My favorite cup of coffee at Tiong Hoe, S$5
I start the morning at Tiong Hoe Coffee, one of my favorite coffee spots anywhere.
Tiong Hoe was set up decades ago by Mr Tan Tiong Hoe, who started as an apprentice in a Dutch coffee company in 1960. Today, the cafe is run by another group of younger folks, but you can still see Mr Tan in the cafe drinking coffee and talking to people.
Their house blend “Gachala” is an all time favorite espresso blend. It actually tastes better than many single origins I’ve had elsewhere. They also tend to have a wide range of coffee beans from all around the world. Unlike many San Francisco roasters which, I find tend to lean way too sour (just like the damned bread in that city), Tiong Hoe’s coffees are balanced. Fruity when they have to be, smoky or heavy at other times, but always with interesting notes (the “Gachala” house blend has ‘gula melaka’ flavors!).
The chicken rice I like at Sin Kee, S$6 with extras
My favorite ‘white’ chicken rice
There is no such thing as the best chicken rice.
There’s only the best chicken rice, for tourists who have never had it and who would like to stand in a line (Tian Tian).
The best chicken rice, for people who like dark style chicken with caramelized eggs (Tong Kee).
The best chicken rice that is not Tian Tian, but is in the same building and that has shorter lines and is similar in flavor (Ah Tai). Then there’s the best chicken rice in the north, in Katong, best after-clubbing chicken rice, best in the east.
For me, I prefer Cantonese-style chicken rice and I tend to not venture far from the south / west / central parts of the country. So Sin Kee is my spot for ‘white’ chicken rice, and Tong Kee for ‘black’ chicken rice. I don’t claim them to be my best, they’re just my spots.
If you’ve never had chicken rice like this before, don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re just plain, boiled chicken. Cantonese and Hainanese people do ‘white chicken’ in very skillful ways. They use specific types of chicken, different from the kinds we’d get in western supermarkets. They have a technique of blanching, steaming or boiling the chicken that I find difficult to replicate at home. It’s definitely more than just boiled chicken. It’s the flavor of home, for me.
Blue pea flower ice cream at Birds of Paradise, S$6.80
After walking through the city on a hot day (haha, that’s every single day!), I am craving for ice cream. There’s a significant craft ice cream scene in the city. It’s one of the things I love about it. But today, I am closest to Birds of Paradise, whose Craig Road location actually used to be the space of a well known agile software development web shop (Pivotal), so I feel like it’s my worlds colliding. Ice cream and software are the two main things I live for.
Macadamia blue pea flower ice cream with thyme-infused cone
I’m a sucker for blue pea flowers. I love them in drinks, in dessert, in everything really. I love them most of all in ice cream. In Tanjong Pagar alone, there are at least two places for bougie blue pea flower ice cream. Birds of Paradise, and Apiary. I’m a fan of both. And that’s not even a fraction of all the good ice cream spots we’ve got.
Mazesoba at Kajiken, S$14.80
Japanese ‘Taiwan mazesoba’
While I like ramen, I love mazesoba. I think it’s the perfect blend of supple noodles, tasty condiments and ingredients. It’s a mix of Japanese and Chinese noodles for me. This style originates from Nagoya, Japan, which confusingly calls it a ‘Taiwan mazesoba’. I like the one at Kajiken. There’s a Kajiken in San Mateo now, which makes me happy.
All in, I got to check off a lot of things on my ‘places I always go to’. I’m happy!