I. Am. SO. HAPPY!!!!
Oh gosh…I wish I can even convey in words how absolutely ELATED I feel to be back in Singapore. Yes, the weather really sucks. I am taking 3 showers a day, which is pointless because I start sweating again the moment I step out of the shower. I also just got caught in a sudden massive storm…but honestly, I just cannot stop smiling like an idiot.
It’s amazing…how a place can have such an emotional power over you. I wouldn’t call Singapore my home. I wouldn’t call Singapore my favorite nation. But it definitely evokes strong and passionate emotions within me.
I feel almost emotionally unstable, because I feel like I am being tugged at every cell of my body by everything around me: The food, the smell, the people, the language…they all trigger so many different layers of memories and nostalgia.
But the best feeling…came from meeting my beloved life saviors here in Singapore: my church friends. I will eternally be grateful and indebted to the group of people here who changed my life around with their prayers, love, and encouragement. These are the people who stuck by me even though I was the sick, Anorexic daughter of the pastor. Instead of judging me and my dad, they embraced me, and repeated to me over and over again how precious and beloved I was until I started believing that myself.
Not gonna lie: I walked into church this morning, feeling rather awkward, and almost shy. How the heck do I greet these people? Just a simple smile and “hi”? Do I hug them? Shake their hands? Get on my knees and bow to them from gratefulness? Because inside, that was what I felt like doing.
I wanted to rush up to them and scream my head off in joy. I wanted to drop to my knees and thank them for everything they’ve done for me. I wanted to bawl my eyes out.
Don’t worry, I did none of those things. Our greetings were reserved and without any fuss, just the way all Singaporeans are. But from their delighted expressions, and their exasperation in trying to find a way to say I have gained weight without using the word “fat”…it was endearing and adorable and wonderful:
“Woa lao, So-FIA!” (No, no, it’s So-PHI-A!)
“Wow your face looks…flesher!” (Eh?)
“Oy, you look so much…fat…I mean, better!” (Hee, I know)
“Ai, you’ve got hair!” (Um, thanks…)
“Hi, you devil lah!” (Go to hell!)
That last sentence was of course uttered by my best friend Jing Wen:
Don’t mind her—it’s an inside-joke between her and me to show our endearments by calling each other names. I’ve shared my story a bit with Jing Wen here.
She is one of my best friends in the whole world. Our strong relationship is evident by the fact that we can still remain so close while living thousands of miles away from each other. When we meet, it’s like we’ve never really even been apart. We love each other to death, but no way are we gonna say that to each other’s faces! Because we’re so cool like that.
Please excuse the disproportion in this picture. Jing Wen is a good one head shorter than me. Not to generalize, but most Singaporeans are freaking short.
We went out for lunch at one of her favorite restaurants in Bugis Junction after church:
Shokudo Coffee House! Although I wanted Singaporean food, I was happy to come here because I ADORE Japanese fusion food, and Singapore has one of the best Japanese fusion food I know.
We started off with some kind of matcha iced drink:
Jing Wen ordered the Roasted Salmon and Roe Pasta:
Fresh-fried salmon on pasta with mentaiko and salmon roe.
Wow. Two kinds of salmon in one dish!
Only the Japanese would think to put fish eggs on pasta!
I did some research on this place, and heard that the pizza was amazing, so I order the Hotate Mentaiko Seafood Pizza:
Crispy pizza crust, mentaiko, scallops and bonito flakes.
OMG. Love, love, love! what I love is that they really go heavy on the cheese, and light on the crust. Sooo cheesy!
And if you’ve never tried bonito flakes before…GO try it! It’s dried, fermented, smoked, and shaved fish flakes, and it dances before your very eyes, like wiggly worms. Okay, not the best description…but they are fascinating to watch, and they taste so flavorful for something so thin like paper.
The only complaint I had? There was simply not enough mentaiko. I’m betting that there’s a lot of you who don’t know what mentaiko is…but it’s basically fish eggs. The roe of a fish called Alaska Pollock, to be exact. It’s rather expensive, which is probably why they were so skimpy on this ingredient.
This was delicious, but not enough to completely fill my tummy. The Japanese are notorious for their eensy meensy portions. So we stopped by Yami Yogurt for some frozen yogurt. Here were the flavor selections.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Without question, we both wanted the macadamia nut frozen yogurt! Topped with granola:
In case you are wondering, the frozen yogurt still had an intense tanginess, despite having the lovely, creamy macadamia nut taste. Lovely! By the way, Singapore has tons of froyo shops…but no Red Mango! No Pinkberry, either.
After that we walked around Bugis Junction. It’s one of the hip places to go in Singapore…great shops, great food, and tons of young people.
On the way we stopped to pick up some milk tea at the famous Ya Kun Kaya Toast stall, which sells traditional Singaporean breakfast foods like kaya toast and kopi-o:
We also stopped by the market, in which I found my love, the beautiful kabocha:
Oh, my Love! It’s so much cheaper in Singapore, too! I didn’t buy it, though. Instead, I picked up some Singaporean snacks that I missed so much:
Green Tea Steamed Cake! Kinda squished…but still awesome!
And Jollibean peanut pancakes!!! Three of them, as usual!
Did you know? I used to eat three of these spongy, delightful crushed-peanut-filled pancakes every single day for my midnight snack when I was in Singapore.
If you’re ever in Singapore…please, please, please pick one of these up! It’s only SGD$1 per piece! The filling is fresh-ground peanuts and sugar…so crunchy, creamy, and very very peanutty!
Another food you have to try…is fried carrot cake, my most absolute favorite hawker food in Singapore. Which is what I ate for dinner. I went to the local food court with my two wonderful hosts, Liwen and Wengang. And no, this carrot cake is not the dessert cake with cream cheese frosting that you may be thinking.
Instead, it is really more of a radish cake, a pressed cake made of rice flour and daikon. The mixture is first steamed and then cut into little rectangles, and then fried with garlic, little pickled radishes, fish sauce (or sweet soy sauce if you ask for it black), and two whole beaten eggs.
This is SO good. The egg is fried up to a crisp, and the radish cakes are slightly crispy in the outside, creamy in the inside. The pickled radish added adds a bit of crunch and zing.
The cook forgot that I asked for it spicy…so I had to slather on my own douse of chili oil. Now you know why I can eat chili oil by the spoonful!
Wengang wanted fried rice. This simple, minimalist guy always wants fried rice. It’s probably the last meal he’d ask for. But the food court didn’t have fried rice, so he ordered the closest thing he could find:
Roast duck rice. The rice is doused in some kind of sweet and savory braised duck sauce, and topped with roasted duck, boiled peanuts, and boiled egg.
My other friend and Wengang’s wife, Liwen, ordered something light:
Hot pot Fish maw and tofu in a spicy gravy. With side of rice and soup. (I was busy lining up for my carrot cake, so Liwen kindly took a picture of her food for me…without me asking! Do you see why I love this couple so much now?)
Now, just to let you know in case I am unable to post tomorrow, I am leaving early morning on Tuesday for Hong Kong with Jing Wen. She and I planned out our itinerary for the trip today, and basically, all we’re doing is shopping and eating. Turns out Jing Wen is as much as a foodie as me, and she practically already did all the research for food we’re gonna eat!
But the challenge is to spend less than SGD$60 (USD$36) per day on food and other expenses excluding accomodation. Can we do it?! Well, we kind of have to…because that’s all we’re bringing with us. We’ve got our credit cards with us just in case…but wish us luck!! It’s gonna be a tight squeeze for sure!