New Year’s Dinner at ‘New York, New York’ at CityLink Mall

We were running behind when it came time for the fireworks show so we had to haul ass down to the Esplanade area without stopping on the way for dinner. Luckily, there’s a ‘New York, New York’ restaurant in CityLink Mall, which you walk through to get to the Esplanade area.

The last time we ate at ‘New York, New York’ it was the DownTown East location and it left something to be desired. I guess it was just what we chose to eat that time though, because our New Year’s Eve dinner was EXCELLENT.

New Year's Eve 09 - 007

We started off with an appetizer of dry-spiced spare ribs.

New Year's Eve 09 - 008

Then we moved on to our main course! We both had fajitas. My wife had beef and I got the chicken and beef combo (pictured above). They tasted great, and they even came with guacamole. I hadn’t had guacamole in quite a while so that was a nice treat and the strips of beef tasted great!

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Unfortunately we let our eyes get bigger than our stomachs and we weren’t able to finish everything, but hey, it was New Year’s Eve so what the hell? Gotta be a little decadent sometimes right?

The place was packed. We had to wait on a table when we got there. Even so, we managed to get in and out in about an hour. At 10:15 PM we started heading for the Esplanade. It was madness. You’ll see it in the next post. I’m just waiting on the video to finish uploading to YouTube. I recorded the entire fireworks show so it’s taking a bit of time.

If You’re American, You Owe It To Yourself To Watch Food Inc.

Food Inc. is a documentary that explores the way the food industry has changed since the 1930s.  Have you ever stopped to wonder where you’re food is coming from?  Have you ever wondered how it’s grown, how it’s handled, treated, and brought to market?  Have you ever wondered just how healthy it is?  Go take a look at the items in your kitchen.  Check the labels.  How many have high fructose corn syrup in them?  Ever wonder why everything from your hamburger meat to your Coke has that in it?  Can’t figure out why your carrots cost more than a bag of Doritos? hundred years ago, foods (meat, grains, and vegetables) were all grown in a much safer, cleaner way.  Big business has changed all that.  There used to be thousands of meat processing plants in the US.  Now there are only 13, all controlled by just a handful of companies.  That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they were doing their business responsibly, but they’re not.  How often over the years have we heard about food poisoning cases?  Why aren’t these plants shut down for continually producing bad meat?  Well, the answer is that big business uses its monetary leverage, as well as by placing former high level employees in key government positions, to influence government policy.  They’ve even continually worked to prevent food from being labeled properly.  For example, wouldn’t you like to know if the food you’re buying for your children is genetically modified?  Besides that, these big businesses and government policies are skewing our food industry in such a way that junk food is more affordable than healthy foods.

I think it’s important that people be more aware of what they’re eating and where it comes from.  This movie can explain that to you in an interesting way.  Seriously, it’s a documentary but it’s not boring at all. I had no idea about some of the things they do to raise the food we eat, and I know now why food in the US is so much cheaper than in other parts of the world. I also know why there are so many obese Americans with Type II diabetes. Our government is failing us in a very important way, but it’s kept out of public view. This documentary will definitely influence how I make future purchases in the grocery store, when I get back to the US of course!

To learn about abuses in the system, including gene patenting, using illegal immigrants for labor, and how to find healthy alternatives, watch Food Inc.

Here’s the trailer:

If you’re interested in getting a copy for yourself, you can follow the link to Amazon included in this post or, for more information, visit this page.

Craving Food From Home

Lately I’ve had the weirdest craving. I really want a can of pork ‘n’ beans. Ya, weird right? Sometimes I crave NYC pizza (‘cuz no other pizza comes close), sometimes I crave my grandmother’s homemade biscuits and gravy (yup, made from scratch). Lately though, it’s just plain old canned pork ‘n’ beans.

I suppose it’s just a symptom of my having been outside the US for such a long amount of time. A couple of other expat bloggers I’m familiar with have also been expressing similar sentiments recently. Sometimes, no matter where you are, and no matter how good the food is, you just want to eat something that reminds you of home.

Luckily, Singapore is fairly well modernized and most grocery chains like Cold Storage, Fairprice, and especially Giants carry a fair amount of imported products. They do come with a higher price tag, but occasionally I feel the need to indulge myself and get that bottle of Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup, that box of Bisquick buttermilk pancakes, that bottle of Season All, or a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup.

Imagine my surprise though, when I found this:

I haven’t seen this for sale in a grocery store in a long time. I haven’t exactly looked for it actively, but the last time I made it was 8 years ago and I remember it being very good! This Hurst’s HamBeens Brand “15 Bean Soup” comes with 1 pound of beans and a seasoning packet. You’re encouraged to add pork or smoked sausage to it, and the last time I made it I tossed in some jalapeños which really added to the flavor. When it’s ready to eat, it’s a very thick soup that can be eaten by itself and is very filling. Though, after living in Asia for so long, I have this weird craving to eat it over rice.

Sometimes, small things like that make all the difference.

Amigos; Western Food

When I moved to Asia I knew I was going to be giving up a few things. One of those things was easy access to cow meat. Singapore doesn’t have much in the way of cheap beef, or reasonably priced steaks. Or, so I thought.

During my first visit to Singapore in March of 2008 I saw that a typical diet here consists of mostly chicken, pork, or fish and rice or noodles with a small portion of some green leafy vegetable. Soups containing those ingredients are also popular. That’s pretty much all I’ve eaten for the last year as well. Not that I’m complaining! A lot of those dishes are delicious! But, I had a craving for something a bit more solid than that, and the last time I had a good amount of beef was on my birthday in the Philippines in March of this year. Even then it wasn’t a steak dinner as most Americans would envision it.

I had resigned myself to the belief that I would only have a good steak dinner when I was back in the US, so I wasn’t actively looking around for good deals. I didn’t want to break my budget to get something I can easily do without.

When my wife and I first agreed to rent our current place in Pasir Ris, the agent that located the property for us gave us a short tour of the area. Well, actually we went on an hour long walk around a good portion of the neighborhood but it was so exciting that we hardly noticed the distance we covered until we looked at it on a map later.

During this walk, we passed a small shop that was part of a hawker area. It’s called ‘Amigos; Western Food’ and doesn’t have a very impressive exterior, but the agent went into detail about how good the food they serve is. I smiled and nodded, but I wasn’t really convinced, and wasn’t in any hurry to try it. A few days ago I had an interesting conversation with a guy from Egypt, who also had nothing but good things to say about the place.

Last night, my wife and I finally got around to checking it out. Good thing the place is open late, because we didn’t make it over there until about 1am! I think we were the only customers there. We took a look at the menu, and I was surprised to see that there was a steak available for only 13.90, so I ordered it. My wife got a plate of lamb chops, which was also reasonably priced at about 9 dollars or so. Still, it was cheap, so I wasn’t expecting much. I certainly wasn’t expecting something that looked better than the picture on the menu. That’s sort of a joke, where what you order rarely looks as tasty as the picture. This time, the opposite was true, and we were more than pleasantly surprised to find such great looking dishes at a hawker stall.

The lamb chops.

The steak.

So, I suppose the real question is, how did it taste? That was the second surprise. The stuff was better than great! It was fantastic! In anticipation of a potential fail whale, we asked for Tabasco sauce, but we wound up not needing it. As you can see from the pictures above, both dishes came with a sauce. Each had a distinct taste that seemed appropriate to the meat. The potato wedges were also fantastic and the veggies used for the small salad were crisp and fresh. As for the meat, it was tender and had just the right amount of fat on it. My steak was a little undercooked, but it had been so long since I’d had a good steak dinner, and it tasted so good, that I didn’t care. I gobbled the whole thing down, then cleared the rest of the plate, and was very satisfied. My wife and I traded bites of lamb for steak, and her lamb was just as good.

If anyone’s looking for a reasonably priced place to get a great steak or set of lamb chops, this is definitely the place to go!