Thai and the City

31 03 2012

eNTeNG and the Royal Couple

“DINNER IS at the other end of Singapore.”

When I first moved in to Singapore, everytime I would text home about my dinner destination being at the “other end” of the island – I do report to them several times a day (haha!) – I would get a text back, “Isn’t that far?”

So imagine my excitement when one of my Malaysian friends brought me to his favorite Thai place in Bishan and finally, for the first time, I could say, “Dinner is finally in the heart of the Lion City.”

Mata Thai, Block 508, Bishan Street 11, #01-390, Singapore

 

Mata Thai's stark interiors

The first thing that stuck me about Mata Thai, just about less than a five-minute walk from the interchange, was how simple and casual the place looks.  If it were not for the portrait of the Thai royal couple that hangs at the far wall, and the relief artwork that doubles as their signage by the entrance, I would’ve chalked them up as just one of those holes-in-the-wall.  But I do happen to have faith in my new friend.

You should just hear him speak about the place’s signature dish, the Thai Fish Head Curry.

“Do you want to try our Thai fish head curry?  It is good,” the obviously ever-smiling, ebullient wait staff barely let the word “good” out when I just had to raise my head from perusing their starkly simple menu and greet her smile with my sheepish own.  “Of course, we are having it.”

Thai Fish Head Curry

That, and Stir-fried Baby Kailan, and a pot of Tom Yam Goong (Thai hot and sour soup with prawns).  The fish head curry cocoons subtle hints of the tom yam and helped tie the dinner’s flavors together.  The layers of tastes provided by the curry, the fresh coriander, and the kaffir lime leaves, mirrored the layers of textures that came from the soft white fish, and the crisp okra and string beans.

Stir-fried Baby Kailan

 

Tom Yam Goong

 

The tom yam goong comes served in a terra cotta pot.

The meal tasted authentic enough that at some points I felt like I needed a passport to be enjoying a simple but tremendously delicious Thai meal.  But I would look over my shoulder, out to the families and groups of friends enjoying a similar festive spread as mine and I knew I was right where I needed to be – in the heart of Singapore.

I don't know if this comes across as someone watching the chefs in the kitchen intently. I think this looks more like a "lost" look. Haha!

 

"eNTeNG, look here. Smile."

 

Once more, with the Royal Couple.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





My heart in print

25 03 2012

I SAW this at Uniqlo at ION Orchard and the very first thought that popped into my head was, “This is like wearing my heart – not on my sleeve – but in print.”  At S$ 24.50 a pop, I’m so lusting to get this Andy Warhol by Uniqlo graphic tee in all its incarnations.  I heart tomato.  I heart Campbell’s Tomato Soup.  I heart Uniqlo.

Andy Warhol by Uniqlo graphic tees

 

I guess I have to look this fierce in this shirt.

 

A t-shirt is more than just a t-shirt.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





A story, bak kut teh, and a lesson on tea

23 03 2012

The famous Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House

APPARENTLY, UNCEASING dreams of bak kut teh (meaty pork ribs soup) could really lead to having the door slammed shut at your face.  But unlike in the case of a top Hong Kong government official, my series of unfortunate events in the pursuit of the best bak kut teh didn’t matter enough to stir uproar from the masses.

The anecdote was perfect to whet the appetite on the short walk from the car to Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House, at 208 Rangoon Road, Hong Building, Singapore.  It was lunchtime, so the chances of being turned away were slim to none.  Though this place has been known to run out of the house specialty way before 2:00 PM.

The interiors of this "eating house" is replete with memories.

 

A section of the wall has been turned into a photo wall.

I went there for the bak kut teh that should take no time to make it to the table.  But the very little wait turned out to be enough time to squeeze in a little lesson on tea preparation courtesy of our host.  But he had to first pull me from my distraction – snapping shots of the interiors and the walls with my trusty Blackberry Bold 9780.

Come here, eNTeNG.  Pay attention.  Next time, you will make the tea.”

Like the dutiful student that I was decades ago, I sat down and paid attention.  A little boiling water from the kettle beside our table is poured into a small terra cotta pot.  “This is to clean the pot.”  The water is then poured out on to a shallow aluminum pan.  A little more water is added to the pot and this time, the water is poured out on to really cute, really-miniature-they’re-almost-purely-decorative teacups.  “This is to clean the cups.”  After all the cleaning – or shall I say, cleansing?a bag of loose leaf tea, infused with dried jasmine blossoms is ripped open, the matte pearls of floral goodness allowed to tumble into the earthenware.

The really cute teacups and the terra cotta pot.

 

A lesson on tea preparation. This now is my new task.

 

A peek inside the tea bag. Or sachet. Or packet.

The boiling water hits the tea leaves and a robust, ethereal, soothing whiff engulfs the air as if incense paying homage to the advent of pork ribs soup touted to be so good it could very well change a life.  That, or simply raise the bar of what really good bak kut teh is.

Two really meaty ribs come swimming in a deep brown soup.  The shape remaining intact – no visual hint to the much-desired fall-off-the-bone romanticism attributed to flesh stuck to bone – proves to be the perfect foil to the tenderness that would yield to the first bite.  The flesh fell off the bone.  And the meat was quite flavorful.  It sure took hours to simmer the meat in the rich, full-bodied, peppery broth.  But it was just enough to develop much depth in the flavor and render much softness to the pork.  But without draining the life out of it – no matter how paradoxical that sounds.

The bak kut teh that I’m waxing lyrical and yes, with much longing about, came without any pretensions – just ribs in soup.  But it was stick-to-your-ribs goodness (the pun is intended!) that made me not miss the many cloves of garlic that I’ve been used to with bak kut teh.  Not even the bunches of fresh coriander I would litter my soup with.  But a deep sense of longing did rise from my gut to my head, halfway through my bowl of rice.  I knew I needed another bowl.  So just when the attentive wait staff refilled our bowls with the heavenly soup, I mustered all courage I had in me, to sheepishly smile at our host and ask, “May I have one more bowl of rice?”

I was quite embarrassed for asking seconds that I had to chase my sudden shyness down with a shot of the jasmine tea.  And for about the second time, I had to stop for a split second to appreciate how perfectly the subtle fragrance of the tea buoys the flavors of the bak kut teh.

But only for a split second, as the descent of a steaming hot bowl of white rice snapped me out of the trance I was falling in.  I dug my chopsticks into the pristine grains and quietly slurped my soup and thought, with the constant craving that this experience has ignited, I don’t think I would be able to stand having the door slammed shut at my face.

I looked up and saw that they are closed on Mondays.  I just had to tell myself, “Ok, avoid Mondays.”

The star of the meal... Bak kut teh!

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





The Emcee, the Artist, the Chef, and the DJ

14 03 2012

FORMED A BAND and sang.

DJ Raoul's "Cajon" (Box Drum)

I was initially keen on doing my own take on Nina’s version of Shanice’s original “Fall For You,” but just like having my own record producer, I was told by DJ Raoul to do my version of Boyce Avenue’s version of Adele’s Grammy Award-winning original song “Rolling In The Deep” instead.  It’s current.  It has recall.  People may actually know the song unlike my artistic or “emotional” choice.

I had less than a week to learn the song.  So that meant having the mp3 on heavy rotation on my Blackberry Bold 9780 and having a couple of pocket rehearsals – first with Nathan (the Chef) and Raoul (the DJ), then with us and Terence (the Artist).  At one point of the rehearsal, I told them that I was doing it on “half-voice,” which was actually my way of saying that the prospect of singing live in front of hundreds was scaring the hell out of me.  To my half-voice remark, The DJ said it was the right approach as I needed to preserve it for the actual performance.  When he sensed the nerves really creeping right through me, he stood up from his “cajon” (or box drum, a type of percussion) and sang the whole thing, telling me how to do it.  I lost my nerves soon after.

This was the first of only two rehearsals.

 

The Emcee and the Chef

 

The DJ and the Emcee

 

The DJ and his box drum

That’s the thing about having these three as some of the closest friends I’ve ever made – they help nurture the best things that I like about myself, which in this case, was my illusion about being a singer.  Haha!

Initially, they called our act “eNTeNG and the Band.”  After our performance, it became “eNTeNG’s Band.”  I have to say, to borrow a line from the song, “We could’ve had it all…” and I think we did.  Haha!

On the way to the rehearsal, I introduced the DJ to one of my new favorites, Xing Hua Family Restaurant.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Moët at Attica with the Stylish Guy

11 03 2012

Moët at Attica, Clarke Quay, Singapore

MY IDEA of a good time here in Singapore has always involved full meals.  Really solid, substantial food you really need to chow down.  I must eat so much noodles that people around me probably think all the belief I have in me is about long life.  A night out that involves a diet of only liquids hasn’t really appealed to me.

Well, not until I decided to join the party for one of the really good friends I have made at work – Wai Hon.  He is taking a new step in his life and career and I wanted to wish him all the best.  I thought I could start by showing up at his party at Moët at Attica in Clarke Quay.  One of my closest friends, DJ Raoul, was invited too and came along.

The man of the moment, Wai Hon, here with his lady love.

 

These cocktails in test tubes were served with a couple of sparklers. Quite a show, if you ask me.

 

Wai Hon and friends

Not a drinker at all myself, I left it all up to the DJ to get me sloshed with his highly recommended mix.  See, my friend isn’t only dependable when it comes to music or video mixes.  He can make a mean cocktail too.  (At one point I thought he was giving some pointers to the bartender on how to make our drinks.  Haha!)

We made it to Clarke Quay!

If I remember it correctly, he got me a couple or three (I lost count!) of vodka cranberry (his highly recommended drink), a vodka sprite, and Wai Hon and the very nice and lovely Audrey got me a couple of drinks that came in test tubes.  The music was so loud and so nice we had to just dance.  On that, I again got an impromptu lesson from the DJ, who at one point told me to stop spinning around the dance floor.  Hahaha!  (DJ Raoul knew every single song!  A few beats at the start or in between transitions and he knew what song was up next.  Yeah, quite impressive.)

Vodka Cranberry!

 

The DJ

 

The Emcee

 

We soon had to move outside for some photo-taking and, obviously, some more drinks.

 

eNTeNG & the Vodka Cranberry

 

The DJ and the Vodka Cranberry

 

The DJ and a couple of new friends

 

The DJ, Wai Hon and Audrey

 

Wai Hon & Audrey

 

eNTeNG, Audrey, Wai Hon, and Raoul

 

eNTeNG, Raoul and Wai Hon

 

One more group photo... Yeah!

 

Both the dance floors were full! This one is at Moët, on the second floor.

 

This one's the main dance floor on the first level.

 

Getting our last Vodka Cranberry before calling it a night!

 

At exactly this point, the DJ played "The Club Can't Handle Me"... I love that song! Haha! I forgot to snap a time stamp shot when they played Adele's "Rolling In The Deep"!

 

A stolen shot of the DJ. Obviously, he was surprised!

I could feel the alcohol in my system (so that’s how it feels!) that I had to ask to get something to bite before we had to call it a night.  Good thing Señor Taco Mexican Taqueria was right outside the bar.  I had two cheese only quesadillas and half of a beef quesadilla.  Tempting as the Mojito sounded – Attica doesn’t serve mojitos! – I had to settle for freshly squeezed lemonade.

Señor Taco Mexican Taqueria!

 

What lies beneath... inside a cheese only quesadilla!

 

Pork Quesadilla

 

A tight shot of the pork quesadilla

 

The DJ and The Emcee and some damn good tacos

Wai Hon, all the best to you man!  We should hang out again real soon!  You and Audrey have the moves.

Wai Hon... We all wish you only the best!

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





35 minutes before takeoff

3 03 2012

Here right now at boarding gate E3 of the Changi International Airport.  Spending the weekend in the Philippines.  Happiness.  Catch you later.





8 on 29

1 03 2012

(This was originally written on the 29th.)

Time flies...

ON 29 JUNE 2011, I got on the SQ917 flight bound for Singapore.

The first people I met were Jack & Julie, Loradel, Jaime, Caloi, and Darryl & Brenda at one of the blocks on Anchorvale Lane.  None of the “usual” or “expected” friends.  Time has passed, and Jack & Julie, Loradel, and Darryl & Brenda have turned out to be amazing and caring friends.  It has been exactly eight months since.  “8” is auspicious to the Chinese.  And I like that number too.  So today, I’m grateful for being here for the past 8 months.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved