Eating my way back to the past… Posted by: | March 8, 2011

Before you guys conclude that I’ve reached a writer’s block, let me assure you, I haven’t. I actually have 3, 4 recipes waiting to be blogged, but I just never find the time to write these days. I’d blame it on Tet (Lunar New Year), for which we were crazy busy for about 3 weeks: 2 weeks preparation and 1 week of non-stop feasting and entertaining. I was meaning to write about Tet as well, as it is such a special festivity in Vietnam that I would like to share with all of you. Perhaps I’ll write about it sometime soon, if you guys don’t mind me blogging about events that have already way passed. Speaking of which, I have yet to blog about my Christmas Cookies. They were terrific. It would be a shame if they don’t get to see the light of day on this blog, so you readers would forgive me if I post them 2 months after Christmas, right? Right??

Anyway, I promise I’ll blog more timely from now. Starting with my Singapore trip last week. After 5 months in Vietnam, finally settled in, I made a business trip to Singapore for a week. A much welcomed trip, after all this time I spent missing my friends, the food and everything else in Singapore that I can’t have in Vietnam. I was super duper excited to land on this tropical island, the warm weather was such a welcoming change. But the overly organized blocks of buildings and fast, non-jammed traffic felt so foreign to me. I was overcome by a sense of nostalgia and at the same time felt a strange distance between me and this place I once called “home”. I soon realized I was already starting to miss Hanoi. The narrow roads, jammed traffic, overly friendly taxi drivers, century old buildings and trees, suddenly seemed so intimate to me. For the first time in my life, I was truly missing Hanoi, like it was my home town. Perhaps my re-integration is complete. Maybe I’m a true Vietnamese after all, despite all the accusations of people around me that I was not.

My week in Singapore, after working hours, was filled with fun and laughter with my dearest friends. There were so many people I wanted to catch up with that I could hardly afford to meet anyone twice. The same thing goes for food. I wanted to eat Indian food, Malay food, Middle Eastern food, Korean food, Italian, Chinese… so I dedicated each day to a dish or cuisine. And that is the main topic of this entry. My (sinful) food trail in Singapore. And also how I gained so much weight within a week. Bleh.

(Pardon my low quality pictures as I only had my trusty iPhone with me most of the time)

1. The Singapore Breakfast

I skipped my hotel breakfast for a typical Singaporean breakfast at the Coffee Shop right opposite the hotel, which is stir fried noodles. It could either be Bee Hoon (tiny rice noodles), Mee Thye Bak (thick, short noodles that look like… fat worms), or Kuay Teow (big flat noodles). I went for Mee Thye Bak, my favorite, because I just love how it bounces around in my mouth as I chew it (not because I like eating things resembling worms).

2. The “Nasi Padang” lunch

If anyone asks me what food I miss most from Singapore, it is definitely Malay food. It’s such comfort food and so rich in flavor that makes it hard to ever go back to Yong Tau Foo (a bland soupy dish with boiled vegetables). But of course, anything that is that good can’t be great for your health. So I limit my Malay food lunches to about… um… 4 times a week. My favorite Malay dish has to be Black Squid rice (Sotong Hitam). It looks monstrous, but boy, it is as yummy as the 2 Michelin star Squid Ink paella I had in Spain. I can’t really tell you what goes on in there, because it’s just a burst of flavors every time I take a bite. Crime scene: ABC Market, Bukit Merah.

3. The Chicken Briyani

My second favorite food in Singapore is Indian food. Naan, Tandoori, Curry, Dosai… You name it, I’ve had it. But I only had one chance to eat Indian during this trip, so I went for the one dish that satisfies me the most – Chicken Briyani. I love the long grain (Basmati rice) used in this, and how it looks like a plate of happy sunshine. The chicken would be tender and juicy, that you would drown in the curry sauce together with the rice. Mmm… Nothing better than Carbo and Meat married in an oily sauce. That’s Indian comfort food at its best. Crime scene: Tanjong Pagar (near Maxwell food court).

4. The Italian indulgence

Of course, apart from all the Asian cuisines, I also had to indulge myself in Italian fine dining, which in Vietnam is hardly affordable with the average income of USD300/month. But I was in Singapore, so I put my guilt trip aside and had a 4 course meal to satisfy my burning craving for Bruschetta, White Asparagus, Squid Ink Pasta and Tiramisu. The Pinot Grigio wine was to die for too (Livio Felluga 2009). It was all in all a perfect meal. Crime Scene: L’Angolo (Maxwell Road). And here are the gorgeous Bruschetta that I still fantasize about everyday:

5. The Perfect Brunch

My ideal place for brunching is a place where brunch is served all day, like Hatched (Evans Road). So on the day of my departure, I made sure to catch a big fat brunch before my flight at Hatched, an all-day-breakfast restaurant, to stuff myself with as much eggs and waffles as I could eat. Hatched serves everything related to Eggs, from scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, to egg-mayo filled croissants… I had the scrambled eggs wrapped in smoked salmon with sauteed potatoes and a juicy tomato filled with pesto. After that meal, I remember praying to myself that they wouldn’t serve eggs on the flight later. And luckily, they didn’t. But it was hardly edible anyways.

My Singapore food escapade obviously doesn’t end there, and I wish I could write about all of them, if only I had more time to write or the luxury of boring you to death. So just like how they announce those off-the-air awards at the end of the Grammy’s or the Oscars, here are some other great eats that are worth a mention: The good ol’ Mac Donalds quarter-pound cheese burger and fries, the Middle Eastern Shish Kebabs at Arab Street, the yummy icecream desserts at Island Creamery, more nasi padang goodness like Lontong, Korean Ramen, Japanese Yakitori, Thai soft shell crab with glass noodles…

Despite all these food pleasures, 2 weeks later, I am actually glad to be eating simple home food again, and there’s really no restaurant in this world that can replace your kitchen. Plus, I missed eating with my parents a lot (aww…). So I won’t be complaining about the lack of food options in Hanoi for awhile more, until the next craving sets in!



2 Responses to “Eating my way back to the past…”

  1. TL says:

    U forgot abt the abalone n sharks’ fin from the dealer lunch and wedding dinner…

    • Chi Anh says:

      omg yes. hahaha. Damn you’re sharp! Those are the only 2 meals you had with me :P But definitely enjoyable!

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