My after-lab adventure was pretty chill today. I ended up taking a bus to the nearby Clementi Mall for some good old hawker food and shopping at the mall- usual Singaporean things.
Speaking of that, I heard a joke from one of the research assistants in my lab. He’s a native Singaporean, and he says that the “national sports of Singapore are eating and shopping.” HA! From my time here, I think that if shopping and eating could be sports, then Singapore would dominate. Heck, the entire summer is pretty much dedicated to the Great Singapore Sale!
I spend most of my time here eating and shopping, though I’m not complaining. It’s pretty nice to go to almost any MRT station and be able to get off and eat somewhere or buy something. It’s a refreshing change from Baltimore, where malls are scarce (there’s only 1 mall, and it’s a 20 minute bus ride away) and there are zero hawker centres (food is hella expensive and only in restaurants ).
Anyways, I ended up going to the hawker centre next to the Clementi Food Market. My tactic for deciding where to eat at a new hawker centre is as follows:
- Walk all around the hawker centre, looking what places sell what dishes
- Take note at the queue at each stall
- Go to the stalls with the longest queues and look at what they sell
- Eat at the stall with one of the longest queues and the most appetizing food
- If you can’t decide on what to eat, just go to the stall with the longest queue and order what seems the most popular.
I ended up at a fish soup place, since the line for that was about 15 people long. I hadn’t expected a fish soup stall to be the most popular, but if everyone’s lined up there, it must be good.
It took about 20 minutes of waiting for me to reach the front of the line. I wanted to try the fish head bee hoon soup, since it’s on my Food in Singapore page on this blog. However, the stall was sold out of everything except for their fried fish bee hoon soup. Since I had waited for so long, I might as well try their fried fish soup, ya know?
The hawker uncle makes each soup to order, so that’s why it took a long time. I saw that he added veggies, spices, fish, bee hoon, and evaporated milk (!!!) to my soup. I assume the milk is what gives the soup its creamy looking color. I’ve never heard of anyone putting evaporated milk into an otherwise clear soup, but this hawker stall makes it work somehow.
There was bittergourd in the soup. I’d never had it before, so I tried it. The first bite was pretty good- it was sort of like celery, but softer? I’m not sure how to describe it. But then the actual taste hit me. I now understand why the vegetable is called bittergourd. After that first bite, I tried it again- maybe the veggie is an acquired taste? Nah, I still hated it the second time.
I ended up eating pretty much everything else except for bittergourd. The bittergourd was probably in the soup to give it an extra taste, but I didn’t like actually eating it. I guess its role in this soup is sort of like the role of lemon grass in the Thai soup tom yum goong- it makes the soup taste better, but eating the actual lemon grass is a bad experience.
After I ate my yummy fish soup, I walked around Clementi Mall for a bit and ended up buying cute hair clips from Helen, a Singapore-based hair accessory company. It was expensive, but so worth the cost. Not to mention that the second hair clip was 40% off because of the Great Singapore Sale.
Overall, it was a successful outing! Good food and shopping…check!