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Singapore is very well known for their Hainanese Chicken/ 海南.  They just call theirs “chicken rice.”  In fact, I’ve heard more about Singapore’s Hainanese chicken than the Hainanese chicken from Hainan.  Singapore has even made chicken rice one of their national dishes.  Chili crab is another, but I can’t eat that.  I originally got wind of this particular place from Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” that I was watching on my way to Hong Kong.  All I remembered was the name of the stall [most of the best food aren’t set up in actual restaurants], but nothing else.  Luckily, I picked up a Singapore guidebook in Hong Kong and what did they suggest?  The chicken rice hawker stand!  And thus, I had an address.

BTW, Chinese guidebooks are the best guidebooks.  I barely read Chinese as it is, but they are plastered with pictures on every page so you’re really looking at visuals to figure out what you want to do.  Prices are a universal language, and addresses are always in the local language anyways, so you can point and ask the concierge how to get to a certain place.  The American guidebooks may be more comprehensive in giving essential information [ex. hotel recommendations, emergency numbers, etc].  Also, it helps to know where and what you want to eat when you’ve seen pictures of your choices.  There are also Chinese guidebooks that are dedicated just to food, which is right up my alley.

Anyways, back to the food.

So, the first day the boy and I landed, we made our way to 天天海南雞飯 (literally: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice).  We lived in Clarke Quay, which is pretty much the epi-center of all that is Singapore, so we were really close to my chicken rice man (yes, that’s what I call him).  My book told me they close at 6PM, and we got there maybe around 5 or 5:30.  They were already closed!  I was crushed!  They ran out of chicken.  Knowing that they open at 11AM, I camped out the next morning.  We got there a little before opening, and there was already a line forming!  I was neither surprise nor deterred.

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2009-1403hey chikadees, are you ready to go in my tummy?

2009-1402the two man team

One of the other non-food things that I like about Singapore is that Chinese is one of their national languages, so I can speak to anyone.  Sadly, that didn’t help too much.  I ordered two large chicken rices and a small order of kailan (greens).  Instead, I got the opposite: 2 small rices and a large order of greens.

2009-1409chicken rice comes with chicken soup

2009-1411too hungry to get a real close-up

The special thing about the chicken rice here that differs from the chicken rice elsewhere is their flavorful rice.  It’s not the typical special oil rice or coconut rice, instead, the rice is infused with chicken broth.  Before handing the plate to the customer, the chef would ladle and drain scoops of broth onto the whole concoction so there’d be even MORE flavor.  Don’t worry, the rice doesn’t come out too soggy.  The chicken itself is soo tender and moist, it was awesome!  It’s the consistency where you could swear that the chicken may be undercooked, but when you check, it’s not.  It’s a miracle.   can add some chili sauce to your chicken or some thick soy sauce.  I think the soy sauce is something like this.  It’s the only type of soy sauce that I saw served in Singapore.  It’s definitely something I’m not used to.

2009-1401my spot on the line- before they officially opened!
I’m the one looking at the camera

The small chicken and rice dish was $2.50S and a large one is $3S.  The large kailan was about $5S.  The exchange rate when I was there was about $USD to $1.34 SPD.

I tried coming here one last time.  They didn’t appear to be open at 11AM and there was no line.  We thought they were closed.  We came back once more before we had to leave for our flight that day at about 3PM and it looked like they were just closing.  I was devastated!  I had missed it… again!  Woe is me.

Next time, it’ll be a personal goal to eat here more than once.

P.S.  Everyone speaks English here too.

天天海南雞飯
Tian Tian Hainese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Center
Stall 10
Singapore
Hrs: 11-6 or until they run out.

Who would think that the best xiao long bao is not in Shanghai, but in Singapore?  On a recent trip to Singapore, I had the best xiao long bao’s I’ve ever had in my life.  The price was also super appealing.

This hawker stall in the Chinatown Complex food center is run by a husband and wife team.  I’m pretty sure they’re transplants from Shanghai.  They’re the cutest couple who kept laughing at me when I kept coming back shamelessly for more.

It may look like any regular xiao long bao on the outside, but it is superior on the inside.  The pork meat is soft and succulent.  They time the steaming perfectly.  The meat produces the perfect soup.  They must have flavored the soup with some miracle ingredient instead of relying on the pork to produce the broth.  It’s much more flavorful than any previous xiao long baos I remember tasting. My mom has always told me that the meat produces its own broth when it cooks, which is how we get the juice.  After reasearching, I just found out that it’s hardened bits of gelatinous broth that gets included with the filling before steaming.  Genius!

I may not have had every xiao long bao in Shanghai, but this beats all the ones I did have, and with less of a wait time.

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2009-2700

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2009-2707ginger & vinegar for dipping the xiao long baos.

The boy claims that it would be blasphamous to spoil the original taste with this.  I think it just adds to the goodness.

Additionally, the couple makes their own noodles by hand, and I had their jai jiang mien, but the highlight is definitly the xiao long bao.  The noodles themselves are good, but the sauce was lacking. It was really gelatinous and they didn’t warm it up long enough.

2009-2734contrast of colors are awesome

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Info:
10 xiao long baos for $5 SGD
Chinatown Complex, 2nd Fl
Stall 135

I mentioned the quality of food in Japan before, but I haven’t talked about my love for Japanese barbeque, or as some say, the Japanese version of Korean barbeque, yet.  I could probably have Japanese barbeque as my last meal on Earth and be able to die a bit more easy.  Other people appreciate Japanese barbeque because you don’t come out smelling as badly [read: like a chimney of burnt meat] as with Korean barbeque.  I think it’s got something to do with the vents.  Anyways, for those of you who know me, you know I’m not really a big fan of meat.  However, I think as long as the meat slices are thin or in burger form [for the condiments], or have tons of sauce on them, then I’m okay.  I’m just not too big of the fan of the meat itself.


in chinese, this would be “sky dog”

We couldn’t get into Gyu-Kaku one night, so we went here instead.


no we didn’t get oysters


garlic pork


gyoza


crab fried rice

Continue Reading »

Tokyo Chinatown

Chinatown / Yokohama

Yokohama was a bit out of the way, but it was interesting to see how different the Chinatown would be from others that I’ve been to before. I wanted to see what type of Japanese influences existed here. Mostly though, it was fairly unimpressive. I mean, by the size of it, it was a fairly sizeable Chinatown. I suppose the intentions of a good Chinatown where there; they had the dimsum restaurants, Peking duck, and picturesque ancient Chinese style architecture, but it was lacking a bit of the classic Chinese character. Where were all the Chinese people? I didn’t see any. And the people hawking goods- authentic or otherwise? All we saw were uninteresting gift shops. We also didn’t appreciate the pricing – everything seemed excessively expensive.

While walking around and exploring, we decided the only thing worth spending our money on would be the food. Even though we couldn’t fathom normally spending this much money on simple Chinese food, especially having just come from Hong Kong and China.

Continue Reading »

Tokyo Adventure!

No lie, the sole purpose of all my companions and myself during our trip to Japan was to shop. And eat. But mostly to shop. Tokyo is the mecca of fashion, electronics, comestics, basically any material good you can name. Plus, the Japanese know food. If only they could teach me their skills through osmosis!

First, our 3 bedroom furnished apartment I managed to snag for us for the week at Oakwood Shinjuku.


Yes, Japanese people like to watch Hilary Clinton too


full kitchen. it even came with a rice cooker


the infamous bidet. i dare you to try it


the master. and yes, we like spongebob square pants!

And now, onto the good stuff Continue Reading »

Weekend in DC

Foodings from a weekend trip to view the cherry blossoms back in March.

The boy and I went during the first weekend when they had all the festivities like the kite flying around the Washington Monument. Thankfully we had really good weather; I heard a bunch of horror stories about being rained in during cherry blossom season and I’m glad it didn’t happen to us.

To the food!

Lunch: Oyamel
401 7th St NW, Washington DC

They claim they’re authentic Mexican, which I doubt. This is a more casual upscale-ish tapas place, but most dishes we tried lacked flavor, any flavor. The highlight was the homemade guac, but overall, the food was sub-par to the atmosphere, which was clean, sleek, spacious, and at lunchtime, had a ton of natural sunlight.

oyamel


home-made guac! yummo


onions can make even big boys cry


guac-face!


left to right:
1. Tinga Poblana – Stew of shredded chicken with potatoes, chorizo, and chipotle, topped with red onion
2. Cochinita pibil con cebolla en escabeche – Yucatan-style pit barbecued pork with pickled red onion and Mexican sour orange
3. Pato al pastor con laminas de piña – Shredded duck confit with tomatoes and peppers, served
with pineapple, onions and cilantro


Tamal Verde -Tamale with green sauce of tomatillo, shredded chicken breast, chile, garlic and cilantro

Maybe it was our food selection, but they were mostly unflavorful and not as exciting as I thought they were going to be. The tamale was dry and not spicy as I was expecting.  I’ll be heading to Mexico in September, so I’ll be able to enjoy the real thing then!

We also got a chance to walk around their tiny Chinatown and discovered that all their Western style shops and restaurants such as Legal Sea Foods and Urban Outfitters all had Chinese names on them. It was cute. This is how Chipotle is written in Chinese (it’s basically a transliteration):

Now, foodwise, we really had the BEST meal at this non-descript Japanese restaurant. I can just tell I’m going to be making some annual trips to DC just to eat at Sushi Taro.  We had to wait about 1.5, but ended up getting on within the hour since we waited around the restaurant and they just happened to have an opening.  Although we didn’t eat anything that was particularly out of the ordinary, everything was made extremely well.  Sitting at the sushi bar also helped. I love being able to watch the chefs work; you can see the care each one of them puts into the food.  There are so many things we want to go back to try.  We noticed that they offered a separate menu for the daily specials that they neglected to give us, which is  written in Japanese with English translations.

Dinner: Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA


they offer the traditional japanese cushion seating.


the super skillful chef. he makes me wish i could speak japanese


chicken skin and kobe beef

Though this isn’t the best kobe beef I’ve ever tasted, but it did retain its juicy flavors as it was on the grill.  Then there’s the chicken skin skewer that’s a heart attack waiting to happen.


Simplicity:  soft shelled crab; eel, spicy tuna, tofu stuffed with seasoned rice


oyakodon- think: reallyyy juicy, savory, and yummy chicken veggie omelet where the juices seep into the rice underneath.

For all you sashimi lovers out there, but sure to check out their extensive raw selection if you ever make your way there.  They even emboss their tamagos with their insignia.

What: Ramen date

Where: Ippudo
65 4th Ave, New York 10003
Btwn 9th & 10th St

A friend of mine who visits Japan every year HATES Ippudo. He warned me, a seasoned traveler like him, that I would hate it too. He told me it’s not like the ramen I had in Japan and I’d be disappointed too. The broth, the noodles, and the prices all had a negative effect on him.

Yet, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I went twice. I mean, I have to ask, what is up with their noodles? To me, it’s too thin and too much like the Chinese chow mein, and too hard to be ramen. I was, however, fairly impressed by their broth. Okay, so maybe it isn’t like Japan, but it was still good. And I can swear that their they put the oils from which they braise their berkshire pork into their broth, which makes it that much fattier and tastier.

ippudo

If you want noods, you better be sure to go early b/c … they might close on you!

sign

The atmosphere: Very fun and unique. The bar is clear topped with rows of packaged ramen noodles and the walls are lined with ramen bowls. Inside the dining room, there are several areas of seating, including one where every two seats are designed to make up a loveseat couch.

ippudo bar

ramen bar

ippudo seating

The noodles: Upon the recommendation of the waiter, we both ordered the Akamaru Shin, ‘that’s suppose to come with the special Ippudo sauce in their broth. The broth is thick so the noodles do absorb a good amount of the broth, but not enough for me. As with all ramen places, I wished there was more pork. The second time I went, I tried the spicy broth because they took the dipping noodles off the menu.

ippudo noodles

The berkshire pork. Tiny portion, but it was delicious. It was tender, flavorful, and not as fatty as most pork belly.

berkshire pork

Overall, I say it was an experience worth having. The prices are too high for ramen, and I don’t enjoy the noodles, as I’ve said before, but it’s worth it for the broth. Also, go during non-prime times. Don’t do the wait.

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