Date Archives February 2013

Stories From My Childhood, Part 1

Happy Lunar New Year y’all!!! (And happy Valentine’s Day if you celebrate it!) Chinese New Year has always been a tasty and food-filled tradition for me and this year hasn’t been any different. Most of my childhood memories are closely associated with food, and growing up in a food obsessed culture, it’s not hard to see why.

two pictures featuring both the soup and dry versions of beef kway teow, a local noodle dish.
From top: Beef Kway Teow in soup, with tendon, tripe, meatball and braised beef pieces, and Beef Noodle in thick gravy, with salted vegetables and braised beef pieces

Every Sunday afternoon my mom would bring me to music class, and on the way there, there used to be a really popular Beef Kway Teow stall which had queues going around the block. As the class was at 1pm, we would often visit that stall for lunch, and I would always top off my Beef Noodles (dry) – with it’s thick gravy, fragrant toasted peanuts and crunchy salted vegetables – with extra chilli sauce with its tangy undertones and capsaicin kick, and cinchalok – which is an incredibly tasty condiment made of salted krill, chilli, shallots and plenty of lime. A taste bud explosion, I love the combination of the silky noodles drenched in thick gravy, textured with tender pieces of beef, and punctuated with the high notes of chilli and cinchalok.

A layout of two pictures featuring a busy hawker centre scene on the top, and brilliantly lit fluorescent signs of the food these stalls offer.

Hawker centres are often a crazy maze of people driven by hunger. Besides the dozens of stalls – some selling similar food – vying for your attention, you have to navigate getting a table, not losing your dining companions, and making sure that your table does not get commandeered by other, louder groups.

So why go to a hawker centre? Often the food is wayyy better (and cheap! $3 is often enough to get you a meal), and really, isn’t good food meant to be paired with the appropriate atmosphere?

From top: Chee Cheong Fun, Fried Yam Cake, Fried Carrot Cake
From top: Chee Cheong Fun, Fried Yam Cake, Fried Carrot Cake

Although these lovely morsels aren’t anywhere near to all of what hawker centres in Singapore have to offer, these are certainly some of my must-haves when I visit home.

When I was little, my mother used to put me in a pram and take me for a walk to Seletar Market. There, there was a friendly matronly lady who, upon seeing that I liked the Fried Carrot Cake (Cai Tow Kuey), used to have a plate ready whenever my mother wheeled my pram to a table. Fried Carrot Cake is so named because of the little pops of diced salted radish that give the dish its characteristic taste. Add in fried egg, and diced rice cakes and there you have it! It comes in a white version and a black version, with the black version having the addition of dark soy sauce and sweet soy sauce. Unfortunately the market has since been torn down in favour of high rise apartments, but I still remember it fondly as a big part of my childhood.

When I was older, I attended a kindergarten that was part of the childcare programme organized by my mother’s workplace. The building that my mom worked in was located conveniently near Amoy Street Food Centre, where a middle aged man with a round belly and a white singlet dished up the first food that I was truly addicted to – Chee Cheong Fun. A rice flour mixture is first steamed into thin sheets of noodle, then rolled. Usually served with a sweet, thick sauce, I now prefer to unravel the rice noodles and toss it in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame seed oil. The silky noodles carry the hint of salt from the soy, and the fragrance from the sesame seed oil. These plain rice noodle rolls are sold in most Asian stores in Australia as well, if you fancy steaming them and dressing them yourself at home. =)

Food, to me, is a great conveyor of memories, and these are foods that give me constant (and enjoyable) flashbacks.

What are your childhood favourites?



Sometimes you want something. Then you set out a plan to get it. Plan fails. Suddenly this something becomes a goal. Plan again. Plan fails again.

Now it’s a MISSION.

And that was what trying to get to EatArtTruck was. A mission. A mission to eat tasty chicken wings and ceviche that has a reputation that precedes it.

It was meant to be simple. Check all the food truck apps and social media streams, find out where they’ll be, and then just rock up with money. Well, twice TWICE had I tracked down this truck, aligned my schedule so that I could be there, only to find out when I couldn’t find the truck that they sold out. Go figure.

But I managed it. I finally managed it. It took a lot of finagling, but I actually managed to get food from this truck. Lo and behold!


The famed chicken wings. Flavoursome and juicy, they are covered with the right amount of creamy sauce to make them luxurious. I love that there is a sort of flavour crust on the outside of the wing pieces, but somehow it lacks a bit of a kick for me.


The beef brisket in a bun with kim chi slaw and korean chilli wasn’t that great for me. I love the way the beef brisket was cooked, but I felt that the slaw on the top was slightly over powering, and the dish didn’t seem to gel to me. Still a nice beef bun, just nothing to sing about.


Now the pulled pork bun with mustard cabbage is EXCELLENT. The juices from the pork moisten the soft bun and I absolutely LOVED that hot sauce. The gentlemen in the truck weren’t wrong about that. It all melded really well together, and made me forget that I was standing there eating in the middle of the rain. It literally transported me to a hot summer’s barbecue, with the freshness of that cabbage just lifting what otherwise might be a heavy meal. This was an absolute joy to eat and it left us fighting for the remnants.

There was one last pleasant surprise that EatArtTruck had to offer:


The chicken in the Japanese Chicken Salad with Pineapple and Chilli was the same chicken (practically) as the chicken wings, but the salad provided me with the kick that I needed in the form of the acidity from the pineapples and the bit of extra freshness from the lettuce leaves. I must say that I much preferred the salad to the wings, because it felt a bit more balanced and more like a whole meal, but the wings are great as a snack if that’s what you’re going for.

Besides the wings, I really wanted to try the ceviche, but they didn’t have fish available on the night that I visited. It was definitely worth the effort, and the guys in the truck were really affable and lovely. I’d go through the hunt all over again for sure.

Hana Hana, Haymarket


As one of the budget conscious (aren’t we all?), I love this new trend of relatively cheap places to eat popping up in the city! As always, how much you eat will affect how much money you spend – the more sides you add on the more it will cost – and it might not end up being very cheap at all, but I just like the option of having a cheap meal if I so choose to.

The first thing you see when you walk into Hana Hana is this:


I love this automated process that allows you to browse through the menus and select your dishes. It’s slightly odd that it still doesn’t mean that your order is ready and waiting for you when you get there – instead you need to give them your ticket and then they will prepare your food – but I still think it’s great because it does prevent you having to wait in line while other people are trying to decide what they want to eat. After you decide on your mains, you simply take the ticket, select your sides and present it at the counter to pay and get your food.

What kind of a Mappen fan would I be if I didn’t try their basic udon with an onsen egg?


In this case, it’s not quite as addictive and tasty as the Mappen version, but it’s decent nonetheless. It sits around the same price point, I believe, but it just seems not as zingy and tangy as the Ontama Bukkake at Mappen. So if I have a serious noodle craving, I’m still going to George St.


The Sashimi bowl is decent, but it just seemed odd that the fish and rice were both warm. And warm sashimi, no matter how fresh it was, still tastes slightly bizarre and not a winner. 

There was a surprise success, however.


The mini bowls were an absolute hit! I especially love the hamburger meat with an onsen egg, covered in mayo and a Japanese brown sauce. It was delish, and actually enough as a base when you add some sides to it. Falling around the $5 mark, these mini bowls are a small serving with heaps of flavour, and are incredibly filling. On the days that I feel like a light lunch, I just have a mini bowl serving with no add ons.



I do love variety, and I really like how the choice of sides rotate at Hana Hana. There are some that remain constant, like a $2 pack of jellyfish (bottom picture), but I’m so glad that they replaced the pack of cold and unappetising fried fish (middle picture) with some other choices of sides. The tempura also changes, with me being able – luckily – to get a fried salt water eel (Anago) the last time I went.

In all, it’s a great change if you’re tired of what Mappen and Oiden have to offer, and is just down the road. I definitely would pop by for a quick lunch every so often. Worth trying out if you’re a fan of Japanese self serve food bars.

We ate at:
Hana Hana
5/209 Thomas St
Sydney, NSW 2000

Hana Hana on Urbanspoon

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