4.266 White Carrot Cake

4.266

28 (Sat) September 2013

White Carrot Cake

2.5

at Redhill Rong Guang BBQ Seafood

(Makansutra Gluttons Bay)

-Marina Bay, Singapore-

solo

The Singapore Diet: Day 2 of 3

In Singapore.  While here on a gluttony excursion, for approximately 48 hours, from Friday evening to Sunday evening, the plan is to consume as much as I can, both in terms of variety and volume, via the Singapore Diet.  The Singapore Diet, developed expressly for this purpose, involves eating a meal whenever I’m not feeling stuffed from the prior meal.  Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to research specific venues and items, so I’ll be winging it for the most part.

Venue 3

Royal China

Raffles Hotel is a hotel in Singapore.  Established in 1887, the oldest existing, always referred to as “iconic.”  One of the most expensive in the city.  Named after Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore.

Royal China is a Cantonese restaurant.  It’s located in the Raffles.  On weekends, when dim sum is on the menu, tables are available only by reservation.

My Singaporean friend BT made a reservation for me at Royal China.  He warned me not to be a minute late, or I’d lose it.  In fact, when I gave my name at the counter, I was asked for a phone number for verification.

Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have chosen straight out Cantonese for a meal on The Singapore Diet, but I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

A lot of affluent-looking young folk – “socialites,” BT called them – being served by a staff of old folk.

The food was largely hit, slightly amiss.  The external technique was flawless in every case, but I had some minor issues with the how certain internal components were prepared.  Certainly high quality overall, though not worth the fuss.

Conpoy Congee (3.5) (Item 8): a classic Cantonese brunch dish, the creamy texture done to perfection here, but it could’ve used more conpoy.
Hargow (3.5) (Item 9): my personal index by which to assess any dim sum joint, the silky skins done to perfection here, but the shrimp were minced, not chunky.
Chee Cheong Fun (2.5) (Item 10): generally one of my favorite dim sum items (when made with shrimp), the soft rice noodle done to perfection here, but the scallops were too mushy and bland to provide any sense of texture/taste contrast.

TOTAL COST: SGD 24.72

Venue 4

Long Bar

So long as I was in the building, I had a Singapore Sling at Long Bar.  
Long Bar is a bar and restaurant.  Named after its long bar.  Famous as the birthplace of the Singapore Sling.
Singapore Sling is a cocktail.  Invented at Long Bar in 1915. At SGD 27 (+ 2.70 tax) for the Original, it was the most expensive mixed cocktail that I’ve ever had.
Demand for the drink is so high and constant that they make the base in bulk and just shake it with ice upon order; there’s even a rack for all the shakers.

When my mother used to own a café in Korea back in the 80s, the drink – a laughable shortcut version containing gin + grenadine + OJ – was one of the most popular items on the menu.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure why it’s famous.  It’s not that popular.  Recent research suggests that the vast majority of Singaporeans have never tried a Singapore Sling.

It was okay, I guess, tasting exactly how it looks – fruity – not really my thing.

TOTAL COST: SGD 29.70

After brunch, I purchased a book on hawker centres – The End of Char Kway Teow and Other Hawker Mysteries – so that I could strategize The Singapore Diet to better effect.  A quick perusal of the book gave me an idea of the essentials items that I needed to try and where best to get them.  Regrettably, I realized that, with the exception of yesterday’s chilli crab, and maybe the vegetable dishes, but only because I love stir-fried greens, everything else had been a waste of opportunity costs.

Venue 5

Tanglin

Newton Food Centre is a hawker centre.  It was the one hawker centre recommended by BT and listed several times in the book for various items.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t read the fine print on hours, and the stalls that I’d come for were closed until later in the evening, so I had to make do with whatever was open.

Carrot Cake is a Singaporean dish.  The primary ingredient is daikon radish, grated and mixed with rice flour and baked into a jelly cake, the consistency somewhat like firm tofu but denser/chewier, and the taste, also like tofu, somewhat bland.  The cake is chopped into dice and cooked with eggs in one of two ways: (i) black, made with a sweet soy-based sauce and tossed with scrambled eggs, rougher texture and more intense flavor; (ii) white, made with fish sauce and fried flat into an omelette, crisper texture and lighter flavor.  The first is how it arrived from China, while the second is how it evolved in Singapore.  In Chinese, the terms for “carrot” and “radish” include the same root word “chai tow,” the only difference being that “carrot” is prefixed “ang (red) chai tow,” resulting in the odd misnomeric English translation.  Carrot cake is now most famously regarded as one of, if not the, quintessential hawker item in Singapore.

White Carrot Cake (2.5) (Item 11)

Based on a single experience, I’d say that carrot cake is pretty good, if unremarkable.  Ordering just “carrot cake,” I got what appeared to be the white version, though the eggs were scrambled.  The pieces of radish cakes didn’t contribute much flavor, just that squishy texture.  It went down very well with a can of Tiger.  I’ll try the black version before making a definite appraisal.

TOTAL COST: SGD 4 (+4.50 for beer)

Venue 6

Sheng Da BBQ Seafood

A bit full from the bulk of the carrot cake but rather dissatisfied by its blah, I wanted to get something light yet stimulating.

Sambal Stingray (2.0) (Item 12): I found the sambal sauce to be kinda bitter, but the charred flavor was nice …

Sambal Stingray is a Malaysian dish.  Grilled stingray, topped with a spicy sambal-based sauce.  A popular hawker item, both in Malaysia and Singapore.

… and the stingray itself was sweet and tender with a bit of chew.

TOTAL COST: SGD 10

Venue 7

The Auld Alliance

Located in the Rendezvous Hotel.

The Auld Alliance is a bar.  Not just any bar, but a whisky bar, specializing in single malts, 1000 varieties, 500 by the glass, mostly Scotch, every distillery in ScotlandCurrently, it’s ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for the city, which is how I learned about it.

1000 varieties, 500 by the glass, mostly Scotch, every distillery in Scotland.

The plan was to stop by for a drink or two and then off to a hawker center for dinner.  Not just any bar, but a whisky bar, specializing in single malts, 1000 varieties, 500 by the glass, mostly Scotch, every distillery in Scotland.  Anybody who knows me knows that I love single malts, more than food, more than all things in the universe combined and multiplied by infinity squared, even more than my sons, whom I’d trade no problem for a decent bottle each.  So I don’t know what made me think that I’d be out of there after a drink or two.

Because I buy almost all of my single malts in duty free shops, which carry only a handful of the most famous/popular producers, I’ve never heard of, much less encountered or had a chance to taste, the vast majority of the whiskies out there.

I tasted 11 varieties.  Officially, each sampling was 2 cl, for a total of 220 ml.  Although the amount was way below my usual limit, I realized at that point that my palate had become anesthetized and could no longer really tell the difference.  Also, I was beginning to hit that happy zone where I get ambitious/adventurous, and devil-may-care with money, a dangerous combination in a place offering ultra-rare whiskies costing upwards of hundreds of dollars a pop.  I’ll be back for sure someday – I might actually make a trip just for this place, fuck the food – so I wanted to leave something on the table for next time.

A vertical of the Springbank, my all-time favorite.
The evening’s best was this Strathisla 30.
The Glen Keith 40, distilled in 1970, bottled in 2010.
The Girvan 45 (third from left), distilled in 1964, bottled in 2009 – not a single malt but a pure grain whisky – which I wanted to try for comparison
Comparing two different eras of Johnnie Walker Red Label–also not a single malt but a blended whisky–one from the 1970s, one from today, both totally different; I don’t usually drink the stuff, but I was curious if it ever tasted good (no).
Another comparison, my day-to-day favorite The Glenlivet 12, also from the 1970s and today, also totally different – though no way of knowing how well the older bottle has been preserved.

TOTAL COST: SGD 209.51

Venue 8

Cosafe

I didn’t want to drink on an empty stomach.  While the bar didn’t serve food, it had a delivery arrangement with an Italian restaurant next door.  The items on the menu didn’t quite jibe with my general concept of The Singapore Diet, but I wasn’t about to leave all that whisky behind, just to grab a bite – like I said, whisky more than all things.

Char-Grilled Squid (2.0) (Item 13)
Albondigas (3.0) (Item 14)

Fortunately, the food was reasonably good, not too pricy, and paired well with the whisky.

TOTAL COST: SGD 36.49

Venue 10

Lorang 9 Beef Kway Teow

Getting on the subway before the midnight cutoff, I got back to Geylang and enjoyed the final meal/venue/item of the day at Lorang 9 Beef Kway Teow.

Located just two blocks from the hotel.
Despite the name of the place, and its wide-ranging menu, its signature dish is beef hor fun, as recommended in my hawker book and confirmed by the server.

Hor Fun is a Cantonese/Singaporean dish.  Consists of wide, flat rice noodles, stir-fried and topped with thick gravy.

Beef Hor Fun (3.5) (Item 15)
The noodles, beef, gravy were all ridiculously soft and luxurious and delicious – best dish of the day.

TOTAL COST: SGD 6

(See also FOOD GLOSSARY)

(See also SINGAPORE RESTAURANTS)

These are screen-shot comments from the prior site.  If you wish to leave a new comment, please do so in the live comment section below.

Leave a Reply