Tag Archives: food

The Last Satay Man of Tiong Bahru and Singapore – No More

RIP The Last Satay Man of  Tiong Bahru and in Singapore!

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Final Death of Good Street Food in Singapore – Case Closed.

Sadly the bureaucratic system of Singapore has caught up with one beloved food street vendor in Tiong Bahru / Singapore once again.  Uncle Satay Man was fined big time by our very efficient Government system for ‘illegal food vendor/selling’ . I got this news through TiongBahru.org – a group of passionate people.

Uncle does traditional Hainanese satay unlike the Malay satay that is famously promoted by the Singapore Tourist Board. Hainanese satay is mainly only pork, with a slice of fat in between the meat. Traditionally three layers  per stick, meaning it is meat, fat, meat. Marinated lightly, it is served with grated pineapple and peanut sauce with chilli oil, accompanied condiments of  rice cubes “ketupat”, sliced red onion and cucumber. The key for a good hainanese satay is using charcoal grill, frequent brushes of oil for that Maillard reaction. i.e the skill is in the grilling!

Tiong Bahru was one of the last vestiges of nostagic Singapore before it was killed by Gentrification a few years ago. Turned into yet another hipster hang out, invaded with cafes and hipster restaurants. Tiong Bahru was finally murdered 2 years ago, the old retail shops and traditional food stores have ceased to exist. Leaving only shells and memories of the distant past.

Sorry Uncle Satay Man, thank you for your contribution to Singapore Street Food Culture.

Why is this so important to me?

Back in the old days, this is how we get our satay in our local neighbourhood, a little cart, the satay man with his traditional satay bamboo leaf handheld fan.  Going around the neighbourhood, yelling Satay….. Satay… Satay…. Yes. the good old 1960s-80s nostalgia where we get our door to door food vendors.

(Why no complete photo of the Satay Man? Because I don’t want to show his face to the public due to the sensitive nature of the business. The common Singapore saying “In case police catch him”. Unfortunately too many people have posted about him and pasted his image all over the web)

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Tiong Bahru Satay man

Tiong Bahru Satay man



Food in East China : All manner of Dumplings

I must admit, I hate dumplings, not fond of them at all.

China dumpling 1

Chinese Ingot Dumplings

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Food in East China : Famous Air Dried Chinese Ham

China jin hua ham 3

For you gourmets out there, When you talk about Ham, you would either regard the hipsters choice of Spanish Iberian Ham or Italian Culatello  Prosciutto. Surprising to the rest of you Hipsters, I bet you don’t know China has its version of great Prosciutto.

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Roasted Pork – an obsession with Ecuadorians

The Andean highlands of Ecuador has one of the best pork dishes in South America. They do everything with pork, roasted pork,  fried salted pork, pork skin that looks more like bubble wrap, pork flakes. When there is pork, there is a way of cooking it.

Fritada with cholco, corn, steamed yuca, fried banana and pieces of fried pork lard. us$4.

Fried pork flakes in the market.

There is chugchucaras, dry pork, a speciality of the Latacunga region. Quite expensive dish which averages around us$5 for a plate for only a few pieces of pork, fried banana, tiny baby cheese empanadas (fried dough fritters), steamed corn, and fried pork rind.

Chicharron with mote is a fried pork with steamed corn that is available everywhere in the streets. I found a great chicharron stand near my place that is always so crowded even thought it is just a street side stand. It is a very tasty and addictive snack for only us$1.50 for quite a big portion.

Hornado de chancho is roasted pork, choclo, steamed corn, fried mashed potato and drizzled with a lot of sour chilli sauce. A typical dish in Otavalo region. The pork is roasted so well that the meat is usually so soft and melts in your mouth tender with crispy pork skin. It usually cost around us$2 per plate in Andean countryside.


If only I have cerviche once a week

I have an obsession with food, always.  This is part of the essential part of my travels and it is a deal breaker for anyone who wants to travel with me. I eat a lot, sometimes a lot of weird stuff, and often the restaurant or food stall is hidden on some back alley street. I hate going to typical tourist restaurants and seek out the cheap and characterful places. It also helps to have an iron stomach, especially if you are game for raw stuff.

Part of the popular dishes in South America is cerviche. Raw seafood cooked in lime juice and other sauces. I had it in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Easter Island, Peru.

The best cerviche I ever had was in the most unlikely place that is a little far away from the coast.  That was in Nazca, Peru, famous for the Nazca lines. It was cheap and so good for only us$5 for a complete meal that included a soup, the cerviche, main fish dish, a drink.

Every country prepares their cerviche a little differently.

Bolivia serve mostly fish cerviche with fried toasted corn and lotsa lime and chilli. Ecuador loves their cerviche with conche and prawns served with panacones (fried banana chips) and pop corn. Chile has their sea urchin cerviche which is delicious but expensive, serve plain with lime and onion. Easter island has mainly tuna cerviche, serve plainly like the Chileano version with lotsa lime juice. Peru has one of the best cerviches, mainly fish with some spices and mint.


Crazy eats of South America Part 1

In Mendoza, Argentina the famous Malbec wine region : The Malbec grape varietal thrives and where the best Argentina wine come from, also famous for its Dulce de Leche, a condensed caramelised milk product popular with Argentinians

Half spoonful of  Dulce de Leche, fill the other half with Malbec wine, gulp it down.
Chile has its terramoto cocktail drink, red wine, pisco (grape liquer), pineapple icecream. This is Mendoza’s version of very bad drink ideas that taste quite disgustingly weird.

Alfajores : Very typical biscuits of South America, you see versions of it everywhere, especially in Chile and Argentina. This Argentinian version consist of snow dusted sugar on 2 biscuits with Dulce de Leche filling (caramelised condensed milk) . Quite addictive and probably will kill your liver and kidney from all those sugar! You easily find them in shops, cafes and on the streets.

Cerviche in Easter island. Raw fish cooked in lemon juice along with raw local shrimp from the surrounding sea. Served with steamed banana bread (right) that is more banana than bread, local Tuna call Kana Kana (middle), fried plantains (left) with salad in the background.
One of the best cerviche tasted so far since coming to South America but deadly if you are not into raw fish and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Mendocino (Mendoza, Argentina) version of Paella :

Rice cooked purely in white wine and a bit of broth, but really mostly cook in wine.  Add  tomatos and fresh tomato, onions, salted anchovies, garlic. The octopus is cooked in red wine with carmelised onions. Local Mussles added at the end, Olives and Half boiled egg place on top along with Biondilo and Mendocino hard feta cheese. Cooking preparation & time s about 1 hour.

Eating out in Argentina is expensive and one can’t afford to eat out for all main meals daily especially when it cost 50-80pesos (us$13- us$20) for quite a sub standard dish. That’s just a dish not a meal. However Mendoza is a great place for beautiful vegetables, sea food, meats produce and cooking is fun if you have a great kitchen.

Empanadas are like the South America version of curry puff, pastry stuffed with meats, or cheese, or chicken. There is the fried and baked version. The pasteleria everywhere seems to make awful pre-prepared empanadas, but there are dedicated shops that make fresh versions when you order them. The fillings and the pastry matters a lot. The trouble is it is more of a hit and miss affair when choosing a good empanada shop. The standard varies and often the popular shops serve up quite crappy versions even if there are tons of folks buying it. The  freshly made fried empanadas taste better than the oven baked ones of course. This is what most Chileans and Argentinans have as cheap fast food. A typical cheap dinner will consist of at least 6 pieces.

Salted pig in Argentina, this is more traditional and often prepared only for the weekends. The whole pig with skin and hooves is cured in salt. It seems more of a spanish dish where you make a stew out of it.  The taste apparently is better than fresh pork. Preparation takes more than 1 day to soak the pig in water to rid of the salt then boiled and stewed with root vegetables or eaten just like so. I  have no clue what this taste like as I don’t eat red meats.

No 100% Guaranteed Solid Crab

Somewhere at some seafood restaurant in Singapore

When you see this on the restaurant menu, perhaps maybe you wonder if this restaurant is scaring off their customers a little too much?

Apparently if I choose my crab at my own risk, I would need to buy my own insurance too.

I’m scared now.

The food was pretty good, so were the crab dishes which were delicious. Unfortunately for the restaurant it was a little too quiet for their business, while their competition just opposite to them was packed with a queue line.

Does say something about your advertisement doesn’t it?

Happy Birthday to me!

It's Special!

Taken at Old Delhi, at fresh lime juice stall. I don't really know why the stall seller placed a key into the glass but its kinda special isn't it?.

First October 2009
It’s my Birthday today!

Pani Puri at Old Delhi

Best pani puri stall at Old delhiOld Delhi, India

I got introduced by this street snack or Chaat in Hindi by a great Bengali food connoisseur, Sourabh and his great beautiful wife in Calcutta. There it is call Phuchka, and in Delhi its call Gol Pappa but most commonly known in its hindi street name, Pani Puri (Water-Biscuit)

Its made from wheat and semolina flour, deep fried into little balls, it is then filled with a mixture of tamarind and mint and pieces of potato and mixed spices, ‘Pani’. In Old Delhi it cost from 5rp to 10rp for 5-6 pieces, in Calcutta it cost 3rp – 5rp on average.

Tasted a few dreadful versions in places like Manali, some parts of New Delhi and other places,  this Old Delhi Pani Puri stall owner puts pride in his creation. The pani burst with sweet, sour and spicy mixtures in your mouth. Really great and cheap too!

One of the best pani puri stall at Old delhi

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Sorta getting addicted to Meetha Paan (sweet betel nut leaf)

Old Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leafSweet yummy paan with coconut flakes and fruit preserves.

In Old Delhi, the street food here is great, while Calcutta can get considered as the Queen of great Bengali street food, Old Delhi is great for its Mughal influenced Muslim delights.

One of the weirdest thing I am getting addicted to, is the great quality sweet paan from Old Delhi. An average it cost from 3rp – 10rp.  Paan which is betel nut and its leaf is kinda of a dessert or a mouth-freshener which proofs to be a little addictive, where everyone seem to have in their mouth, chewing and splitting constantly.

I have tried betel nut leaf in many places around India and Burma, I hate it, they taste bitter and have this tongue and mouth numbing effect that it last for an hour.

In Megahalaya, the Khasi tribe tradition to serve a tongue numbing mix of limestone and bitter betel nut leaf, the womenfolk loves their betel nut as shown in the red and black decaying teeth and their blood stained lips.

Nagaland where a naga man once told me, chewing betel nut is healthy for teeth while showing his decaying black stained set of ivory and in Calcutta where they constantly chew the processed and dried version of it and forever seem to be splitting all over the streets of Calcutta.

The paan in Old Delhi is kinda different, the leaf is sweet tasting and you get the choice of putting a sweet version of some fruit sugar instead of that horrid limestone paste. The Paan maker gives you a whole selection of his fruit preserves, dried coconut flakes, candied spices and herbs such as fennel, and a whole lot of different syrups made from saffron, dates, honey and jaggery (brown palm sugar), of course they do add the fresh betel nut, which I usually opt out. I don’t seem to know how to chew the fresh betel nut, its tough and hard and it almost breaks or chip your teeth.

Old Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leafOld Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leaf

This paan seller seem to be quite popular, I had to wait for a while, there were many people constantly at the stall. The variety of mixes are amazing, hidden chambers of syrups, sweet fruits and other spices and herbs

Old Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leaf

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