Sound of Thunder Tea Rice

Thunder Tea RiceLunch hours are a drag if you work in the CBD. You have a choice between having really expensive sandwiches in a quiet cafe or reasonably cheap rice and three questionable dishes with 27,542 other CBD workers. So you either spend $15 or $3, depending on whether you brought tissue paper to chope a seat at one of the ubiquitous lunch halls.

It was reasonable weather to walk more than a block for lunch yesterday, so I walked two blocks towards Carl’s Jr.’s, but I saw the lunch crowd (at 12.45pm) there and decided I wasn’t gonna wait more than 5 minutes for a $10 meal.

Across the lane from Carl’s were several lunch halls slash coffee shops which had a few empty tables that didn’t have packets of tissue paper on them, which meant no one had reserved them yet. So I went and sat down. Then I got up to get food. Then I kept looking back at my un-choped seat and cursed myself for not bringing a packet of tissue paper.

Luckily, there was a food stall which was quite near my vacant seat, so I could rush the two steps there, get my food, and rush back before anyone could toss a packet of tissue on the table. (Seriously, I’ve seen people aim and toss a pack of tissues to reserve their seat. Even funnier when they miss).

You know it’s a good lunch hour when the weather’s reasonable, you manage to get a seat and buy a lunch that is slightly different from the usual fare. Well, it sounds different:

Thunder Tea Rice. Maybe it sounds less fierce in Chinese. Try it in Hokkien, and say it to your mother and see if she slaps you or not.

Actually, not bad lah. For $3.50, I had the brown rice version of TTR, which is actually some rice with lots of diced vegetables, some tofu, some ikan bilis, some peanuts, and a bowl of green muck which looks like condensed green tea with some mint.

I read here that it’s the meal of dieting “admin executives”:

Initially when I look at the Thunder Tea that serve at the stall, I hesitate when I look at the colour, but after trying it several times, the thunder tea is a very good food with all the natural ingredients used without any flavourings. The food really helps in my diet as it is a truly “Slimming tea” and it is affordable as well. I do not have to pay to go slimming centre now. Taking the food daily help in my figure. Two thumbs up for the food. For all ladies looking for a slim figure without any physical and mental suffering, I would recommend to take this food regularly. Not only that, the staff at the stall are all very friendly and warm person. It just makes you feel like having a meal with your family.

-Shirley Oh, Admin Executive

It was only after I read the review from “Mdm Doris Tan, Civil Servant”, that I had any inkling as to why it might have been named Thunder Tea Rice:

For those suffering from constipation, I would strongly recommend it. I can enjoy the good food without paying high price.

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of Wintertime Blues from the album “Master of Disaster” by John Hiatt of which I have the original CD.

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Wah, sian lah!

You really don’t want to see this in the mail (ok, not really, cos nowsaday so hi-tech, they sms you and ask you to go online and retrieve PDF file, but still…) when you’re dead tired from work:

SAF 100 again!
OK, it’s only for half a day, but still…

No time for nuffin’, except maybe some more Red Bull.

Kratingdaeng 250 OK!
It’s Kratingdaeng 250 OK! Don’t muck around!

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of Wahira from the album “Cachaito” by Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez of which I have the original CD.

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Please don’t flambée my backside, the food’s quite good

I am thankful for a lot of things, really. Like having enough money to give myself a treat after a reasonably crappy day at work. And what treat did I have enough money to give myself, you may well ask?

Well, I went and had dinner at that venerable Russo-Hainanese institution that serves the best borsch bar none: Shashlik Restaurant. If you’ve been there, you’d know the food’s real good, and you’d immediately forgive the late 70s lighting, the late 70s furnishing, the late 70s crockery and the late 70s waiters.

I’ve heard before about how rude and brusque the waiters at Shashlik were, and I’d like to clarify one thing: the waiters aren’t rude, they’re just Hainanese. They’ll stand around the bar and talk loudly in Russian because they think they’re the best Russian restaurant in town, and they’d be right.

And one of the fabulous things about the brusque borsch serving waiters is that even when there’s a bunch of them talking loudly in Russian at the bar, there’s still a couple of them brusquely pushing borsch, shashlik, and all manner of flambé on squeaky trolleys around the restaurant.

If you were to go there, on the 6th floor of the Far East Shopping Centre (not Far East Plaza, which is the cool and funky place with the funky clothes and the funky people selling funky clothes to funky people), I’d recommend you have the borsch to start with, then the shashlik beef/lamb, and then the flambéed banana/cherry/alaska for dessert, topped off with the best Hainanese Russian kopitiam coffee this side of Ya Kun’s.

I really think this is the best Russian restaurant in town, and I’m not saying this because I’m afraid the Hainanese waiters might flambée my backside if I said otherwise. Dinner was good enough for me to want to dine there again soon, which is significant in itself because before tonight, the last time I dined there must’ve been twenty years ago.

Got dress code one leh

Quite dark, until the flaming trolley comes by

Shashlik Restaurant
Then they take the stuff off the flaming trolley onto your table: Banana Flambé

Shashlik Restaurant
The coffee’s nosso good if you’re expecting espresso

Must be nice to the waiters, else they flambée your backside
Surf stop: Majulah Singapura’s Journal

iTunes Party Shuffle is playing a copy of Smoke from the album “Whatever And Ever Amen” by Ben Folds Five

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Orgasmic organic wholesome goodness

It was my grandmother who introduced me to organic foods.

She used to live in a shophouse in Seremban where she kept livestock together with my uncles and aunts on the 2nd floor, and where she also planted all manner of herbs and spices in little pots on the balcony. There was also a papaya tree on the balcony that eventually crashed, pot and all into the back lane below, but that’s another story.

Once, when I misbehaved (to a greater degree than I usually did), she put me in the cage that held the fiercest live gobbledegooking turkey on the planet. Imagine, if you will, a snotty, grimy four year old, terrified out of his wits, grabbing at the chicken wire, screaming for forgiveness, getting snottier and grimier and, not to mention, soiled, on account of fear-induced defecation, and you’d imagine a four-year-old me, being attacked from head to foot by Thanksgivingosaurus Max. In a cage. Watched by Granny and Uncles and Aunts. Like a Gladiator. Not.

And so, it was with that happy memory that I was re-introduced to organic foods on Sunday at Bunalun (Chip Bee Gardens, opp. Holland Village). I can’t remember exactly what I ate, only that it was good. The wild rice wild something something went really well with the wild pita bread with wild avocado and nabeh-sibeh hot wild chili padi, as did the wild olive wild puree wild dip. Only the coffee was a little tame.

A few minutes after brunch, I felt this almost overwhelming sensation of goodness in my tummy. I kid you not. Your body likes this organic food, and this organic food likes your body back. I felt so good I even managed to read theNew Paper on Sunday and Sumiko Tan’s Fear & Loathing in Blog Vegas word for word.

I have decided. When I get married, the wedding fare will be from Bunalun. Ten course meal of wild something something with wild something somethings for everyone!





Surf stop: Sheylara

Everyone Loves You When You’re Down from the album “Everyone Loves You” by Naomi

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Eating to death in Macau

There are few things for a tourist to do in Macau. These are gambling, whoring, eating and walking around looking at Portuguese colonial ruins. There wasn’t much time in my day trip from Hongkers, so I ate and walked around looking at Portuguese colonial ruins.

And they are really old ruins too, seeing as the Portuguese had already set up a trading colony on this little outcrop of the Pearl River Delta by the 16th century. By the 1840s however, the Portuguese were waning as a colonial power, and focus shifted east to Hong Kong, where your first ferry services already operated on a daily basis, with fast multi-oared craft known as centipedes plying the route between British Hong Kong and Portuguese Macao. Apparently, gambling, whoring, eating and walking around looking at Portuguese colonial ruins were the things to do then as well.

Today, I took the Turbojet operated by the Shun Tak China Travel Ship Management Limited from Chinese Hong Kong to Chinese Macao. Upon landing at the ferry terminal, I was not so much accosted by touts and peddlers offering all sorts of tourist activities on all forms of transportation – trishaws, buses, taxis and pirate taxis – than whispered at. The Macanese authorities must have clamped down on such things. I whispered back at the touts and jumped into a taxi and asked to be taken to St. Paul’s, you know, that Portuguese colonial ruin that everyone poses in front of to take a picture with?

St Paul’s facade (which is the only thing left of St Paul’s) looks over the city of Macau from the top of Rua de Santo Paolo, which really is a bunch of steps they recently re-paved. It was a little too sunny for my liking, so I didn’t stay long after taking a few shots and trying to listen to a tour guide explaining things in Mandarin to a bunch of Chinese tourists. I managed to comprehend something about a fire and many people die and fire and only the front is left, something something. My handy map (you can get this from the ferry terminal) did tell me to select Hutchison Mobile on my mobile so I could #83 SEND and REPLY #8324 and wait for a recorded message to tell me how St Paul’s was left with only its facade. I only managed a #83 SEND, then ERROR dunnowhat, before I made my way up some more steps to the Forteleza Monte (where I could also have #83 SENT). The fort is home to an artillery battery that used to protect Macau by firing its big cannons over the city and into the harbour, hopefully hitting some Dutch and Spanish ships wanting to have a piece of Macanese action.

Then I remembered I hadn’t had breakfast, so I traipsed down the Rua de Santo Paolo to eat some Macanese food in town. Before I got to the town centre proper, I passed by a whole row of confectioners, all touting themselves as the original purveyors of Macanese confectionery such as egg rolls, egg rolls with seaweed, egg rolls with pork floss, egg rolls with peanuts and those delightfully shiny and translucent tiles they call pork lard candy. I accepted samples of the egg rolls from every shop along the way, declining only the pork lard candies. Some of the quieter shops were quite aggressive in shoving samples into your hand, sometimes grabbing your hand and putting an egg roll or two in it, and then looking at you quizzically when you don’t go, ‘mmmm’, and ask ‘gei dor cheen yat hup’ and buy three boxes for your mother-in-law.

I was quite full by the time I got to what I thought was the centre of town. It wasn’t the centre of town, and there weren’t that many restaurants around, and I was beat. So I settled for one of those ubiquitous cafes and had a distinctly non-Macanese brunch of Beef Innard Noodles in Soup (Ngau Chaap Tong Meen), after which, I looked at the map and decided to walk around looking for more Portuguese colonial ruins.

I ran through another array of confectioners down another Rua. But this time, they were peddling bean-flour cookies, bean-flour cookies with seaweed, bean-flour cookies with pork floss, bean-flour cookies with almonds and peanuts and plain egg rolls. I ate one sample of each and was sufficiently weighed down to want to stop for a much needed coffee, and I was much pleased when I found I was on Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, which in Chinese, is simply called ‘Xin Ma Lu’, or New Road. This avenida leads to the harbour, where the kitsch-looking Casino Lisboa sits. So there’d be many cafes and restaurants along the way, so I thought. Nup. Just the one cafe, and many, many more confectioners.

This thoroughfare is quaint, though, with its two crowded lanes carrying the type of buses I haven’t seen in Singapore since the 70s. So cute. So I took many photos. After my coffee break at the cafe (which also sold egg rolls and bean-flour cookies), I made my way down towards the harbour, and passed Senado Square, where there were more tourists milling around an ordinary looking fountain, taking turns to pose for photographs. By the time I got to the Casino Lisboa, I was tired enough not to want to even venture inside the gambling hall. Instead, I waited in the taxi queue for a cab, which there were many, but they seemed to keep dropping off very ‘glamourous’ looking young Chinese women, and then pick up other ‘glamourous’ looking young Chinese women who had no qualms about jumping queue.

When I finally got into a cab by uncharacteristically jumping queue, I was zipped across the skinny bridge spanning the strait between the Macanese peninsula and Taipa Island. All I said to the cab driver was ‘I want to eat water crab porridge because my friend says I should eat water crab porridge in Macau’.

The cabbie dropped me off at the entrance to a pretty little enclave in Taipa, and told me to look for the water crab porridge place inside. So I went and looked. There were more confectioners and more egg rolls and cookies to be had until I finally came to a brightly lit restaurant with pictures of Andy Lau, Leslie Cheung and a slew of other Hongkie celebrities, dead and alive, all smiling over their porridges. This had to be it.

I asked for three of their signature dishes, and was told these were the Water Crab Porridge, the Steamed Eel with Black Bean Paste, and the Deep Fried Fish Balls. Within a minute, a large basin of orange congee with a crab’s shell and bits of claw peeking from under was placed on my table. The Eel and Fish Balls came soon after. I was about to eat myself to death.

The porridge is sinfully tasty, if you like the taste of crab and crab roe, that is. A large amount of roe is mixed into the rice porridge, which gives the congee its colour. The Fish Balls weren’t too bad either, and they had bits of fish meat sticking out of it. (Think of really good otak, only rounder, and you get the picture). The Eel dish wasn’t too pleasant, but mostly because there were too many bones to pick out from between my teeth. Still I managed to down most of the stuff on the table, thinking that if I really ate till I burst, they’d probably take a picture and put it next to Leslie Cheung’s.

The rest of the evening was quite a blur as I stumbled back to the main avenido, eating more confectionery samples along the way, and was convinced by one of the spruikers to buy two tubs of bean-paste cookies to eat on the boat back to Hong Kong, no matter if I was burping crab roe the whole Turbojet ride.

Estabelecimento de Comidas Seng Cheong
Rua do Cunha, Taipa, Macau SAR
$$ (HKD 200 for three dishes like above)
Food: Not Bad.
Chill factor: N/A

Other foods to try and buy in Macau:
Macanese version of Cincalok and Belacan (Macau, Malacca, same, same);
Oyster sauce;
Pork Chop Sandwich.