• Day 60: Is This Cheating? Blame the Singapore Stall Crawl.

    Date: 2010.04.28 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    Could this be considered cheating? I was doing so well on a late night romp through Seetoh’s secret address book to all the killer food stalls in Singapore…

    Before we get to that… let’s recap the evening.

    Seetoh and his Mankansutra empire  is the Rachael Ray/Jamie Oliver/Martha Stewart of Singapore: He stars in a weekly show on the Asian Food Channel, authors guidebooks, leads tours, and is on a first-name basis with everyone from Stewart herself to Anthony “No Reservations” Bourdain.

    The best of Singapore food is not to be found in the Vegas-meets-South Coast Plaza skyscraper hotels springing all over this miniscule, though hyper-moneyed city-state.

    Rich or poor, S’poreans know which hawkers to go to for lunch or dinner. Hawkers who used to sell their wares in an old, portable stalls on the street got whisked off the sidewalks once Singapore started hitting it big and now they’re cloistered in efficient food courts.

    Nobody knows the best of the best hawker stalls like Seetoh.

    We stopped for some amazing chicken rice (one of the top national dishes) at the Wee Nam Kee chicken rice shop. Picture below.  It was SO good!  Seetoh kept telling me to pace myself but I wanted to gobble it all down because it tasted so fresh and  fantastic.

    The Wee Nam Kee chicken rice shop is more of a small restaurant than a hawker stall and the food is deceptively plain-looking. Seetoh pointed out the master cook who he said had to apprentice for about 10 years before mastering the art of cooking foods like chicken and rice perfectly – and being consistent enough to turn out each of the hundreds of dishes he makes a night perfectly.

    After chicken rice we continued the stall crawl for yet more wonderful food:  pork and beef satay with a peanut sauces mixed in with pineapple.  (Forgot to photograph that.) Then you could add some red chili sauce.  We also ate some fresh skate with a piquant brown sauces rubbed over it.  I love spicy Asian food – the next best thing to candy!

    It’s hard to pick a favorite but the curry laksa, a spicy coconut curry soup with noodles, was one of the best things I ever tasted. Below I’m checking out how the boss of the laksa shop does the blanching that’s part of the process of making the soup concoction.  (You can tell I’m not a food writer by the preceding sentence.)

    But the was our final stop at Seetoh’s own aptly named Mankansutra’s Glutton Bay, where he’s designed this cool, retro-hawker cart outdoor restaurant on a sprawling esplanade with a view of the Marina skyline.  We all sat at a table by the water; last night’s full moon and balmy temperatures combined to make us all a little loose and giddy, talking to well after midnight.

    Maybe a little too loose and giddy.

    When Seetoh ordered the kaya jam toast and with the banana tempura kaya fondue (pictured below,) I kept trying to explain to him, see I’m doing this year off sweets thing.  Seetoh kept looking at me blankly, as well he should.

    The banana tempura had no sugar, he said, the other dish could be considered “jam and toast” and while the kaya (the sweet green-colored sauce) had sugar in it, he said, go ahead!  He said this about 20 times.

    So I did.  (See top photo.)  I dipped the banana tempura in about one centimeter of the sweet sauce while Seetoh kept yelling, “More, dip it more!”  But that’s as much as I dipped – and it was delicious.  Plus according to Seetoh, Singaporeans are insomniacs and eat this dish at all hours of the day and night so it’s considered breakfast as much as anything else.

    That’s what he said.