January 3, 2018

Singapore

FEAST

So I broke down and headed to the food court in the mall near my hotel because I wanted to try their Din Tai Fung and compare it to the one I tried in Taipei.  Also, and I can't believe this, the downstairs with the dozen or so good-looking eateries isn't really a food court because each joint has its own seating.  Apparently, the real food court is a few floors up.  I checked it out and unbelievably, there must've been another dozen strong options for lunch.  This area had the common seating.  But gosh, no fast food joints here that I could see.  Instead, there were two places with roast duck and pork ribs slow cooking in those glass cases!  There was a ramen joint and some Chinese options.  Man, the lower level and the food court would keep me occupied for months!  But I ramble, sorry.

Din Tai Fung

I started out with a shrimp pancake.  It was similar to a Korean pa jun, bouncy and chewy, very flavorful if a tad bit oily.

Shrimp pancake:

Whole Sauteed Prawns

Next up was an order of shrimp & gourd xiaolongbao.  Unfortunately, I noticed that the dumpling skins were a tad thicker than what I had in Taipei, so they were a little heavier overall.  The gourd had a very nice flavor, crunchy and nutty, but the shrimp were kind of bland, as was the soup.  These weren't as tasty as what I had just a couple days ago.

Shrimp & gourd xiaolongbao:

Whole Sauteed Prawns

I also put in for an order of shrimp & pork shumai.  These are a little different from other dumplings in that they're open up top.  In this case, one little shrimp was placed atop while the rest of the filling tasted of only pork.  Interestingly, these shumai also had soup in them.  Yeah, they were good, but they also had that thicker wrapping which made them less delicate than what I was served in Taipei.

Shrimp & pork shumai:

Whole Sauteed Prawns

The last thing I tried at this Din Tai Fung location was an order of steamed bok choy with garlic.  These were very tasty, crunchy, juicy.

Steamed bok choy w/garlic:

Whole Sauteed Prawns

I had lunch today at the Geylang Serai Market a few stops on the MRT northeast of Downtown at a place called Dam Bryani.  The market had about two dozen hawker stands of mostly Indian influence.  It's a basically a food court on the second floor while downstairs has row after row of butcher stands and fresh produce.  An adjacent building has goods for sale.  The whole place felt like a high-quality indoor flea market.

Dam Bryani

I had the chicken bryani because she'd sold out of her other selections of shrimp and fish.  That they open at 10 AM and sell out of some items in the middle of the week by 1:30 in the afternoon is a good thing for such places, I guess.  If nothing else, you know the food's moving.  While I thought the rice was excellent, moist and well seasoned, the chicken quarter I was served was unremarkable, though maybe I say that because I can't pick out the spices used!  There was a spicy sweet chutney served with the dish along with this orange brown gravy with a couple potato pieces in it.

 

I washed it down with some very good pineapple juice that tasted even better once I diluted it with melted ice given to me for my bottled water; it was a little too sweet, otherwise.

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The meal was OK, probably authentic.  But everything just had an evenness of flavor that was forgettable.  Still glad I went, though!

Chicken bryani:

Whole Sauteed Prawns

I had lunch today at the Geylang Serai Market a few stops on the MRT northeast of Downtown at a place called Dam Bryani.  The market had about two dozen hawker stands of mostly Indian influence.  It's a basically a food court on the second floor while downstairs has row after row of butcher stands and fresh produce.  An adjacent building has goods for sale.  The whole place felt like a high-quality indoor flea market.

Maxwell Hainanese Chicken Rice

While the third time wasn't a charm at Din Tai Fung having probably dipped into the well once too often, I more than found redemption with a late dinner at the Maxwell Food Market in Chinatown.  This hawker center had most of its stalls already closed for the evening at 9:00 PM, but I lucked out and found a stand serving a Singaporean national dish: Hainanese chicken rice.  This plate of food was so good, where do I begin?  The chicken was boiled and I was served breast meat with the skin intact.  The meat was incredibly tender and juicy, and even if chicken skin is best when it's crispy, I ate it anyway.  The rice must've been cooked with broth made from the chicken along with water infused with fresh ginger.  I don't even think it had pepper in it for seasoning.  Regardless, I don't recall ever having rice so flavorful with so little done to it.  There was a couple slivers of cucumber served for some textural contrast.  Served with the dish was a small bowl of soup; I think it was basically a sampling of the broth.  The orange chili sauce that you self-served added a perfect amount of heat to the dish.  I'm finding it difficult to explain how scrumptious this dish was.  It's a stark example of the whole being way more than the sum of its parts.

Hainanese chicken rice:

Whole Sauteed Prawns

Located in the same aisle as the chicken rice joint was Sunto Gyoza.  Luckily for me, I had enough room to try a couple more dishes. <ahem>  "Gyoza" are Japanese dumplings, usually fried, i.e.- they're almost always good!  Heck, who needs dessert when you can have another savory dish?

Sunto Gyoza

I had an order of prawn & chicken dumplings.  Despite them being pre-cooked, like most dishes at these hawker stands, these were still crisp and not overly greasy.  I could taste the two proteins in equal parts...a very good appetizer.

Prawn & chicken gyoza:

Whole Sauteed Prawns

I finished up with a wonderful dish of noodles served with pork gyoza dumplings along with barbecue pork and choy sum, a leafy green that tastes like spinach.  There was also a little bit of beautifully-seasoned soup, probably a pork stock.  Every part of this dish was excellent.  The dumpling skins remained crisp, the pork was sweet and juicy, and the noodles were tasty because of the broth; maybe they weren't homemade noodles, I don't know for sure.  With the brilliant simplicity of so many of these hawker dishes, why aren't they found more frequently in the US?  Strange.

Gyoza noodles w/BBQ pork:

Whole Sauteed Prawns