September 3, 2009

Kiasu

Having not lived in Singapore quite a number of years now, I often have totally unprepared food cravings for the hawker style ‘street’ food (none of the posh stuff, thanks!) that I took for granted when residing there. So when P’s friend from the US visited London recently, we took the opportunity to pig out.

Off to Bayswater we went. Kiasu is the name of the Singaporean restaurant. As you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted by three large canvas panels full of descriptions and explanations for the terms commonly used by Singaporeans. ‘Kia’ means to be afraid of, and ‘su’ means ‘to lose’. ‘Kiasu’ actually means ‘to be afraid of losing out’. This term is often used on people who are competitive. Other similar terms are creatively displayed on the panels.

top left: kia lau peh - afraid of father hahaha

top left: kia lau peh - afraid of father hahaha

Right, now comes the food. The most drool worthy dish of the day has got to be the oyster omelette (or luak). This simple dish is of Teochew/Fujian origin. Fat, juicy oysters fried in an egg and tapioca starch mixture with spring onions. The important thing about ‘or luak’ is the ‘wok hei’ (loosely translated as breath of the wok) which is defined by our trusty wikipedia as ‘the essence’ generated by a hot wok. Now, this ‘or luak’ is full of ‘essence’ and is delightfully fragrant. Almost heaven on a plate.

Oysters enfolded in a crispy & chewy mixture of egg & starch

Oysters enfolded in a crispy & chewy mixture of egg & starch

Up next was the mee goreng and chilli crab. The mee goreng was as expected – slightly al dente egg noodles fried with a full flavoured, slightly tangy spicy sauce and a whole bunch of prawns, vegetables, egg and fish cake. Slurpicious. The chilli crab on the other hand was a major disappointment. As a popular Singapore dish, you would think they would try to get it as close to the original, which is mud crab cooked in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato and chilli based sauce, laced with light egg chiffon. This Kiasu version had the crab smothered in a thick chilli paste which took the joy out of mopping up any ‘sauce’ with the fried mantou (chinese wheat buns). Meh.

Mee goreng and chilli crab with mantou

Mee goreng and chilli crab with mantou

We also ordered the chef’s special of the day, which was Bak Kut Teh (Pork Rib Soup). Delicious hot, herby pork broth in a claypot filled with chunks of pork rib, pig’s stomach and bean curd puffs. Dipping the deep fried crullers (yew char kuay) into the soup and soaking up its tastiness added to the pleasure. Thumbs up.

Bak Kut Teh and a side of 'yew char kuay'

Bak Kut Teh and a side of 'yew char kuay'

You can’t say you’ve had Singapore hawker food until you’ve had Hainanese Chicken Rice. Steamed, succulent chicken drizzled with a sesame oil and light soy sauce mixture. The rice is cooked in chicken stock, garlic and ginger and is packed full of flavour.

Steamed hainanese style chicken

Steamed hainanese style chicken

Dessert was none other than a good, old Ice Kachang. A colourful array of red beans, jelly pieces, sea coconut and sweet corn topped with a mountain of shaved ice. Drizzles of sweet, coloured syrup made it a sight for sore eyes. A beautiful and refreshing way to finish off a Singapore-themed meal.

Ice kachang

Ice kachang

Kiasu Cafe
48 Queensway
London

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About droolfactor

It's all about my gastronomical journeys, and sometimes an inedible thought or two. One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story This is my personal journey where I devote my attention to eating, cooking, experimenting and taking chances. Anything I come across with a droolfactor worth sharing, it's here. I hope you'll enjoy this journey with me.

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Asian Yums, Comfort Food, Dining Out

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