We actually had a really excellent eating weekend – especially Saturday. After our run, I enjoyed a great big bowl of oatmeal:
In the afternoon, some friends came over for “tea” (definitely a linguistic throwback to Singapore’s colonial times), and we enjoyed muffins, fruit, and coffee. I also enjoyed introducing their 2+ year-old-son to the joy of climbing a ladder. [Ooops! Bad auntie! Sorry, K &A – hope he didn’t proceed to climb everything in sight when you all got home…]
I forgot to take a picture of any part of this. And anyway, I’m still too shy to ask our guests about whether they’d mind if I posted a photo of them on the blog. Ergo, no photos from tea.
On Saturday evening, we went out to dinner with some of KMN’s extended family, who are visiting Singapore from Australia. We went to Jing Long Seafood Restaurant [412 Bedok North Avenue 2]. I love going out to eat with KMN’s family. Like most Singaporeans, they unabashedly love food and love to eat. We always order plenty, including some restaurant-specific specialties that someone in our group recommends. It’s a small country, so someone in the group has usually been there before (or at least read an article about it!). Here’s some of the dinner spread:
I found the first three dishes to be the best of the evening. The tofu in Singapore is usually quite tasty, and this was no exception. The dish included large chunks of soft tofu, lightly fried, and topped with a brown sauce and crispy turnips (US-based friends: Singaporeans say ‘turnip’, we say ‘daikon’). Honestly, I could have eaten a whole plate of the tofu alone – I didn’t even need the turnip. Have I mentioned that I love the tofu here? [A slight variation is beancurd, and I’ve already shared my love for Mr. Bean and Rochor Beancurd House.]
The veggies were also delicious. The greens (mostly kai lan, I think) were cooked perfectly, still slightly crunchy in the stalk. If I had to lodge a complaint, it would be that the dish was more like “Veggies with Mushrooms” – I’d like more mushrooms, please! But I’m a mushroom fanatic, so what can I say? 🙂
Now, I’m not a big meat eater, and I was suspicious of coffee seasoning my meat. But the Coffee Pork Ribs were awesome! The ribs were tender and meaty, and not too fatty – and the coffee flavor was an awesome complement to the meat. I never would have imagined this combo, but it was extremely tasty. If we returned to Jing Long, I’d request this dish – and I don’t usually request meat, especially of the 4-legged variety!
While the duck crepe was good, I thought the duck got lost among the other ingredients. If I’m eating duck, I prefer the duck flavor to shine through, so I was a little disappointed in this particular dish.
We also ordered steamed prawns. In Singapore, these will virtually always come whole – shell, legs, head, everything. People here love them, but frankly, I find them pesky. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty when the whole meal is “hands-on” (like, BBQ), but when I’m eating 90% of my food with chopsticks, I really dislike getting my hands all messy to peel one.measly.prawn. However, I happily make it more worth KMN’s while to get his hands dirty, by letting him peel a prawn or two for me. Although to be honest, I haven’t figured out why Singaporeans love these big ‘ole prawns so much. I find them tough and dry, while smaller ones (used in other dishes, rather than eaten alone) are more tender and moist. I used to think the tough texture came from being over-cooked; but if that’s the case, then all the larger prawns I eat in Singapore are overcooked.
KMN’s sister recommended the oddest dish of the evening: Scallop & Banana with Bak Gua Roll
I generally don’t like fruit in my dinner (I think my Mom abandoned a perfectly good sweet-and-sour stir fry dish 20 years ago because of my steadfast refusal to touch dinner that contained oranges), but I’ve become more liberal in my old age, and the combination of sweet and salty in this dish somehow just…worked. The scallops and shrimp were fresh (little shrimp: tender and juicy!), and there was a perfect amount of bak gau to infuse some salty, smoky flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. And of course, how could you refuse a crispy battered crust? Not exactly the pinnacle of healthy eating, but that’s why there’s enough for each person to have just a piece or two.
Some members of the group finished out their meal with “dessert”. But any self-respecting Westerner is going to find that Chinese dessert is a poor excuse for dessert. I won’t share the less photogenic of the dishes (yam paste), but I will show you KMN’s herbal jelly. Let’s take a moment to discuss why I don’t consider herbal jelly a dessert: First, it has the consistency of jello. Second, it’s bitter. Like, so bitter that it’s served with honey drizzled on top. Third, it is supposed to be very healthy. Sorry herbal jelly, three strikes and you’re out. Yes, I have tried it. No, I don’t feel compelled to try it again. I really think it’s a Chinese (Asian?) thing. Please note that this is not a negative review of Jing Long’s herbal jelly – it’s just a negative review of all herbal jelly (my personal, Caucasian opinion). 🙂
So when we got home, I enjoyed a real dessert: Tim Tams. These are a very recent discovery of mine, and are almost an acceptable substitute for the chocolate Vienna Fingers (chocolate wafers + chocolate filling) I fell in love with in the mid ’90s. Yeah, don’t bother Googling “chocolate Vienna Fingers”, they’ve been out of production for at least 15 years now. Which is a shame, because they were the best cookie, EVER, to dip in a glass of milk. Tim Tams aren’t nearly as dippable, but their overall deliciousness helps compensate for that:
Wow. Thank you, Australia, for this chocolatey goodness. You go a long way to filling the chocolate-Vienna-Finger-sized hole in my heart.
Ever had a Tim Tam?
Which of our dinner dishes would you be most excited to try?