Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Pleasures of the Flesh

It all started because HM had a serious case of ennui. Go for a walk? No. Movie? No. Shopping? Maybe. Vivocity? No. Plaza Singapura? No. Ngee Ann City? Maybe. It only ended when HM herself came up with a game plan - go look for a Vietnamese stall in a Joo Chiat Road kopitiam, one that the travelling hungryboy (HM is an avid reader of his blog) had reviewed. According to him, it sold authentic Vietnamese hawker food. A food adventure! Perfect, as far as I was concerned, and anything to end the impasse.

Hence, after a long day of flopping around like a boneless chicken*, we were finally out the door and on a long bus ride to the east.

*HM, I mean. We vegetate quite differently. I am more like a jello, quite content to just sit there and wobble.

For those who think Joo Chiat is a merely a conglomerate of establishments in one guise or another dedicated to the world's oldest profession, think again. Not all is seedy and disreputable. Personally, I think the Joo Chiat "scene", and that of other red light districts, provide much needed and refreshing contrast to the staid, antiseptic parts of Singapore. Of course, the morally upright residents of Joo Chiat would probably disagree with me, but, hey, there is at least one fringe benefit of living right next door to temples of the flesh. Amidst all the bars and massage parlours, there is A LOT of food, and at all hours too. The traditional Peranakan restaurants have been joined by an exotic array of eateries selling everything from Beijing xiaochi (small eats) to Vietnamese zhicha, reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of the neighbourhood, or, I dare say, of the aforementioned industry (wow, evidence of globalisation!).

We finally found our little stall in a kopitiam called Eastern Wind, practically at the end of Joo Chiat Road, near the Geyland Serai junction. It really was just a stall in a coffeeshop, one of these quiet little kopitiams where uncles can sit, alone or with a friend, nursing their beers without anyone hassling them. The stall had a sign that read "My Favourite Vietnamese" or "Favourite Vietnamese", I can't recall, and no menu. Hence, I had to rely on hand signals and what little (and I'm sure horribly mispronounced) Vietnamese vocabulary to place our order.

Sadly, there was no banh mi to be had. The travelling hungryboy had raved about this stall's version of the ubiquitous Vietnamese pate sandwich, but, after much uncovering of various food items and some (my) weak attempts to pronounce banh mi, the old Vietnamese uncle who ran the stall and I established that, indeed, he was not selling any that day.

Instead, we had:

goi cuon or fresh rolls

dipping sauce

pho bo or Vietnamese beef noodles

It was good simple food. For the Vietnamese hostesses who plied their trade two doors away at a lounge, it may not have been anything to write home about, but I'm guessing it was close enough to the real thing to keep the blues away. Certainly, Uncle got a steady flow of business from the ladies who would pop out of the lounge, order something and then disappear back inside. In response, he trotted to and fro with bowlfuls of pho. As for us, we enjoyed the meal which came up to $13 in total, inclusive of two bowls of pho.

Incidentally, the chilli packed a punch. HM had prudently parked the dollop that came on top of the pho aside, spooning it bit by bit back into the soup, to control the amount of heat. I had decided to brave it and stir it all in, since there didn't seem to be very much of it. At first, it was not as spicy as I thought it would be, but by the end of the meal, it was just a little too hot if shiok nonetheless.

As we headed back towards Katong, we came across a newly opened patisserie, Obolo, just before the junction with East Coast Road. We sat down and had:

golden maple-pecan baked cheesecake - infused with maple syrup and caramelised toasted crunchy pecans on a biscuit crust

noisette - dark chocolate mousse, caramelised toasted nazelnuts, crunchy praline feullitine & chocolate genoise enrobed in chocolate glacage

At $6.90 a slice, this was way more upmarket than the dinner we just had. I liked the cheesecake - the maple syrup was a nice touch. HM really enjoyed the noisette. Together with two cappucinos (which were really lattes, tsk), the bill came up to $20.50. The patiserrie was actually offering an opening promotion - three slices of cake for $15.90 - but we showed remarkable restraint in settling for just two. What HM couldn't resist though was going home with some of these:


At $8 for half a dozen, they were cheaper than Canele's. Ah, but were they as good as, or better than Canele's? HM will provide her answer in due course.



Blogger Sonicstarburst said...

Hey there,

Let me know how the macaroons are. DYING to try it...OBOLO's cheesecake is yummy-licious. Ordered it before.

We should go for coffee soon

7:32 pm  
Blogger blobbes said...

what a coincidence - we were eating the macaroons just as I came across your post. They weren't bad but we prefer Canele's. In terms of texture, Canele's were cruchy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside. Obolo's didn't have that contrast. Also, Obolo's were a little too sweet for our taste.

9:54 pm  
Blogger Sonicstarburst said...

I know what u mean, Canele's is crunchy. I first tried macaroons in Singapore was at Choupinette next to Coronation Plaza. Got mini-ones the other day from Gobi, again a lil sweet n definitely poles apart from Canele's. Shall try maki ng my own when I have time!

10:54 pm  

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