January 2, 2018
So, right near my hotel (diagonally across an intersection) is a nice, modern shopping mall. After I checked in, I ran a quick search for restaurants in the area and came across a few right inside the mall that looked good. OK, I know I probably shouldn't travel halfway around the world to check out mall food, but if I can have a very good noodle dish at the Hong Kong airport, maybe I can have a good Southeast Asian meal in a shopping mall's food court.
Holy cow, other than a Subway location, this place had nothing but sit-down, yet not overly-fancy, restaurants offering Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese...you name it. There was an American-style cafe and a French joint highlighting roast chicken. I decided to go for some noodles at this Vietnamese place called NamNam Noodle Bar. Yeah, they've got a nice website and it's all in English...could spell trouble, I know. And I cringed when I noticed the website had a Locations link on their main menu. Luckily, all four locations are in Singapore, so there's hopefully some semblance of consistency there.
NamNam Noodle Bar
Next up were fresh spring rolls filled with shrimp, scallion, basil, mint, cilantro & lettuce. Though they lack the crunch of deep-fried rolls, they're lighter and cooler and make for a great summertime appetizer. Even the dipping sauce with a slightly sweet, mild flavor keeps the dish cool in the mouth; I think if these were served with a hot chili sauce, you wouldn't be able to taste any of the ingredients in the roll.
Shrimp spring rolls:
I washed down the meal with this terrific lychee & pandan iced tea. It was served with a couple of whole lychee fruit and slices of lemon & lime. I'm not big into the fruity, tropical drinks with or without alcohol, but I do like iced tea, and I'm sure glad I ordered this. It was just the right sweetness and was perfect for the summer weather. I didn't taste the pandan, which is a tropical plant, but that's because I don't know what it tastes like. The lychee sweetness hit me at the end of each sip. Man, that was good!
Lychee & pandan iced tea:
Since I knew I'd probably stay in my room tonight and hit the sack early to get a full day in tomorrow, I decided to pick up two bahn mi sandwiches to nosh on while looking for more kung fu movies on cable. The sandwich with caramelized pork belly was excellent as the meat provided sweetness, the diced carrots gave it crunch, and the red chili peppers gave it good heat; all I had to do was pluck out the cilantro, and I was good to go. The sandwich with sauteed pork cooked with lemongrass was also very good. It was served with a little bit of cream cheese, and the lemongrass added a very unique brightness to the sandwich. Good stuff! I realize there's a ton of local dishes I'm gonna wanna try over the next four days, so I probably won't be back to this strong option at the food court across the street. Contextually speaking, the food at NamNam was terrific. Have I ever had a meal this good at a mall? Mmmmmm....nope!
Oh, and take a look what establishment was also located at this food court. Ugh! I spent much of New Year's Eve hunting down a table at one of these places in Taipei, and here's a pretty empty one in Singapore!
Banh mi sandwiches:
My last dish for the meal was a bowl of egg noodles served with half a prawn and a barbecued pork rib. It was spiced up with scallion, chopped peanuts and basil. Also served were some crispy, fried flat chips and a couple slices of fish ball, a very bouncy protein. The dish came with a small cup of clear soup; I just poured it into the bowl. The dish was very tasty, overall, but there were no surprises in it. Maybe I should've sprinkled some fish or soy sauce, dispensers of which were at each table like salt & pepper shakers. The prawn was overcooked and chewy, but the spare rib was tender and very tasty. I can't believe a dish like this costs less than two slices of pizza w/sausage & mushroom back home.
Egg noodles w/prawn & BBQ pork ribs: