Eat or Be Eaten

Those who know me well know that all of my trip narratives include lots of descriptions of the food I ate. I sampled quite a bit of the cuisine on my March ’09 visit. I can even say I have managed to choke down more durian fruit than Andrew Zimmern was able to swallow on the Travel Channel (so I never have to do it again!).

After a brief nap and shower, I decided to get out into the heat and humidity, (which to an Upstate New York native only feels oppressive about 365 of the days of the year). I walked straight to the line of riverside cafes along the Singapore River at Boat Quay. There was a nice breeze off the river that made outside dining a treat, even on a 90F degree day.

Singapore River

I had had a memorable grilled Sundanese fish here last year and was keen to try their national treasure which I had missed last time: black pepper crab. It’s basically a steamed crab that is infused with a spicy blend of pepper, chili paste and spices. It’s what a national dish should be: distinctive and delicious.

The hostess took my order and I gazed upon the river, noting a brand new structure since my last visit. She told me that this is a huge new hotel and casino complex. The “boat” stretched across the tops of the three skyscraper towers is the pool complex!

Casino / hotel with rooftop "boat pool"

Expecting to be left alone till my food arrived, I heard the hostess’ quiet voice, “Excuse me, Sir”, and turned to see her grappling with two enormous flailing crabs. She held them out as best she could: “Which would you like?” Ironically it looked like they were fighting to decide which one was going to eat me instead! I began to get the feeling that “market price” was going to be up there, so I selected the smaller, which was still big enough to make me wonder if my side order of Singapore noodles was excessive. (Naw, they were delicious–so that’s what Singapore noodles are supposed to taste like!)

The crab eventually returned–“domesticated”, separated and perfectly marinated.

Black Pepper Crab

The bill was… well, let’s say (since my 2011 budget request is in review) that most of my food is either provided or else I eat at the wonderful hawker stands around town, where you can get delicious Indian roti, Chinese fish ball soup, or exotic fruits for only a few bucks. So this was my splurge. Still probably cheaper than getting lunch and a Sing Sling at the Raffles Hotel.

(BTW, I saw chocolates in the duty-free shop with Singapore Slings inside–can you say “office party”?)

I finished up by going over to the Clarke Quay complex (walking past the “reverse bungee” that rockets crazy people in a cage about 150 feet into the air, as the cage flips and tumbles), to have dessert with an old standby: the Turkish ice cream guy, who puts on a show while dishing up a mean pistachio:

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One Response to Eat or Be Eaten

  1. Lucie Malloy says:

    This is a good post and may be one that can be followed up to see what happens

    A good friend e mailed this link the other day and I will be desperately anticipating your next piece of writing. Carry on on the first-class work.

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