When I hear alimango (Tagalog word for crab), I think of bakla (literally means homosexual in English because it both has the fat of a male and a female crab), lots of fragrant white rice, vinegar, garlic and spice --- which, for me, is the best way to have crab served in the Philippines.
When I hear crab, I think of simmered coconut milk, noodles, red chili crabs, and, of course, Singapore.
Singapore. Saraaaap. Delicious. Yum yum yum!
The first time I went to Singapore, I had an 11-hour stopover on my way to Geneva. Figured that would be enough time to visit a kabarkada and see the place. Didn’t know much about Singapore at that time, but the lunch took just 2 hours, the travel back to the airport and the wait for my next trip took just a bit over 2 hours, and the remaining hours were spent walking and eating and eating and walking alone. Oh My God. No one told me Singapore was a foodie’s delight (and I didn’t even know the term foodie at that time, too!). I kid you not. To this day, I have no idea how I was able to stuff myself with so much food nonstop for 7 hours straight. I knew right then and there that I had to go back to try everything again and try some new ones, too.
And so I went back. Well, the main intention was to cheer up our Sing-newbie (then!) friend, Becky, and make her feel at home. The food was a secondary objective, but Becky made this her main objective for my visit there. I’m sorry for being blasphemous, but when I got there and started eating, all I could keep saying was, you guessed it, Oh My God (OMG)!!!!
This is a long overdue entry. My cousin, Rache, and her foodie hubby, Anton, are on their way to Sing by tomorrow (Happy trip, you guys! Can’t wait to read your blog on this trip, Anton!) and she asked for some recommendations, which, I’m sure, Anton can take care of. Anyway, here are just some of the yummy Sing food destinations that I was able to try a few months back. Gotta thank you, Becks, for showing me all these and more! See you there soon!!!!
Old Chang Kee
This was my first stopover! This was my first bite of Singapore on my own! A few years ago, I just finished lunch with my friend and her hubby when I see this Dunkin Donut type of store along Orchard. My curiosity was piqued when I saw that it seemed to be Sing’s version of our fishball stalls. Tummy check. Okay, I have space for a stick. Or two. Three. I amazed myself with devouring 5 sticks of fried baby sotong with their special sweet chili sauce. 3 years forward, I am back in the same stall along Orchard ordering the same stick. Being wary (Has it changed? Will I be disappointed? Will it be oily now?), I order just 2 of the fried baby sotong. OMG. It was EXACTLY the same! The oh so crunchy breading revealed the softest and most succulent squid that was complemented by the same flavorful sweet chili sauce. None of the oily texture nor taste was evident at all. I’m not a fan of fried food, but I can order all the fried food this place serves. I happily order another 3 sticks and also get my fill of the equally delicious fried taro. I was so into the food that I forgot to take a picture of the place and the food! Yes. It was that good!
As they say, you never forget your first. And, I must say that giving it a second try, proved to be as lovely as the first time.
For breakfast, I kept pestering Becky to bring me to Wheelock so I can once more try the delicious Chocolate Durian Cake of O Bakeshop. Upon mentioning the place, Becky gives out this loud gasp and holds both of my arms. I knew she was in a foodie moment trance. With heart pumping, I listen to her rave about this place called Cedele which had a branch in Wheelock.
We see the place and it looked like an ordinary place to me, but, boy, was the place packed. And Becky raving over this place must mean something.
I order the crispy tofu while Becky orders the pancakes with bacon. Seems common, huh? Well, if there’s anything Cedele has taught me is to never underestimate this place. Looks-wise, nothing seems extraordinary. It all ends there.
The crispy tofu was to die for! I am a fan of tofu, but not a die hard one --- until I’ve tried this. It starts with a bite of the crispy tofu skin. Then, on to the fleshy part, revealing a firm smooth texture deliciously flavored with just the right blend of sweet vinegar sour and garlic. No single flavor drowns out another. No sickening sauce washing away the delicious tabang (blandness) of the tofu. I was happy.
And then I try Becky’s order.
Can it just get any better?!?! Save for the Old Pancake House pancakes, most pancakes I’ve tried are too sweet to be finished whole (and I haven’t even put the syrup there!). This looked like one of those. Looks deceive me once more.
Cedele’s pancakes were fluffy yet meaty yet not heavy on the tummy. It had a roasted taste that perfectly complemented the crispy and chewy bacon that came with it. It was one of those times that I was thankful that Becky was not a big eater. I get to finish what she can’t! Thanks, Becks! Yum!
I’m not a fan of their chocolates. Couldn’t understand what all the hoopla was all about, but, OMG, you have got to try their ice-blended chocolate drink. It was liquid chocolate heaven at just the right temperature to see you through the very last luscious drop. Sorry. Just like Old Chang Kee, I forgot to take a picture.
Becky brought me to this mall to see where the famous Roti Boy stood. After giving it our last respects, she brings me to this fast food place that looked like the small outlets in our provinces. We were supposed to order their specialty, but it was no longer available, so Becky suggests that we settle for the Mee Siam.
Boy, it certainly didn’t taste like we settled. Mee Siam is like a combined palabok and batchoy. The most delicious versions of each. It had a palabok-colored broth with a few ingredients --- spaghetti noodles, a few pieces of shrimp, a hard boiled egg, and some parsely. Palabok soup. The broth was so meaty and flavorful that sipping it didn’t seem to do it justice. I almost slurped. Whew. I then attack the al dente noodles and the other sahog (ingredients) that added another layer to the zesty aftertaste the broth left in my mouth.
I loved this so much that I brought home a decent amount of ready-to-cook mee siam kits with me. Oh Mee Siam, I love you!!!!
Oh and don't forget to order the refreshing barley drink. For the taste, it's a cross between nata de coco and buko juice. Sarap!
I fondly call this Takash. And, just like my Octagang barkada (Yes, my oldest buddies group has a name.), when you give a pet name to a place, it is considered a perennial favorite. How could you not love this place when it houses the delightful Kinukoniya Bookstore, an expansive supermarket, a Royce outlet (!), and a food court to keep coming back to. Some delights that Becky shared with me in this place:
When not craving, I can live without steaks, but Becky insisted that everyone she brought to this place has loved it. And it was cheap by Sing standards (More like by a kuripot's -thrifty, okay, a bit on the stingy side- Pinoy visitor with a huge appetite. That’s me, by the way. Hehe.). So we go in. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but let me just say that my teeth and jaw hardly moved a muscle and my eating experience here deliciously lingers in my mouth to this very day.
The Food Court
Oh try everything! I do want to place give special mention to Beard Papa’s unique way of serving their tiramisu and cheesecake. The size was just right to impress you with how delicious these pastries are, yet gives you enough room for your next meal.
Now I know why Singaporeans can eat so much and not show it. Aside from walking a lot, it’s really VARIETY over QUANTITY. And, just like Beard Papa’s USP (unique selling proposition) for me, these have to be eaten freshly made. Tried taking a box home (very convenient to bring home as pasalubong), but they just weren’t as good as eating them right after buying them.
Whew. A lot of eating happened there. Strange thing was, I didn’t gain a single pound after that trip! How is that possible?!?! Instead, I was left with enough happy food memories, a relaxed physical and mental state, and my hoards of Sing goodies (Prima Taste ready-to-cook Sing dishes like Red Chili Crab, Mee Siam, Laksa; Singlong Spicy & Sour Sotong Sauce with real baby squid!, Singlong Chinchalok which is like liquid bagoong in a catsup bottle), hopefully, enough to tide me over till my next trip.