Xin Heng Feng Guo Tiao Tang (Singapore): Scratching a Noodle Itch

Meepok taMy mother and I sometimes have to do a little sneaking around when we go to our neighborhood wet market / hawker center in Singapore.

You see, if we’re spotted sitting near or even just passing by a certain noodle stall, a sweet lady will pop her head out with a wave and chirpy “Ni hao ma?” Which always makes us feel so bad we’ll drop all other breakfast plans to dutifully belly up to her counter and order a bowl of noodles.

It’s not to say that we don’t like her noodles — sometimes though, I may crave something else for breakfast. My sister, on the other hand, always craves the one dish this hawker makes — mee pok ta, a dry Teochew style dish of noodles with fishballs, fishcakes and minced meat — and has been a faithful fan for years. And that is why this mee pok lady stalks us.

Naturally, for my sister’s first breakfast after landing in Singapore, she has meepok on her mind. So, off we went …

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Sodaeng (Edinburgh): Korean, Or Something Like It

YukgaejangThe thing about a good thing is, sometimes you shouldn’t shrug off that nagging feeling that it’s not going to last because, well, that may be true.

In this case, I’d be referring to my recent elation over discovering that, contrary to my previous belief, the Korean food scene in Edinburgh is terrific.

After being surprised by a very tasty lunch at Kim’s Mini Meals and then chasing that with an outstanding meal at Cafe Andamiro, I had decided to eat my words. Perhaps this city actually does do Korean well, I thought.

But then I paid a visit to Sodaeng …

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Chen Ji Wanton Noodles (Singapore): Getting In Line

Wanton MeeA truth about many Singaporeans: If they see a long line anywhere, they’ll get in it. The idea is that if there are that many people in a queue, there must be something good at the front of it.

As much as I think this is silly (and enjoy mocking it), this urge does strike me — but only when it comes to food lines. So when I spotted a long line snaking out from a Singapore hawker stall this morning, that was it. I stopped walking, turned around — and immediately joined the queue.

Peering around the bodies ahead of me, I figured out the breakfast that lay ahead of me: Wanton noodles, one of my favorite Singaporean dishes …

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Mongolian Buuz: A Perfect TV Snack

Eating in front of the telly is something that happens with some regularity in these parts.

When your partner is a super busy television critic, that tends to happen. And I’m certainly not averse to sitting down to lunch, dinner or brunch in front of the box. (A side of Downton Abbey with any meal? No problem at all.)

So when the Let’s Lunch crew decided on sharing perfect snacks for TV watching in our February posts, I knew I had to jump back in the fray.

What do we eat while watching something? Everything, really: Stews, noodles, omelettes, sandwiches. But I’ve learned that the ideal item is something compact — bite-sized and easy to pop in your mouth for a quick chew.

Which is what makes dumplings pretty much the perfect TV food …

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What The Dead Eat


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There is a deep belief in these parts that the dead may be dead — but that little detail shouldn’t get in the way of serving them a good meal.

And so in Singaporean wet markets, alongside stalls selling vegetables and plump pigs’ trotters, you’ll find little places that hawk food of a different kind. Shelves will be filled with boxes of paper dumplings, chicken feet and other dimsum treats — the idea is to burn them as offerings so your deceased loved ones will get them on the Other Side.

I hadn’t seen one of these in a while, mostly because when I’m in these markets I tend to race over to stalls that sell food that I can actually eat.

Like, now. Not when I’m in the Big Upstairs shamelessly flirting with River Phoenix.

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