's lovely to see the Singapore Sling in its native habitat, thanks for that!

Fantastic blog. I feel that a trip in Singapore is in my future. My husband has been trying to convince me to go there for a while now. It looks like there is a lot to explore!

#64 thampik

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 03:28 PM

Nikki, great blog! Looking forward to the rest of the week.

#65 nikkib

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 10:23 PM

Brunch today as i am off and have big plans for tonight, anothe favourite at the Mon Ami - apologies that this place features so regularly but i had an appointment near my house so this was the most convenient option for today. Masala Dosai which is a really thin pancake wrapped around a potato curry mix and served with sambar - an infrequent treat i more commonly have as dinner

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I will post some more photos later and dinner which should hopefully be pretty exciting...

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#66 Jenni

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:12 AM

I have to ask about the strange sheets of stuff you get instead of a plate! In India it is common to get some kind of leaf (banana or sal most often I think) instead of a plate (sometimes the leaves are woven into a bowl or a plate shape - these are brilliant) but what you have there is new to me!

#67 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:32 AM

@jenny We tend to either get banana leaves or this paper as shown above which is almost waxed - it's actually very good and infinitely preferable to the Nast plastic plates found elsewhere
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#68 Kent Wang

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:48 AM

i usually have vegetarian but the place i go to know i like my curries pretty hot and wanted me to try the chicken version as it is spicer. Umm you can say that again! The curry had a real kick, in a good way and was the boost i needed to wake up thats for sure.

The problem with Indian and Southeast Asian restaurants in Shanghai is that they aren't spicy enough, probably because most Shanghainese can't handle spice—yet there are many seriously spicy Sichuan restaurants. Anyway, is that the case in Singapore where you specifically have to ask for extra spicy?

Nowadays to sample this "delight" at raffles it will set you back $26 (over $30 once taxes and service are added) and they serve pre mixed cocktails in order to keep up with the demand/control consistency.

I was just looking at the Tippling Club's menu and their drinks are about $23. Ouch. New York and nearly everywhere I've been is around USD 12, including Berlin and Shanghai (yes, there are good bars here). I've only heard of Japan as being that expensive. Is this all because of the sin tax?

#69 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 09:14 AM

@Kent - no issues with spice here, having never been to India before I can't speak from experience but nothing seems to be watered down for anyone else's benefit, certainly where I tend to eat it seems authentic and the hoardes of Indian migrant workers at the weekend don't seem to have any complaints... With a few dishes of Malay origin I have been asked if I want it spicy or not and I say yes I do, which hasn't seen me suffer either way in terms of heat/lack of.

On the cocktail front, alcohol is pricy full stop - $ 16 was the cheapest drink at barkode which I considered a steal. Cocktails at over $20 seems to be the norm here..
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#70 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 10:06 AM

Ok so i promised something special for dinner and i'm hoping that you will agree as i am absolutey stuffed beyond belief after spending the last 6 hours on a food tour in Joo Chiat and Katong culminating in an epic 25 dish or so tasting.... I don't think i'm going to be able to post them all tonight as i am literally falling asleep as i type this but will give it my best shot.

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We started off at this little fruit sellers where we tried yellow and red watermelon, star fruit, mango, dragonfuit (pink and white fleshed) as well as pineapple, a special type of red apple which name i forget now sorry and finally guava with sour plum salt added to it. Longons (like small lychees) and a variety of rambutan were also added when we finished. The fruits were delicious and a nice start on the long road ahead - i especially liked the sour plum salt with the guava and shall be buying some soon so i can enjoy it at home..

Back at our base for the night we started on the meal, all picked up earlier in the day from local stalls

Otek or Oteh is fish such as mackerel mixed with herbs and spices and baked inside a banana leaf. It is milder than you might imagine - i enjoyed this

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Hebi Hiam is a dried shrimp and chilli paste which i have eaten before as breakfast when spread on toast or served in a soft bun - not as pungent as a dried shrimp and chili dish suggests either - it was served with cucmber slices

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Zongzi was next - a glutinous rice mixed with various different fillings (in this case pork) and cooked in a pandan leaf popular in Peranakan cuisine as well as chinese, thai and cambodian amongst others

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Followed by a 4 angled bean and chilli sald which i really enjoyed, it had a very satisfying crunch to it and a good kick of chilli

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Edited by nikkib, 17 November 2011 - 10:07 AM.

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#71 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 10:31 AM

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Roti Babi or more literally bread pig is essentially a french toast type dish stuffed with miced pork is another popular Perankanen dish


As is Ayam Buah - chicken stewed with black (or keluak) nuts. It is a very disctintive dish - not a million miles from mole i suppose, although this i was not such a big fan of..

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Assam Pedas is a Malay dish cooked in a sour and hot sauce along with okra, tomatoes, chilli and tamarind which is one of the key ingredients (assam/tamarind) This was one of the nights highlights, i am not usually a big fan of tamarind but i enjoyed this.

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Mulligatawny - which i have only have had in canned form came next- a famous Anglo Indian dish.Literally meaning "pepper water" in Tamil. This was a vegetarian version with dahls and chickpeas as well as a little rice.

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Beef Rendang was definitely one of my favourites. An Indonesian dish of slow cooked beef (although mutton, chicken and other meats can also be used) and coconut this was melt in the mouth tender and the spices used such as ginger, tumeric, lemongrass and chilli gave this dish another dimension.

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#72 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 10:32 AM

At this the half way mark of my dinner i shall bid you goodnight and aim to complete the post tomorrow if i am able to drag myself and all the extra weight i must have put on tonight out of bed!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#73 Katie Meadow

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 10:35 AM

Thanks for this great tour, Nikki. Several years ago Calvin Trillin wrote a terrific piece for the New Yorker about eating at the hawker centers that made me desperate to go. Now even more. I love having some visuals! But where is the fish head soup? My most vivid memory of the Trillin article was his description of the fish head, I believe with teeth, sticking nose-up in the pond of soup!

#74 Hassouni

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:29 AM

Wow, a 25 dish dinner? How many partook?

#75 Blether

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:44 PM

Ai-yaaaaaa !

I love it that the sour plum powder is rendered in Chinese characters as exactly that; yet the English on the bag is "sweet prune powder".

Assam pedas - is pedas "veggies" ? Apart from the tamarind, was the bulk anything more than bhindi & tomato ?

Do you know what base the mulligatawny used - I mean beef or something else ? I have an idea in my head that beef is (British-)authentic but thinking about it now, I'm not sure where from.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.


#76 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 06:05 PM

Thanks for this great tour, Nikki. Several years ago Calvin Trillin wrote a terrific piece for the New Yorker about eating at the hawker centers that made me desperate to go. Now even more. I love having some visuals! But where is the fish head soup? My most vivid memory of the Trillin article was his description of the fish head, I believe with teeth, sticking nose-up in the pond of soup!

Rest assured that fish heads will be making an appearance! Glad you are enjoying it!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#77 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:26 PM

Wow, a 25 dish dinner? How many partook?


There were 6 of us all in all Hassouni - we didn't manage to finish everything but put in a valiant effort!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#78 nikkib

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:30 PM

Ai-yaaaaaa !

I love it that the sour plum powder is rendered in Chinese characters as exactly that; yet the English on the bag is "sweet prune powder".

Assam pedas - is pedas "veggies" ? Apart from the tamarind, was the bulk anything more than bhindi & tomato ?

Do you know what base the mulligatawny used - I mean beef or something else ? I have an idea in my head that beef is (British-)authentic but thinking about it now, I'm not sure where from.


Our version was veggie Blether but i have seen beef versions in the past

I dont know what Pedas means i'm afraid - i don't think it is vegetables as i havent seen the word before, it had sliced peppers and halved onions in it as well as the okra and tomatoes.
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#79 YSL

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:16 AM

I believe that pedas means chilli?
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#80 Hassouni

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 10:39 AM

I thought in Malay, cili means chile, as in "cili padi" - paddy chiles (paddy is a Malay word). This is what bird's eye chiles are called.

#81 nikkib

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:22 PM

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Up next on our mammoth tasting was a great prawn sambal - prawns stifried with chilli and vegetables, the prawns were delicious, sweet and smaller than most i have seen here and all the better for it

Then we had a pork dish - i'm afraid i cant find any notes on this - maybe someone can help me out? It was essentially pork ribs in a sweetish sauce - it was ok but didnt set the world on fore or anything

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Some chinese vegetarian dishes follwed next - mock pork stirfry and a bean curd wrapped dish filled with pulses and vegetables that was pretty good.

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Nasi Goreng was very nice - lacking the hit of chilli i was hoping for but the rice was cooked beautifully

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Then Laksa Goreng - a Malay dish which is a fried version of laksa with noodles, crispy tofu, prawns, boiled egg and limes - a hit!

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Hassouni - your chilli crab request was next, a couple of big juicy crab served with sweet rice bread rolls for mopping up the sauce with. Sri Lankan Crabs were used here, the meat was so sweet and beautifully cooked (this was the only pictured i managed to take of the crab before we all piled in) HOWEVER.. i didnt get any major sense of spice or chilli which i was hoping for - a s a chilli freak that would have made all the difference but still it was a great crab and i shall be ordering chilli crab again soon

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Kang Kong - a local green vegetable stirfried with soy and sambal added some much needed vegetables to the meal

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And last of the main courses - the outstanding dish of the night described only as belimbing ( a sour fruit) This was a sour pork stew - simply divine, despite being at the end of the tasting i could have finished the bowl off (am hoping to track down the recipe which i will post at some point as this was really WOW)

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Off to work, tonight i will finish the sweets from this meal and post up yesterdays fish congee and fish head curry....
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#82 prasantrin

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:32 PM

One of my mother's childhood dreams was to have a Singapore Sling in Singapore. When I took her to Singapore, I had planned to go to the Raffles Hotel and treat her to one. Once she learned the price, however, she balked at going (especially since she's a cheap drunk and she wouldn't have had more than one or two sips) so she instead settled for a free mango sling at an expensive hotel's New Year's Day brunch buffet. :laugh:

Fortunately, on our second trip to Singapore together, she was able to have her first (and last) Singapore Sling. Sure it was on Singapore Airlines, but they probably use the same mix as Raffles does!

About some landlord's not renting to Chinese, other than the wok hei smell, a lot of Chinese food is kind of stinky. My siblings and I used to call salted fish "stinky fish" when we were kids, and there are all those preserved vegetables that are quite pungent and which have a lingering smell. When we make stinky fish now, we usually heat the oil, then carry the pan outside and put the fish in the pan then. Or during summer, we do the whole thing in a pan on the barbecue.

#83 prasantrin

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:35 PM

One more question, have you ever had the fancier version of woo kok? The woo kok is shaped like a basket and it's filled with some kind of stir fry (maybe something like chicken and cashews?). I don't normally like woo kok, but it wasn't so bad in that form (my sister's childhood pen pal took my mother and me to Spring Court and we had it there). It was pretty neat to look at, I thought.

#84 Hassouni

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 07:15 PM

Wow, I love kangkung. So hard to get in the DC area except in huge bundles at one Viet store. So, the chili crab, eaten with the hands or what?

#85 nikkib

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 07:40 PM

@ Hassouni, I really enjoyed the Kang Kong, i am a big fan of green veggies in general but these were very tasty indeed - as for the chilli crab, absolutely eaten with the hands! I had one of the parts with the smaller legs as opposed to the claw as we had a couple of people who had never eaten crab before on the tour and i couldnt deny anyone that first taste! The small legs snapped open really easily so no need for crackers/picks etc anyway. I was an absolute state by the time i finished but thats half teh fun of it isnt it?!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#86 nikkib

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 07:45 PM

@Prasantrin - i am looking forward to taking my parents to Raffles when they visit, i know they will enjoy it - it is indeed the same pre mix they use on singapore air ( i recognised the containers from my flight - not that i took advantage of the on board drinks too much :wink: ) I have not seen thae fanceir version of the woo kok but will look out for it, i actually really like it - i can't stand the really slimy tofu, i prefer it chewier so this is a happy discovery - incidentally the fist time i had rojak and the lady told me it had woo kok in it i thought she said pork which had me disecting the rojak very carefully to try and discover it without much luck! My "Singlish" is improving slowly but surely now though!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#87 nikkib

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 09:25 PM

One last note on the food tour, we went to the area of Joo Chiat which is maybe a bit off the normal beaten tourist path but is highly HIGHly worth a visit. Chew Joo Chiat was at one point one of the top 10 richest men in Sand donated the land necessary to have a paved road put in to assist in trade abck at the beginning of the last century. As a result of his generosity and the area bears his name even now. The area is filled with stunning Peranaken shop houeses and is a conservation area dating back to the 1920's and 30's and is definitely worth a wander. My food tour was arranged through the Betel Box Hostel ( i found it through a recommendation on lonely planet) and i can vouch for how amazing it was. The guide, Tony Tan took us on a comprehensive tour of the local area - including the HDB's where around 85% or so of Singaporeans live which was really interesting, his knowledge is quite literally second to none and i really feel so much more informed and aware than before - it was $80 incredibly well spent and i will definitely arrange to do it again when i have friends visit. If you do make the journey over here look him up.

Edited by nikkib, 18 November 2011 - 09:26 PM.

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#88 YSL

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 02:29 AM

Can you tell us a bit about the 4 angled bean? I've never seen anything like it at all and am curious to know what it's like - Is it similar to something like a green bean in taste or even texture? The dish you showed was a 4 angled bean and chilli salad so was it served cold or were they stir-fried with the chilli?
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#89 nikkib

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 02:50 AM

Also known as kacang botol or winged beans. The salad is served cold but the beans were lightly stiffened first along with the sambal belachan (fermented ground shrimp) this was then served with a good dose of fresh lime and fresh chilli. They were really crunchy and had a pronounced taste that held it's own amongst the other ingredients - if you look in the photos I took in the supermarket there is an image of them there.
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#90 LindaK

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 07:18 AM

Roti Babi or more literally bread pig is essentially a french toast type dish stuffed with miced pork is another popular Perankanen dish


Now that sounds delicious! And please track down that recipe for belimbing.


 






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