timberland slippers A taste of home
And I largely have Singapore to thank for that. I was basically her sous chef. Starting at a pretty early age, I would hand her utensils and ingredients, sometimes chop or stir and, best of all, knead bao dough: This entailed grabbing a heavy, beachball size wad of dough, lifting it overhead and repeatedly slamming it onto a flour dusted mat on the floor, WWE style. (Yes, I sometimes missed the mat; don’t tell Mom.)
We visited Singapore a couple of times when I was a kid, and food was always a highlight, whether it was home cooking from my grandmother,
restaurant dinners with bird’s nest soup as the centerpiece or visits to hawker stalls for satay skewers or plastic bags filled with ice cold F orange soda.
So the nostalgia was strong on this return trip to my mom’s homeland. Despite the immense changes to Singapore’s landscape the Marina Bay reclamation project hadn’t been completed when I last visited in 1988, for instance many of the treats I loved as a kid were still easily found. Ya Kun is still serving up sweet kaya toast and soft boiled eggs, as it has since 1944, and at the “Passion Made Possible” launch event, the F flowed alongside more grown up beverages.
Other culinary experiences were familiar yet reflected a more refined Singapore. At the National Kitchen by Violet Oon at the National Gallery Singapore, dishes included a deconstructed take on a childhood favorite, tauhu goreng (fried tofu slices with bean sprouts and a spicy peanut sauce).
But probably no dining experience had me more nostalgic than the Good Chance restaurant. Good Chance specializes in popiah, sort of a DIY burrito where diners pick from cooked and fresh vegetables, shrimp, tofu and other ingredients and roll up their selections in a crepe like pancake.
Popiah was one of my favorite dishes growing up, and Good Chance didn’t disappoint. And our waitress helped with a refresher course on the assembly process (as did a how to video playing on a loop on a widescreen TV near the cashier).
I think Mom will be proud that my popiah folding skills are mostly intact.
Of course, while Singapore cuisine was familiar to me,
others on our media/fam trip last week had not previously had the pleasure. But I suspect Singapore’s Foodie Tribe has added a few members to the clan.