Of laksa and chicken rice

It’s funny, but all of my best meals of laksa have been in Sydney. I’ve had some okay ones in Malaysia and Singapore, but until recently my favourite laksa was at the well known Malaysian Chinese Restaurant in Hunter Street. It was exceeded a few weeks ago by an amazingly good chicken laksa at Sinma in Kingsford. It now has a rival in the day’s breakfast at Geylang, one that leaves the “famous Katong laksas” for dead.

Rather than dine under the hotel again we walked up Changi road a couple of blocks to another food court with most Muslim and Chinese areas. I was very disappointed to see that the Bengawan Solo kuih shop had disappeared (to be replaced coincidentally by a different Sinma selling jewellery). The laksa we ordered from one stall was simply superb.

The stall is on the left

B wanted to visit the long line of department stores that is Orchard Road in order to buy clothes for Alex. So we hopped back on the MRT, getting off at the Somerset Road stop. We emerged near to a Zara clothing store, but B found their range somewhat lacking. They were also missing a kids section and were directed to another branch.

First, however, it was upstairs to the Japanese Uni Qlo chain. While I chased after a highly mobile Alex, B looked at the garments on offer. Alex has fallen in love with escalators, so I had to steer him clear of them. Instead he played hide and seek among the clothes racks.

By the end of it I sensed that he was getting tired and hungry, so we found the food level and bought him some fruit and yoghurt. I found a Kedah Kuih shop, but their kuih lapis spekkoek just wasn’t up to Bengawan Solo’s efforts.

What a great prize! Does it come in the packet?

Last time we were in Singapore we happened upon a shopping centre devoted to children’s goods. We walked all the way down Orchard Road trying to find it again. By the time we reached Dhobi Ghaut MRT interchange we had given up and turned back. It was hot and the shops really weren’t that interesting.

Old shophouses at Emerald Hill

I did find another pair of shoes for my difficult feet, but not for as big a discount as in Hong Kong. It was difficult to muster up much enthusiasm for shopping, only drinking, due to the heat.

This tiny police lady seemed far too small for her helmet. Love the police scooter!

The small chicken rice serving from the very touristy looking stall was surprisingly good. Then we trudged on.

Eventually we got to the Zara. And didn’t stay long. I’m a bit sad that they are coming to Sydney as it removes one excuse to travel overseas. Or maybe not. The range in Singapore wasn’t as good as in Japan. Same with the Gap store. I was over shopping, lugging around Alex in the backpack or chasing him around the shop. Even B was saying that she’d rather go back to Japan than shop in Singapore. Fine by me!

ION shopping centre

Now, that’s watering the plants!

Tired out, we returned to Geylang and the same hawker centre from breakfast. This time, in the Muslim section with Alex asleep in his backpack, we ate really, really good mutton and chicken satay. We could see why the stall had one so many awards. B ordered some Indian rojak, fruit and veges in a sweet sauce. The pink drink below is made from rose syrup and condensed milk and was quite nice, despite the freaky colour.

While purchasing some bakery food for Alex we discovered that they also sold kuih. But again the kuih lapis spekkoek, a cake like kuih with layers of spice, didn’t have the softness and eating pleasure of Bengawan Solo’s version.

Back at the hotel it was time for another swim. A couple of Malays sat poolside. One then gave a huge spit into the pool before jumping in. Disgusting.

Geylang is a predominantly Muslim area and the food court and restaurants around the hotel was thronging with families enjoying the evening air after Friday prayers, giving the area a highly festive feel. As we walked down Joo Chiat road in search of dinner other festivities became apparent.

Geylang has a reputation as a bit of a red light district and young Asian ladies, obviously not locals, in short dresses and heels were popping in and out of the many bars and karaoke lounges along the street.

B wanted more chicken rice and we were walking most of the length of Joo Chiat road in order to visit the East Coast road branch of Boon Tong Kee. At the corner of Joo Chiat and East Coast roads I was disappointed to see that the coffee shop at Mary’s Corner that had sold the wonderful mee suah of last time seemed to have gone.

Prior to reaching Boon Tong Kee we stopped to buy yet more kuih and passed by Five Star Chicken Rice, which had lots of outdoor seating and noisy touts.

Hainanese chicken rice consists of whole chickens boiled in a special stock, which is then used to cook the rice, giving it a chicken flavour. The chickens are sliced and served with the rice, usually some stock and chili and ginger sauces. I’m not a huge fan of the dish normally, but when it’s done well, such as at the Ipoh Chicken Restaurant at Mid-Valley Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, it can be delicious.

Boon Tong Kee’s chicken was a waste of money. Boring, no soup provided, only the chili sauce. A real disappointment and a waste of a valuable Singaporean meal in both our opinions. At least Alex slept through most of it.

Then he woke up and most of the yoghurt and fruit lunch emerged from his stomach. We quickly carried him back towards the hotel, but he threw up again in the backpack. This wasn’t good!

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