Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chinese New Year in Singapore!

I always go back to Singapore for CNY which means a lot of eating and a mouth full of ulcers. This year we ended up staying for a week so I got to try out a variety of cuisines besides the requisite hawker stands...hence the very big blog post below! Wasn't too sure how to lay this out since I can't remember when I ate what so I'm just going to do it by meals:


chwee kueh

Chwee kueh is a steamed rice cake that comes topped with savoury radish. I love this and unfortunately did not get to eat the famous ones at Tiong Bahru hawker centre this year. However, the ones we picked up at the hawker centre around our house did the job.

hokkien mee

I love the combination of egg noodles and rice noodles in this dish and happily slurped up the sauce. Bit heavy and greasy for breakfast though...

roti prata

My ultimate favourite Singaporean breakfast is roti prata. I can never quite decide whether I like it better plain or with egg, Luckily my sister is the same so we always share half and half:

Soooo delicious I'm missing this already. I don't know why I can't find any comparable ones in Hong Kong (along with the curry) so if anyone knows, feel free to recommend a place! Sometimes I get so desperate I don't even mind eating the frozen variety...

chai tow kway

VERY decadent for breakfast. This used to be one of my hawker favourites but I actually felt a bit sick after eating this - perhaps it isn't so great first thing in the morning... Chai tow kway (called carrot cake despite the lack of carrots) is basically a dish of little cubes of radish stir fried with egg and doused in sweet soy sauce. I used to love the "dark" variety but realised that my stomach just can't handle it anymore.

white version

Okay, it doesn't look that much healthier especially with all the chilli sauce added to it, but somehow it sat better in my stomach.


silken tofu with pork floss and century egg

This is the perfect dish for me because I love each of the ingredients separately and together they just blow me away :) It's really refreshing and perfect for the Singapore heat. Though I suppose it's also the easiest thing to make at home which is why most of my Sunday night dinners feature it :P

roast chicken

white chicken

Mmm. I can't come to Singapore without eating chicken rice!! We ordered half a roast chicken and half a white chicken and happily demolished both. The white chicken was amazing - super tender, full of flavour, and just the tiniest bit oily which is how I like it! I quickly picked out all the boneless chicken at the bottom of the plate to hoard in my bowl hehe - I know, bad etiquette. I'm not a huge fan of the roast chicken, which is roasted on a slow fire, but it was still delicious. The soup was also really fragrant but unfortunately, the rice was just passable.

aftermath of chicken meal :)

We always eat popiah on the second day of Chinese New Year (my dad's side is Fujian) so we trekked out to buy our freshly handmade popiah skin out at Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat where we've been going since I can remember.

making the skin

We ended up buying a whopping 1.5kg of the stuff which was definitely way more than we could finish haha.

popiah ingredients

It looks like little mimi is having a huge feast for herself! The filling consists of pork, shredded carrot, lettuce, turnip, and beans and the accompanying ingredients I love are the egg, seaweed, peanuts and garlic :) Not to mention a heavy dosage of the sweet sauce!

towering popiah ready to be wrapped

So yummy! I think I blogged about my grandma's popiah before but seriously, they are one of the things I most look forward to in Singapore! Also very good for the digestive system ;)

Can't have popiah without my beloved childhood drink of Kickapoo Joy Juice. To be honest, taste wise is just meh but I always drink it for the nostalgia factor and the awesome name! Makes me happy just looking at the can.

food for thought

Had a lovely lunch at Food For Thought - a slightly healthier less oily start to the day after all the CNY binging. Food For Thought is a small and cozy cafe that donates part of their profits to various charities. It's located at Singapore Art Museum in this charming little housefront that apparently used to be a school. I loved the big, airy feel to the restaurant with the high ceilings and natural lighting.

basil almond pesto chicken

I always wish more places in Hong Kong did a simple sandwich with pesto chicken but I hardly find pesto anywhere on the menus here! This was fresh and delicious - just what I needed to get my body feeling slightly less lethargic from all the grease. The sandwich also had grilled eggplant!! I love how eggplant just soaks up all the yummy sauces.

a&w root beer float at food for thought

Root beer floats made properly with A&W! I'm usually not a huge fan of root beer floats but this one was really yummy with loads of ice cream.

abc juice

I went to ABC brickworks hawker centre and got this delicious juice comprised of apple, beetroot and carrot. I couldn't really taste the beetroot but there was definitely a lot of carrot which I love. Washes down the hawker food pretty well, and it made me feel super healthy! Should make it at home.

duck rice

So much sauce hehehe. Tender juicy meat with heavenly gravy makes for a delicious meal. Not to mention the soup in the background - had quite a spicy kick to it.

wonton mee

I love Singapore's dried wonton cha siu mee. I don't know why but it always tastes so much better to me than any you get in Hong Kong which is a bit odd considering it's a Cantonese dish :P The wontons are also bite-size which I prefer to the whopping big ones you sometimes get in cha chaan tengs here.


cny cookies

more cny cookies

tau suan you tiao 豆爽油条

This dessert is made out of mung beans and served with you tiao on top. This one was a little too sticky and mucus-like for my tastes - I prefer a greater concentration of beans. I did happily pick at the you tiao though :)

ice kachang heaven


I tried out a Korean restaurant with some friends which came highly recommended by a number of Singaporean food bloggers (I think the restaurant was called Your Woul?) Unfortunately, the meat was really subpar - they prepared it for us and ended up overcooking all the meat. I could hardly chew through the beef. It was also a really small portion given the price. Luckily, the cooked food we ordered fared better and they served pretty decent banchan.

pork bibimbap

kimchi paejun

dukboki... yeah everything was the same colour

On Chinese New Year Eve we always have yu sheng (鱼生). The main ingredients are white radish, carrots, pickled ginger and orange, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, crackers, and raw salmon - topped with sweet plum sauce. Considering there's meant to be close to 30 ingredients in the yu sheng, I'm missing quite a few :\

yu sheng

Unfortunately, this year we went the healthy route and bought a yu sheng that did not come with fried crackers and had much less oil and plum sauce... hence the very bland taste :( Ended up just picking at the raw salmon. Nevertheless, still fun to toss to prosperity :) Even baby had fun looking so determined!

So that just about sums up my CNY eating and I'm so looking forward to a detox! But I'll leave you guys with one last picture of something I love and only ever get once a year:

kong ba bao

Usually when we're back in Singapore we'll try to get in a hokkien meal with the grandparents and whenever we manage to book a seat, the only thing I wait for is the kong ba bao!! I love this stewed pork belly which is sooo tender and melts in your mouth as the oil dribbles down your soft fluffy bun hehe. Delicious! Too bad I only managed to get one bun as they were gone within seconds.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Taco Chaca

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently. I've been tied down with exams upon exams that for the past month, my diet has pretty much consisted of junk food:

my favourite colonel's secret original recipe chicken mmm skin!

tim ho wan's cha siu bao's

tsui wah's club sandwich

curry bee's curry...

And the occassional decadent dessert to keep those blood sugars high :)

Luckily, exams are over and I can finally resume eating meals worth blogging about - and Taco Chaca is definitely worthy! I was delighted when I stumbled across this taco shop on a recent walk home from Soho. I've always thought that Hong Kong needed a proper no-frills taqueria. Sure we have our Coyotes and iCaramba's but there's something so much more personal about getting to watch your food prepared in front of you with all the fresh ingredients laid out and the grills to the back. Not to mention the delicious smells of grilled meat and juices that permeate the joint :) Makes it almost feel like you're at a street vendors in Mexico or at the very least, in Cali.

I made a mental note of the place and came back the following day for lunch. I was a bit worried that the meat might not be the best quality or that the flavours just wouldn't be there - I've had pretty bad experiences eating Mexican in Asia and I seriously pine for Anna's Taqueria back in Boston. Luckily, nothing to be worried about as the food was all spot on.

We started with their pulled pork tacos and beef steak burrito:

pulled pork taco ($40)

The tacos came with salsa on the side though you really didn't need it given how juicy the tacos were alone! I loved the garnishes of cilantro, diced onions and tomatoes which were super fresh. I'm so glad the tacos were made out of soft corn tortillas too - not those hard-shell varieties found in US fast food joints. While I definitely enjoyed these tacos, I did find the pulled pork a little tough (perhaps it could do with more braising?) which is why I preferred this burrito:

beef steak burrito ($58)

Wow this really hit the spot. It didn't feel overly greasy and oily, but was still comfort food at its best! The flour tortilla was so nice and soft and the fillings really flavourful, particularly the beef steak which was perfectly juicy. There were also refried beans and delicious Mexican rice, mixed with a generous helping of sour cream. Who could resist? I really enjoyed this and powered through every bite.

We weren't too full afterwards, or maybe everything we tried just blew us away, so we decided to try another one of their tacos.

chicken taco ($40)

This one was better than the first taco and gave the burrito a run for its money! Aside from the meat, the ingredients were pretty much the same as the pulled pork taco. However, the grilled chicken was suprisingly tender and really stole the show. Just looking at the pictures, I can't wait to be back to grab a quick snack or a late night dinner.

I'm so glad there's finally a taqueria in Hong Kong serving up good quality Mexican food at affordable prices. Not to mention the hospitality we received from chef and owner Karen who has apparently lived in Cali for a while so has credibility ;)

Do make your way over if you're in the neighbourhood and show her some support! Her full menu isn't available yet as she just opened over the weekend but the tacos, burritos and quesadilla's are sure to be plenty to keep you satiated :)

two thumbs up!

Taco Chaca
G/F, 1 Second Street
Sai Ying Pun

Oh, on the way to the restaurant I saw this cute thing waddling around in his dinosaur costume! Rawr!