Standing Still

Can you guess where this Hokkaido king crab, uni and ikura chirashi is from?

I’ll be honest. I never wanted to stay Singapore. And I’ve had the privilege to spend half of my life away. But recently a friend had a blank ticket by Singapore Airlines to “go somewhere far far away where I’ve never been before.” I thought, what if I had that opportunity? Where would I go? Surprisingly I had no urge to jet off anywhere. And I love to travel. For the first time, I realized that I was content to be here, that I might have found home.

I’ve been moving around too much. I’ve never stayed in one place for more than three years since I was twelve. It felt good to just stand still. Last year, on my birthday I was given a ticket to Sydney for the purpose of eating at Tetsuya Wakuda’s restaurant. I haven’t used it, I didn’t need to go Sydney, Tetsuya was coming to Singapore!

I’m excited by and for Singapore now. There is a vibrancy that I never noticed before I left for college. And a big part of that is the food. Singapore is the only place I can think of that offers such an incredible range of cuisine. It has excellent street food, but also excellent fine dining options, making this truly a city for gastronomes.

The sushi lunch set at Aoki. No the chirashi above isn’t from here. (Click on the picture to enlarge and see the green specks of yuzu in the Ikura.)

Last week I was at Aoki on Les Amis Lane for lunch. It was good, especially considering that it was $30. There was ikura perfumed with yuzu zest, toro. But I was most impressed with the deep red akami. I’m usually not a fan of lean tuna, too little flavor and a soft texture. I must have been eating lousy tuna all my life because this specimen was so spectacularly different. It had a flavorful iron tang and was firm and meaty.

Stunning huh? The king crab, uni and ikura chirashi from the Hokkaido fair at Isetan.

I was still hungry after lunch. Walking around, I realized that Isetan was having a Hokkaido fair. They were selling the Hokkaido king crab, uni and ikura chirashi in the picture at the top of this post for around $25. What a steal!

Gratuitous food porn.

Nanohana nishin, pickled herring.

Another stall sold various pickled seafood. My favorite, the nanohana nishin had herring, sweet and tart with vinegar balanced by the spice of ginger. I liked the squid too, koika tobiran, flavored with glutamates from the seaweed and popping with brininess from the gems of roe.

Koika tobiran, squid with tabiuo eggs.

The truly impressive part was that all this was offered in a supermarket and that this roving fair goes to the heartlands of Singapore too. It shows how sophisticated Singapore’s epicurean scene has become. It is encouraging and one of the reasons why Singapore has seduced me into staying. That standing still isn’t a bad thing.

13 responses to “Standing Still

  1. I’m homesick, my ex illtreats me, I can’t get a job here due to political reasons; I wana go back Brunei! Don’t meant to rant, just want to share my views.. I don’t feel very ‘at home’ in singapore.. despite the good food, everything needs $

  2. In the past, we have to travel miles just to get certain food. Now, the food is coming towards us.

    After the first overwhelming Hokkaido Fair one year back, it is now a routine fair that happens every now and then. :)

  3. Aww sorry to hear that. Yeah I wasn’t too happy when I first came back. But after a while I found the groove. Hope you do too!

  4. Hi Reiz! Yeah I know right! Very grateful for that. This was my first Hokkaido fair. Did you go to the one at Isetan as well? Was last year’s much bigger?

  5. Haha if i’m in town on weekends, i will usually pop by Isetan to see whats up at their supermarket. There’s always some air-flown specialties over the weekends!!

    Last year is pretty much similar. Usually they just fill up the spaces in front of Mac, Mos Burger and several others inside of the supermarket.

    There’s one major one in Tampines mall over the weekend. It’s a big hit!

  6. I love going to Isetan too. I’m either checking out / lusting over the kitchen equipment upstairs or at the supermarket looking at the seafood and their japanese vegetables. Love how they have yuzu and fresh wasabi root! Now if only I can find a shark skin grater for that wasabi…

    Saw the ad in the paper about Tampines. Tempted to go because I really like the pickled seafood but don’t want to trek all the way to the east.

  7. Just realized that I didn’t include a paragraph (the 3rd one) when I posted this. It’s added in now. Fail cut and paste from Word. Argh.

  8. I’m a vegetarian. it doesn’t matter where i go, as long got fresh greenies! :)

  9. Any vegetarian places to recommend?

  10. Hi David

    First time visiting your blog – have enjoyed reading it!

    Really concurred with your sentiment about finding “home”. I’ve lived almost half my life overseas, and never thought I would settle back here on this little island. When I lived overseas and came back to visit family, I would feel like a “tourist”. When I first moved back, I thought I would always feel like an outsider, but after some time, finding a “niche” and my own rhythm of life, I finally feel at home! And yes the greedy pig in me can now hardly bear the thought of leaving this place with all this yummy food, at all hours of day/night!

    As for vegetarian places, have you tried the myriad of cafes and shops in Fortune Centre on Queen Street? Can’t remember the name of this particular shop but it’s on 4th or 5th level and sells vegetarian groceries as well as having a cafeteria.

  11. Hi Sandy!

    Thank you for sharing your story as well. Totally felt the same why when I came back to visit! Hah! I’m beginning to find my niche and rhythm as well.

    No can’t say I have. I love meat but I’m always on the look out for great produce to cook with. What sort of vegetarian groceries do they sell?

  12. I love your blog, just sort of found it.

  13. Thank you Susan. It’s always encouraging when someone speaks up. Really appreciate it.

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