Friday, August 25, 2006

Of hawker food, nasi lemak & egg tarts

bedok nasi lemak
Teo's Noodles nasi lemak - from the Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre

Recently, in the newspapers, there has been much talk about the quality of our hawker food here in Singapore. And I think some one also commented about the long queues at certain nasi lemak stalls and how taste of what they served didn't justify the wait.

All these got me thinking.

Singapore is always touted as a food paradise. But what is its exact definition? Is a food paradise simply a place where you can find food at every corner or does the food actually have to be up to scratch? Then again, on what scale are you measuring the taste and quality of the food on?

I do believe that everyone has their own preferences and it's relatively hard to please all.

In my opinion, I think that it's already fortunate that we can get food so cheap here. Come on, can you find $1 popiah elsewhere in the world? Perhaps not. But I can find it here at the coffeeshop near my home and I'm rather satisfied with that.

However, I totally understand the complaints nonetheless. Like most people, I hate to have to eat a lousy dish just because I made a less informed choice. That does happen quite a bit and it totally ruins my day but more often than not, I just tell myself that it's okay because I paid only $3 or so, and I guess I shouldn't expect much.

Of course there are a handful of those really good hawkers that still feed you with good stuff even though their prices are low - but that's mostly because they have the customers who always come back for more. It's a vicious cycle I guess? If you charge less, and don't have enough people biting, you lose out, and if you charge too much, most people would rather go to those who charge less... and so on and so forth.

Oh well, I guess it's hard to get the best of both worlds here when competition is thick. The market here is too saturated and that's why you have trends and fads (ie. bubble tea and roti boy) that just come and go.

As for me, well I think I'd take the risk now and then. The risk of having to eat something not as delicious as I would have liked, but edible nonetheless. It's fun that way. Food is a lifestyle, eating is meant to be light-hearted, to me at least. Maybe I'm just not that fussy an eater? Perhaps. But I'll have my cake and finish it, thank you very much.

Cakes aside, I want to talk more about nasi lemak. That popular Punggol Nasi Lemak that's supposedly very good. Well I finally had the patience to queue and got this:

punggol nasi lemak

Okay that wasn't my plate, I forgot to take a shot of it. This was JF's plate. Now, the nasi lemak there is kind of famous (thus the long queue, duh) but sorry to say that it just wasn't really worth the wait? Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it sucked. It was okay. Just okay. The rice was okay, the rest was okay as well. And as Leonard commented, the chilli looked dead. It had that blase look. It lacked the fiery redness and kick. It tasted dull too. Please, those people who love that stall, don't berate me for this honest comment ya. haha. I know I may not be a nasi lemak expert but hey, these are just my preferences.

I still remember the nasi lemak I had at Holland Village Food Centre. I wrote about it before. The rice was so fragrant! Ahhh... you see... a good nasi lemak leaves an impression; a good one. Oh, if you happen to live in the East, or better yet, Bedok, try Teo's Noodles nasi lemak at the hawker centre right next to Bedok bus interchange. Don't be deceived by the stall's dull appearance. They do serve good nasi lemak. I regret finding it out only now. Apparently it's Leo's favourite nasi lemak stall and I can understand why. Their sambal chilli kicks ass and looks red enough to knock you off your seat! Yummy....

I'm really in the mood for more food musings. So I shall tickle your taste buds with more food pictures:


Snacks from Ho Kee Pau. I like their char shao puff and the egg tart. Check out the yellow hue:

egg tarts

Mmmmm..... i've been craving for egg tarts recently, and this one soothed me so.

Anyway, I need to go now... Got a lecture later at noon and I live very very very far from campus. So I need to get outta the house now. Laterz!


Anonymous said...

ooo manz, I love egg tarts! Now u got me craving for some ...

Anonymous said...

I think the Changi Village food centre is quite famous for the array of nasi lemak stalls.I guess many ppl have eaten from the first stall(the one with the longest queue), if you haven't, go try it! It's yummy :) Anyway, I think egg tarts with the layered skins are best, for eg. those from crystal jade!

Anonymous said...

The nasi lemak at Adam Road is the best, the queues are long and their chicken wings are awesome. For egg tarts in singapore, Crystal Jade and other dim sum restaurants is good, Tong Heng is nice. I still like the one Chris Patten patronises in HK.

Anonymous said...

Your photos look great ; esp the egg tarts , they look so richly and sunshiny yellow! hehe..If there is such a thing as a cheerful snack, egg tarts would be one of them.

Obviously , I love egg tarts. They can be pastry crust, or the normal baked crust, from dim sum restaurants or from a neighbourhood confectionary , round or oval in shape, no matters, I just love them. The buttery-ness of a good crust plus the warm, and sweet smooth creaminess of the egg custard..its one simple, but utterly comforting food.

Anonymous said...

$1 popiah available in Brunei too, where currency is on par with SGD.


Anonymous said...

One of the best egg tarts I've had are found in Liang Chen Mei Dian in Sago Street. It's about 2 doors away from the "Tai Chong Kok" mooncakes. They are really very good. So too their char siew puff (which is actually chicken) and other pastries. Try it - you won't regret!


Anonymous said...

I queued for the Ponggol Nasi Lemak b4....and I fully agree, it was NOT worth the queue.

Everything about the food was average. Except the price. For such a long queue, I expected lower prices. But it was above average prices, with average food, and below average chilli.

I wonder at all the dead taste buds, queueing just because there is a queue....

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just got to chance upon this blog. I must say I really enjoy reading it and looking at all your pictures. Just wondering, which camera did you use to capture these pictures? A digital cam or phone cam and which brand and model?

Anonymous said...

There is a recent craze for egg tarts. I much prefer the egg tarts from Tongheng. kinda crispy on outside and soft inside. Liang chen mei dian also not bad though much smaller and the custard not so nice. Well pay peanuts get monkey. haha

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