Only the Best! The ieat•ishoot•ipost Guide to Singapore’s Shiokest Hawker Food by Dr. Leslie Tay, 2012
Published by Epigram Books
First line: “This is a unique guide to hawker dishes in Singapore. Every dish presented here has been tasted and found to be exceptional.”
Book Rx: Saturday afternoon in Singapore, and you’re in the mood for some wanton mee. Where do you go?
I kid you not: Dr. Tay’s ieat•ishoot•ipost food blog gave us the direction we needed to navigate Singapore’s maze of hawker stalls. I bought the book immediately on seeing it in Kinokuniya — the blog is great but I wanted something handy to refer to without needing a data connection.
We love hawker food. Before coming to Singapore we were already familiar with a few local dishes: the glutinous goodness of chicken rice and the sinfully rich char kway teow, for instance. We lived a few years in London and paid frequent visits to New Fook Lam Moon in Chinatown for bak kut teh (the soup more herbal than peppery) or to Rasa Sayang for chicken rice. (I later learn that Rasa Sayang’s version of char kway teow is more Penang than Singaporean, with the Singaporean version somewhat sweeter.)
So we were very excited to move to Singapore and sample the originals. Dr. Tay’s book/blog turned up frequently when we searched for good hawker stalls. The first few recommendations of his which we tried were two thumbs up (Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Marine Parade Laksa, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle) and his blog slowly became our hawker foodie bible.
I love that his book is organized into dishes: from Bak Chor Mee all the way to Yong Tau Foo. It makes it easy to search for places when cravings take over. While there are one or two recommendations which didn’t please, it is simply a matter of taste, and overall Dr. Tay’s book was an excellent starter map for non-locals like us.
Our best discovery from Dr. Tay’s book: the gloriously messy, super shiok Hainanese Curry Rice. “Umami bomb” is right — the flavorful explosion of curry sauce, fried porkchop, stewed cabbage, and braised pork has made it to our comfort-food list, a reliable cure for undefined cravings.
Thank you sir, for helping us not to “waste [our] calories on yucky food.”