Thursday, 30 June 2016

The beauty of Beauty World

There may not be a Spinelli's, a Tim Ho Wan or a Ding Tai Fung. But it's great. Beauty World Centre (completed in 1984) is an example of how a place can be spruced up without losing its characteristics. However there was a news report earlier this year that its food centre on the 4th floor (same floor as this 'rojak' provision shop in the picture -- rubber balls bunched up like grapes, so reminiscent of childhood) is going to be bought up by a mysterious someone -- for some $17 m-- and to be converted into an aircon place!
Oh dear.  So I hared to the place. Managed to try its Beijing dumplings so far -- almost translucent skin with crunchy fillings full of freshly chopped vegetables and pork. Dipped into black vinegar and thin ginger shreds -- simply delicious. Many more stalls to try -- satay beehoon, mutton soup, wanton mee. I could already smell the mutton soup while tucking in my steamed dumplings. Stall holders are all so patient and friendly too. A pity they will close their business to give way to another boring aircon food centre with nondescript food. 
At least, let me try its char kuay teow first. 
Chun Tin Road (named after a dentist who was born in Hong Kong and got his education in the States), opposite Beauty World Centre. 
The place looks great after the Beauty World MRT station was completed in 2015 -- clean lines -- and bright. The carpark next to the MRT station has now got gantries -- so no more "Feng Fei Fei" and no need to tear coupons like mad.

If you are around the area, do not miss getting some old fashioned cakes, egg tarts and other goodies from Ng Kim Lee Confectionery. Has been around for more than 60 years.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Rear mirror

"REAR MIRROR" doesn't have as much Hitchcockian ring to it as "Rear Window". But it can be as scary.

Which is why a former colleague of mine, a photographer, didn't think much of the rear mirror. "Don't look behind" is his philosophy (mostly for driving, but for some aspects of life as well). He was (or still is, I am not sure) a simple fellow who believes in minding his own business.

"If it (the car behind) gets too near and hits you from behind, it is in the wrong. He (the driver) will pay for damage," he said, matter of factly.

It is increasingly hard to ignore what's going on behind you, though. There are raging drivers who believe that nosing your back bumper from just a centimeter away, would spur you to take off like a bird and drive over the roofs of the cars ahead.

It is almost impossible to drive into the main road from a small road -- because no one is going to slow down except for some rare kind soul. On top of it all, the driver behind would be blasting his horn at you. And if you look at the rear mirror, you will catch him making bad signs at you with his fingers.

And I don't know how cab drivers are able to over take so expertly. It's a big puzzlement why they don't all end up as F1 drivers. As for me, if I so much as to flicker a left or right signal, the cars on either lanes would speed up immediately, making it impossible for me to filter to the next lane.

It has become a reflex action for many drivers in Singapore to step on their accelerator on seeing flashing indicators. (Which is the reason why many motorists do not signal when they want to turn left or right. They just do it.)

So now, perhaps one can understand why ambulances have a tough time in Singapore.

The only way one could ride through the roads of Singapore stress free, would be to hire a cavalcade -- in front and behind.

Recently, I came across a picture of this photographer friend on his Facebook. He looks astonishingly young still -- and hang gliding in some Thai resort. Stress free. So I believe he is sticking to his philosophy of not looking back -- a dubiously good philosophy for most aspects of life -- besides driving.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Chopstick satay

Should have used some belly pork instead of just lean, hind meat. But still ok. Presentation lacking, I know, but no time as I want to eat them while still hot, 

HAD a craving for satay. The best satay around my place is the stall at Alexandra Village, supposedly to be satay from long ago Ponggol. But thought I should try to make some myself -- without bamboo skewers and without the need to grill them over a charcoal fire.

No worries, can be done. I think pork belly is the best. Slice them into strips and marinate them with finely chopped garlic, hoi sin sauce, tabasco sauce, honey or brown sugar, light soya sauce, a bit of peanut butter and Chinese wine (optional). Put in fridge for about an hour or more.

After that, you can make the sauce, using a lot of peanut butter -- use the chunky variety (like the one in the picture). Add a teaspoon of hoi sin sauce, plenty of ginger sauce (Samsui Woman brand), tabasco sauce, a dash of light soya sauce, honey or brown sugar, and lots of tumeric powder. Blend everything well, adding water till the sauce can drip easily from spoon.

Pour meat and marinade into pan and simmer till the marinade just about dries up. Then sear meat by adding honey. When nicely brown and slightly charred (in some parts, not totally), remove and put on plate

Now, add more oil to the pan if needs be. Fry chopped onions and garlics. Pour in sauce mixture, simmer till thicken. Pour in a bit of coconut cream and let sauce thicken more.

Serve meat and sauce as a dip. Have some cucumber at the side, or ketupat.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Green Dragon's anniversary

 Pic taken: 12 June 2016.

The wayang (Chinese street opera) started on the right foot -- by unscrolling a banner that said " Peace on Earth". No, it wasn't Christmas. It was June and the wayang marked the anniversary of the Green Dragon temple nearby. 

There wasn't a single soul out in the open on that hot afternoon. No audience  notwithstanding, the actors and actresses proceeded to go round the temple -- perhaps only the main players as I saw only three of them plus one holding some sort of whisk* slumped at the post of a nearby bridge (guess he was tired) -- to pay homage to the deities in the temple. 

Then, the three made their way back to the stage, met by the one with the whisk at the bridge. They took a bow to an invisible audience and unfurled the peace banner -- all to clanging cymbals and blaring wind instruments. 

After that, it was exit stage left. And there was peace as they turned in for a siesta before their real performance in the evening, hopefully for a larger audience than just me.

*BTW, a horsetail whisk was believed to have magical powers to whisk away evils. It can be used as weapon too -- you see them often enough in old Cantonese gongfu movies -- a flick of this weapon, usually used by highly skilled nuns, could send victims flying. I believe (if memory serves me right) there was such a nun in "Sin Hawk Sun Jum" (The Fairy Crane and the Magic Needle).

Pic taken: Aug, 2015. 
The Ang Chee Sia Ong (Green Dragon Temple) at West Coast Drive: A Mr Wang Dong Qing brought to Singapore the joss ash from a temple on the south bank of Hanjiang in Chaozhou, Guangdong. He eventually erected a temple at Pasir Panjang's 7th milestone (Tao Yuan Village) in the 1920s. When the area was redeveloped, it was moved to West Coast Drive, consecrated in June 1997. The temple features a Green Dragon pond, bridge (which used to spout water from two dragons when one stepped on the bridge) and fountain. Another highlight is the wall carvings depicting 24 classic examples of filial piety -- for example, story of the son staying up the whole night to serve as "food" for mosquitoes -- just so they won't attack his mother.
The legend attached to the original temple (Qing Long Gu Miao) in China, is interesting. According to this site:, green snakes were found near a temple built to honour an upright official (during the era of the Three Kingdoms). Any generals seeing a such a green snake would end up victorious in battle. Hence, the temple became known as Qing Long Miao (Green Dragon Temple). BTW, in ancient Chinese culture, serpents were more or less equated with dragons.