Saturday, May 31, 2014

Singapore Food Round-Up, part 1

Back from Singapore, and boy was I terrified for my life! Sure, Singapore Airlines has a great safety record, but I'd like to see the stats on the number of muttered prayers & moments of mortal terror.

 Number one, you don't need to alert me every single time there is a little turbulence - considering how bad it was sometimes, every announcement had me clenching my jaw and thinking back on the last things I said to people. Say it when it's bad, which it was, plenty of times. It's probably not the airline's fault, but I think I was silently reflecting on my life over the entirety of Russia, and had even come to peace with my imminent death by the time we were over Poland. I'd never seen the plane go dark and the exit signs light up before, nor had I previously seen a flight attendant jog by with a mysterious satchel over her shoulder. So glad I didn't know until we touched down in London that it was the same model Boeing as Malaysian Flight 370. At least I would've gone down with a belly full of pretty good food & Curb Your Enthusiasm season 6 fresh in my mind.

That's the worst part of the journey, and I've gotten it out of the way right at the beginning! Everything else was just dandy. Singapore is a cool place for my husband and I - it meets our standards of comfort & has lots of things to do such as food, sightseeing & shopping. I know lots of people aren't really big fans of Singapore, for vacations at least, and I reckon that has to do with a perceived lack of authenticity. Fair enough, but I really enjoyed it and would like to go back for another trip someday! Next vacation is Japan in August though - and that's even more fun.

Also, as a PS - Singapore has incredibly cheap public transport that was fully air-conditioned and clean. Really makes you resent paying the rates you get here in the UK - wassup with that, anyway? Is it because the Underground is so old? Is there a tax that the mole people levy so that we can use their tunnels - is it how we got out of having to pay them in flesh? I'd happily pay if I knew that was the case.

Ha, sorry - this is a special post so pardon my digression. My last special post was from my trip to Berlin.

Let's start with the very first thing I ate there! A mochi doughnut from Dunkin' Doughnuts in the airport and one of the biggest iced lattes I've ever seen. It was even topped with whipped cream & caramel! Maybe I've been in Europe for too long, but I was surprised to see that. After a 12 hour flight it was a welcome sight.

The solid sugarfood accompaniment to my sugardrink came in the form of this region-specific mochi-style doughnut. I think these can be found in quite a few of the region's Dunkin' Doughnuts, like the Philippines & Malaysia. I believe it's a takeoff of a popular doughnut found in Mister Donut shops in Japan. As you can probably guess, the mochi element of this is that it is a far bit chewier than your average doughnut.

We opted for the glazed variety, but there was also a chocolate one. I wish I could illustrate better how chewy this doughnut was, but this bleary-eyed post 12-hour flight iPhone photo will have to do.

Sure, it might look like a regular doughnut, but believe me, the stretchiness of a mochi is there. It's just not illustrated by my crummy photo! Still tasted like a regular glazed doughnut, so I'm sure it would've been a bit tastier of it was warm - but it was a nice chewy treat that felt more substantial than a regular doughnut due to the chew factor. I'd like for something with this stretchy, chewy texture to be readily available in doughnut shops in the UK, but the unlikeliness of that isn't keeping me up at night. It was a nice first thing to try and Singapore, and probably a good symbol of the East meets West vibe of the entire country.

So, check into the hotel, it's nice - what's for lunch? Pepper Lunch!

Sounds like the beginning of a "What's the word? Thunderbird!" type jingle...Well, what it actually was is a chain called Pepper Lunch that we spotted in the mall, and not wanting to stumble around confused & jet lagged for too long, we went with it. Good choice too! It comes out with raw meat on a sizzling hot bowl, with rice, corn, sauce, and optional toppings like cheese & egg - I opted for just cheese. It was super tasty, but seeing the chicken actually be raw in the bowl made me just a bit nervous - the surface is most definitely hot enough to cook it, and it did and it was fine, but still - just goes to show a bit of the difference between cultures maybe, as I feel like raw chicken in the USA is regarded as quite terrifying. Undercooked chicken is 100x worse than undercooked beef in my estimation - it's just how I was brought up. Might even be seen as different here in Europe! Either way, the plate was hot, cooked it up, and the whole thing tasted great.

Also included was a special 'honey brown sauce' you could apply yourself, and it was very delicious indeed. Sweet, a bit of soy, and a bit of worcester - hard to find fault with it, I'd happily eat it with plain rice if the sauce was available bottled. Who knows, maybe it is! I did find a recipe for the whole kit 'n' kaboodle if you'd like to try making it - I know I would.

Our next meal was split that day - my husband went for laksa, as pictured here:

Too many cockles for my taste. I like laksa alright, but I wasn't in a very fishy mood and it was quite fishy & disappointingly non-spicy considering the abundance of floating chili oil. So I went for 'Korean Fried Chicken' at 4 Fingers, but I didn't go for traditional drumlets & wings, I went with the Katsu sandwich - Japanese inspired, I presume. There was...some sort of sauce, seemed a bit like a spicy mayo so perhaps gochujang mayo?

Most interestingly, however...the bun was deep fried. Why, I don't know. Except for that it was incredibly delicious. They were shaped like open clams, similar to the baos you can get at... Bao, Flesh & Buns, and Yum Bun. I think they might've been steamed like those, just deep fried after. It was so soft and chewy on the inside, but with a nice buttery crisp outside. The filling was chicken, a sort of slaw type vegetable assortment (cabbage, onion, creamy sauce) and that nice spicy creaminess. It came with a side of your choice of kimchi or seaweed fries, and I went with kimchi. It was just kimchi flavored powder covering the fries, and there was a delicate sweet pickle taste from them, but it wasn't actually that strong.

On this same day, we had a late night snack of Chewy Junior cream puffs. Would you believe that this chain had a UK outlet for about a year? Man, what is it about the UK that makes people so uninterested in new desserts? Beard Papa got ran out of here too. I really don't get it, who wouldn't want to try a new treat that's very popular overseas? Oh well! Could have to do with the quality of desserts & sweets that come just from grocery stores and such - it's pretty easy to find a tasty dessert in the UK, with or without Beard Papa and Chewy Junior - just a shame they can't stick around alongside Waitrose bakeries & Gu.

This particular variety was blueberry, and it had a nice piping of cream cheese frosting on top alongside the blueberry jam & blueberries. My husband wasn't too crazy about the cream cheese on top, he thought it tasted a bit too cheesy and savory - he's normally into cream cheese frosting, but this stuff was admittedly not that sweet. I thought it went nicely with the sugary tart blueberry, but I'm an easy please when it comes to cream cheese. Besides, I was too taken by the creamy vanilla, custardy insides to be too distracted by the top. The cream was firmer and thicker than a Beard Papa, for example, and I think it might've had elements of cream cheese in it as well as it had a slightly tangy taste to the vanilla sweetness. Chewy Junior had a ton of different flavors, but as it was the end of the day most of the premium ones had sold out, leaving us with a few fruit, one almond topped, and one chocolate. Well, looked chocolate - my husband ate that one.

All the fruit topping ones were super nice, with a pie-filling type topping that was sweet with big bits of fruit. The almond was a disappointment, they were just thin slivers with very little nutty taste, and they just sort of were unpleasantly textured. All of them were filled with the same cream, but I think some of the premium flavors have different creams. Unfortunately, as of this writing the website is down so I can't really find some examples - but I do remember that they even had some savory fillings like pork floss & curry.

I'll be continuing on in part 2 - I've got to cover about 6 days worth of 3 meals + snacks, so it may be a few entries!

I hope you also enjoy my reflections on the trip that aren't necessarily food related, but feel free to scroll by 'em next time if you're not into it. Once you get to photos of food, I'll mostly stay on theme, haha.

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