Friday, August 14, 2009
Sin Hoi Sai (Tiong Bahru) - July '09 Makan Session
Yay! I finally made it to a makan meeting organised by the regulars of the Makansutra forum (see threads here). These dinners (usually around S$40 per head) can draw close to 100 foodies! I used to be too shy for such mass outings. Luckily, makan sessions with fellow food bloggers have made me bolder about eating with people you've never met before. Well, yes, it helps to know at least one or two persons (even if just virtually), but this is a group that welcomes you simply because of a mutual love of food. Convivial feasting is what it's all about.
July's venue was Sin Hoi Sai at Tiong Bahru. I arrived surprised. This used to be a no-frills al fresco cze-char joint. It now has luxurious air-conditioning (!!) and a banquet-style dining hall on the second floor of the neighbouring shophouse. Well, the al fresco choice remains, but I certainly welcomed not having to sweat it out.
Here's the food we had that evening...
Braised Sharksfin with crabmeat
You can choose to opt out of this dish. Not everyone at our table ate this. Some of the ones who did felt it was rather starchy.
Steamed Soon Hock with Chef secret sauce
The fish is fresh but was probably steamed without any seasoning. It's best taken with lots of sauce, which enhances the sweetness of the fish.
Stewed Chicken with waxed meats
This dish may not look like much but it is homestyle comfort food. Soy, ginger, sesame oil and the flavours of waxed sausages all collaborate to warm your tummy. The gravy is the best part - perfect with a warm bowl of rice.
Golden Sand Lobster with Bean Crust
This looked really good, but even that didn't prepare me for how sublime these lobsters would taste. They were hands-down the highlight of the evening. So incredibly delicious! If Nigella were to eat this on TV, she'd probably be censored for her reactions!
We loved this dish so much, we asked to see if it was on the regular menu. Yes, indeed! At S$4 per 100g (or S$40/kg). The lady boss told us each half-lobster portion is worth about S$20!
Savour this slowly though, as the spiny parts of the shell can help the lobster exact final revenge in the form of a few cuts. Well, I took my time mainly because I wanted to make this last as long as I could.
And in doing so, I missed out on taking photos of the next dish.
Golden Oyster with Abalone Sauce
I have never tried golden oysters but they tasted much like dried oysters. You can wait for HungryCow LeRoy or NinjaHelloKitty to post photos!
Hong Kong Kailan with Preserved vegetable & Jelly Fish
Someone commented that this is something that would go great with porridge. It's the preserved vegetables (pickled lettuce). Again, comfort food. I couldn't discern the jellyfish though.
Deep Fried Golden Pig Trotter
The Thai-style pickles on this are fantastic. The skin on the pig trotters were a little chewy, but I enjoyed them anyway.
Wendy, my neighbour, didn't eat some of the dishes, so she ordered a "sang mee" (S$5) separately for herself. She apparently LOVES sang mee - deep-fried crispy noodles, bathed in seafood and gravy. She gave it a thumbs up! I normally don't crave sang mee, but over the next few days, I found myself eating it every chance I could get (but none that looked as good as this).
Pan Fried Rice Vermicelli Malay Style
Now this was unusual. The vermicelli is deep-fried and allowed to soak in a gravy that reminds you of mee goreng. Gently spicy but addictive.
Double boiled Hasma with Silver Fungus
Very refreshing end to the many courses of food. I love hashima and I love snow fungus, so I enjoyed this.
Wines figure prominently at these makan outings. This is what our table had. It's common to see folks going around tables exchanging and sampling each other's wines. HungryCow smartly observed that it's the older set who really get into raucous high spirits, whereas the younger generation is ironically more sedate.
I had fun meeting the people there, including HungryCow's entire family (dad, mum, sis, aunt and uncle), Maria (a lovely Spanish lady who was, sadly, leaving Singapore), Wendy and Freddy. I even bumped into an old media acquaintance I hadn't seen in a while.
And I finally got to meet makanguru "Tiantianchi" aka Andrew, who is one of the nicest guys ever. He and the venerable "eslim" help to plan and organise these makan sessions, right down to table seating. I have a newfound appreciation for their efforts. Big thanks, guys, it's hard work but keep it up! I'm looking forward to more!
SIN HOI SAI (also known as Sin Hoi San) EATING HOUSE
55 Tiong Bahru Road (across from Link Hotel)
Tel: 6223 0810 / 6224 3905
Open daily 5pm - 5am
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