Courses and talks are effective tools in improving one's field of work or study. So, it’s only right to pay attention and absorb as much information from the trainer or speaker as possible throughout the duration. I’m amazed at the constant display of immense concentration of some participants. I admit that I can’t last a full hour without drifting to la-la land. It worsens in the final hour before lunch, when I usually proceed to guessing the menu (if the meal’s catered for) or start searching for nearby eateries on the web. I do very much look forward to this breather, lunch, but would attain torpor state by the first post-lunch hour. It’s an embarrassing vicious cycle that I repent but could never break. It doesn’t help when the lunch is deliciously heavy.
Fried bee hoon at Block 22
If not for the interactive nature of this recent course, I would have easily drowsed after each good meal at the nearby Sin Ming Road.
Silkie soup at Earth Jar Treasure
The ground level of Block 22 along Sin Ming Road is a bustling lunch spot and it’s not difficult to recognize the more celebrated stalls – the endless queue at Hup Seng Duck Rice, the large lacquered jars from Earth Jar Treasure and the speedy, battalion-armed workforce of Rong Chen Bak Kut Teh. In a week, I'd tried almost every stall that's worth a queue.
Yam rice at Earth Jar Treasure
At Earth Jar, I had the black chicken (silkie) soup, which is a traditional Chinese concoction to cultivate red blood cells, and some yam rice to go with it. I'm not anaemic, but it's been quite a while since I had some silkie, which I really like, especially the smooth greyed meat and thin dark skin that melts (and sometimes, sticks to the mouth!) - the result of sufficient simmering. It's served in a typical Chinese claypot and the herbs-to-soup ratio was almost 1:3. I tore the large herbal pack and nibbled some of the more common types...because I was still hungry. And there was Rong Chen with their premium pork ribs cooked tender in a clear peppery stock that's evidently Teochew.
An individual set from Rong Chen Bak Kut Teh
Stir-fried white rice vermicelli from a tze char unit at Block 22
Down the road, there's another stretch of coffeeshops at Block 24 that I couldn't resist dropping by. Here, I only managed to try the briyani and roti prata from Sin Ming Roti Prata/Faisal & Aziz Curry. Their prata is well-known but it was the miniature version called the coin set that I found more interesting. These coins (almost half the size of a Roti Bom, hence the name) came with crispy fried skin but relatively less fluffy (due to the compressive dough-flattening process to achieve the shape) than the typical prata. Pretty addictive, these.
Briyani rice with mutton curry at Sin Ming Roti Prata/Faisal & Aziz Curry
The salted vegetable soup with duck leg at Hup Seng is easily the most memorable dish for me. The queue was long but flowed steadily. To me, it was worth the wait. The blend of saltiness from the preserved vegetable, the aromatic peppercorns, slight tang from the small plums and savouriness of the duck produced a very, very robust and sensate taste. Every sip was a delight. My small (or individual) portion came with a duck leg that was tender and flaky. I observed a customer showing the young lady manning the front (the owner's daughter, I presume) an emptied bowl and she refilled it with more of the boiling hot, glorious stock. I followed suit. Such joy, itellyou!
Salted vegetable soup with duck leg at Hup Seng Duck Rice
Oh, I'd gained so much from this course, I did. When is the next one?