Why do people always say home-cooked is best? Well, for one thing it is getting more difficult to get a descent home-cooked meal nowadays. When you mention home-cooked, most of us will reminisce about the good old days when mum used to go to the market in the mornings to prepare the day's dishes and everyone would have dinner together. Nowadays it is not uncommon to hear of families who eat out by themselves everyday and for them, a good home-cooked meal has become a luxury.
I still remember the bad old days in the 70's when there was only one type of bread. Those were the days before Gardenia introduced sliced white bread which was "so good you can eat it on its own". In those days, when mum told me to go buy bread, it meant running down to the kek ai (grocery store) to pick up a loaf of traditional kaya toast bread which the lady would slice on the spot.
Once upon a time, there was a man who ran a very successful restaurant serving traditional Cantonese style food. This man, Mr Chai Kok Hoong, had two sons and he brought them up in the kitchen. He taught one son how to use the wok and the other how to steam the food. Each son was to specialise in his own area of the kitchen and wasn't allowed to encroach on the other's territory.
You really can’t keep a good cook out of the kitchen for too long! When I last wrote about Charlie’s Peranakan in 2009, he was already planning to retire citing that rentals was getting too high and he was getting tired. He went on to close Charlie’s Peranakan a few months after my story was published and disappeared from the Singapore food scene for a while.
The food at Hana-hana is very good value. I am not saying you will get top class Japanese food, but for a Japanese omakase meal, this is as cheap and good as it gets and you should leave the place feeling that you will want to go back again.
Helmed by local born, Chef Martin Foo, the restaurant menu is a culmination of his many years of experience at Lei Gardens and Tung Lok group and his penchant for creativity and esoteric ingredients. What's more, Chef Martin keeps a spreadsheet on his customer's preferences so that he remembers what type of fish you like and how it is prepared!
I must have walked past Lee Do Restaurant countless of times whenever I visit the Automobile Megamart, but it had never occurred to me that this austere looking eatery is one of the last guardians of Fuzhou cuisine in Singapore! I was equally intrigued to learn that they were the ones responsible for making cold crabs the popular dish that it is today!
I remember my first encounter with the BBQ Stingray. It was in a little coffee-shop in Teban Gardens in 1987. Before that, I don’t think I have ever eaten stingray. In fact, I don’t think I have ever eaten stingray in any other form since. Stingray, it seems has been created only for this one particular dish, just like no one really eats kohada in any other way other than as a sushi topping.
I first met Kenjiro "Hatch" Hashida back in 2013 when he had just opened Hashida Sushi at level two of the Mandarin Gallery. I was at once smitten by his vintage anago tsume (sauce) which has an unbroken lineage of over 135 years!
The Coconut Club: Nasi Lemak, Cendol, Otah and other Coconut dishes!
You would be forgiven if you thought that The Coconut Club was some sort of beach bar serving piña coladas, but nooooo..., the reason it's called "The Coconut Club" is far more prosaic. They called it "The Coconut Club" simply because the owners were nuts over coconuts!
Legendary Bak Kut Teh: The future is bright for BKT!
In recent years there has been a spate of new Bak Kut Teh restaurants opening up. We can probably attribute this trend to the success of Song Fa Bak Kut Teh which managed to strike upon the right formula in translating the traditional dish for a new generation of Singaporeans.