Almost Paradise

I’ve only been here once before. Part of the Paradise Group of restaurants, this Chinese restaurant is famous for its xiao long pau. Each pau had its own unique flavour and one has to be careful not to burn one’s mouth when eating it as the soup inside the pau is hot.

We also ordered fried bamboo shoots, fried nian gao (rice pudding) which in this case had been cut up and fried with vegetables, fried fish, stir-fried spinach and fried red bean pancake (dessert). I had wanted to go for steam fish before but am glad I was persuaded not to as the fried fish was really nice and the fish was surprisingly fresh. Usually the fish in fried fish is not as fresh as fish that is steamed but in this case, there was not a bit of fishyness in the fish. Almost paradise, indeed!

Paradise Dynasty, 2 Orchard Turn, #04-12A ION Orchard. Tel: 65099118.

Bamboo shoots.

Xiao Long Pao — each colour represents a different flavour.

The different types of flavour in the paus.

Fried nian gao — rice pudding that has been sliced and fried. We ate this instead of rice. It was a nice change from rice.

Fried fish with garlic. Delicious.

Traditional red bean pancake for dessert.

Roasted Green Tea

This was a place that my friend liked because of its Hojicha. It is basically Japanese green tea which has been roasted. Information on the roasting process is available on the internet so I won’t repeat it here. I was surprised to learn that this could be done at home. If one has green tea that has been sitting around for a while, one could just heat up a pan to a high heat, toss the tea leaves in the pan for about a minute until the leaves turn brown and you have made your own hojicha! The idea is to roast the tea leaves, not burn them, so watch the pan when doing this. I wish I had learnt this before I threw out my old green tea leaves. The green tea leaves are roasted and not oxidised — this is the main difference between this tea and black tea (which is oxidised). The caffeine content is also lower due to the roasting process, making this tea suitable to have even at night. Naturally, my friend ordered her hojicha.

I ordered an iced coffee latte which I regretted because the coffee was too strong and it was already at night. I mentioned this to the waiter and they offered to add more full cream milk to it, which was nice on their part, but it did not really make it less strong as I could still taste the bitterness of the coffee and it was slightly more than a single shot of coffee. In the end, I added syrup, which I do not normally do.

I wanted a reasonably priced meal so I ordered the chicken salad with a side order of rice. This was perfect for me. The food is fresh, presentation is nice, waiters are helpful and I didn’t burn a hole in my wallet. All good! So, Nana, we’re coming back. Oh, and it’s just over four months old in Singapore.

This place is very popular because of their desserts and drinks.

Nana’s Green Tea, 68 Orchard Road, #03-80/82 Plaza Singapura. Tel: 66844312

A very light serving of chicken salad. Delicious.

Hojicha latte

Happy belly! All that remained was the goma (sesame) dressing.

Porridge, please.

What does one eat when one is sick? Porridge, of course. Rice porridge, with peanuts, fish, you tiao (basically fried flour fritter) with a dash of soy sauce and fried shredded onions.

The porridge was nice except for the added oil and fried onions which made it a little too filling for me. It would have been great without the extra oil. I’m supposed to be sick after all. So try this next time when you are unwell!

Porridge stall (at Bgain 293 Eating House at Blk 293, Yishun Street 22, (S)760293. There is only one stall here that sells porridge in this coffee shop. The stall next to the porridge stall does good business in fish soup noodles. They serve their fish soup with sliced brinjal as garnishing which I like. I will definitely try that the next time I go there, hopefully not when I am unwell! Really good value-for-money food here. The double-boil soup stall also looks good so now you know what I’d like to try the next time!

Rice porridge with fish slices and peanuts. Fried fritter (you tiao) was added but one could always request not to have the fritter if one is unwell. The fritter was nice and crunchy and is usually dipped into the porridge and eaten that way.

This was packed in a plastic container for takeaway. They charge extra for takeaways.

I went there again on another occasion and I ordered the same thing but without the oil. Definitely nice having it without the oil and this time, I dined in.

A pic of the stall. It’s not very clear but the Chinese characters can just be seen. This stall did not have an English name. The fish soup and porridge stalls look like they are related.

‘Hampir Boleh’ in Singapore

This place is a play on words. Malaysia Boleh means Malaysia can. We came here for Malaysian food and the place was crowded. Many Malaysians stay here because it is close to the Causeway. This place always has a crowd even among the local Singaporeans as the food is reasonably priced and not too bad. It is like Malaysian street food at Singapore prices. There was a reasonable array of local food from char kuay teow, wanton mee, assam laksa, prawn noodles, chendol and others.

‘Hampir’ means ‘almost’. There were probably two dishes that almost made the cut, out of the whole array of food there — prawn noodles and wanton mee. The asam laksa came close but they left out the sardines. One cannot have Penang laksa and leave out the sardines. The laksa just wouldn’t be the same. Hampir boleh — almost can!

Malaysia Boleh, Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2 #03-28 (JP2), Singapore 648886.

Penang laksa, minus the sardines.

Prawn noodles

Chendol with really huge read beans!

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Man behind the glass frying the noodles. The queue was too long and we passed on ordering it.

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Soup and rice

This was a Chinese eating place where the soup was part of a franchise chain that has been hugely successful. By 1pm on a Sunday afternoon, most of the soups had already been sold out. There were only two choices left and my friend ordered the pepper tripe soup. It tasted peppery alright and the soup portion was large. My friend ordered rice to go with the soup but there were not enough ingredients in the bowl to eat the rice with.

I ordered pork ribs rice on the other hand. The last time I had something like that was in Australia. It was okay. I’d probably return for the soup but the rice dish was not something to die for.

The Red Cafe, 491 River Valley Road, #01-17 Valley Point Shopping Centre. This cafe has taken over the Red Palms Cafe which I really liked.

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That’s pork intestines you are looking at, with bits of meat! The popular soups sell out rather quickly.

Pork ribs rice — it was alright for filing my stomach but not something I’d come back for.

Kimchi pancake and daikon salad

This wouldn’t be the place to go to for a salad meal but that was what we ended up doing. We ordered ginseng chicken since we were in a Korean restaurant and what better place to have ginseng chicken than here. This place also served Japanese food and since I like daikon salad, I ordered that. Then we decided to also order the side dishes that Korean restaurants are well known for and the dishes were refillable. In fact the waitress checked with us again if we had indeed wanted the daikon salad as well and since none of the side dishes had daikon in it, we stuck to our decision. We also ordered pork and kimchi pancake. The outlet also served Japanese food like sashimi as well. But we stuck to Korean food.

All the dishes were good and we were happy that we were not overly full from too much meat. But from hindsight, we would probably order beef that we could eat with lettuce, the pork and kimchi pancake and the side dishes the next time. We wouldn’t order the chicken ginseng again not because it wasn’t good but because we were not fond of it enough to order it again on a next visit.

Hansang Korean Charcoal Barbecue, 20 Lorong Mambong,

Holland Village.

 Tel: 66816632.

Daikon salad

Korean ginseng chicken

Pork and kimchi pancake

A beautiful array of starters that the Koreans are very well known for

Kimchi, pickled cucumber and apple fruit salad. What a combo!

Our meal for two!

Prawn avocado sandwich

We were hungry and this must have been the yummiest prawn avocado salad in between thick white bread toast that I have ever eaten. Perhaps it was because I was really hungry but the toasted sandwich was seriously well-made — every bit of it! There was just something about the thickness of the bread and fragrance of the butter — white bread, not entirely healthy I know but it was the thick white bread that had this kind of effect. Add to that, fresh tomatoes, avocados and prawns!

I am gradually making my way down their menu. I wish their prices were more reasonable (for my pocket) but there is no lack of queue here so this wish may not come true anytime soon. I am adding this to my to-make-at-home list after this.

Hoshino Coffee, 68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura, #03-84, Singapore 238839. Tel: 63383277.

A simply delicious sandwich

Simple Eats

When one sees the well-heeled, the elderly and common dialect-speaking folks in the same queue, it bodes well for the stall as the food is appealing to people from all walks of life. Economy rice in Singapore refers to food that is economically priced and does not cost an arm and an leg. It is usually found at coffeeshops called kopitiam or hawker centres. The food is healthy (some stalls serve healthier food in terms of less MSG than others), delicious and light on the wallet.

Several of my favourite dishes from here are pumpkin, bittergourd fried with egg and steamed fish. All three were yummilicious. The fish was so fresh that the flesh still had a bounce in it. Yum, indeed. Total? $5.60. This was the best part and one of the reasons why many people eat here — good food can be had inexpensively.

Enjoy!

Ann Hoo Cooked Food 01-126, Cheng San Market, #01-126 Blk 527 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10. The queue starts before 6pm. This is the kind of place where one could come and eat everyday as the food is cooked healthily.

Pumpkin which is usually fried with a bit of dried prawns or tiny anchovies.

Steamed whole fish. This fish was so fresh that the meat still had a bounce in it.

Bittergourd fried with egg and bits of carrot.

The whole meal with a bowl of porridge cost me $5.60.

I went back on another occasion and ordered a steamed pomfret. I asked for a small one but was given a large one (which also cost more). I’ll be more specific the next time around.

Ramen reflections

This is probably one of the first ramen chains in Singapore. Back in those days, the stall was famous for its volcano ramen and one could pick the intensity that one wanted. No prizes for guessing that it’s spiciness intensity that we are talking about. The idea was pretty novel and the owner was willing to try new ideas, to great success. Today, that volcano sauce is like a signature dish of Ajisen. From the first few stores, there are now 21 stores in Singapore, and an evolving menu as well.

I do not like my ramen that spicy but I do like Tom Yum and today I tried the Pork shabu shabu tom yum ramen. It’s basically very thinly sliced pork in tom yum soup, with ramen. I liked their Dory fish tom yum ramen before and I like their pork shabu shabu one as well.

In the early days, the staff would consist of some Japanese and that added to the authencity of the whole experience. Soon, they were replaced with local staff or foreigners like Filipinos or those from mainland Chinese. Today, I heard a Southeast Asian struggling to be understood as she took down orders from two mainland Chinese customers. Both were trying hard to be understood by the other. The waitress was either from Cambodia, Myanmar or Vietnam. This little picture depicts how much Singapore has changed in the last few years. People from other South East Asian countries are coming here, hungry for work, putting in the effort to master a different language and earning a living. Others have found this a pleasant place to live in and even to call home. This is but a micro view of a much larger scenario — the story of how this country’s demography is changing — played out at the local ramen shop.

I set out to be a food blogger. But more and more, I find myself learning from the food makers and reflecting about life as I am blogging about food, hence, today’s title.

Itadakimasu.

Ajisen Ramen, Junction 8, 9 Bishan Place, #B1-22/23/24, Singapore 579837. Tel: 6255 6642.

The tom yum soup base was nice. The thinly sliced pork meant that the soup flavour went into the meat quickly. I love lemon grass and I could taste that in the soup. A simple and delightful dish that was not too spicy for me.

Fond of fondue

We came back to the place with mini brownie promotion after 8pm. I ordered my usual brownie while my friends ordered a brownie with ice-cream and another friend had fruit with chocolate fondue. I have to admit that I’ve always found fondue puzzling because I could not work out why people would want to put chocolate onto fruit. They seem like very different categories of food to me and not quite meant to be eaten together. But fondue it was, and I had my small share of chocolate on fruit.

So for reasonably priced fondue, this is the place to head on down to.

Breeks Cafe, Viewing Mall, Departure Check-in Hall, Level 3, Changi Airport. Tel:(65) 6543 1339.

Brownie with vanilla ice-cream

Fruit with chocolate fondue