April 21, 2014

Getting fat with wasted calories

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Everyone who goes to Singapore ends up going for some type of local eats, most of which are cheap and cheerful.  I myself have my own list of place to hit, and it's still growing with each new trip I make.  But the reality is that Singapore, like any other city, has its fair share of crap restaurants.  For someone who is looking at restarting his diet, who desperately wants to make all the calories count, this can be infuriating.  There's nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, worse than having consumed a bunch of high caloric, fatty foods and didn't even taste good.

My first crap meal came while we were doing an excursion to Pulau Ubin, an under-developed island off the north-east cape of Singapore.  It was past 1pm and we were all a little tired, hot, and starving.  We had initially planned to take the ferry back to Changi Village and find a place there to eat, but for some reason my relatives decided to stop at the first restaurant they saw...

Season Live Seafood (海味活海鮮) is as obvious a tourist trap as I have ever seen.  It's only or so away from all the bicycle rental shops and 2 or 3 minutes away from the ferry jetty.  Anyone looking for half-decent food would normally have alarm bells sounding off in one's head about places like this.  But I decided not to protest...

Fried you tiao (炸油條) - these deep-fried Chinese crullers stuffed with cuttlefish paste failed.  Too dry from having been fried too long, and these also seemed to have been left out for a little while.

Deep-fried sotong (炸苏东仔) - nowhere near the tastiest I've had, but at least the baby squid wasn't a complete failure.

Cereal prawns (麦片虾) - these were some of the most tasteless prawns I've had in memory...  If you don't have any of the sweetish "oatmeal" that came sprinkled on, or if you don't eat the deep-fried prawn shells, then you may have a hard time tasting any flavor coming from the flesh of the prawns...  Somehow these guys managed to eradicate any trace of the sweet flavors that fresh prawns should come with.

Fried rice with whitebait (银鱼炒饭) - Wow!  The last time I tasted flied lice this bland was... never?!

This place was so bad that my uncle actually wondered out loud where the cook came from... (with the implied question being if this guy knew how to cook anything...)

My lunch the next day was spent attending the birthday party of a friend's daughter, and I trekked up to the Singapore Island Country Club.  The kids were bowling and playing pool before lunch, so we ended up eating in the bowling alley and not at the club's other F and B outlets.  Naturally I had to tone down my expectations...

I was advised to take the mee goreng, which was supposed to be good.  Well, it was OK, but judging from the way my friend's club sandwich looked, I should count myself lucky that it was at least edible.  Wasted calories from fatty food.

Feeling unsatiated, I headed to my favorite Roti Prata House just down the road for a snack.  I figured I owed it to myself to order a simple plaster and a cup of kopi tarik.  Well, maybe the Indian cook took Easter Sunday off, or maybe the best cook only works in the mornings, but this was a lousy piece of plaster.  It was just too soggy and oily, without the dry, crispy texture I would expect.  Interestingly, the yolk of the egg was still liquid.

So in my attempt to recover from an unsatisfying lunch, things actually got worse because I had some extremely fatty fried food that was crap.  Wonderful.

My day just kept going downhill in terms of food.  The relatives finally decided they wanted Thai for dinner, and since I didn't want to take them back to Thanying like I did last time, I scrambled to look for an alternative.  The blogging community doesn't seem to offer much help in this respect, and most of the hits I got seem to center around "cheap and authentic".  Well, I wanted to go somewhere nice with my relatives, since this would be my nice meal with them for the next couple of years.  Other than Thanying, there seemed to be no alternatives for slightly higher end Thai in town.

Which was why we ended up at Nara in ION Orchard.  The relatives had been to Nara in Bangkok and enjoyed their first visit - although a subsequent visit fell short of expectations.  I insisted that we go to the branch at ION instead of the new branch at Westgate Mall - since the new location had been open for less than a week.  I shudder at the thought of what might have happened if we had gone to Jurong...

I don't like tom yum kung, so I passed it up and left it for my relatives.  Instead I started with the kaeng kiew wan gai.  This green curry just looked wrong when it showed up... the color was a little off, and it definitely looked very diluted.  It was pretty sweet and there didn't seem to be any complexity in the flavor profile.  At least the chicken wasn't overcooked...

Pla kra pong chao sua - this deep-fried sea bass was OK, but we found it woefully under-seasoned - which is a pretty strange phenomenon in a Thai restaurant.  I ended up chewing on the strings of green peppercorns to get some more flavors.

Stir-fried morning glory - these days I'm not a fan, because the sauce is just too damn salty.

Mango with sticky rice - I should have asked the relatives to order the single portion so I wouldn't have to eat any, but... This wasn't bad, but I certainly didn't need the extra calories from the rice or the coconut milk.  The mango itself could have been a little riper...

The relatives weren't happy with the food, and neither was I.  And don't get me started about the crap service...

The infuriating thing was that not only were the three meals not at all tasty, I also put on weight for no good reason.  I got up this morning, stepped on the scale, and found myself about 1½ pounds heavier!  Bloody hell!

Another day, another crap meal.  This time it was breakfast.  Due to poor planning, I wasn't able to go to the original location of Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House (黃亞細肉骨茶餐室) after my morning jog today, since they're not open on Mondays.  I decided that I needed my kaya toast fix, and figured I'd stay close to home and check out Ya Kun Kaya Toast at Vivo City.  What a mistake that turned out to be!

The kaya toast with butter here is usually pretty dry - and I can appreciate this style - but today it seemed particularly over-grilled.  The French toast just wasn't very good... but maybe it's because I'm more used to them being softer and more moist.  Even the kopi c today sucked... and tasted waaaaay over-roasted.

Given that Ya Kun prices itself at a significant premium over the regular guys selling kaya toast at food courts just steps away, I was left wondering why I would be willing to pay that premium again...

Thankfully my losing streak ended at 4 meals, with a total of 5 crap meals over 3 days.  Let's hope this won't happen again...

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