Sunday, October 16, 2011

Secretly Ate Chwee Kueh!

I won't bother to set foot into Din Tai Fung anywhere in the world unless the friends want to eat there. There's but one outlet (so far) in Bangkok. The last time they popped into Taiwan's branches, they loved the flavors. They wanted to check out the ones in Singapore. For evening meals this week, we've been eating early and are limited to eating places around Esplanade. That evening, the friends merrily sat down at the branch of Din Tai Fung at Raffles City Mall.

I seamlessly pretended that I'm not Singaporean. The friends and I look about the same, except for our accents. We switch between Thai and English, effortlessly. The servers at our table in the restaurant didn't speak either language. I wasn't in a mood to be the interpreter. We got around by pointing. I left it to them to do the ordering. I don't know this menu except for its xiaolongbao (小笼包, steamed dumpling, usually pork). The friends know the menu better than I do! They might have even memorized it. They ordered 3 baskets of the xiaolongbao. Really. Apparently, there wasn't any problem with one person quaffing between 5 to 10. Each. Serious business there. "It's just 5 mouthfuls!" L said. Okaaay.

They didn't just eat xiaolongbao. There were baskets of vegetarian dumplings and other dishes on the table. Plates of stir-fry vegetables, bowls of noodles cooked in different ways, more pork-y stuff in different forms, and an assortment of other items of which I forgot exactly what they were. 

What I was secretly eating at the restaurant, was a box of Thai-style chwee kueh homemade by one of the friends' mother. She came in later than the rest and brought me 15 tiny pieces as gifts. This box was fresh off the plane, and I wasn't about to let it go to waste in the heat. The older Thai folks might know it as we call it- chwee kueh. Otherwise, it's simply termed 'khanom kueh say khem'. A piece is smaller than ours, but otherwise, it does taste similar. The friend's mother made a unique mix of light watery chilli sauce (not unlike the familiar Thai sweet chilli sauce, but they made it spicier) to go with it. We were a table of 10, and the restaurant was full. The servers were too busy to bother about one naughty patron eating food that didn't belong to their kitchen. 

For dessert, in addition to the usual snow fungus, mango pudding thingy to share amongst everyone who was really quite stuffed, a couple of adventurous folks also tried this glutinous rice cake with red beans. (赤豆松糕) Some dug it. The others were ambivalent about it. First time I saw it and tried it. I didn't like it. At least it wasn't overly sweet. 

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