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Lake Toya, Japan

Spot of Tranquility.

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Little India, Singapore

Spices, gold and splashes of colour!

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Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay

Garden City, City in a Garden.

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Bryce Canyon, USA

Thor's Hammer

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Chocolate Test, Singapore

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." -Charles M Schulz

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

I wrote a review of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother some time back and the author's daughter, Sophia, is a very talented writer. In one of her blog posts, she wrote:
"when you play music, you are supposed to phrase and follow the melodic line as though you were singing. i'm not sure how to explain it, but somehow the sounds become synced with your breath and are naturally pleasing to the human ear.
one note almost always lives a double life. the last note of one phrase, my professor reminds me, is the first note of the next. it's so obvious, yet so easy to overlook. every end is also a beginning, and you have to feel both at the same time."
And this feels exactly like how 2011 is going to gently slide into 2012. As this transition takes place, may you never forget the lessons learnt in 2011 and to face 2012 with a positive outlook. May you appreciate the little things in life and to appreciate the beauty around you. Love yourself, love others. Respect yourself, respect others.

With that, here's a chapter closed in 2011, and a complete new chapter in 2012! Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mango Sago Pomelo 杨枝甘露

I love mangoes and always order some form of mango dessert when I'm out, whether in hawker centres or restaurants. The fact that mangoes are healthy is of course secondary. What matters is its taste. So, I decided to make Mango Sago Pomelo 杨枝甘露 based on noobook's recipe. Since Chinese New Year is coming soon, give this a try! I assure you everybody will love it! 

And regarding the pomelo... 

Mango Sago Pomelo 杨枝甘露 (adapted from noobcook
(Serves 6) 

1) 600 ml mango juice (freshly squeezed or ready made)
2) 200 ml evaporated milk
3) 3 large ripe honey mangoes, cubed
4) Sugar syrup by mixing 2 tbsp caster sugar with just enough hot water to dissolve
5) 120 g sago pearls
6) Pomelo, peeled and sacs separated (about 75g or more)

1) Boil a pot of water to boil. Add sago and simmer for about 10 minutes.Turn off the stove, cover the pot with lid and let the sago continue to cook on its own for about 10 minutes, until all the sago turns translucent.
Run the cooked sago through a fine sieve and running water to remove excess starch. Set aside.
2) Reserve one quarter of the cubed mangoes for garnishing (step 4). In a blender, blend the rest of the mangoes and the evaporated milk for a short while till well mixed.
3) Mix mango smoothie prepared in step 2 with mango juice. Add sugar syrup to taste. Add cooked pearl sago prepared in step 1 to the mixture. Chill in fridge.
4) To serve, portion out to individual serving bowls and garnish with pomelo sacs and cubed mangoes.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak

This stall at Adam Road, Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak, is where the Sultan of Brunei goes to, when he comes to Singapore. (The Business Times, 6 Feb 2010) Food fit for royalty! Anyway, there are different sets of nasi lemak sold at this store which have fancy names such as Full House and Royal Flush, and that's because Mr Hassan, the owner of stall "like[s] wrestling and gambling."

The queue was long and it took around 25-30 minutes to get the food. But after I had two mouths of the nasi lemak, I found the nasi lemak really good. The stall owner attributes this to the top-grade ingredients, such as the chillies which are imported from India and high quality basmati rice.

I liked the rice the most. Some people may find that there's nothing special about the basmati rice, but I think the well separated texture gives it a more defined taste, along with the coconut aroma. As for the ikan billis and egg, they were pretty ordinary although the egg is fully cooked which I prefer over runny yolks. The chicken was crispy and hot. I also liked the chilli because it was very mildly spicy and mostly sweet. It would have been better if it were more spicy.  While I liked the sweetness of the chilli, my friend prefers his chilli not to be so sweet.

For $3.50, it's pretty worth it- only if you have the time to queue. Otherwise, just settle for something else. Also, many people have crowned this stall the best nasi lemak in Singapore. While I think it's not bad, I think that there are other stalls that can compare or are better than Selara Rasa Nasi Lemak.

Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak
Adam Road Food Centre
2 Adam Road
Stall 2 
Tel: 9843 4509

Singapore Footprints Walking Tour

For those overseas intending to make a trip down to Singapore in the near future, you may be interested in Singapore Footprints Walking Tour, where a team of undergraduates bring you on a walking tour at no charge (although tips would be great!).  This is their facebook page, have a look if you are interested!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10 News 2011 (Singapore Version) (Part II)

After doing a Top 5 List, I realised that there were possibly 5 other news that I could add to this list to make it a Top 10. But I'm separating them into Part I and Part II, because  Part II concerns news that involve a tinge of incredulity. Click here for Part I.

6) H&M, A&F
Singaporeans are really good at four things- eating, shopping, complaining and queuing. So when Swedish high street fashion label H&M opened in Singapore (3 September 2011), 1500 people braved the rain and wind to enter the shop. Some even started camping the afternoon before.

(photo credit: cnngo.com)

As for Abercombie and Fitch, the 30 shirtless greeters caused quite a stir, attracting all kinds of people to take photos with these guys, like how Winnie the Pooh gets attracted to honey.

(photo credit: The Straits Times, Desmond Lim)

7) Night Safari cancels Halloween Horrors
At the Night Safari every year, there is a Halloween Horrors event. But, this year it was cancelled despite the 7 months preparation by the Singapore Polytechnic students. Reason given by Isabella Loh, Director & Group CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore?

"We are now staging a festival centered around Deepavali in October in our parks. This is a multi-cultural family event for all Singaporeans and tourists to join in. With our focus on Asian festivities, we have therefore decided to cancel Halloween in view of the clash in dates. 

(photocredit: 8flo lifestyle)

8) Occupy Raffles Place
With the Occupy movement all around the world, it is no surprise that it has landed on our shores. So, it was called Occupy Raffles Place, Raffles Place being the centre of Singapore's commercial activity. It was organised by a group called Occupy Singapore.

And here's the turnout.

 (photo credit: theonlinecitzen.com)

9) Curry Day 
A family, who had just moved here from China, had resorted to mediation because they could not stand the smell of curry that their Singaporean Indian neighbours would often cook. The Indian family, who were mindful of their neighbour’s aversion, had already taken to closing their doors and windows whenever they cooked the dish, but this was not enough.

“They said: ‘Can you please do something? Can you don’t cook curry? Can you don’t eat curry?’,” said Madam Marcellina Giam, a Community Mediation Centre mediator. But the Indian family stood firm. In the end, Mdm Giam got the Indian family to agree to cook curry only when the Chinese family was not home. In return, they wanted their Chinese neighbours to at least give their dish a try.

(quoted from Today)

This sparked off Cook A Pot of Curry, a facebook event where people from all walks of life in Singapore were invited to participate, and to cook a pot of curry. This spread beyond our shores and people from other countries indicated their attendance as well.

Here's a video by famous satirist blogger mrbrown.

10) McDonald's runs out of Curry Sauce 
Just another case in point on how much Singaporeans value our curry- when people discovered that there was no curry sauce in McDonald's outlets, it was as though life.is.now.over.

(photo credit: stomp.com.sg)

But later McDonald's updated on its Facebook page:
We know many of you have come to love our signature curry sauce, and are sorry that it is temporarily unavailable. This is due to unforeseen supply issues, and we expect new stocks of curry sauce to arrive from the US by the end of next week. To all our valued customers and curry sauce lovers in Singapore, we sincerely apologise and thank you for your patience!

This statement mended a few broken hearts. The good news? The new curry sauce does not contain peanuts, allowing people with peanut allergy to dip happily into this sauce. The bad news? It apparently tastes different, in a bad way.

(photo credit: stomp.com.sg)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Victor's Japanese Delights (日本小吃)

I love Old Airport Road Food Centre to bits and pieces. It's almost as though if you didn't know what to eat and just threw a stone, it would hit a stall where your tastebuds would be satisfied. Nam Sing Hokkien Mee is one of the best hokkien mee around, although I couldn't have it for lunch this afternoon because there was a long wait for it. 

Instead, I tried my luck at Victor's Japanese Delights (日本小吃) and ordered a bowl of Tempura Udon ($5.50) because I was craving for deep fried stuff. 

Anyway, I'm determined to learn more about ramen so ramen experts out there, kindly enlighten me on any errors that I make in this post. Afterall, it was only today that I realised that those fish cake with lovely pink swirls are called narutomaki. Anyway, the ramen had a miso soup base (i think) which was refreshing and not oily at all. The abundance of unidentified green-black stuff (I would like to think that it's seaweed but its texture doesn't feel like it) added to the springy texture of the udon. 

The star of the show- tempura prawn. Another discovery today- apparently the word tempura comes from the word tempora, a Latin word meaning "time period" used by Spanish and Portuguese missionaries used to refer to Lenten period or Ember Days, Fridays and other Christian holy days. (from Wikipedia)

Anyway, this batter was perfect. Light, crispy, not oily. Prawns were fresh as well!

For $5.50, you are getting a steal for Japanese food. But if you are looking for ambience or wishing that you had green tea served to you, then perhaps this is not the place! If you are looking for a relatively cheap place to satisfy your Japanese food craving, then by all means, go to Victor's Japanese Delights!

Victor's Japanese Delights (日本小吃)
Old Airport Road Food Centre
Tel: 97619626

Myths about Singapore

It's nearly obligatory to write this post, to dispel some myths about Singapore, just so that people wouldn't think Singapore is a place in China where you get caned for chewing gum. If you hold such beliefs, do yourself a favour by reading this post.

1) Myth #1: Singapore is a city in China
Even though the majority ethnic group in Singapore is Chinese, that doesn't make Singapore part of China. Don't believe me? Check out Google Maps. Just because Singapore is a small red dot on the map doesn't make it part of another country.

2) Myth #2: Singaporeans don't speak English/Mandarin 
Largely false. 
When I speak to people who have English as their dominant language, they say, "Oh wow, you can speak English very well!" Then I speak to Chinese, and they tell me, "你能说华语阿!" Days like this, I really wonder what language they think Singaporeans speak.

Why I say this is largely false, but has some element of truth in it, is because some of the older generation don't speak English. Also, as Singapore has four major racial groups, schools provide for lessons in our mother tongue, besides using English language as a common medium to teach subjects like Mathematics and Science. Even so, no matter which racial group we belong to, we are all Singaporeans and enjoy racial harmony.There is also an increasing trend for people from different races to learn the language of another race.

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew recently published a book on bilingualism and he has kickstarted a fund to promote bilingualism in education.

(photo credit: Singapore Press Holdings)

If it is anything to count for, most of us are fluent in Singlish, which honestly doesn't really count as a language although it's probably something we identify with. Hone your "lah" and "lor" and you may be able to pass off as a Singaporean.

3) Myth #3: You can't chew gum in Singapore
"Oh you are from Singapore? Aren't you sad you can't chew gum?" Those horrified faces make me horrified too. Anyway, I don't get what the big deal is about not being able to chew gum. I'd love to curse and swear everytime I step on a piece of gum on the road in other countries.

Personal bias aside, the truth is, you can chew gum in Singapore and you'll not be shot for doing so. The ban is on the import and sale of chewing gum although certain therapeutic gum is allowed for sale at pharmacies, pursuant to the US-Singapore FTA.

(photocredit: Law is Greek)

4) Myth #4: You get hanged or caned for everything 
Largely false.
Well, the truth is that you wouldn't get hanged or caned for littering or jaywalking or failing to flush toilet bowls. But you may get fined. And no, you don't even get punished for chewing gum, unless you decide to be a jerk and litter.

As for caning, one may get it for offences including robbery, hostage-taking, vandalism etc. Michael Fay has experienced caning in Singapore. You may think it's ridiculous to get caned for vandalism but you have to that Singapore prides itself on being clean and green and also to prevent public property from being destroyed. Scoff at me for being so narrow-minded, but with many other outlets for your artistic expression, vandalism shouldn't count as one of them.

The mandatory death penalty is imposed for very serious crimes, including murder, offences involving firearms and drug trafficking. (Please look up Singapore's laws if you are interested in the exact circumstances (e.g. amount of drugs to be imported) where the penalty is imposed.)

(photo credit: Taken off singapore2025.wordpress.com)

Well, if this tells you anything at all, DON'T COMMIT CRIMES.

5) Myth #5: Singapore Fried Noodles originate from Singapore
I was so amused when I came across this on the web because this is the first time I read about somebody pointing it out and yes, it's..
UNVERIFIED, although probably FALSE. 

(photo credit: Yummy Mummy)

I seriously have no idea why this dish features so prominently in Western countries. The irony is that this dish doesn't even seem to have originated from Singapore. We have fried beehoon (vermicelli) but we don't have curry powder added to it.

Hopefully, this post cleared some doubts about Singapore- remember, tell your friends, they don't get caned for chewing gum in Singapore! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Top 10 News 2011 (Singapore Version) (Part I)

With the year drawing to a close, here's my version of the Top 5 News that happened in Singapore in 2011, in no particular order. I wanted to do a Top Ten but could not think of enough to reach 10.

Update (28.12.2011): I have now identified 5 other news, which appear in the Part II installment

1) SMRT breakdown
If you don't know this, you definitely don't stay in Singapore. The headlines regarding this matter were splashed across front page of newspapers consecutively for a few days. The culprit was some dislodged rail claws. Although this problem has since been fixed, when one ingredient goes wrong in the broth, the broth gets thrown out. I think this is how the issue has been advancing, with calls for SMRT chief Saw Phaik Hwa to resign.

While this issue is a a serious one, it has a lighter side where netizens have generated a series of memes. This is in response to the guy who used a fire extinguisher to smash the glass on the MRT door, in order to create some ventilation. In response,  SMRT told commuters "if you are stuck inside a train, never smash the windows or force the doors open".

(photo credit: A TheOnlineCitizen reader)

2) Flash floods
Water is a sign of wealth. But not when it destroys your goods during a flood. This is even though there is a $200 000 flood barrier system and plastic barriers were distributed. The new word to learn is "ponding" as  Public Utilities Board explains.

(photo credit: Alan Seah's Facebook via mrbrown.com)

Just a side remark, the weather has been going pretty haywire pretty much around the world. Do your part for the earth, as part of your new year resolution. Every effort goes toward making this earth a better place for all of us. When in doubt, recycle, reuse, reduce and refuse

3) Elections- General Elections and Presidential Elections
I didn't get to vote in the General Elections but followed the news very closely. The political winds have started to change direction and the approach taken in the following years will be different from how we are traditionally used to being governed.

The rise of the internet is a double edged sword. Constructive suggestions or comments are good but people have to filter out background noise in order to form their own unbiased views. Even though studies conducted show that the General Election was not an Internet Election, it's important that people use the internet responsibly and not to sow seeds of discontent just for the sake of it.

As for the Presidential Elections, it has got to be the most exciting one ever because for the first time ever, there were four eligible presidential candidates. Something that was highlighted repeatedly, and rightly so, is the role of the president. Aljuned GRC MP Pritam Singh has raised the question of whether it should be mandatory of students to learn about the Singapore Constitution. I think it should be because you need an enlightened electorate in order to make the right choices.

(photo credit: channelnewsasia.com)

In any case, the star of the two elections Yam Ah Mee! This video done by mrbrown is quite interesting, and the song is actually pretty addictive.

4) SEA Games Badminton
Fu Mingtian, from the Singapore contingent, won Singapore's first South East Asian Games women's badminton gold. I caught the match on TV and it was a historic moment. Both players played a very good match and it was nearly heart stopping to watch them chase each other's points.

(photo credit: The New Paper, Jonathan Choo)

5) Bedok Reservoir
If you have troubles in life or just want someone to listen, please seek help instead of ending your life in a reservoir. There are better things in life awaiting you.

(photo credit: The Straits Times, Lau Fook Kong) 

Charcoal Chicken Express

I went to Icon Village, hoping to try the fish and chips. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, it was closed on Christmas Eve. So we had no choice but to find another restaurant. We chanced upon Charcoal Chicken Express. It was totally empty in Icon Village during lunchtime, probably because people were shopping for Christmas presents somewhere else. 

Charcoal Chicken Express originates from Perth and apparently the theme adopted is a Mediterranean taste. The Master Franchise was acquired by a Singaporean who adopted green methods by reducing the greenhouse gases associated with traditional charcoal fired cooking method. 

While going green is a good thing, what matters more is the food. I ordered a Hawaiian Roast Chicken ($13.90). It came with chips and pineapple fritters. While the pineapple fritters would have been a cool alternative to the goreng pisang we are all so used to, the deep fried layer of the pineapple was unfortunately soft and a little soggy. The 1/4 chicken was too dry- far too dry. The thing is, if you're going to pride yourself on some cooking method that people can't master, then do it well, please. If it's just going to be dry, then there's no point. The stuffing in the chicken simply tasted of some Italian herbs.

Service wise, the servers were friendly but they seemed a little inexperienced. They didn't have a particular kind of salad that someone at my table asked for, and selectively asked some at our table whether they wanted sauces.

I would not recommend this place at all, because $13.90 is far too much to pay for dry chicken and inexperienced service.

Charcoal Chicken Express 
12 Gopeng St
#01-41,42,52 and 53
Icon Village
Tel: 6 222 1283 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Just two days to Christmas. Every year, I look forward to Christmas because this is the time when Orchard Road is dressed up like an elegant lady, with drapes of matching colours. There is also the mega shopping to be done due to the sales island wide. Although we don't have snow in Singapore and the rain kind of makes a poor substitute for that air of Christmas, I suppose we save the trouble of needing heaters or fireplaces at home.

Here's a video of one of my favourite songs- All I Want for Christmas is You.

For those who grew up watching Mr Bean, you will probably enjoy this video.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Burning Gaze, Speak to Me Walk with Me: Singapore Art Museum

I foresee a never-ending post that will take forever to write. But, if you'll just put up with me for a little while, I hope you will find yourself finding your way to the Singapore Art Museum. I will write mainly on two exhibitions.

p.s. i'm totally rushing out this post because there is FREE ADMISSION tomorrow (actually all Friday nights) from 6 pm to 9pm and also because these exhibitions are ending really soon. So, if you chance upon this post, please drag yourself there in time for free admission!

1) Hyung Koo Kang: The Burning Gaze (14 October to 25 December 2011)

This Korean artist is well known for his portraits with intense gazes, both of himself and well-known personalities. This exhibition spans two levels and includes caricatures and sculptures as well.

Can you feel The Burning Gaze from these paintings? Apparently he paints the spot of light in the eyes of his subject in a more obvious manner to portray that intensity. 

One of the more quirky ones in this exhibition. Guess who? 

I think it will be interesting to watch the 17 minute video, which introduces Hyung's art. It portrays him as a very intense artist, one who is willing to pursue his dreams and has a slight eccentricity which actually makes him very endearing.

2) Amanda Heng: Speak to me, Walk with me (7 October to 1 January 2011)

This exhibition is not in the same building as the above, but is a stone's throw away at 8Q. I think the works here are provocative and bring across a very strong message.

The following video might be useful in providing a brief sense of what you would expect at the exhibition.

Titled Missing, this is one of Heng's earliest installations that deal with gender issues. This commemorates nameless female babies who are victims of infanticide in cultures where males are preferred.

This is the bathroom which has karaoke facilities, which encourages people to sing and hone their speech skills.

My favourite part of the exhibition is how Heng talks about the role of women in modern day society, tying it up with ideas of disappearing landscapes in Singapore, such as Bukit Brown Cemetery and the Tanjong Pagar Railway.

There's so much more I could say about the exhibitions. But due to time constraints, just troop down to the museum, have yourself burnt by the intense gaze of a Korean artist or be provoked by unconventional art themes! 

By the way, do not expect the Singapore Art Museum to contain works by Monet or Van Gogh- You might want to have a look at Dreams and Reality currently being exhibited at National the National Museum though!

Singapore Art Museum 
71 Bras Basah Road
Singapore 189 555
Tel No: 6 332 3222

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ayam Penyet Ria

This place blew our minds and will make even the toughest of the chilli warriors succumb. I have never ventured into Lucky Plaza before today, and went there at the suggestion of a friend.

I had the Ayam Penyet (Smashed Fried Chicken) ($6.90). It was served with deep-fried beancurd (tahu goreng), soybean cake (tempeh goreng), two pieces of cabbage and balacan-chilli relish. I would say the highlight of this dish is the balacan-chilli- left us scrambling for water and tissue paper. The chicken is moist and the skin is nicely deep fried. I like the fact that the meat shreds off the bones easily. As for the crumbs, I wished they had a little more flavour. We were all hoping that we had enough rice to sustain us through the chilli adventure and there was barely enough rice.

It's evidently a ploy not to serve water here because the spiciness of the chilli forces you to buy drinks from them. But being stingy chilli warriors, we gritted our teeth, having tissue paper, water and sweets as our only saving grace.

Service wise, food took a little long to come and the people weren't that friendly. But anything for that crazy balacan chilli and crispy chicken!

Just a tip, if the first floor looks too crowded, go to the fourth floor! We didn't enter the first floor because there were so many people queuing, but were pleasantly surprised to see that there was another branch on the fourth floor.

Ayam Penyet Ria 
Lucky Plaza
304 Orchard Road
#01-45 and #04-25
Tel No: 6 235 6390

Monday, December 19, 2011

Imperial Treasure (Marina Bay Sands)

I haven't eaten Imperial Treasure in a long time. The last time I ate was probably more than two years ago at Crowne Plaza. Anyway, we went to the branch at Marina Bay Sands because we wanted to go have a look at the casino.

Assuming you are as stingy as I am, spending $100 on food is more worth it than paying the $100 levy if you just want to take a look at the casino. From Imperial Treasure, you will be able to have a good view of what's happening below at the casino.

The decor of this place is pretty traditional, infused with some new elements at some spots- leather seats with two cushions per person. Now, before you conjure a warm and fuzzy image while eating, the only thing floating in my mind was how often they washed these cushions.

We ordered Peking duck, three types of egg with spinach, salt and pepper tofu, and scallop with veggies.

The Peking Duck ($78) has a non-egg skin as wrapper which was kept warm in the dim sum bamboo thingy. I like how every person has an individual sweet sauce + sugar platter. As we chose not to include the duck meat in other food items like noodles, the chef left the skin on the duck meat. I would have very much preferred, though, if the skin and meat were separated. I think it's not worth it for this price, unless you don't mind paying for the platter with the duck head.

The Three egg dish with spinach ($16) was homely. Homely, in this instance, means that anybody is capable of whipping this dish in the kitchen and that you shouldn't be paying so much to eat it in a restaurant. It was century egg, salted egg and normal egg.

The Salt and pepper tofu ($18) had some minced prawn on top, probably to make it seem more exquisite than plain old tofu. I pretty much liked this dish, just that I think they could have added more of those deep fried stuff to give it more flavour and a crunchier texture.

Here's the Scallop with vegetable ($30). The scallop-eating experience was pretty interesting. I have never eaten a grilled scallop. It tastes like BBQed scallop. I'm not sure if I like BBQ tasting scallops that much and I would rather fresh scallops just to savour the just-out-of-the-sea taste. But in any case, the scallops were huge and juicy despite being grilled, so no complaints about that.

Service wise, there was a range of standards. Servers who were pleasant, and servers who looked like we were their servants. The waiter who wrote down what we wanted to eat, had a condescending look and was very ya ya (refer to Singlish dictionary for meaning).

In all, I would rather go somewhere else for my Chinese food. To me, Imperial Treasure is something of the past. Look at their website where the web page looks kind of tasteless and the links are not updated. Compare this to Paradise Group. You may say, don't judge a book by its cover. But after you have tasted their food and made your comparisons, how can a book with missing pages and outdated facts give you a complete story?

Imperial Treasure (Marina Bay Sands) 
Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue
Tel: 6 688 7788

Singapore: Ngoh Hiang (五香)

Ngoh Hiang (Wu Xiang 五香) is not really a Singaporean dish but is quite popular in Singapore. According to Wikipedia, it is a Hokkien and Teochew dish which originates from eastern China and is served in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Now is where my food research goes a little murky. Wikipedia says that Ngoh Hiang refers to the five-spice powder that is mixed in with the filling. According to ieatishootipost, Ngoh Hiang, meaning five flavours, was thus named because there was initially only 5 different types of fritters. (prawn fritter, pork rolls, pork liver, egg rolls and pork sausage) What ultimate conclusion you arrive at is probably not important, because what's more important is eating it.

Anyway, my favourite ngoh hiang is from Hup Kee Ngoh Hiang at Maxwell Food Centre. Here's a youtube video by Makansutra. Note that ngoh hiang can be a generic term for all that deep fried stuff or refers only specifically to the food item wrapped in the beancurd roll.

As you would be able to tell from the video, the Hokkien version is sold at Hup Kee. The items sold at this store include the ngoh hiang made from porks and chives, rolled up in the beancurd skin and uses a stick of LARD to hold the ngoh hiang. Other items include liver rolls, pink pork sausages, egg and lard cakes, tofu, century eggs and fishballs.

Honestly, I have always eaten those dubious looking stuff, not caring what they really are, as long as they tasted nice. I only found out today that the egg thingy that I like is actually egg and lard cakes. Goodness gracious. Anyway, you can order them with or without the beehoon (fried noodles). Dip those random food items into the pink sauce and chilli sauce provided!

Besides Hup Kee, other places known for making ngoh hiang also include Five Spice Prawn Fitter and Lao Zhong Zhong.

Hup Kee Ngoh Hiang
Stall 97 Maxwell Food Centre
Tel No: 9004 0618
(Closed on Monday)

Five Spice Prawn Fritter
Tanjong Pagar Plaza

Lao Zhong Zhong 
Lao Zhong Zhong Eating House
Cnr Tai Thong Crescent and Siang Kee Ave 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

40 Singapore foods we can't live without

For those who want to know what constitutes "Singapore foods" or just want to look at pictures to make yourselves hungry (how cruel), click on the picture below and look at what CNN Go offers! I don't dispute this list at all! If you've got the guts (and the stomach space), set yourself a target and see how many of these 40 you can cover in 2 weeks!


Already Famous 一泡而红

The main reason I watched Already Famous 一泡而红 is because of Michelle Chong's involvement as scriptwriter, producer, director and actress. I always thought that her talents are too understated, and that she's much more than your comic actress impersonating Barbarella or Lulu. I read a few of the media interviews she has given over the years, and she comes across as a deeply intellectual person. 

This is a interview of Michelle Chong by Grace and there's a trailer of the movie in it, in addition to the interview.

This is another interview on Primetime Asia on CNA.

This movie is about a girl, Ah Kiao, from Yong Peng, Malaysia, who harbours dreams of being a star in Singapore and how she works very hard towards it. Along the way, she meets all kinds of people, people who get her into trouble, people who don't honour their promises and people who love her (her grandmother and Ah Seng, acted by popular Taiwanese host Alien Huang).

Michelle Chong does what she is best at in this show- imitating the Malaysian Chinese accent in this show, although it has gathered some unhappiness from across the causeway. Besides that, noteworthy performances include those by Chua Enlai, Ah Kiao's grandmother and the chubby boy (who reminds me of the guy who acted in 小孩不笨).

It's interesting to draw a parallel between Ah Kiao and Michelle Chong (who sold her condominium to finance the movie) who both work very hard to seek their dreams. In all, if you are a supporter of local productions, if you value talent, if you are looking for some laughs, go catch the show!

p.s. I was fine with everything in this show, minus the soundtrack when Michelle Chong sang 不放弃. It's obvious she's singing it in the capacity of Ah Kiao but it riled me a little as it sounded too many times in the show.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Canton Paradise

I visited Canton Paradise at the newly opened 112 Katong today. It's part of the Paradise Group, which owns Taste Paradise, and the standards do not disappoint at all. In fact, we were speculating whether Paradise Group actually pays more for their chefs because their dim sum is consistently better than other  places.

The colour theme here is purple. What does purple stand for anyway? According to some dubious website I was reading online, purple is the colour of good judgment. It also symbolises magic, mystery and royalty. Perhaps this was why they decided to don this place in purple. 

So, with the usual dim sum stuff we ordered, I really rest my case without even saying anything. Normally I would say, the prawn's not fresh, the skin's too thick, the skin's too hard etc. But today, I really have nothing to say- Good Dim Sum deserves an aura of silence.

Maybe it's because they bribed me over with the mini egg tarts. Buttery and light pastry for egg tarts always score points! 

We also ordered two huge bowls of porridge. The porridge was so good, I was asking my mum whether it was possible to recreate this at home. 

Oh, and just a random nugget. As we shared the porridge, we decided to put it into our individual bowls. But the small bowls totally didn't feel hot at all, and we were thinking whether it was some good quality porcelain plates and bowls. Turns out that the huge bowl (of the same material) actually felt quite hot. But anyway, since we are onto this topic, I think their choice of interesting utensils also show how they break away from the norm and constantly try to reinvent. 

Their star dishes are supposedly the char siew dishes. This plate costs $15. No kidding. For three pieces. But it's actually three pieces split into 15 pieces. And when one of us ate it, he was like, "Eh is this the thing they put in the mee pok hur?" He was obviously referring to pork lard. He's actually not far from that. We later found out that this was PURE FAT. I mean, seriously? PURE FAT. I actually found the sauce pretty nice. But wouldn't order this again although this is their star dish. Even the waiter said that 2 small pieces per person is enough.

We also ordered another char siew dish, which is apparently 1/2 meat, 1/2 fats. Now, this is slightly more pleasing to the ears, and to the stomach as well. Slightly charred, not too charred. They definitely have some secret recipe for the char siew sauce.

In all, the dishes here meet up to expectations. You might have to deal with the waiters/waitresses a little bit though, because many of them seem pretty unfamiliar with the Paradise Group card (three people gave us different information). Talking about the card, you might want to enquire about the card because it's pretty worth it. Our bill added up to around $120 for 5 people, and became around $70-80 because we used the card.

Canton Paradise 乐天小香港
112 East Coast Road
112 Katong
Tel: 6344 8201