I’ll be honest. I never wanted to stay Singapore. And I’ve had the privilege to spend half of my life away. But recently a friend had a blank ticket by Singapore Airlines to “go somewhere far far away where I’ve never been before.” I thought, what if I had that opportunity? Where would I go? Surprisingly I had no urge to jet off anywhere. And I love to travel. For the first time, I realized that I was content to be here, that I might have found home.
I’ve been moving around too much. I’ve never stayed in one place for more than three years since I was twelve. It felt good to just stand still. Last year, on my birthday I was given a ticket to Sydney for the purpose of eating at Tetsuya Wakuda’s restaurant. I haven’t used it, I didn’t need to go Sydney, Tetsuya was coming to Singapore!
I’m excited by and for Singapore now. There is a vibrancy that I never noticed before I left for college. And a big part of that is the food. Singapore is the only place I can think of that offers such an incredible range of cuisine. It has excellent street food, but also excellent fine dining options, making this truly a city for gastronomes.
Last week I was at Aoki on Les Amis Lane for lunch. It was good, especially considering that it was $30. There was ikura perfumed with yuzu zest, toro. But I was most impressed with the deep red akami. I’m usually not a fan of lean tuna, too little flavor and a soft texture. I must have been eating lousy tuna all my life because this specimen was so spectacularly different. It had a flavorful iron tang and was firm and meaty.
I was still hungry after lunch. Walking around, I realized that Isetan was having a Hokkaido fair. They were selling the Hokkaido king crab, uni and ikura chirashi in the picture at the top of this post for around $25. What a steal!
Another stall sold various pickled seafood. My favorite, the nanohana nishin had herring, sweet and tart with vinegar balanced by the spice of ginger. I liked the squid too, koika tobiran, flavored with glutamates from the seaweed and popping with brininess from the gems of roe.
The truly impressive part was that all this was offered in a supermarket and that this roving fair goes to the heartlands of Singapore too. It shows how sophisticated Singapore’s epicurean scene has become. It is encouraging and one of the reasons why Singapore has seduced me into staying. That standing still isn’t a bad thing.