I don't usually go out for lunch on Fridays because it is a mad day for Life. We put Saturday and Sunday's editions to bed and are pretty much chained to our desks.
But last Friday, I have a bad burger craving and decide to do a quick eat-and-run meal with a friend at Wildfire Burgers + Bar (26 Evans Road, 01-06, tel: 6734-2080).
My favourite burger there is the Classic 001 ($16), a juicy patty without too many distractions. There is lettuce, tomato, caramelised onion and cheese, plus sauce. The well-constructed burger is a joy to eat. Better yet, the bun is a sturdy thing that does not get too soggy.
The restaurant recently introduced three different versions of boneless fried chicken ($13 for six pieces) and my favourite is the Umami Fried Chicken, drizzled with yuzu kosho mayonnaise.
That and a couple of Cokes make for a very quick and satisfying lunch.
On an overcast Saturday, I headed to Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat (116/118 Rangoon Road, tel: 6296-8843) for lunch.
Now the best fish steamboat I have ever had was in a Teochew restaurant in Bangkok's Chinatown, but the one at Whampoa Keng is good, in my opinion.
The flavourful, cloudy soup has depth of flavour and is loaded with napa cabbage, greens, chunks of yam and some rather gritty seaweed. The kitchen staff should clean it more thoroughly.
You can choose from pomfret and red garoupa, and we sprang for the garoupa ($50). When I used to do zi char reviews, I had written about overcooked fish at Whampoa Keng.
The trick is to remove all the fish from the steamboat the minute it comes to the table (and of course, after taking a photo of it). I do that this time and it works a charm, none of the fish pieces are overcooked.
Dip them into the tangy chilli sauce, slurp up some soup and all is wonderful.
But really, I cannot resist ordering the Braised Pig Trotter (market price, mine cost $22). Both the flavourful braising liquid and the fall-off-the-bone meat are perfect with rice.
SOON KUEH WITH SOON
The "soon" in soon kueh is Hokkien for bamboo shoots but these days, most places that sell the snack use yambean or bangkwang for the filling.
Poh Cheu (Block 127 Bukit Merah Lane 1, 01-230, tel: 6276-2287) is one of few stalls that sell soon kueh with bamboo shoots ($1 each), as well as the yambean version.
A thoughtful friend of mine gave some to me and I am planning to go there and get more soon.
The filling is not sweet like the ones filled with yambean. Instead, you get the slightly funky flavour of bamboo shoots and a much firmer bite.
Soon kueh is best eaten the day you buy it but if there are leftovers, refrigerate them. The next day, let them come to room temperature then pan fry them in a non-stick pan until the skin is golden brown in parts. You will not need additional oil because there is already a layer of it over the kueh.
Also, remember to call and check if the bamboo shoot soon kueh is available before heading to the store.
ANOTHER ADDICTIVE SNACK
My cup often runneth over and I am thankful for kind friends who tell me about their food finds or give me delicious things they are eating.
One friend gives me Jax Coco's toasted coconut chips and they have become an obsession.
She orders them from redmart.com. Each 40g bag costs $2.95 and there is a promotion now of five bags for $12.
The lightly browned coconut shavings are crisp and just a little bit sweet. There are two flavours and I prefer the one with sea salt. The wasabi one is a little too strong, and the Japanese horseradish masks the flavour of the coconut.
Although I just eat them out of hand, they will come in handy for sprinkling on a salad or for pressing into the frosting on a cake.
I would like to think they are more healthy than my other obsession - potato chips. Of course, I am just kidding myself but for now, I cannot get enough of these chips.
My mother has been making cooling drinks for me almost all my life. Every week, when I meet my parents for a meal, there is always a big water bottle filled with barley for me to take home. Sometimes, I get a delicious apple and fig drink or chrysanthemum tea.
The thing is that my mother never adds sugar to the drinks and I have gotten use to drinking them that way. I never have sugar with coffee, tea or soya bean milk either.
When I come down with dengue some weeks ago, a friend drops off some barley water and the sugar is a good surprise. It might have been because dengue makes everything taste horrible, even water, but that barley tasted wonderful.
I am reminded of it when having lunch at Creatures (120 Desker Road, tel: 6291-6996). The $28 set lunch includes a choice of house-brewed lemongrass and pandan drink, or coffee or tea.
The lightly sweetened lemongrass and pandan drink reminds me of the homey, cooling drinks my mom makes, and my friend's barley. The lemongrass is elusive but the pandan flavour is good and strong.
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