Friday, December 30, 2011

Ruam Jai Thai Food @ MS136 Food House (Marsiling Road)

If not for the Great Kon, i doubt i would ever venture into this neighbourhood in Marsiling. There are way too many such neighbourhoods in Singapore and just in Yishun (where i live); i can count no less than four.

The above is the purpose of our visit - food; in particular affordable yet authentic Thai food that left a memorable impression on the Kon. In his opinion, the Thai fried glass noodles at ABC market is still a notch below the one served by Ruam Jai Thai Food!

We are seldom satisfied with just one type of food in a coffee shop or hawker centre and it is almost customary that extra dishes be ordered either from a stall that has a longer than average queue or dishes that appear on most tables.

Thai Fish Cake
Question: disregarding the appearance, what's the difference between the common fish cake and a Thai fish cake?

Answer: as far as taste is concerned, Thai fish cake is like a blend between a spicy Otah and a common fish cake. I have to say i like this more than the common fish cake and would have gladly popped a few more!

Phad Thai
This Thai style fried noodles is a must-order in any Thai eatery as this national dish is synonymous with Thailand.

Sadly, the noodles were too soggy for my liking and it didn't help that the taste was too watered down despite the generous servings of eggs and prawns.

Tom Yam Seafood Soup
Ask any Tom Yam guru and they will tell you that a delicious bowl of tom yam must have a balance of spiciness and sourness with a numbing effect at the end.

This bowl failed the balance check but i enjoyed it because the savoury broth was rich in ocean's flavour and the intense spiciness had a rather shiok after effect.

Fried Tang Hoon
I love it when chefs are not stingy with their ingredients! Having said that, the glass noodles tasted relatively light and was in fact, a disappointment.

Kon did comment that the taste was not in its usual robustness - likely one of those rare occasions when consistency fails.

Pineapple Fried Rice
Fried rice in a pineapple husk would have made this pleasing to the eyes but my eyes were hooked on the layer of golden pork floss.

Each spoonful into my mouth was simply a trip to heaven and i could not imagine that it has been so long since i last had such delicious pineapple rice!

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Location
136, Marsiling Road
#01-2188, MS136 Food House

Price
Thai Fish Cake - S$2 for 5 pieces
Phad Thai - S$3.50
Tom Yam Seafood Soup - S$4.00
Fried Tang Hoon - S$3.50
Pineapple Fried Rice - S$3.50

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) - Knowing Singapore and the World Through Postage Stamps

Over the Christmas holiday, the Gang of Three (minus the little boy) took advantage of the free admission to the Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) for some knowledge gathering activities.

For the Kon-Tan couple, it was their first visit even though they have been living in Singapore all their life! Not that it makes any difference for me since it was only my second visit and i am the eldest!

Why is the word philatelic used instead of the commonly known stamps? Because the museum concentrates not only on the beauty of stamps but also their history, background and significance etc.

Education is key to any museum and nothing's better than to start with "what is a stamp" in the first exhibition hall room.

Thankfully the museum is more than such boring stuff; Bhutan, the landlocked country that gives us the gross national happiness index, issued postage stamps that are actually playable phonograph records.

Other interesting stamps (hidden within the big stamp known as "Did You Know?") include those that can glow in the dark and a set of commemorative stamps that was embellished with swarovski crystals.

A classical postman motorcycle with the old corporate symbol used in the 80s, and maybe 90s as well.

The process of stamp making is part and parcel of any philatelic museum. For such a small item, the steps are quite labourious from designing, colour proofing, printing and error finding!

My dad used to be an avid stamp collector although i doubt he has a stamp representing each and every country in the world.

He is likely to have a more comprehensive collection for stamps originating from Singapore.

Even then, he stopped this hobby more than ten years ago and would have missed out on many new stamps issued over the years.

For a comprehensive collection of stamps in Singapore from independence (1965), you may pull out each of this flip-out panel. An international collected (sorted by country) is also available.

There's even a three-dimensional sadako stamp - complete with shadows!

This iconic pillar box was donated by Hong Kong Post after 1997 and i remember seeing two in SPM.

One of the life-sized models for Elephant Parade is showcased in SPM in conjunction with an exhibition named "Elephant STAMPede"

Designed by a local artist and in line with its philatelic roots, the elephant is plastered with tonnes of postage stamps! At first glance, i honestly thought it was a piece of vandalised trash!

Now i know why my colleague, Kevin, likes these elephant statues so much despite the price tag starting from S$55! They are really beautifully made and each design symbolises something meaningful.

On the second floor is a permanent exhibition that seems out of sync with the overall "stamp" concept of the museum.

Granted there are interesting facts like explanation on traditional trade, festivals and replicas of items used in the past, but they are all cramped in a small room.

I would strongly recommend the much bigger chinatown heritage centre for a better experience.

Room of Rarities on the same floor is definitely in sync: artefacts related to postal history in Singapore!

There's the old style postal box - i can vaguely recollect this.

An old style vending machine for stamps - i don't have any memory on this even though the younger Kon remembers them! Kaoz.... either he is wrong or i am having memory lapse.

P.O boxes that are more than 80 years old!

Before the internet era, international communication is limited to either expensive phone calls or letters. This temporary exhibition "Message Me" touches on the evolution of communication from Egyptian hieroglyphics to email.

My full name in Egyptian hieroglyphics - i presume i will fail miserably in writing (or drawing) if i live in the pharaohs' age. 

The typewriter is effectively dead in the 21st century. Amazingly, i am the rare few babies borne in the 80s who have used this before. The cartridges were expensive, the fonts were ugly and formatting was a pain in the ass.

Nostalgic Rotary-dial phones - dialling this could be frustrating, especially if you miss a number and have to start all over again. Number-pad dial is so much easier.

The Story of Dr. Sun Yat Sen?!?! In a stamp museum?!

As with the heritage room, this is merely a teaser on what you can find in Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall located near Balestier road.

To sum up, it was an informative trip where i manage to recollect some of the good old memories in the 1980s.

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Location
23-B Coleman Street

Admission Charge
Visit HERE.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Crab Feast @ Chin Huat Live Seafood (镇发活海鲜 at Sunset Way) for ieatishootipost AGM (Annual General Makan)

Even though i have a blog for which i regularly update, you don't see me attending and blogging any blog-related activities. My real persona is skewed towards the shy side and mingling in a big group is frankly not my cup of tea.

Therefore, i wasn't very keen when a friend suggested a crab feast organised by Singapore's most famous food blogger; Dr Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost.sg.

BUT!

The location of this cholesterol rich meal is well known; Chin Huat Live Seafood (镇发活海鲜) at Sunset Way and at S$60 per pax, i would consider the price a steal for an eight-course dinner consisting of five crabs and one lobster!

Without further ado (i was persuaded eventually), let's begin with the banquet!

Teochew Sri Lanka Cold Crab
For Sri Lanka crabs, they were a bit too tiny. With the exception of cold lobster salad, i would greatly prefer crabs that are steaming hot instead of icy cold.

As expected, photo-taking is an enforced pre-requisite in such events before anyone can even touch the food!

Alaskan King Crab Steamed with Wine
At S$138 per kilogram, this Alaskan king crab (weighing 2.5 kilograms) is definitely the highlight of the dinner.

Its meat was splendidly sweet and dripping with tender goodness although the chef could be more generous with the wine to enhance the overall oomph factor.

Stir Fried Boston Lobster in Superior Broth
Clarification required: where was the broth? i could vaguely make out some kind of thick sauce but it's far from the terminology of broth.

Meat wise, it was fleshy yet way too chewy for my molars. I would gladly exchange this for the delicious deep fried lobsters at pengerang!

Dr Leslie Tay came by the table and dispensed some basic information on Boston lobster. To be frank, i am never concerned with the species so long the chef can still whip up a good dish to satisfy my passive taste buds.

Chilled Vegetables in Wasabi Sauce
There is nothing fascinating about a few stalks of cold kailan, a glass of soy sauce and a small serving of wasabi paste!

For a moment, diners on my table (including myself) were unsure on how to proceed further. I would gladly accept stir fried kailan with garlic.

Golden Sauce Sri Lanka Mud Crabs
The enticing smell of salted egg yolk was so distinctive that i suspected a change of menu has been effected in place of the original golden sauce.

I was wrong; it's more accurate to classify this as a fusion of salted egg yolk and butter crab than to strictly categorised it as either one. This version is, however, the best of both worlds for me!

Buns are deemed a necessity to truly enjoy the sinfully yummy sauce.

Not much meat was dug out although this apparent disadvantage was compensated by the crunchy, buttery shell that proved to be damn addictive!

Black Pepper Dungeness Crab
Ewwwwww.... this dry, lack-of gravy display brought me back to the first time i had black pepper crab. It was too peppery for me and since then, i denied myself from having black pepper crab until i tried the gravy type at Eng Seng.

Once again, i am not impressed with the dry version. Some diners (for example those who prefer peppery bak ku teh) might sing praise about this dish given the deep set infusion of spiciness within the crab meat.

Crab Meat Ee-Fu Noodles
A regular feature in wedding banquets, this dish at Chin Huat had a visual twist; a layer of crab meat broth covering the noodles!

In this month alone, i have gone through ee-fu noodles at three different locations. And none of them is even comparable to this one.

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Location
Blk 105 Clementi St 12,
#01-30 (Sunset Way)

Reservation
Call 6775-7348

Additional Information
Whenever i watch Channel 8 on television, i would at times be bombarded with attention seeking advertisements claiming that Chin Huat Live Seafood has a wide variety of seafood; notably the lobsters that are taller than a three year old girl.

I am not sure about the lobster but one thing is for sure; the grouper is definitely bigger than this boy in the picture.

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