Alright, you got me. The last time I inspected a knife that seriously was when I was trying to hack my way through a brisket and wondering if it needed sharpening.
What you’re seeing above is one of my favorite mystery writers S.J. Rozan and me getting a close look at a faux crime scene set up by the Singapore police force at Singapore Day in Brooklyn a few weekends ago.
The day-long festival, which first came to New York City in 2007, is a day-long celebration of all things Singapore — the government there flies in actors, singers and even recruiters with jobs in hand.
All of this is fine and good — but what we really came for that day? Food — glorious hawker dishes from only the best little stalls you’ll find in Singapore …
We didn’t need this sign to nudge us — of the hawkers the government had flown in from Singapore, I’d already had my eye on one: Hill Street Fried Kway Teow, a place I’ve been going to for years for delicious wok-fried noodles with fish cakes, scrambled eggs, bean sprouts, Chinese sausage and cockles.
It’s always a must for me when I’m home — the noodle uncle, however, has been on hiatus recently as his hawker center has been undergoing a massive renovation. So I’d say it’s been close to a year since I’ve had the stuff — simply unacceptable.
I miss the guy — and his noodles — and even his super fierce wife (whose sharp eyes and shrill voice puts the fear of god in anyone who dares to even pause for a second when placing an order) so much that that I was starting to mist up as I saw him frying his noodles. In Brooklyn, no less! I just could not believe it.
How were the noodles?
Not the same — the noodles used here were thicker and the ingredients were in larger chunks than I remembered. And there weren’t any cockles, which meant the noodles lacked in that briny earthy taste that laces his noodles at home. I did hit about four chunks of crispy fried lard, though, so that saved the day.
The carrot cake — a savory breakfast or supper dish of chunks of turnip (the “carrot” in this dish) fried with egg, preserved radish, soy sauce and a melange of other ingredients — was similarly disappointing. Most versions in Singapore are stir-fried so thoroughly you get a mound of chunks on your plate, each coated with sauce, chili and oil.
What we got in Brooklyn looked like an omelet. The taste wasn’t bad — for an American version. But if this was served anywhere in Singapore, I probably would have thrown it away and gotten my carrot cake from another stall instead.
I had higher hopes for Casuarina — a curry stall in Singapore that’s so good people drive from all over the island just to have breakfast there. The prata there — super crisp — and curry, are a true delight.
… did not disappoint. The prata, made fresh before our eyes, was hot and beautifully crisp. And the curry dipping sauce really packed a punch. I hadn’t had curry this good in a very long while — not since my February trip to Singapore, I realized.
While I desperately wanted to eat more — chicken rice! satay! — the lines were far too daunting. (Several thousand people — some of them Singaporeans who had arrived by the busload from as far away as Virginia and Boston — were there that day.)
… and other cool stuff. (You’ll just have to read the professional mystery writer’s account of our lesson over at S.J.’s blog.)
Hill Street fried noodles, amazing roti prata and a lesson on blood splatter … Every Saturday should be this good.