This Is How We Eat

This weekend’s been a hit and miss with good food. My parents and I decided on a late dinner/supper on Saturday at Oasis, a Chinese restaurant ‘popular’ for their Taiwanese styled sweet potato congee with a la carte dishes to match. It was a disaster. Food presentation was appalling, and everything seemed overcooked, or worse, re-cooked. I took many pictures, but I’ve decided not to post them since it’s hardly worth the effort. The only one I’m posting below is a rather nifty and cute aluminium tea glass holder, only pity was it wasn’t a glass they used but a plastic tumbler. Hot tea in a plastic tumbler in a restaurant annoys me.

Fortunately, dinner tonight was worth a mention. We had dinner at Ga-Hock Seafood, a regular haunt that has their tables full by 6pm. For those who have been to Singapore, you should find this a familiar sight, but for my foodie friends new to the culture here, this is how we eat.

The seemingly makeshift mass dining setting is actually a permanent fixture all over Singapore. They’re called hawker centres and if they come air-conditioned, they’re called food courts. They may not look the tidiest, but judge not because you can get amazing food good enough to rival top restaurants at a fraction of the price.

This is where the magic happens and it’s quite a feat that a kitchen this size could cater for 300 customers at any time, with a menu of more than 50 items.

The satay man doing this thing. Good satay happens not only with good marinate, but also using the right cut of meat, expertise in using charcoal, and proper grilling technique.

The result is tender pieces of slightly charred honeyed meat that will take you to heaven when paired with pineapple-peanut satay sauce.

My favourite hawker drink : home-made lime-lemonade served extremely cold in a huge mug.

Stir-fried snow pea sprouts with garlic.

Clay pot fish head. Ga Hock is famous for their curry fish head, which is what we usually order but since we decided to avoid chilli today, we had the non-spicy alternative. It’s really good and comes not only a huge fish head, but generous servings of seasonal vegetables stewed in thick gelatinous fish stock. Next time you are cooking fish at home, do not discard the head. Throw it into a clay pot with leftover vegetables the next day and you’ll have a tasty winter stew.

The most desired seafood in Singapore – crabs. We are the unofficial nemesis of the Sri Lankan mudcrabs and eating crabs is probably the national sports of Singapore. Indeed, enjoying crab requires much effort. First, you have to hunt for the best place to have them, then you have to wait in line till you get served, and lastly, devouring them requires good finger-mouth co-ordination and adequate jaw strength. Our national dish may be the infamous Chilli Crab, but that’s getting a little old school. Now we have butter crab, salted egg crab, steamed crab, baked crab … … you get the point.

We had the butter crab and like always, it was finger licking good. The crabs are lightly coated with flour, deep fried, then stir fried in butter with curry leaves and chilli flakes. Although this will probably put you to the front of the queue for a prescription of lipitor, it’s well worth it.


6 Responses to “This Is How We Eat”
  1. OMG! I want to put my hand through my computer screen to grab a piece of the crab! I am crazy over crabs. The next time I am in Singapore, I got to go check this place out.

  2. Rachel says:

    I love the tea glass holder (even if it was actually a plastic tumbler)! And those butter crabs have me drooling. The seasoning looks perfect! I LOVE crabs.

    I’ve never been to Singapore, but I want to go now! We have good friends who just moved there a month ago. May have to pay a visit. 🙂

  3. Ahhhh…..this is almost painful to read Eugene! I so miss the food and the hawker centers in Singapore. Really some of the best ‘eats’ in the world. Just was waxing nostalgic about some late night hawker center exploits while living there. Thanks for taking us with you. Appreciate your wonderful descriptions and the arm chair travel.

    • foodandscent says:

      Perhaps in the near future, we would be able to blog and send actual food through the computers instead of just pictures and videos. What’s the night food scene like in Colorado?

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