Why is it that some of the best food in the land is always found in the red light district?
Okay, I understand why these makan joints would be most likely to be open till real late; but it's the sheer variety, quality and fame of these places that continually surprise me.
For instance, in SG, there's Geylang. And people make pilgrimages to Geylang for, among other things, claypot rice, dao huay, beef kuayteow, Taiwanese stinky tofu, durian joints and Sin Huat.
Sin Huat is a grubby, dimly lit coffeeshop that makes no attempt whatsoever to lighten/prettify the atmosphere. The lighting is provided for by dim flourescent tubes. The tables are, well... utilitarian, and the chairs plastic.
But this same Sin Huat place has actually been featured in the Food Channel, with Anthony Bourdain slurping its stuff down, it's also got mentions in the New York Times, and several US papers including one in Boston, and according to local guide, the Makansutra, it gets... SIX chopsticks. This is equivalent to getting, oh four Michelin Stars or something.
With so much hype, everyone who even claims to be half a foodie will make that little pilgrimage to you know, actually find out
what it is all about.
Okay, I grant you, it's pretty nice. But it's not die die must go back! And between both of us, we had a small veg - stir fried kai lan, a small grouper and a plate of the famous crab beehoon. And guess what is the damage? $98 bucks. No joke. In a coffeeshop.
Well, yes, we were very full after the meal; and it was something we simply had
to try out, but whoa... first and last time man.
The chef/owner/waiter one man show is also notorious for being rather grumpy. But here in Sg, we looove our grumpy cooks. In fact, the grumpier and nastier they are, the longer the queues.
You should visit Karen's site - look at the links on the side - and read about the Eng Seng Pepper Crab Nazi. This woman basically yells at you, essentially orders the food for you, but they are so popular that on a weekday, they are sold out of crabs an hour and a half into opening!
I'll admit any day that the pepper sauce is simply fantastic - rich, buttery, spicy, yummy with the consistency of tar. It also looks like tar, but its manna from heaven, I tell you.
So in the same way, there are char kuay teow nazis; prawn mee nazis... you get the idea... scattered around the island.
See, the reasoning is if they can afford to be soooo mean to customers; they must
have something good to offer!
We are suckers for punishment lah, I tell you.