May 13, 2018

Singapore hop 2018: hawker center hopping

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In addition to all the nice meals I planned with friends on this trip, I left a little bit of time to explore some local eats.  I was determined to check out a few dishes that I had been sorely missing while being away, and did a little research to figure out where the popular stalls serving the respective dishes are.

I started by going back to Tiong Bahru Market (中峇魯市場).  This is one of the more famous - and touristy - hawker centers.  When we arrived, we were greeted by the not-so-melodious vocals of an uncle playing on keyboards - right in front of the escalator.  Later on we would realize that he wasn't the only uncle busking today...

Our first order of business was coffee, and I ordered up a cup of kopi for Hello Kitty and a kopi-C for myself from 238 Coffee.  I do have to admit that the roast was noticeably heavier, but this resulted in lovely aromatics once you add in the evaporated milk.

I also got in the line in front of Jian Bo Shui Kueh (楗柏水粿) for their signature offering of chwee kueh (水粿).  These simple steamed rice puddings were very fluffy and broke apart easily.  Without much flavor of their own, it's all about the accompanying preserved radish - which is oily and heavy.  They do taste better with some chili sauce.

While here, I met up with a couple who are friends of another couple based in Singapore, and we had some pretty interesting conversations.  I look forward to catching up with them again, hopefully over some nice bottles of wine...

Before leaving the market, I also stopped by HarriAnns as they have a stall here.  I've been a fan since discovering their nonya kueh a couple of years ago, and try to stop by one of their outlets to pick up some whenever I'm in town.

Of course I got myself some rainbow lapis sagu.  I have always loved lapis sagu since I was a kid, and enjoy eating them by peeling off one layer at a time.  Their version just looks so pretty.

Because it's Mother's Day, they sold out of their "regular" ondeh-ondeh by the time I asked.  What was left were boxes of an "assortment" of ondeh-ondeh - which alternative fillings like azuki bean paste and even cheese (YUCK!)  Only one was filled with the traditional gula melaka. Me no likey.

We went back to check out of the InterContinental Sinapore as I was switching hotels, then it was time to grab some lunch.  My second stop of the day was Sungei Road Laksa (结霜桥叻沙) at a food center on Jalan Berseh.  I had been wanting to check this place out for a while, and was pretty excited to finally have the chance.

I watched the their interesting routine while waiting in line.  All the bowls had been pre-filled with thick and round beehoon (米粉), and the lady then proceeded to scoop the laksa broth from the large pot - reportedly heated with charcoal.  Two ladles of broth, then carefully straining the noodles as the broth is poured back into the pot.  Two more ladles before straining again; then one ladle before straining; and finally the broth is poured over the noodles before the toppings are added.

So this was the famous laksa.  The stall only provides a spoon, not chopsticks, since they cut their noodles into short segments - reminiscent of the style of Katong laksa.  Also in the bowl were slices of fish cakes, a rather generous helping of blood cockles (血蚶), and chiffonade of fragrant laksa leaves.  Sambal is added on the side of the bowl.

The broth was certainly flavorful, but thankfully it wasn't too heavy on the coconut milk.  I'm not a fan of blood cockles, but I wanted to see how this bowl was meant to taste.  Was it the best laksa I've ever had?  Perhaps not, although I'm no authority on laksa.   But it was tasty enough, and I didn't mind too much as I didn't have to wait too long for it.

This was a hit-and-run, and my next stop was Tekka Market in Little India.  There were a few famous stalls I could have hit, but as I had limited stomach space, ultimately I went to Yakader Muslim Food for my biryani fix.

Dum briyani mutton - honestly, I was a little surprised that the basmati rice wasn't more spicy and the flavors more intense, but the rice grains had good texture.  I thought I needed more of the masala, though... and I ended up spooning the dal on the rice for added flavor.  I probably didn't need the egg, but the acidity in the achar helped to balance out the dish.  Thankfully the mutton was very, very tender... and certainly tasty.  It's tough to find good biryani in Hong Kong, so I was pretty happy.

I was pretty full by this point, so I placed my tray in the halal section of the return area, and went back to my hotel.  I'm glad I got to check a few things off my list this morning...

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