Selera Rasa (Singapore): A Classic Malay Breakfast

Selera Rasa

Breakfast in Singapore truly is something to behold.

For starters, it’s incredibly varied, with Indian, Chinese and Malay offerings ranging from rice and noodle dishes to piping hot roti prata and fried meaty treats. A classic must, however, is nasi lemak — a Malay dish comprising fragrant coconut rice with hearty ingredients such as fried chicken and crispy anchovies. It’s so popular and commonly eaten that some hawkers have it packed ahead of time into tightly folded banana leaves for a quick and tasty breakfast to go.

While I’m fortunate enough to live not too far from one of the great nasi lemak joints on the island — International Food Stall in Changi Village — I’d been hearing about another place for years, one that’s supposed to be the absolute best. Selera Rasa, in fact, is so well-regarded that the Sultan of Brunei supposedly pays a visit¬†when he’s in Singapore, ordering up dozens of packets for takeout.

“Look for the long queue,” Singaporean food personality KF Seetoh counseled, when I asked him about Selera Rasa a few years ago.

A long queue? Singaporeans, an impatient lot, don’t queue for anything unless it’s worth it. I knew right away that I had to get myself to Selera Rasa, to find said queue …

[Read more…]

Eleven Finger (Eu Kee) Scissors Curry Rice (Singapore): A Cut Above

photo (30)A few years ago, after I mentioned my big love for Singapore‘s Hainanese curry rice to an old friend who knows her food, she immediately asked, “Have you been to that ‘Nine Fingers’ place?”

Now, if you’ve ever had curry rice, you’ll understand why that name might be disturbing. It basically comprises a bunch of different dishes of your choosing (breaded fried pork chops, crispy fried eggs, curried squid, braised tofu or chicken wings, etc.) snipped up into bite-sized pieces with a gigantic pair of scissors, dumped on a plate of rice and then doused with mellow Hainanese curry.

“Nine fingers?” I asked, wondering whose plate that lost digit might have ended up in.

“I forget how many fingers,” my friend Jill said. “But it’s good.”

Since then, I’ve been intrigued by this curry rice — finally, this week, I decided to make the journey. It turns out that it’s eleven fingers, not nine. Not that that makes the name any less bewildering …

[Read more…]

Bacon-Kimchi Fried Rice: Smoky, Fiery, Sweet & Salty

Among the amazing food discoveries of my recent life, this one is certainly up there: A little grocery store very near me in Brooklyn sells kimchi. Lots of it.

It’s the good stuff, too –pungent, spicy, tart and tangy. But what this means is that the sous chef and I have been eating a fair bit of the stuff.

What to do with kimchi? We ran through the obvious in the first several meals — kimchi omelets, scrambles, kimchi with rice, porridge. You name the easy, we tried it.

Kimchi fried rice, however, was daunting to me. Fried rice was the very first Asian dish I tried to make — and if you’ve read A Tiger in the Kitchen, well, you might recall the outcome of my first attempt.

When I read about New York chef David Chang’s fervent belief in bacon and kimchi being made for each other, though — and how he uses it in fried rice — I was sold.

The past was the past, I decided. With a little research into kimchi fried rice, out came my wok and I was ready to give this a try …

[Read more…]

Scissor-Cut Rice: One Handsome (Tasting) Meal


FRP2 377

My New York friend Mark likes to tell the story of how, on his first visit to Singapore, he stopped a group of people near a hawker center, asking them which was the best place to eat in the area. 

“Big scissors!” was the immediate answer.

Which may seem an odd name for a food establishment to some. But in Singapore, the word “scissors” indicates that this is a stall in which you buy a plate of rice, point to a bunch of dishes (usually holding items like tofu, fried eggs or pork chops) and the hawker then piles what you’ve chosen on the plate and snips it all up into bite-size pieces with — you got it — a big pair of scissors.

While this could come across as a rather unorthodox way of serving a meal, let me tell you, places with the word “scissors” in their names often churn out pretty darn satisfying food. In Mark’s case, his meal — which he still regularly recounts with great gusto and yearning — was at Big Scissors Curry Rice at Maxwell Food Centre. 

Recently, I had the good fortune of discovering another gem in the “scissors” category: Beach Road Scissor-Cut Curry Rice. 

[Read more…]