Adventures of a Wocket

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Beware the steamed chicken!!

on 04/01/2013

Singaporeans are foodies. They love it! They are also feeders. There isn’t a Singaporean I know that hasn’t tried to feed me something, even if I say I’m full, no just isn’t the right answer. 

It’s good in a lot of ways because there is so much to choose from here. The food is as multi-cultural as the people and so very cheap too! 

Now for anybody who knows me (and you probably don’t even need to know me that well), you’ll know I’m what is described as a fussy eater. Personally I hate the label. I had problems with food growing up and I was very ill when very young and my relationship with food was just… delayed. This means however I am very conscious of what I can and cannot eat. A lot of the time it isn’t about taste for me but texture. This is an actual condition; SED selective eating disorder which is found in people with OCD (surprise surprise, which I have in mild form). This is something a child quite often grows out of but when pressure is put on a child by people or friends to like or eat certain things when they’re simply not that confident, self conscious behaviours emerge and they never grow out of it. Or it takes a great deal of patience and understanding from friends and family alike. 

My relationship as I’ve grown older and more confident with myself has improved somewhat. When I was younger I would refuse to eat something simply because of how it looked or smelled, it was a genuine fear of maybe throwing it back up which is never pleasant for anyone. Now, I will attempt to try everything at least once. Some of you will be cheering at this point 😉 

Singapore is not the place for a fussy eater but the beauty of being here is that there’s so much choice! When I first got here, I have to admit to being quite wary of many things. Dishes aren’t quite as clearly labelled in the hawker stalls as they are in places in the UK and sometimes the choice can be overwhelming and confusing. Thankfully my friend has been very patient in telling me what things are when I’m unsure and in the three, almost four months I’ve been here, I have learned a lot!

Now let’s move onto the food! 😀

Starting with the basics. Fruit! I love fruit. Plums, grapes and strawberries are my favourite but here water melon is so tasty and Korean strawberries are probably the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. We simply do not get fruit that tasty or fresh, nor that much variety of it in the UK. Not in my experience anyway. This is a sad fact of the decline of the food markets as supermarkets take over the food shopping industry. 

There is one fruit here that is banned from public transport due its’ smell. You’ve probably heard of it before. Durian. Before I came to Singapore I had never heard of a fruit being banned from public transport. Still it never struck me that it could be THAT BAD

Well. I was wrong.

Durian: Image

You only eat the middle bit obviously and although it looks sort of solid, the flesh is soft and slimy and weird with a hard core and I’m pretty sure it came from the Alien films. The smell is a cross between strong cheese, like Camembert or Stilton and unwashed feet. I’m not kidding. This stuff lingers too, it stays on your clothes, in your mouth and yes even in your pee. I was tasting it for about a week after I’d tried a small mouthful. The taste is sweet and not that far removed from the smell, a bit cheesy but that texture…. auughhh! No, just no. Durian is not for me. Maybe if it was frozen into ice cream or a drink then perhaps I would like it but in its’ pure fruit form, I’m going to pass. In my opinion you need a strong stomach for this.

Let’s move onto something nicer shall we? 

One of the first places I ever ate at in Singapore was the Xin Wang Hong Kong cafe in West Coast plaza. They have such a range of foods. Mostly chinese, singaporean and western but many different types of dishes. The baked rice with chicken is very nice but very filling and pretty much a heart attack on a plate as it is smothered in cheese. I quite like the lemon chicken rice with egg and the congee. Congee is a very warming comforting dish. It’s basically rice porridge with different ingredients like egg, chicken, pork and so on thrown in. Very tasty and filling. Only problem is you’re hungry again pretty much straight away.

This does however leave room for one of the most wonderful deserts I’ve had here. Would you consider putting vanilla ice cream with thick french toast? No, me neither! 

Voila! And it is a giant as it looks! And yes that is me already digging my way in 😀 This was so wonderfully tasty and not as filling as it looked. The bread itself is quite light and the ice cream helps it not be too dry. This got a thumbs all round 🙂 it was so good my friend had it for breakfast the other day ^_^

One food I discovered I quite liked even back in the UK was Japanese food. Here, you often find Japanese with Korean influences and oh my! It is yummy. My colleague took me to her favourite Ramen place and I had the curried ramen with chicken. 😀

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The image is slightly blurry but you get the idea. This was so very tasty. So many different flavours and a curry that wasn’t too spicy which is perfect for me. Also there was this: Image

Green tea smoothie 😀 It complimented the curried ramen very nicely. This is what my colleague had: 

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I believe this was pork, but don’t quote me on that. It was also very yummy so I’m told 🙂

While we’re on the Japanese theme, I also tried sushi for the first time here the other week. It was delicious! 😀 Sea food is so fresh and tasty here. It has so much flavour. I recommend trying fish and sea food in Singapore to anyone. Even the fast food outlets have nice fish. They were a very good find when I was craving good old english fish and chips. One thing I have discovered I hate however is; fish maw. This is actually fish bladder and it is often put into soups in chinese meals and is considered a delicacy and I cannot express enough how vile I find this. It doesn’t really have any flavour but it is slimy and that is one of the textures I struggle to actually physically swallow. I had an uncomfortable experience with this at my friend’s family dinner at a chinese restaurant. The food on the whole was delicious and very typically chinese but I decided to be brave and try the fish maw. That was my first mistake. Once it was in my mouth I felt like I couldn’t just spit the thing out in front of these people who had only just met me, this was a birthday dinner after all and so I had to swallow it. That was my second mistake. That was the closest I have come to actually throwing up in a restaurant in front of an audience after the age of 12. I was quite literally wretching/gagging for what felt like forever. My body simply did not want to keep it down. If you’re not into tasteless slimy things I would suggest avoiding this one.

I don’t have a picture of that but I do have a picture of the chicken katsu ju we had in the sushi/Japanese restaurant. 

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Very yummy but a lot of food and it’s quite stodgy. The best bento food I’ve had was from a hawker stall near my work. It’s actually Korean. They have breaded scallops, rice and crispy chicken and miso soup. It is wonderful and so very cheap at $4.50 SGD for the amount that you get. This is the great thing about Singapore. Even in the restaurants food is cheap. It is actually in a lot of cases cheaper to eat out than it is to buy ingredients yourself and cook at home. And for a lot of expats that live in rented accommodation cooking isn’t actually allowed so it’s very good that eating out is more than sufficient. I’ve not had all good experiences though eating from hawker stalls or food courts. If you don’t like spicy you have to be careful because the majority of food here is spicy and also watch out for the steamed chicken. While some small hawker stalls will make it for you hot with rice (which is yummy by the way) many won’t. Steamed chicken is traditionally served ice cold. I actually thought it was raw when I had it and couldn’t eat it because my brain told me that cold chicken is wrong, plus it was really cold! This is what you get used to in England. Don’t eat cold chicken! Here it’s fairly common but to save yourself from the shock, I recommend the roasted chicken rice. Hot and tasty and once again; cheap. I sulked about this for a good twenty minutes because it was a faux pas I had made regarding the local food. When you already have a tendency to get self-conscious about food and you make a mistake (anyone who has lived in Singapore would know that steamed chicken is typically cold), you feel quite a bit stupid, in some extreme cases it can be upsetting. I certainly don’t want to spend my time here, asking my friend what is in everything or how things are cooked before I eat anything. This can get very frustrating for her and honestly demeaning to the confidence for me. This is all part of trying new things though. I have soldiered on and I’m still discovering what things I like and don’t like and what things I must avoid at all costs. Fish maw: shudders! 

Singapore although being predominantly asian also has a lot of very nice choices of western food. Be it from the standard fast food places to lovely roast chicken dinner with chips and vegetables. I also discovered today a wonderful lemon chicken with mustard soup, which I will be eating again. I’m always pleased when I find a tasty soup due to the fact I’m never in the mood for soup until it is in front of me but I always find it so comforting and filling. 

On the downside, I have found that vegetables are lacking here as are salad places. Sumo salad is very nice but there just isn’t much choice in the range of vegetables and salads. It makes me glad I’m not a vegetarian. Even though I tend to stick to my chicken and fish, because a lot of places have to be halal here, this is more than adequate and I’m finally becoming a lot more confident with my diet and food experimentations. 

Here are some old favourites I’ve had here: 

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It simply wouldn’t be proper if I ended on anything other than tea 🙂 Singapore doesn’t really do tea in the way us English people do tea. They have lovely green teas but most of their tea tends to be sweet, made with condensed milk, which is nearly always sweet. I hadn’t had much luck in finding a nice tea other than lipton. However it was Cold Storage to the rescue with none other than my favourite Yorkshire tea 😀 it was like home away from home, in a cup. Also check out the funky tea spoon 😀 I am easily pleased! 

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