Flavors of S’pore

Can’t help being a foodie even if I’m a vegetarian in carnivore heaven. Here are some of my experiments with S’pore food:

Rojak
Can’t say I loved it though it was an interesting mix of textures – crunchy cucumber, soft pineapple, chewy fried tofu and sprouts.

Laksa
Loved the yellow curry vegetable laksa at Thai Express! Noodles, veggies and tofu in a yummy yellow curry that is neither too spicy nor too sweet. And definitely lighter than the curries in the U.S. This could be good replacement for our Saturday afternoon lunches at Land Thai on Amsterdam Avenue.

Ice cream
Folks here can certainly appreciate good ice cream. In addition to the American staples Ben & Jerry and Haagen Daz, the Danes, Aussies, Kiwis and Japanese have set up gelato/ice cream/frozen yogurt shops. The ice cream was lighter, less sweet and flavors were mostly fruit-based. I sampled black sesame, green tea, green tea and red bean, cherry, pistachio, mango and durian flavors.

Coffee, Coffee O and Coffee C at Ya Kyun Kaya Toast
Coffee – black
Coffee O – with condensed milk
Coffee C – with skim milk

O is the way to go! And it tastes even better with Kaya Toast – two thin slices of well-toasted bread, a generous amount of butter and a thin layer of Kaya (a spread made from coconut, sugar, eggs and flavored with pandan leaf). Strangely enough, the first time I sampled the pandan leaf flavor was in a Thai restaurant in a small suburb of Philadelphia. Yeah, I travel far and wide but I always find Thai food.

Thos SB Raffles Chocolate
Named after the founder of modern Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, this beautiful store at the Raffles Hotel is a gourmet’s paradise. They have food and wine from 33 different places across 6 continents! We tried the truffles – Schezuan Pepper (didn’t taste the heat at all), Coconut (nice combo), Kaya (my favorite new flavor) and Raspberry (have had better). Nice store but Leonidas Pralines still rule.

Calamansi Juice (Nimbu Pani S’pore Style)
This is basically a Key Lime juice served with a small piece of jaggery. Very refreshing after a day’s furniture shopping. I think it will make a good mixer. Very refreshing.

Singapore Sling
I actually bought a poster that says “Where else should one partake of a Singapore Sling but at Raffles Hotel?” The cocktail was invented in Raffles’ Long Bar in 1915 and today more than 2000 of them are made daily. They even sell a mix in the gift shop! We sampled our Singapore Slings in the Writer’s Bar which used be a watering hole for Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling.

Conclusions:
S’pore has some excellent dining and it’s getting better everyday. Options range from street-food to upscale fine dining.
There is hope for vegetarians. Though I will turn a blind eye to shrimp paste and fish sauce.
Desserts and Italian food are no problem. Though pizza needs some working.
Ingredients for a variety of cuisines (like taco shells and seasoning, tahini, greek yogurt, etc.) are readily available.

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