MICHELIN-STARRED SOYA SAUCE CHICKEN

Will you queue to eat Michelin-starred hawker food?  And how long are you prepared to queue?

Well, I have decided to give it a try when I was in Chinatown recently, although I don’t normally like to queue too long for food.  It turned out to be a good 45-minute wait during non-peak hours (after 3pm), on a weekday.  Perhaps this is considered not too long the wait, given its popularity way before being awarded one Michelin star last year.

S$12 for half a soya sauce chicken and S$6 for a mixture of char siew and roast pork.  Very affordable prices for its “status”. 

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Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle – one of the two hawker food stalls that was awarded one Michelin star in 2016.  The other was Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle.

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The queue was divided into two parts : one in the air-con area inside the shop and the rest outside

I noticed that the queue was made up of mostly foreigners/tourists.  How not to be attracted to this cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world if you are touring Singapore?!  Moreover it is the first time in the Michelin history that an Asian street food has been given this prestigious award.

It took me about 25 minutes just to have my take-away order taken, and then another 20 minutes to wait for my order to be ready.  There were no separate queues for eat-in and take-away customers but overall the queue was moving smoothly and the wait was pleasant.  🙂

A very pleasant, senior-in-age male staff  who was in charge of clearing and getting ready the tables for the eat-in customers, doubled-up his roles in managing the queue too.  He was so nice to even offer me a stool to sit at one corner while I was waiting to collect my order.   Such a nice gesture of customer care has definitely won my heart!  I just hope that this uncle’s job is not too strenuous for his age.

I wonder how many chickens, and how many kilos of roast pork and Char Siew are sold each day?!

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Basically there is a good numbering system for order-taking and collection of food/order.  There was even a self-service order station!  Cool!  Unfortunately, it was under utilised based on my observation.  Most people seemed to still prefer the manual ordering system over the cashier counter.  I also noted that the staffs were pleasant, friendly and efficient.

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So, was it worth my 45-minute wait?  Yes, definitely!  While hubby and I think that the char siew was quite good, the roast pork was nice but nothing spectacular.  The star i.e. the soya sauce chicken, was definitely outstanding.  The meat was tender, sweet and has a nice herbal fragrance.  Oh, I also love the chilli which has a very shiok sourish taste that went very well with the chicken!

Together with my home-cooked Chinese spinach soup, we had a lovely dinner that day.  I would surely want to go back again someday and to eat there instead.

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29-02-2016

I have completely forgotten that today is that special day we have only once in every 4 years.  Yes, it’s 29 February!

Thanks to a dear friend’s message this morning that reminded me of the day.  This good old friend (since primary school days) who resides in Johor Baru, sends me beautiful messages almost every morning.  Thanks to WhatsApp.  Such communication is made possible without incurring additional cost in our monthly phone bills.

It was kind of too late to think of doing anything special for the day after receiving my friend’s message, and I didn’t want to crack my head for that too.  I thought it is good enough to just do something that I enjoy lately i.e. to read in a cafe.

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Why in a cafe?  Well, in my temporary lodging now, I don’t have a proper study room and the lighting in my bedroom is poor and bad for my eyesight.  Secondly, I tend to feel sleepy in the afternoon, so reading in a cafe over a cup of coffee and occasionally plus a piece curry puff, keeps me awake. 🙂   In Marine Parade central area, there are quite a number of cafes, all just within a stone’s throw away.  How nice!  Starbucks is my pick, so they have been getting a bit of business from me lately. 😀

My current read is a book entitled Diplomacy, A Singapore Experience.  Although I am just halfway through the book, I have found it to be not only a very interesting read but also educational. It provides insights into Singapore’s foreign policies, describes the country’s challenges as a small state and also the government’s efforts and initiatives in creating good diplomatic and economic space for the country.  I must admit that I was actually not sure if the book would suit my reading interest (I have interest only in a small range of books).  I also worried that it might be too boring and “cheem” (a Singlish word meaning difficult to understand) to read, judging from the book title but I am so glad that I had picked it up.  The book was written by S Jayakumar, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Singapore who have already retired from his political career in 2011.

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And, I had a date with hubby in the evening.  Fortunately, he was able to get off from work not too late (before 7pm) today. Hubby has been so busy with work lately and it doesn’t help when you have bosses who are slave drivers!

We went to our favourite chicken rice shop – Boon Tong Kee – in East Coast Road for dinner.  This shop is also within working distance from where we live now and going back there for a meal is one of the many things that we want to do before moving out of Marine Parade.  Too much good food to savour in this area and its vicinity!

A simple but satisfying meal.  Happiness can be that simple. It is about being able to do things that I enjoy.

TENDON GINZA ITSUKI

A less palatable dine-out meal tends to disappoint me but a delicious one sure brightens up my day.

When I was in Tanjong Pagar last week, I came across Tendon Ginza Itsuki, a Japanese tendon specialty restaurant. Tendon (天丼) consists of tempura served on a bowl of rice.  The word tendon is an abbreviation of two words – tempura and donburi.

What actually attracted me was the long queue by the side lane of the restaurant, even slightly before the normal lunch hour of 12 noon for people working in offices in that area.  Since I rarely come to this part of Singapore, I have not eaten a Japanese meal in Singapore for a while now and could afford some time to wait, I decided to check it out.  Of course, I was driven by curiosity too.  So I had all the justifications not to miss it.

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There were around 20 people in front me.  Fortunately it was not too hot the weather, and the restaurant was thoughtful enough to provide huge red umbrellas for shelters.  Customers in queue could also help themselves with free-flow of water available at the front of the queue.

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There was information about PSI readings in view of the haze condition and a gentle reminder for customers to take care during the haze season. The restaurant even offered free masks!  Sometimes, it is small gestures like these that enhance the dining experience of the customers.  Unfortunately, not many restaurants make such conscientious effort though.

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My wait turned out to be 45 minutes.  That’s really long considering that I don’t normally like the idea of queuing this long for food. 5 to 10 minutes are still acceptable to me if I was really craving for a particular food, or a particular restaurant.

It is a very small restaurant but comfortable and cozy enough, with about 14 to 15 counter seats, and another 2 to 3 small tables.  I think it probably can accommodate a capacity of about 25 people.

Two chefs responsible for the frying of the tempura and one in preparing the rice

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There are only two choices on the menu : (1) Special Tendon which comes with prawn, chicken and vegetable tempura or Yasai (野菜) Tendon which is served with only vegetable tempura.

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Soon after I sat down, I was served chawanmushi (steamed egg in a tea bowl) and miso soup.    The chawanmushi has a seaweed flavour and it was certainly a nice starter for the meal.

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Guess what is in this bowl?

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Pickled vegetables!  It’s free-flow!Tendon07

This sign on the wall says that the restaurant uses carefully selected Japan-produced rice

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I ordered the Special Tendon which came with 2 pieces of prawns (pretty big ones), 2 pieces of chicken, mushroom, long beans, pumpkin and baby corn and a little pleasant surprise as well!  The ingredients were really fresh and good, and the tempura were fried just right.  I never knew baby corn can be this delicious!

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The little surprise –  a fried egg hidden under the tempura!  Oh, I love fried egg with the egg yolk uncooked!

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I thoroughly enjoyed my meal!  It actually took me half an hour to savour every bite of it!  It was definitely worth the long wait. For the price of S$13.95 for the Special Tendon, and S$12.95 for the Yasai Tendon, I think it it pretty good value for money, especially for the quality of the food!

After the meal, I spoke briefly with the service staff who was also manning the cash register.  I found out that this restaurant has been opened for about 3 months and the two chefs frying at the counter are from Malaysia.  One of them has worked in Japan for 8 years.

If I really had to pick on this restaurant, then I think it will have to be the loud music.  I like the fact that it was playing Japanese music but something more soothing will be pleasant for the diners.

Walking out of the restaurant, I texted hubby to tell him how satisfied I was with the meal.  I will go with him the next time, and I will have the yasai tendon instead.

On my way walking to the MRT station, still feeling happy with the meal, I saw pale blue sky and some white clouds.  At last, after many weeks of hazy condition.  What a bonus for the day!

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More Japanese food awaits me in the Land of the Rising Sun.  Hopefully by the time I return to Singapore  in two weeks’ time, there will be no more haze.

A GLIMPSE OF SG50 NDP PREVIEW AT MARINA BAY

If I have to pick a place in Singapore that I like the most, it would be none other than the Marina Bay area.  I love the beautiful skyline of the Marina Bay area and have always been impressed with the transformation of this part of Singapore in the last 10 years.  The credit goes to the government of Singapore.  In my humble opinion, this is a place that we Singaporeans can be proud of and also should be thankful to our government for what they have done, even though as a matter of fact, many of us have been feeling uncomfortable and even unhappy with some of the issues very close to our hearts, in particular population, housing and transportation, in the recent years.

Marina Bay Sand (MBS) with its SkyPark and ArtScience Museum (the lotus-look-alike building on the left)

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Beautiful skyline aside, the Marina Bay area has also been the favourite venue of NDP (National Day Parade) crowds for watching some of the actions in the event, such as aerial flypast, Presidential Gun Salute and fireworks.

This year being the Golden Jubilee or SG50 celebration year, the NDP is surely going to be very special and even more spectacular than ever.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luck to win two tickets to watch the Parade at the Padang.  Not wanting to miss the opportunity to be part of this celebration, hubby and I decided to join the crowds at Marina Bay instead, to catch glimpses of the event preview last Saturday (1 Aug).

(If you are a foreigner reading this, you may want to visit the SG50 or Singapore50 Website to find out more about SG50).

Oops, we were not kiasu (a local word meaning afraid to lose) enough!  By the time we got down to the Marina Bay area at about 6pm, the entire bay area was already swarmed with spectators that packed like sardines!

We managed to squeeze into a spot facing the MBS which turned out to be a pretty good spot.  Spectators on my left.

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Spectators on my right

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Spectators in front of MBS (opposite where we were) and…

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… up on the SkyPark

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It took a lot of patience though, to wait for the “actions” to take place at different stages of the NDP.  We were in a spot further away from the big LED screen showing live-streaming of the NDP at the Padang, so we couldn’t see what was actually going on over there except some of the commentaries amid the noises from the spectators.

The aerial display this year is indeed very spectacular, featuring a total of 50 aircraft from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).  An A380 flight adorned with our national flag from the Singapore Airlines was part of this segment too.

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State Flag Flypast

Salute-to-Nation : formation of the number “50” by 20 F-16.  This won a lot of cheers!

Impressive aerial manoeuvers

Getting ready for the Presidential Gun Salute

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21-Gun Salute during the inspection of the Parade by the “President”.  My first-time seeing a Gun Salute so up-close, and it was really loud.

After dark, as we were still waiting for the fireworks

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ArtScience Museum with its SG50 light projection

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Here’s a video that I have put together for the aerial display and fireworks.  Watching the fireworks so close for the first time was a breathtaking experience but it was too close to capture them well even with my wide-angle camera.  Alas, I also forget to use the manual-focus function. 😦 So, I am not very satisfied with the recording quality of the fireworks.

It was past 8:20pm when the fireworks ended.  Spectators began to disperse and restaurants there were getting even more crowded.  We had to wait for a while to get our table even with an advanced booking!  Fortunately the food was satisfactory (though a bit pricey), or it would have spoilt our night!

Palm Beach seafood restaurant

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While in the restaurant, we observed that there were a number of tables with diners wearing red tops.  Many came from the NDP Preview (as they were carrying the Fun Packs).  I have observed that majority of the NDP attendees would automatically wear red for the occasion, even without being told to do so.  I think this is something rather uniquely Singapore.  Perhaps this is a kind of Singapore Spirit we have at this time of the year.  I actually like it!

We had about half an hour to spare after dinner and before the next event at 11pm.  We took a stroll around the Merlion Park to enjoy the beauty of the night.  There were still many people hanging around there, many of whom were tourists.

Our national icon and also a popular tourist icon, this 8.6m-tall Merlion spouts water all day long

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The 2m-tall Merlion cub.  This doesn’t spout water

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The 260m-long Esplanade Bridge (left) and the newly completed 220m-long Jubilee Bridge with Esplanade Theatres by the Bay at the background.  The Jubilee Bridge was the brainchild of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore.  It is a bridge with no steps and provides barrier-free access.

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And the finale for the night – a music and light display by The Fullerton Hotel, as a tribute to SG50.

A Celebration of Our Heritage

“A Celebration of Our Heritage” showcases the iconic moments that took place at the Fullerton Square, including scenes from the election rallies in Singapore.   It is showing until 9 August, 2015 at the following timings.

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Majulah Singapura!

  • Aug 1 – 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm
  • Aug 2 – 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm
  • Aug 3 to 7 – 8pm, 9pm, 10pm
  • Aug 8 – 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm
  • Aug 9 – 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm

This is the second time The Fullerton Hotel has put up such a display in celebration of Singapore’s 50th year of Independence this year.  The first was “Journey of Singapore”, a 2-minute montage of sketches and graphics on the milestones of Singapore, shown at the end of 2014.

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Six more days to Singapore’s 50th Birthday!  Although we have no interesting arrangement planned for the coming Jubilee weekend yet, we are surely looking forward to the 4-day break (7-10 Aug).  It’s a rare treat to have one extra holiday declared this year, in celebration of SG50! 🙂

IPOH FOOD HAVEN

Hubby and I went on a week-long break in Ipoh (Malaysia) during the Hari Raya festive holiday earlier this month.  This was my third trip to Ipoh in slightly over 3 years.   We were there to visit my uncle and his family.  It was more of a trip to spend time with the young children of my cousins who seem to like us a lot, but not so much about sightseeing.

The first thing we did after arrival was to pick up my cousin niece from her school.  It was the last day of school (15 Jul) before Hari Raya.  In Malaysia, schools dismiss early every day during the Ramadan month and are typically closed for a week or longer for the Hari Raya festival.  In Singapore, our children never have such “treats”! 😦

Many parents waiting at the entrance of the school to pick up their children.  For afternoon session (primary 1 to 3 pupils), school dismissed at 5pm

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Mobile hawkers selling a variety of kachang (nuts), ice cream and even Yakult outside the school.  This is so nostalgic!

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We were received with great hospitality, as always,  and were pampered with lots of good local food every day and of course, that include a few vegetarian meals and tubs of durians which my aunty bought.  My uncle and aunty are vegetarians.

Whenever we were in Ipoh, we were not so keen on their restaurant food.  It was the local hawker food that we looked forward to.  I think it is not an overstatement to say that Ipoh is a haven for food!  Thanks to our hosts (my uncle and aunty, cousin and her hubby) who drove us around every day to savour a variety of yummy local food in some of the very popular stalls that the locals go to.

Moon De Moon (满中满) is famous for Curry Mee (咖喱面) and Gai Si (shredded chicken) Hor Fun (鸡丝河粉).  All tables were already taken up by the time we arrived at 845am.

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Just look at all the amount of bowls stacked up at the Gai Si Hor Fun stall.  They were customer orders waiting to be served.  We waited for almost an hour to get our food but it was worth doing so.

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Dry chicken curry mee which we ate for the first time.

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Gai Si Hor Fun in chicken and prawn soup.  The portion was not big, so it was in addition to the dry chicken curry mee!

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Spotted this very old car in front of the coffee shop when we left.  Some parts of the car have already rusted.  Unlike Singapore, there is no age limit for cars in Malaysia.  One can drive his car as long as he wants.  I remember one of my aunties in Johor used to drive a Volkswagen for over 40 years!

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Lei Ching coffee shop (丽晶) is famous for beef brisket noodles/Hor Fun (牛腩面/河粉) and Mee Rebus (爪哇面)

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This Mee Rebus is different from what we have in Singapore.  It has a tinge of sour taste that I found it rather refreshing, and the gravy is orangey in colour.

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The Hor Fun was served separately from the bowl of stewed beef briskets in tasty broth

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Chee Cheong Fun (猪肠粉) in curry gravy from a stall in the foodcourt of Parkson shopping mall.  In Ipoh, Chee Cheong Fun is typically served in minced pork and mushroom sauce with deep-fried shallots but some stalls serve the curry version too.  Shiok!

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Some fried stuff like fish cakes to go with the Chee Cheong Fun.  Very nicely fried, fresh and crispy

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Kedai Kopi Ah Chow looks a bit rundown but the food is definitely good

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Another version of curry Hor Fun served with shredded chicken and Char Siew.  Customers can opt for dry or soupy version.  Love it!

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Seaweed Mianxian (紫菜粉).  In Ipoh, the word 粉 (meaning powder in English) means any kind of noodles such as Kway Teow, noodles, Mianxian etc.

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This gives you an idea of the price of the food. I would say very reasonable for such delicious food

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Kedai Makan Canning Garden (桂和园) sells Chap Fun (or economy rice). See the queue?  So, what’s so good here?

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It’s the fried chicken!  My cousin said it is better than KFC’s and I can agree with her.  Unlike the rest of the dishes which were already cooked in advance, these fried chickens were freshly fried at the back of the shop and brought out in batches.  The stall opens from 10:30am but the fried chicken would be sold out by around 1-2pm.

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Fresh and tasty. Soft and crispy in the outer layer and tender inside even for the breast meat

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I don’t have a record on where I ate this fried Kway Teow which has very good wok hei (charred wok flavour).   Freshly fried Kway Teow & noodles (commonly known as Cao Fun 炒粉 in Ipoh)  is another common local breakfast food.  The Ipoh version of Char Kway Teow seems to have a sourish flavour that makes it rather special.

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Another not-to-miss food in Ipoh – Salt-baked chicken (盐焗鸡).  There are quite a number of shops selling salt-baked chickens but my cousin considers Aun Keng Lim (宴琼林)’s is the best and this brand is available only in Ipoh.

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The salt-baked chicken is generally not big in size, and best eaten when it is still warm

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One very popular biscuit shop downtown, in an area with many other eateries frequented by tourists.  See that long queue extending out of the shop?

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Sin Eng Heong sells a variety of biscuits but these kaya puffs are the most popular.  They got snatched up immediately after they were taken out of the oven!

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What’s selling here?  Funny Mountain (奇峰) soya milk and soya beancurd.  It is  very popular not just amongst the locals, but also tourists.  We actually had to queue (in the car) for our take-away.

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See that man wearing a blue cap and white shirt, with an apron?  He is the staff who runs to the customers queuing in the car to take and deliver their orders.  That saves the customers the trouble of finding a parking lot and getting out of their cars.  That’s how thoughtful the service is despite its good business!

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In Ipoh, one is spoilt with choices for vegetarian food too.

Shi Fang Zhai (十方斋) vegetarian restaurant is located at Menglembu (a town within Ipoh City, about 15 to 20 minutes drive away from Ipoh downtown)。  It serves pretty good vegetarian food and it was our second time there.

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This coffee shop (随缘素食店) sells vegetarian Char Siew and chicken rice and some other vegetarian dishes.  The owner runs a real chicken rice stall in another location during the day, and operates this vegetarian stall from late afternoon.  He is surely one very hardworking man!  I heard that it is also popular.

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Don’t they look like real Char Siew?  Nice!

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Vegetarian chicken rice

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Jiu Jiu Fu (99福) offers a good variety of Taiwanese, local and even Japanese vegetarian dishes.

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Vegetarian Unagi Temaki (hand rolls)

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Vegetarian salmon Makizushi

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Vegetarian mee goreng

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Above are just some but not all of the food we have savoured during the week.

I noticed that almost all the food stalls that we went to are owned/manned by middle-aged and older locals.  This probably speaks of the authenticity of the food.  I wonder given another 10 or 20 years, will they also be faced with the issue of losing their local food heritage just like what we are facing with the hawker food here in Singapore.  Hopefully not or it will be a sad thing.

It’s really very convenient now to travel between Singapore and Ipoh with up to three airlines serving this sector.  Firefly (a community airline wholly-owned by Malaysian Airlines) was the sole player when it started flying between these two cities in June 2009.  Just in the middle of this year, Tiger Airways and Malindo Air (a hybrid airlines between Malaysia and Indonesia which was established in 2013) started flights between Singapore and Ipoh too.  We still flew on Firefly (for the third time now) which has been reliable in terms of its services based on our experience, although its airfares were more expensive than the other two budget airlines.

This propeller aircraft has a capacity of only less than 80 passengers.

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Malaysia is one favourite travel destination of Singaporeans, when it comes to short and affordable (or even cheap) getaway holidays.  This is mainly due to the great advantage of our currency exchange rate against RM (Ringgit Malaysia).  This aside, I actually think that Malaysia has not only been blessed with rich natural resources which is total lacking in Singapore, it can also be an even better destination for tourism (not just for Singaporeans),  be it for sightseeing, food, shopping, history and culture, relaxation etc., if the country is better managed, and more effort is put in to improve its tourism sector.  I have actually shared my thoughts with a few of my Malaysian friends, and they can’t agree with me more.

I have not travelled much in Malaysia.  Safety is always my biggest concern when it comes to holidaying in Malaysia.  There have been many reports about robbery, attack etc.  in Malaysia.  My cousin, and also my friends in KL were robbed of their handbags before. In my cousin’s case, she was approached and robbed in bright daylight, right in front of my uncle’s house!  The same had happened to her daughter’s piano teacher in front of her house. That’s scary!  Safety and stability are definitely important factors for tourism.  Unfortunately, many Malaysians are very unhappy and have even lost their confidence in their government now.

HOME-MADE SHIOZAKE (SALTED SALMON FILLETS)

Shiozake (salted salmon) and saba shioyaki (grilled salted mackerel) are dishes that hubby and I always enjoy when we travel in Japan, especially during our last trip earlier this year.  We had a lot of them.  They are commonly served in breakfast, be it a traditional Japanese breakfast or a buffet breakfast.

A traditional Japanese breakfast with shiozake at Daiichi Takimoto-kan in Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido (2013)

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Buffet breakfast with shiozake, saba shioyaki and other side dishes at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku (2015)

Buffet Breakfast

On return from our long 19-day holiday in Japan earlier this year, I decided to try to make my very own version of shiozake but my first attempt was not successful.  It was not tasty, and I couldn’t get that firm flesh texture effect like those we had in Japan.  Obviously my method was wrong.  I shall not elaborate more here, to save my embarrassment. 😀

Not wanting to give up, I decided to search around the internet for a recipe.  I also don’t like the idea of buying the ready-salted ones from the supermarket.

Thanks to this recipe from Just One Cookbook (by Namiko Chen) with its very clear step by step instructions (please click on the link above for the details, if you are interested).  I finally succeeded in having my home-cooked salted salmon this week! 🙂  They tasted just like what we had in the hotels in Japan.  The flesh has a firm texture and the skin was crispy.

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The preparation is easy.  All you need are (diagonally sliced) salmon fillets, Japanese cooking rice wine and salt.  That simple.  Since I happened to have some lemon zest,  I sprinkled a little on the fillets but that actually didn’t make any difference to the taste.  So I will do away with it next time.

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Salted salmon neatly stacked in two layers, separated with kitchen paper towels; in an air-tight container and kept in the chiller

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After 3 days.  I used a baking tray instead of a parchment-lined baking sheet (as per instruction) to bake them,  for slightly over 20 minutes at 200 degree Celsius.

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Together with a bowl of porridge, and a plate of stir-fried vegetables, they made a hearty meal for hubby and I.  Our requirement for a meal is that simple. 🙂

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I am just so glad that I know how to prepare shiozake in the correct way now. I can now have it at home anytime when I have the craving, and without having to wait until my next holiday in Japan. 🙂

EATING OUT AT TANJONG KATONG ROAD

DS and I went to Tanjong Katong Road for dinner last Monday (31 Mar).  That was one rare night out since I normally cook simple, no/low carbo dinners on weekdays.

Tanjong Katong which is in the east zone of Singapore is known to many Singaporeans as a place for food.  The road looks rather quiet at night, but there is a good variety of food on both sides of the road. It is not far from where we live and also easily accessible by bus.

Our target that night was to go to Eng’s Noodles House for its Char Siew wanton noodles.  We had been there once last October.  We liked it and decided to go again after watching a TV food programme about this noodle shop recently.  See, that’s the power of TV programmes! 😀

Oops, luck was not on our side!  We should have rung up the shop before we went.  It was not opened for business that day (it closes on alternative Mondays).

DS was quick to spot a long queue across the street and that became our obvious alternative choice.

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We had to queue for about 15 mins to get our food.  So, that must be good, right? 

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Spotted on the wall – Best Food Awards 2003.  It has appeared on TV programmes and also newspaper articles.  So I got really excited and my expectation was also heightened as we approached the counter to make our orders.

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Pretty good variety of dishes to go with the coconut rice (nasi lemak).  I noticed there was continuous cooking in the kitchen, and the food replenished from time to time.  So, they were fresh.

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My choices – otah (poached patty made of spicy fish paste), fried Kuning (yellowstripe scad) fish, vegetable curry and fried ikan bilis (anchovies).  I always prefer Kuning fish to fried chicken and it is a must-have for my nasi lemak.

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DS chose ladies’ fingers (or okra), fried chicken wings, ngo hiang (fried minced meat roll) and sotong balls.  By ordering different dishes, we got to eat more variety of dishes by sharing with each other. 🙂

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I would say most of the dishes were good & tasty, especially the chicken wing, fried anchovies and ngo hiang.  However, the ladies’ fingers didn’t go well with DS.  He found them too hard, perhaps under cooked.

We were expecting the nasi lemak (coconut rice) to be very fragrant since there was a very strong coconut  aroma permeating the air around the shop while we were queuing to buy. But we were a little disappointed that the rice was not as fragrant as we expected.  We have just tasted very fragrant nasi lemak at Madam Kwan’s recently.

In my opinion, to pay S$14.70 for two plates of nasi lemak (without drinks), the meal was a little pricey considering that it is a hawker food sold in a simple, non-air-conditioned shop.  In fact, many of us were sitting outside the shop, along the corridors in front and by the side of the shop (see second photo above). I also noticed near the serving counter an inconspicuous signboard written “Extra Serving of chilli, cucumber are chargeable”.  So, you can’t ask for more of these unless you are prepared to pay more.  I wonder how much more?!

So, this sums up our first experience with this popular Ponggol nasi Lemak.

We then moved on to have our second round!

We found a durian stall not far away from Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre!  That was lovely!  If you have read my past posting, you would know that I love durians, more so if they are really good ones!

Durians

These Mao Shan Wang durians have very yellowish and creamy flesh which I like a lot.  At S$12 per kilo (reasonable price for good quality durians), this one costs us S$20 and the two bottles of water were complimentary.  What a thoughtful service!  This was the first time I came across free supply of bottled water from a durian seller!  There were 7 seeds in this durian below.

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See how small the seed was! 🙂

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I jokingly told the stall owner how expensive it was with just 7 seeds and guess what happened next?  He came offering a second one at no costs soon after. What a pleasant surprise! But we didn’t feel good to accept his offer, after all he is making a living.  He finally agreed to collect S$20 from us although I think this was a bigger and heavier one with a lot more fruits.

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After a very satisfying session savouring these durians, we had a short chat with the very humble and friendly stall owner.  We learned that he has been in this business for more than 20 years, selling particularly Mao Shan Wang (formerly called durian kunyit).

Stall owner, uncle Leong, taken while chatting with him.

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We were given a name card before we left.  Uncle Leong suggested that we ring him before we go again.  This is to make sure that we don’t make a wasted trip there.   On days when he finds the quality of durians from the supplier not good enough, he will not open for business. That was impressive!  Surely, uncle Leong is a man who knows his business and understands what a good customer service means.  That explains why he has many repeat customers.   This is just so different from the fruit seller nearby our home who started to sell us not so good durians after we became his regular customers.  We have stopped buying from this guy.

Thanks, uncle Leong!

We will surely go back for more, probably in early June as he recommended.