Sunday, August 26, 2012


I wake up with heart palpitations at the thought of school starting all over again in less than two weeks. School for my kids is as good as being school for me.  It's like going back to real work!

The stress of homework is compounded with the burden of feeding my kids right.  This summer, it has been an enormous struggle to feed my son.  I have resorted to 'ninja juice' which is a cocktail of chocolate milk and chocolate Pediasure - a thought poohed poohed by my pediatrician friend as 'sweetening' his taste preference.  He only drinks it because he associates it with Ninjago, and he gets to consume it at our new 'bar counter' located at what is called the 'dry kitchen' in our Singapore apartment.

I have also made more pancakes in the last two weeks than I ever would back in New York for an entire year.  Part of it was due to the fact that my sister had paid $22 for a bag of oat, honey pancakes and $33 for a canister of maple syrup from the new Dean and Deluca store in Singapore.  I was tasked with Sunday brunch for dad and sis, complete with salty bacon smuggled in from Australia and pork sausages.  But seriously sis, do I need a taste of Dean and Deluca when I pass by it all the time on the Upper East Side?

So I dragged my kids to get a taste of my local breakfast - THE breakfast of champion students on their way to morning school at 6.30am.  My kids almost died.  Two half-boiled eggs, drowned in soy sauce and a dash of white pepper, coupled with kaya toast.  I regaled my tale of slurping the eggs from a saucer if I had to rush to school.  Wide-eyed, they remarked, "You did that?  Eeeew."

Regardless, the eggs were as good as any protein shake forced down a little child and kept me energetic for a good part of the morning.  These days, I can relive my favorite breakfast conveniently, at a Ya Kun or Toastbox shop.  I liked Ya Kun's kaya but found their bread over-toasted, dry and crusty.  I was curious about Toastbox's thick bread slices but found their kaya too bland.  I must say that Chin Mee Chin (or Chimmy as we affectionately call our neighborhood shop) still serves up something more familiar for me. (Check out New York Times article featuring Chin Mee Chin.)

Chin Mee Chin
204 East Coast Road

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Meat Market

My sister Beng was born at a midwifery located above a butcher shop in Joo Chiat.  We sometimes tease her about her humble beginnings.  I guess Nonyas have had a long association with their butchers, as exemplified in 'The Little Nyonya' whereby the protaganist marries one for 'convenience'.

My mother had a few regular butchers.  However, she also had her middleman Ah Seng who delivered her groceries and placed all her important orders on her behalf, particularly around Chinese New Year and when she made her Kueh Chang.

My affinity for Mr. Simchick in New York has been well documented on my blog.  As we recently moved to our new home in Singapore, I fulfilled a wish to host a barbecue as a housewarming and to celebrate my son's birthday.  As I had mentioned in my cookbook, our family barbecues "were spectacular.  We had seasoned chicken wings, pork and beef fillet, squid or calamari, along with sausages, otak otak, satay, shrimp, corn, potato salad and green salad.  It was a barbecue to end all barbecues."   I endeavored to replicate what I remembered of those resplendent feasts, minus the satay and otak otak...perhaps having acquired a more Westernized palate.

The important task was to find good meat in Singapore.  I had to find my "local Mr. Simchick", as I told my kids when they grumbled about why I trudged all about town to find butchers.  Here's what I discovered:

Huber's Butchery (
18A & 18B Dempsey Road, S249677
Tel: 6737 1588
Delivers above $75
Excellent market with the largest selection, including my all important US beef.  Several marinated choices of chicken, pork chops, including satay.  Prices comparable with Cold Storage.

The Butcher (
44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-50, S278116
80 Marine Parade Road, #B1-838, S449269
Tel: 6472 0073
Delivers free above $100, charges $10 under $100
I supported 'local' by purchasing from the Parkway Parade/Marine Parade branch.  The beef was great and the regular sales promotion items were appealing.  These included sirloin steak and veal chops on the days I visited the store.   

Foodie Market Place
225 Outram Road, S169038
Tel: 6224 3290
I was recommended this by a regular customer who told me that the store, located at the now-hip Tiong Bahru area, was frequented by expats who found the prices attractive and the quality high.  I made the trek to research this place but did not find that wide a selection.  Maybe it was too early in the morning.  The prices were attractive and it is a good place to stock up as there is a large frozen section.  

Cold Storage
I would go to Cold Storage for all my meats, saving the heavy duty spending at Huber's on high quality beef for special occasions.  Cold Storage is consistent, somewhat omnipresent so that you could pop into a branch to pick up something on the way home.  Besides, it is the supermarket I've known all my life.  


Friday, August 3, 2012

Kon Loh Meen

I have spent the first week in Singapore setting up our new home.  My children feel completely abandoned and tell me that my type of homework means 'shopping' (as opposed to theirs which is academic).  After another exhaustive day of driving around, my sister and I stopped by Katong to buy dinner.  We went to Mei Yuen along East Coast Road at 8pm, just as the noodle seller was winding down his business for the day.

A flood of nostalgia meant that I had to grab my iPhone and start snapping photos.  The noodle man  felt shy and murmured that he was not handsome enough to have photos taken.  "Never mind Uncle!" I assured him that looks had no bearing on his delicious cooking.  An Indian customer of thirty years commented that I was capturing the visuals before they disappeared.  According to him, these more popular stores have been selling their recipes and retiring.

Mei Yuen was a favorite of my brothers-in-law.  Back in the 70s and 80s, when it was called Mui Fang,   my sisters would stop by to 'tapau' several packets of their signature yellow noodle dish we call Kon Loh Meen - Cantonese for 'dry pulled noodles'.  It was blanched noodles, garnished with slices of char siew, wonton dumplings and blanched greens.  The chili sauce was the most essential ingredient and determined the overall standard of the Kon Loh Meen.   Yes, there are noodle shops all over Singapore but one goes to a personal favorite.  This was mine.

My bashful noodle man was only too flattered to be photographed.  He gave me plump slices of char siew.

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