The Battle of the Curry Puff

When people in Singapore talks about eating curry puff, first name that comes to mind is Old Chang Kee. Or maybe Polar. But J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff? I’m sure many will have scratch their head. Where? Until Michelin came a calling and it became famous overnight.

Anyway, I have eaten the J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff (J2FCCP) since the first day the stall opens at Maxwell before it moves to Amoy. Not because it is really good but it was the only place to get decent curry puff in the area in those days. Now frankly while I think it is decent I do not think it really warrant a Michelin Bib Gourmand award. The first few weeks of the award, I was not successful in getting my hand on one. The queue was either too long or it was sold out. So I decided on the next best option. To get from other stalls in the area. And why not while eating it do a comparison? So I roped in 4 of my colleagues to give their take on the different curry puff. To make it a fair comparison and easier for me to get them, the curry puff must not be mass produced and from a chain franchise outlets. So Old Chang Kee, Polar, A1, Tip Top … are out. And they have to be eaten hot which means only those I can buy and bring back to the office within 30 minutes, which somewhat narrow the list down to 4: J2FCCP as the incumbent; Tanglin Crispy Curry Puff from Maxwell Food Centre, Rolina from Tanjong Pagar FC & Lagoon from East Coast Lagoon.

Long before J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff at Amoy became really famous, there was Tanglin Crispy Curry Puff at Maxwell Food Centre. It has since moved to Hong Lim Food Centre.

DSC_1377

Each puff cost $1.50 and comes with a big slice of egg. The skin was crispy but not flaky and the potatoes and curry paste were all mashed up so fine one cannot even differentiate any particular ingredient that make up the filling. It is spicy like all curry puff should be.DSC_1378

Next on the list is another old name, Rollina at Tanjong Pagar Food Centre. This stall has moved several times although it has been at Tanjong Pagar for the past years after it last move from Serangoon. DSC_1472

Each puff costs $1.40 and is surprisingly small. Just slightly larger than a golf ball. This is the traditional type of curry puff – no flaking skin and a very thick crust. There are generous chunk of egg and meat and this one is spicy. Not mild spicy but strong spicy. Too bad the small little size though.DSC_1473

Next is Lagoon Curry Puff from East Coast Lagoon. This stall has been around for the longest time and is a must have whatever I am at the lagoon which unfortunately is not very often nowadays. Each puff cost $1.50 and is filled chocked full with bits of chicken. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any egg though.dsc_1765

My colleagues claimed there is a whiff of lemongrass in it. It is fairly moist and spicy. The crust is flaky but not that flaky that it will crumble away. dsc_1766

And how do they all stack up against J2FCCP? Yes I did managed to get them after all! Actually nowadays there is no queue. Guess the hype is over.

Each puff cost $1.20. The skin is so crispy and flaky that it threaten to break off and in fact it did. A colleague held one by its end and the body just break away ending up on the floor!

DSC_1455

There is no egg which is a bummer. The potatoes and paste are blended together but little chunks of potato can still be seen. It is very moist and the gravy just oozed out. Therefore be careful if eating it hot. Also because of its flakiness, one has to eat it fast before the whole puff disintegrate. DSC_1456

So did the J2 curry puff beat the other in our mini shoot out? Surprisingly, despite its Michelin Gourmand award, my colleagues were not terribly impressed with it. In fact, majority picked the Tanglin curry puff as their favourite followed by Lagoon. It was a tie between J2 and Rollina but J2 won the veto vote (me!) because it was at least better value for money despite not having the egg.

But hey, don’t take my words for it. Go try out all thee stalls and see which is your favourite!

 

4 Uniquely Singapore Sandwiches

Some time ago, some “ang mo dude in the United State of Awesomeness~” mocked and dissed one of our beloved sandwich – the delicious heat busting ice cream sandwich that can be found in street corners all over the island and in Malaysia and Indonesia. Now why is it that I am never surprised at the fucked type mentality of these people who thinks they know what is best for the rest of the world never mind that the guy had never even tried it. For those of us who have eaten this, this must surely ranked as one of the best treat whether you out shopping at Orchard Rd, or at the beach or just walking out of the school compound.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream (photo from foodinmouth.com)

That post got me thinking though. Beside ice cream sandwich, we have some other sandwich that is really shiok and unique and which even the Malaysian and Indonesia cannot claim is their heritage food. Here are 4 of the best. For illustration purposes, the photos are taken with a single slice of bread instead of the usual 2 slices.

Pork Floss Sandwich

Most of us are familiar with the pork or chicken floss bun made famous by Breadtalk and now sold in every single bakery in Singapore and other parts of Asia. But before the pork floss bun, there was the Pork Floss sandwich.

Pork Floss

Pork Floss Sandwich

Seen here is crispy pork floss on a single slice of bread. Best eaten together with a thin spread of butter on the bread. I prefer the non crispy floss but the Mrs prefer the Crispy version. Either way this is great for breakfast.

Barbecued Pork Sandwich

Practically every one of us ie the non Muslim must have eaten barbecue pork or bak kwa before. But how many have eaten it between 2 slices of bread?

dsc_1662

Barbecue Pork or Bak Kwa Sandwich

This is one of the best treat when one is out in the trails and doing a long race or ultra. Oh… the kick that you  get from just biting into one mouth of this when you hot and tired after hours and hours of hiking and running. If you never try this before, pack one for your next hike/race. You won’t regret it!

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is one of my favourite especially if it is my Mum’s version of Hae Bee Hiam or spicy dried prawns. A slightly different twist to this is to use pork instead of Hae Bee.

Hae Bee Hiam

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is best eaten with the Hae Bee Hiam hot. Spread a thin layer of margarine or butter on the bread. Toast the Hae Bee Hiam if it is not hot. And then spread them liberally on the bread. Best as a tea time snack or even a full meal by itself.

Braised Pork Sandwich

Last but not least, my personal favourite. A big piece of succulent braised pork tucked between 2 slices of bread with just a little bit of the black sauce. This is similar to the Kong Bak Pau that is served at Hokkien restaurant and sometimes funerals.

Braised Pork

Braised Pork Sandwich

I usually eat it with the pork steaming hot and sometime throw in the skin or egg that is usually served together with the pork. Best eaten? Anytime!

What other unique local sandwich have you eaten before?

Heavenly Snacks Muah Chi

Most of us have eaten those peanut tossed muah chi that is ubiquitous at pasar malam and trade fairs and taste like blu-tack with peanuts. Now why can’t our local muah chi taste like those mochi from Japan and Taiwan? After all, they are essentially made from the same base ingredient.

Apparently this guy at Heavenly Snacks have the same thought and came out with the traditional muah chi in a new coat and with a new twist. Heavenly Snacks sells them in 2 favours – the traditional white sesame peanut and a new version with black  sesame and at a humble price of $2.50 & $2.80 respectively.

While I was there, I had the black sesame version. It was served in a nice little porcelain boat shape bowl with fancy picks.

dsc_1782

This photo doesn’t do it justice but I was totally blown away by it. It was so fragrant infused with the black sesame and so soft. The muah chi doesn’t stick to the teeth like those commonly available.  Naturally I finished the whole lot by myself and then bought another 2 boxes of one white and white black home. The takeaway comes in fancy little box.

Apparently to keep the muah chi evenly steamed, each muah chi is steamed individually in tiny trays and each tray is only mixed with the peanuts when ordered. Anyway, like most freshly made food, the muah chi didn’t taste as heavenly back home but still it is a cut above the norm. At least now when I want to have good traditional  muah chi, I don’t have to go all the way to Muar for them!

Street Food in Beijing

I enjoyed eating street food whenever I travel overseas. And one of my favourite place for street food is Bangkok which has almost everything. And then what I saw in Beijing blew me away. There at Wangfujing was streets after streets of food. And according to the local, this is not the best. There is apparently another place which has better food. But what was available at Wangfujing was more than enough.

Here are some pictures. First up, the nice looking stuff and desserts

09-DSC00990

This is some sort of pastries

08-DSC00988

Rice ball with yam, banana and coconut filling

16-DSC01002

Fried durian!

01-DSC00974

Fruits and the famous pintanhulu

12-DSC00996

This is supposed to be an imperial delicacy eaten by the Empress

13-DSC00997

Not ice cream but some sort of rice cake

Next up is all the more mundane looking stuff:

19-DSC01009

Grilled pigeon I think

11-DSC00994

All sort of fried fish

10-DSC00993

Fried crab claw

07-DSC00987

Pancake

06-DSC00985

Mantou. But not too sure what meat are those though

02-DSC00980

Whole crab. How to eat?

Last but not least, the yucky stuff

05-DSC00984

The white thingy is snake and the round thingy are cocoon

04-DSC00983

Meal worms and grasshoppers

03-DSC00981

Seahorses and lizards

15-DSC00999

Crickets

14-DSC01000

Giant scorpions

18-DSC01006

Centipedes and those black things are spiders!

17-DSC01005

Star fish! How could they possibly eat this?

20-DSC01012

And last something more normal looking. All sort of meats and crustaceans

Contrary to my usual self, I did not try any of the yucky stuff. Firstly wasn’t too sure how hygienic it was and secondly, some of the creepy crawlies were still alive although pierce on the stick! No way I am going to eat such cruel food!

Street Food of Tokyo

Tokyo was not some place where we expected to find street food but we did came across some gems.

Like while stumbling around in Shunjuku one night, we found this back alley where there were a whole lot of small little outlet selling Yakitori and noodles. These are really small outlet like this one here which can only seat at most 6 persons in front of the counter.

There were a few variety of skewered meat wrapped over different sort of vegetables and mushroom.

 

Nothing really spectacular about the food except for the below bowl of curry like food filled with what I believes are the left over from the making of the Yakitori. This was really good. 
Just a short walk away from the above was a soba stall which had a perpetual queue. One reason for the queue was that the place can only sit 8 persons so everybody wait their turn for some one to finish, sit down, order and gulp down the gigantic bowl of noodle and then goes off. 

  

Of course, we being food loving Singaporean, we got to join the queue and wolf down the bowl of noodle despite us just finishing the Yakitori. By the way, the bowl of noodle only cost Y300!

Just before our hotel, there was this little mobile truck selling Sweet Potato. M bought 2 to try. She said they are very soft. I think they have been cooked to death!

At Asakusa, there were stalls after stalls of snack food. Most time we don’t know what they are but that did not stop us from buying everything that looks good which practically mean every stall.

Some sort of pastry which comes in different flavours like green tea and strawberry.

This store had the longest queue

 And the Princess with their produce – a huge polo bun

 Master chef making some sort of hot dog.

And M enjoying it
Another Chef doing something else
And that me with the result.

Not really a lot of street food but what was available was good although I think they are not too healthy. But heck, I will have regretted it forever if I didn’t try any of them!

Bangkok Street Food

The last time I went Bangkok was in 2006. This time round we went for a short trip over the weekend to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. We stayed in the Pratunam area. The old Pratunam wholesale centre is still there but there is also the new Platinum Mall. MBK, Siam Paragon, Central etc all gigantic and packed. Looks like the Thai are doing well despite all the political problems.
We didn’t visit the temples. Instead we went to the Safari World, a very beautiful place and yet a very miserable place. More of that in a later post.
But in addition to the shopping and massage, we went gaga over the street foods. Just look at them:
All sort of barbecue and roast meat
Different colour of corn
Salt covered barbecue fish. This one die die must try
Beef Ball Noodles
Beautiful Mung Bean kueh in the shape of fruits
Cuttlefish
Mini crab
Crabmeat
Kueh!
More mini crab
Prawn
Glutinous Rice
Braised duck
Duck Noodle
Some sort of sponge cake
Waffle with corn filling
Tom Yum noodle 
Phai Thai
Grilled banana
Satay
Dumplings
Water chestnut kueh
Some kueh
Fried curry century egg
Glutinous rice