Even while on holiday, you start telling your friends you want to eat some laksa, bak chor mee or chicken rice with lots of chili the minute you get back home. A lot of us tend to miss the spicy factor in the food, our greasy stir-fried treats and unabashedly rich flavours. What goes well with that is a cold bubbly Coke (or Coke zero if you prefer no calories). It really perks you up and refreshes your palate for the next bite. I have friends who are such Coke fans - they love the taste which they say is more "mature" than other sodas.
So what are dishes you miss most when overseas? Here are five of mine, along with a couple of suggested places to dash to when the craving hits. There are so many good places. If you have a favourite or hidden gem to recommend, let me know too!
BBQ on a stick! What's not to love? The satay from Alhambra Padang Satay at Makansutra Gluttons Bay features a blend of 18 aromatic spices in its marinade. I also like the meaty chunks from Warong Sudi Mampir (Block 14 Haig Road, #01-19 Haig Road Food Centre) and its gorgeous satay sauce. Best of all, they have babat (tripe) satay!
Char Kway Teow
It looks messy but nothing beats a seriously savoury plate of fried kway teow with good wok hei! The old man may no longer be frying at Hill Street Fried Kway Teow (Block 16, Bedok South Road, #01-187) but his son is picking up the skills well. For a wetter and sweeter version, try Lai Heng Fried Kway Teow at Blk 320 Shunfu Road, #02-20 Shunfu Mart Food Centre.
"Orh Luak" or Oyster Omelette
That delicious omelette filled with plump little oysters and pockets of gooey starch that has absorbed all the seafood flavours - it's a greasebomb but it's love. Photo is from Ah Chuan at Blk 22 Toa Payoh Lorong 7, Stall #01-25. If you prefer bigger oysters, Ah Orh at Blk 22 Sin Ming Road, #01-258, Eng Ho Hup Coffeeshop does a superb version with crispy edges and fluffy insides. If you're in the city, Katong Keah Kee Fried Oysters at the "Singapore Food Trail" at Singapore Flyer also hits the spot. Mr. Law Jock Keah himself fries the omelettes there (not some hired hand from overseas), so you know you're getting the good stuff.
My neighbourhood prata is actually pretty decent, so I never have to venture far. But if you want the wow factor, join the line for Sin Ming Roti Prata (Block 24 Sin Ming Drive #01-51). The prata is an amazing play of textures - crispy, fluffy and gently chewy - and is the perfect thing to dip in their awesome fish curry. If you like your prata sweet, check out ABC Restaurant at 365 Joo Chiat Road for their divine banana honey prata (photo above).
Oh yes, we pile on the spices like there is no tomorrow! Stingray, prawns, mussels, lala...seafood gets in bed with sambal and turns up the heat. You can get great choices at Chomp Chomp or East Coast Lagoon food centres. And then there's chili crab, black pepper crab, white pepper crab, butter crab and ooh, you have to try the Salted Egg Yolk Crab from Roland Restaurant (Block 89 Marine Parade Central #06-750). The crabs have this golden savoury batter and are lovingly showered with with pine nuts, curry leaves, crispy yam strips (painstakingly hand-shredded), and hae bee (dried shrimp). Hands down my favourite style of crab at the moment!
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