Gong Xi Fa Cai!

12 02 2013
CNY 2013 - Chinatown_42_Group

Michele, Kuya, and eNTeNG, Chinese New Year’s Eve Festivities, Chinatown, Singapore

WHAT BEST can two Italians and one Filipino do to welcome the Chinese New Year?  Well, go to where the action is – Chinatown.  And, having been told by the locals just how crazy it could get – my friends and I attempted last year and found ourselves turning back the moment we alighted from the train at Chinatown station – we decided that it would be best to just walk from Clarke Quay.

And walking meant we should be first sufficiently fueled up.  A lot of the restaurants were closed.  Jumbo, a long–time favorite, was open but was only serving their reunion dinner menu.  The smallest spread was good for four persons.  Between me and the two Italians, I am the only big eater.  So we had to go somewhere else.

Chili’s proved to be the best alternative.  We started with the Triple Dipper of appetizers, with each of us contributing one item – Kuya chose the mini-burgers, I opted for the boneless Buffalo chicken wings, and Michele, in a fleeting flight of fancy and a moment of indecisiveness, closed his eyes and pointed on an item.  So, Southwestern egg rolls it was!  The mini-burgers were moist and juicy.  The buffalo chicken wings were a tad too sour for my palate.  The egg rolls…  Let’s just say I have had better.

CNY 2013 - Food_00_Chili's Menu

Good thing Chili’s was open! In two years in Singapore, it was my first time at Chili’s. Haha!

 

CNY 2013 - Food_01_Menu

I was sold with the description of the Chili’s Cheesesteak!

 

CNY 2013 - Food_03_Triple Dipper

The Triple Dipper!

 

CNY 2013 - Food_02_Ketchup

Of course we said thanks!

For the entrées, Kuya had the New York Strip steak, medium, with steamed broccoli and corn on the cob on the side.   Michele decided on the Fajitas Trio, his own DIY meal of chicken, shrimp and beef to slap at will on hot soft corn tortilla, with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo to sweeten – or shall I say, spice up – the mix.  My option was straightforward and safe – the Chili’s cheesesteak.

CNY 2013 - Food_04_Cheesesteak

They served the cheesesteak open-faced, allowing for the use of a knife and fork at will. The sight of the cheese-covered wedge of capsicum was just too much to bear.

 

CNY 2013 - Food_05_Cheesesteak

I just couldn’t take the image of cheese melting and sliding down hot vegetable off of my head. This was such a treat.

 

CNY 2013 - Food_06_Cheesesteak

The cheesesteak had a generous serving of meat, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and capsicums. And of, the cheese. The cheese!

 

CNY 2013 - Food_07_Cheesesteak

Come one, let’s take a peek…

 

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Kuya made his own vegetarian taco with one of Michele’s soft corn tortilla, the guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream.

 

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“Yes, Compa’, it’s delicious!”

 

CNY 2013 - Food_10_Fries

Fries… not really my kind of thing.

With tummies filled and raring to celebrate, we began the walk on North Bridge Road to the center of all the action.  As expected, it was a lot of people.  And practically all nations of the United Nations – and then some – were well-represented.

It was a lot of people and it was a lot of waiting.  To survive the Chinese New Year celebrations, one doesn’t have to have the festive spirit alone, but a whole lot of patience.  Patience in such abundance that to call it a virtue would be such understatement.

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_00_Michele

Michele beams aginst the backdrop of the huge Year of the Snake decor that ran the length of North Bridge Road.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_01_Kuya

A rather serious-looking Kuya

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_02_Michele

Michele is quite the shutterbug. He brings along his backpack to carry his Nikon and all the accessories he needs.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_03_Kuya&Michele

Michele and Michele!

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_06_Snake

No doubt about it… it’s the Year of the (Water) Snake!

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_07_Kuya&Michele

Two Italians and one Filipino just kept snapping shots all around.

 

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Lanterns all over

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_11_Resto

We passed by this restaurant, saw the huge fish steamed in XO sauce, and just had to agree and make a mental note to visit the place soon.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_13_Kuya

Outside the Chinese Temple, Kuya watches a game of Chinese checkers.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_14_Michele

Michele capturing a red lantern in sharp, vivid detail.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_15_Kuya

“Anybody for fresh sugarcane juice? My treat!”

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_16_Kuya

Kuya (playfully) negotiates with the seller after she informs him that there is a special New Lunar Year price, jacked up by a (Singaporean) dollar each.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_18_Cat

We continued walking and passed by this feng shui shop that specializes on ceramic figurines of the Lucky Cat “Maneki-neko”. This one is my favorite. The shop owner was so gracious as to turn the figurines around to face us and allow us to get snaps. You see, with the many people out and about, we decided to stay outside the store.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_21_Cat

Kuya’s wife, Assunta, likes cats. So he figures that this may be one of the ultimate presents he could bring back to Italy. He specially liked this one, because of the kitten held in one hand.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_25_Snake

Again, not an iota of doubt as to which animal reigns this new year.

 

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Finally, we reached the renowned Chinatown Food Street.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_29_Kuya

This feng shui shop looked so much better in person, with all the red and the gold, and the lights. At least half of the people fussing about were just there to have their photos taken. Kuya was curious about the merchandise. When he turned around, I told him to hold his position. And I clicked away.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_30_Ambulance

Wherever there is a large crowd gathering, there is always an ambulance on standby.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_31_Bakkwa

Gourmet Bakkwa (sliced cured pork) cooked in the open on one of the streets where this brand’s chain has one of its biggest stores. There was a long line for this specialty.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_32_Pasalubong

Kuya’s (ever) growing “pasalubong” list for his loved ones back home.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_33_Kuya&eNTeNG

We all sure brought with us all the patience we could. With all the waiting, we obviously could still joke around. Haha!

The organizers closed the length of the street beginning with the huge decoration of a snake made out of lanterns that feature the animals of the Chinese zodiac, all the way to several blocks down to the Chinatown Food Street.  After a long long l–o–n–g walk, Kuya, Michele and I found a comfortable place to wait for the midnight celebrations.

Which turned out to be just a countdown that started at “5” – not even “10” – and fireworks.  I heard a lot of comments about how underwhelming the fireworks display was, but I have to say that all the five minutes I spent watching the show, I felt a sense of renewal awash all over me.  And a strengthened personal resolve to do something better and bigger this coming year.

I guess new years can do that to you.

 

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_35_Fireworks

 

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved


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