Saturday, January 16, 2010

Singapore Cafe

Today my wife and I dined at Singapore Cafe (12345 Bellaire Blvd near Cook in Houston). For those unfamiliar, this area is on the outskirts of Houston's Chinatown...the real Chinatown off of Bellaire, not the old Chinatown near downtown which is all but dead now.

I traveled to Singapore nearly 12 years ago with my brother and buddy. I fell in love with the place because it was extremely clean and the food was amazing! I was particularly overwhelmed by the 2-story food court nestled inside a parking garage. You read that right. Take a two-story parking garage, prevent cars from entering it, set up hundreds of food stands and you'll have yourself an unforgettable food court. Part of why this place was so impressive was the fact the food was amazingly cheap. At the time, a dish of rice, meat and veggies was approximately the equivalent of $2 US. So instead of saving money on food, I just ate 3 meals in one sitting. I would walk around and order whatever looked odd and/or appetizing, though not necessarily both. What else was I supposed to spend the money on?

So back to Singapore Cafe. I ordered their Singaporean/Hainanese chicken rice. Typically, to make this dish, a whole chicken is boiled and the rice is cooked with chicken stock but I understand the stock used to cook the rice isn't the same used to boil the chicken. The two are served with assorted pickled veggies with a side of several yummy sauces. In this case, the chicken was covered in one sauce with a side of hot sauce. The hot sauce is the kind of sauce I could eat with rice and nothing else. The spicy red stuff is vinegary and salty and limey and could potentially lead to world peace. The chicken was a free-range chicken, so it was slightly gamy and chewy. Though this might turn some away, I believe it's an essential part of the dish, not necessarily because the dish has roots in lower class society where the chicken is stretched to make an entire meal. No, the extra chewing is essential for me to prolong my enjoyment of the red happiness.

I washed it all down with an order of iced milk Milo. Milo is basically the lovechild of chocolate milk and least that's what all the marketing wants you to believe. I really don't care whether or not it's good for me. I just know it's chocolaty goodness in a glass. It doesn't taste like "American" chocolate milk either. It has a distinct grainy flavor...I guess it's all the vitamins and nutrients at work.

Eating here made me feel like I was back in Southeast Asia perusing the aisles of countless food vendors. And with the impressively long menu they have, I'm definitely visiting this place again.