Mile End Delicatessen (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Poutine Paradise

PoutineAs you might imagine, I have a gigantic soft spot for fries, gravy, meat and cheese.

Separately, each of these rocks my world. Faced with them together? I get instantly weak-kneed.

Recently, I’ve had the extremely good fortune of living near Mile End Delicatessen, a little New York City mini chain that specializes in poutine, that scrumptious Canadian dish that combines fries with cheese curds and meat gravy.

And so, on a recent Sunday, I just happened to wander over …

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Posted in American, Breakfast, Brooklyn, Brunch, Jewish, New York, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perfect Summer Pesto: A Lazy Al Fresco Lunch

IMG_2913People may wax lyrical about spring and its blossoms and fall or its ripe beauty, but for me, summer is always ma saison préférée.

This may come as no surprise to anyone who knows I grew up on a little tropical island, but my favorite meals always go something like this: Outdoors, at a little table surrounded by dear friends, gorgeous water on the horizon, azure sky above, the promise of a fresh simple feast before us.

So when my trusty Let’s Lunch bunch decided to do al fresco dining for our monthly lunch date this month, I was all over it.

Now, I’m fortunate that New York City and its nearby beaches offer me these ingredients on a plate. And recently, I found myself in the Hamptons enjoying one such meal with one of my dearest friends, chef Simpson Wong.

What was to come? A little summer pesto …

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Posted in Beach, Hamptons, Italian, Let's Lunch, Pasta, Recipes, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Dark Sauce Pork Noodles: A Touch of “Singapore Noir”

Dark Sauce Pork Noodles

In the twenty years that I’ve lived in the U.S., whenever I mention I’m from Singapore, all too often I’ll hear one of the following words: Caning. Fines. Chewing gum.

It’s always frustrated me that Americans tend to think of my native country as this sterile, boring place with strict rules where no adventures happen. Anyone who’s ever been so Singapore, of course, knows that this isn’t true — we have a seamy, dark side just like any other country!

So I was especially thrilled to have the opportunity to put together “Singapore Noir,” an anthology of dark fiction set in this little city-state perched on an island near the equator.

The book, which launched in the U.S. this month, has run me ragged so far, taking me from New York to Washington, D.C., to far-flung Los Angeles and San Francisco. (Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Miami and New York are still up — swing by a book signing if you’re in one of those cities!)

So when the intrepid Let’s Lunch crew settled on a Noir-themed lunch this month to toast the book, a certain Singaporean comfort food immediately came to mind: Dark sauce pork noodles

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Posted in Asian, Chinese, Let's Lunch, Noodles, Recipes, Shameless Promotion, Singaporean | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Hock Thye Noodle House (Singapore): Old-School Wanton Mee

Wanton MeeI am the biggest wanton mee fan.

This simple dish of nicely al dente  yellow noodles tossed in a slightly spicy gravy usually comprising some combination of light soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and more, then topped with thinly sliced roast pork and served with a side of wantons (or wontons, to the rest of the world) — now, this is my true Singaporean comfort food.

I may wax lyrical about my country’s Southeast Asian fried chicken and Hokkien prawn mee, but when it comes down to it, wanton mee is the dish I turn to the most. It’s quick, satisfying and ubiquitous — and in my decades of putting away plates of this stuff all over the country, I’ve found that it’s impossible to find a bad version. Sure, some are better than others, but wanton mee, I’d say, is pretty hard to screw up.

My dear friend Willin knows my obsession with wanton mee — and, I trust his food opinions greatly. (The man cooks for a living, after all.) So when he told me the other day of a little dusty coffeeshop in Singapore‘s old-school Joo Chiat neighborhood where he’d recently stumbled upon a good plate, I knew I had to head over …

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Posted in Asian, Chinese, Hawkers, Noodles, Singapore, Singaporean, Southeast Asian, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Albert Street Prawn Noodle (Singapore): 51 Years And Counting

Albert Street Prawn MeeI’ve always found that there are two sure ways to figure out whether a hawker stall is good in Singapore:

1. There’s an insanely long and rather slow-moving line in front of the stall, even during off-peak hours.

2. The stall bears the name of a street or neighborhood that’s practically half the country away.

Singaporeans are among the most impatient people I know, so if they’re waiting calmly, quietly, in a snail-paced line, that’s a sign there’s something well worth waiting for there. As for the name, if the stall has made such a reputation for itself at its previous location that it needs to refer to it, well, you certainly need to try its food.

So on a recent night, during my first visit to Old Airport Road Food Centre, a legendary hawker center I’d been hearing about it for years, when I found myself utterly flummoxed by the plethora of choices before me, each one seemingly more delectable and fragrant than the last, I looked around for the longest line.

There it was — in front of Albert Street Prawn Noodle. What sealed my decision? The fact that Albert Street was nowhere nearby …

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Posted in Asian, Chinese, Hawkers, Noodles, Seafood, Singapore, Singaporean, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nur Indah Kitchen (Singapore): Indonesian Fried Chicken Perfection

Nasi Ayam PenyetAnyone who knows me even for a nanosecond usually picks up fairly quickly on the fried chicken fanatic that I am.

Besides noodles (and perhaps meatloaf), fried chicken is just about my favorite food. And the kind that I tend to crave is Asian fried chicken, specifically Malay or Indonesian, which usually is marinated in a melange of Southeast Asian spices — turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander and more — before getting deep-fried to crisp perfection.

While this may be fairly hard to find in my adoptive home of New York City, there’s a plethora of it in Singapore — especially, lucky for me, at the closest hawker center to my family’s home on the country’s idyllic east coast. At the cosy Bedok Corner Food Centre, there is not one but four excellent stalls, all side by side, serving nasi ayam penyet, an Indonesian dish of crispy spicy chicken that’s been smashed for greater tenderness right before serving.

So when I was sitting at home in Singapore today, daydreaming about the perfect lunch, the decision was easy …

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Posted in Asian, Hawkers, Indonesian, Malay, Poultry, Singapore, Singaporean, So Good It Must Be Bad For You, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

58 Minced Meat Mee (Singapore): A Bowl To Remember

Bak chor meeSunday morning in Singapore and the neighborhood markets are hopping.

In Bedok, a sprawling satellite town on the East Coast of Singapore, my mother’s ritual on the weekend is to rise early and head to the large wet market at Block 58. Sure, she’s there for visits with the pork uncle and the fish uncle, to snag lotus roots, tofu and more.

For me though, the trip is always driven by one thing: Bak chor mee, a dreamy bowl of noodles that occupies my breakfast fantasies in faraway New York City

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Posted in Asian, Chinese, Meat, Noodles, Singapore, Singaporean, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anna Blume (Berlin): A Towering Brunch

Brunch,” I was told my first day in town, “is big in Berlin.”

Having just come from New York, a city where weekend brunch is practically a religion, I almost snorted, wondering how different or striking this meal could possibly be in Berlin.

As my host led me down the cobblestoned streets of the city’s fashionable Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, however, I quickly realized my folly …

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Posted in Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, German, Germany, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dong Xuan Quan (Berlin): A Vietnamese Pho Fix

It only took about a week into my visit to Germany but suddenly, there it was: My massive craving for a bowl of hot noodle soup.

Good thing I was in Berlin — I’d been told before getting here that there’s good Vietnamese food to be had in this city. Vietnamese immigrants, after all, have been a fixture in Berlin since as early as the 1950s, when East Germany began extending invitations to North Vietnamese to come over for training programs.

Where to go? All signs pointed to a spot in East Berlin’s Lichtenberg neighborhood named Dong Xuan Center …

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Malepartus (Frankfurt): A Fressnarkose (Food Coma) Feast

I’m a big believer in eating in red-light districts.

In Asia at least, that’s where you can often find good food that’s fairly cheap in settings that are open deep into the night.

It turns out that this sometimes holds true even for gentrified neighborhoods that once were red-light districts — at least that’s what I discovered during a recent jaunt to Frankfurt’s Bornheim, a city district once called “Das lustige Dorf” (“The Merry Village”) because of the evening hotbed that it was more than 100 years ago …

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Posted in Gastropub, German, Germany, Tales From the Road, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments