spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun

Otterly Cute

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Otters FeedingWas on my morning walk when I caught sight of a family of otters feeding on a huge fish – the little rascals had stolen a fish from the nearby fishing pond and dragged it to the adjacent river to for their feast. I have heard them stealing koi from ponds too, that must be their equivalent of fine dining lol. They are pretty noisy eaters!

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Tai Cheong Bakery 泰昌餅家 opens its first Cha Chaan Teng in Singapore

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家Tai Cheong Bakery, a Hong Kong brand known for its egg tarts, has opened its first Hong Kong-style cha chaan teng diner in Singapore. The diner at Holland Village comes after a series of pop-up stores and a takeaway counter at Takashimaya Food Hall.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家Diners can have a taste of Hong Kong with traditional cha chaan teng dishes at the 60-seat eatery located right in the heart of Holland Village. With already so many similar Hong Kong cafes in town, I was curious to find out if this one is as authentic.

Cha chaan teng culture came about in the 1950s as a result of Hong Kong’s increasingly cosmopolitan and westernized middle class. Back in those days when Hong Kong was still a British colony, only high-class restaurants served western food and most of them did not welcome local Hong Kong people. After WWII, in a bid to end such discrimination, local Hong Kong people started to open their own restaurants called Cha Chaan Teng (translated into tea hall) serving affordable dishes combining elements of Western dining with unique Hong Kong flavours for people from all walks of life. Such cha chaan teng operate-around-the-clock serving a wide range of food at a breakneck pace to match Hong Kong’s busy lifestyle. In fact, cha chaan teng is so much representative of Hong Kong that it was suggested that the humble local diner should be listed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

For me, visiting a (non-touristy) cha chaan teng is a must whenever I go Hong Kong. You learn to adapt to their pace and it’s the best way to experience the local culture. You get to share tables with the locals (tab toi), get scolded for hesitating over your order and overhear the latest gossip in the neighbourhood lol. Sometimes the waiters are the funniest bunch of people to talk to when they are not so busy.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家Tai Cheong Bakery will have a takeaway counter to sell its signature egg tart and other pastries, including a new durian and cheese tart specially created for Singapore and sold exclusively at the diner. Dine in customers can order up to 2 egg tarts per person and are not allowed to take away egg tarts. Customers at the takeaway counter may order up to 4 boxes/16 egg tarts.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家I visited the diner during its first opening weekend, and queued for about 45 minutes. You can give your name and mobile number to the staff, and the system will call your mobile once your table is ready. I chose to wait by the diner and feast my eyes on the menu.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家Piping hot egg tarts are the best! I always love eating them hot when the warm egg filling slides down your throat, and the crispy crust melts as your teeth sinks into it.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家We started out our meal with a coconut tart and an egg tart to share. The egg tart was up to expectation while the coconut tart was a disappointment – I tasted more flour than coconut.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家I loved my spicy cola boiled with lemon and ginger; it made me feel like I was in Hong Kong once again. The Hong Kong milk tea went terribly wrong though, it was tannic and didn’t taste anything like the Hong Kong tea we knew. Even after one packet of sugar the taste wasn’t right.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家The mains fared much better. We ordered the Three Colour Silky Egg with Rice (with roasted pork and crispy pork belly) after seeing it on many of the diners’ tables. The portion was huge. The curry fan in me initially wanted the Beef Brisket Curry Rice but decided against it after seeing the actual pitiful-looking dish being served. So, presentation does play an important part in whetting your guests’ appetite.

Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore 泰昌餅家
The Three Egg Macoroni Soup with Luncheon Meat was comfort food to me, though the luncheon meat strips were really salty. We were feeling a little ‘egged out’ by the end of our meal – almost every single dish had eggs in them so our cholesterol level must have shot up by quite a bit. Overall, it’s a nice casual place to hang out with friends, and I hope the downsides we had were just nuances of a newly-opened eatery. I would probably visit again if I am in the neighbourhood.

泰昌餅家 Tai Cheong Bakery Singapore
Address:
31 Lorong Liput Singapore 277742
Opening Hours: 10:00AM to 10:00PM (Mon to Fri)/9:00AM to 10:00PM (Sat, Sun, PH)
*Note that mains are available at 11:00AM – 2:30PM/ 5:30PM – 9:30PM (Pastries and drinks are available all day)
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/taicheongeggtarts

Tai Cheong Bakery’s original store in Hong Kong
Address: G/F 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 8300 8301
Opening Hours: 7:30AM to 9:00PM (Mon to Sat), 8:30AM to 9:00PM (Sun & PH)
Nearest Train Station: Central MTR, Exit D2
Website: http://www.taoheung.com.hk/tc/brands/tai_cheong/index.html

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A Taste of Handmade Tradition – Kim Hock Seng bak kwa 金福成肉干

Kim Hock Seng bak kwaThis Chinese New Year, I opted to skip the horrendous queue at Lim Chee Guan (a friend queued 6 hours) and try a different house of bak kwa (barbequed pork), one who doesn’t believe in making their customers queue for their candied meat (yes I am that extreme lol).

Kim Hock Seng Bak Kwa

Mr Ong Geok Hoo, 64 has been running his bak kwa business with this wife for more than 40 years. They prepare their bak kwa from scratch in their shop. In a media interview, he said “My bak kwa packaging has never changed, my recipe has never changed. My white singlet and white shorts have also not changed.

The shop is famous for its Original Barbecued Pork Slices and Bacon Bak Kwa (not available during Chinese New Year; I am so coming back to try this). Mr Ong encourages his customers to call and place an advance order at least three days before so they can just come to the shop to collect-and-go. His order chits stuck on the shop’s wall are so plenty they can masquerade as wallpaper. Traditional red boxes are piled high around the shop while trays of cooled bak kwa are ready to be packed for the next day’s orders. It’s definitely hard work, but Mr Ong is adamant about carrying on his craft for at least 10 more years. Expectedly, his 3 children have no intention to carry on the business.

Kim Hock Seng bak kwa
Kim Hock Seng’s bak kwa are less vibrant in colour and much thicker than those I have tried before, but they are tender to the bite with little fat. In fact, I meant to take the box of bak kwa out just to take one photo, but by the time I put it back, it was 500 grams lighter. In just 10 minutes. Oops.

Kim Hock Seng (Seng Kee) 金福成
Address: 34 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089141
Tel: (65) 6221 4882
Opening Hours: 11:00AM to 10:00PM (Mondays to Saturdays); 3:00PM to 10:00PM (Sundays)


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Say Hello to Robbie

London Taxi Bicycle

Weekends are best spent with my buddy Robbie – isn’t he a handsome lad? ;) I named him after my favourite Brit, Robbie Willams. I always had a thing for vintage bikes (and bad boys), but couldn’t bear the fixed gear, so Robbie who had 6 gears was perfect. It’s a match made in heaven! I love you Robbie (muaks!), we will visit more of Singapore in 2015. And I will definitely get you new decoration :)