March 29, 2023

Not the 50 Best tour day 5: another old favorite

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Roti prata is something I have difficulty finding outside Singapore and Malaysia, at least good ones, so I do like to load up when I'm in town. I was determined to get some crispy ones this morning, and after looking online I thought the Food Centre at 20 Ghim Moh Road would be a good place to hit. There are two stalls which come recommended - Mohd Faisal Seeni Eating House and a branch of ENAQ - the latter was touted by a few bloggers, including one who is a hack whose opinion I don't trust.

I was pretty excited when I arrived that I kept circling the row of stalls, but couldn't find either of them. I double back to make sure. DAMN! ENAQ has closed! Upon checking their website, only the Jurong shop is listed, and another (more trusty) blogger changed their post to mark that the stall at Ghim Moh has closed.

As for Mohd Faisal Seeni Eating House at stall #01-37... they were not open this morning. Did I overlook the fact that it is Ramadan, and Muslims don't eat while the sun is up?

Dejected, I thought about getting some other hawker food... but came upon West Coast Pallakkouly Prata Power at stall #01-46. Figured I'd give them a try and got an order of coin prata.

Each order comes with 6 coin-sized (OK, maybe US silver dollar-sized) pratas. The curry was decent, but I'd almost just want to chomp on the coins on their own.

Satiated, I returned to my hotel to wait for lunch. A few days ago Goh-san had arranged to meet me for lunch today, and I decided that he should have a taste of Peranakan food. You can't really go wrong with National Kitchen by Violet Oon as the food is more refined and the setting is really beautiful.

But I did have a tinge of regret. Earlier this morning Goh-san had asked me whether I wanted to join him at the Basque Kitchen by Aitor x Cenci, as he had been invited by Sakamoto-san. Well... I wasn't really interested in this kind of thing on this particular trip, so I politely turned down the offer but encouraged Goh-san to accept his friend's invitation. Not surprisingly, the ever-polite Goh-san decided to stick with me. He may have regretted that decision, too, as I ordered up a storm at lunch.

As we were browsing through the menu, Goh-san suddenly remembered that he had actually met Violet Oon some 10 years ago as part of a TV program. He distinctly remembered that he tasted her famous dry laksa, which happens to be my favorite dish from her. I guess we won't be ordering that today...

Ngoh hiang - I have missed a good bite of ngoh hiang so, sooo much! But this was a much bigger portion than I had remembered...

They no longer chop these up into pieces before frying them, reducing the crispiness of the exterior. But the filling was no less delicious, with the mix of prawn, crab, and chicken punctuated by little cubes of water chestnuts. The flavor of five spice - 五香 and hence the name of the dish - was fairly prominent.

Kuay pie tee - I still love this dish, and the flavor of the shrimp broth in the radish. A little dab of sambal brings out a little extra.

Shrimp paste chicken wings - I will always love having shrimp paste on my fried chicken. There is just so much more depth to the flavors. And the chicken was pretty tender.

Daging chabek beef cheek - I had thought of ordering my fourth beef rendang of this trip, but chose to do something different in the end. The sauce for the dish was more tangy, thanks to the use of tamarind.

The use of Angus beef cheek meant that what we bit into was very, very tender. And on the rich side, thanks to the presence of collagen. We were really struggling to put a dent in the dish.

Nasi kuning rice - to make matters worse, I chose this turmeric-infused rice cooked with coconut milk. Yes, it was more flavorful... but by now plain jasmine rice would have been a better choice.

Ladies fingers lemak - unfortunately the okra today were on the tough side, and I had trouble cutting through some of them.

We were much too full to have any dessert, and Goh-san excused himself and once again snuck off to settle the bill. I really need to watch out for that. He's always so sneaky! And much too kind.

I bade Goh-san farewell and thanked him for lunch, and went off to People's Park Complex (珍珠坊) for some shopping. This was a childhood hangout during my first stint in Singapore 50 years ago, and the place seemed to be going strong. My parents used to love some of the hawkers here.

But I'm here for one reason - the bacon bakkwa (培根肉乾) at Lim Chee Guan (林志源). I have been coming here on every single trip ever since I discovered this gem, and it's just soooo much better than the "regular" bakkwa. I also bought some prawn rolls (蝦米卷) as Foursheets also loves these.

It started to rain again, so I decided the best way to get back to my hotel was by MRT, since it was just 2 stops. As I didn't have my EZ-Link card with me, I walked around in circles inside the station trying to find a ticket vending machine to no avail. I finally asked someone at the information desk, and was told that SMRT no longer sells individual tickets. One either purchases a stored value card, a tourist pass, or use mobile wallets or contactless bank cards. So now I use take out my credit card when I go through the turnstile. How convenient!

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