Despite the earlier trip, December had me back in Singapore. Ready to do all the food things I missed out on in October (find Bickford’s Sarsaparilla, eat at Din Tai Fung), I found it a bit funny that my first meal was at Mc Donald’s.
Yes, after basking mostly in Singaporean food during my previous trips, I actually found myself in a fastfood chain that’s all over Manila. Of course, after biting into their Spicy Chicken Sandwich, I readily ate my words. It was yummy! Flavorful, crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside—why can’t McD’s here do fastfood sandwiches as good as this?
I also found it interesting that aside from the usual ketchup dispensers, they had a dispenser for chili-garlic sauce as well. A bit redder than the usual tomato ketchup, their spicy sauce packed a wallop. If that’s not enough, they also distributed packets of nori flavoring, a powder you can sprinkle over your fries for added flavor. Both were quite good. It definitely shakes up the usual french fry-tomato dynamic.
A tale of soup in my dumplings and a very long wait
We were greeted by a large number of waiting people outside Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung, all waiting to grab a table for dinner. Determined to eat their Xiao Long Pao, we took a number, placed our order, then caught up with each others’ lives as we waited.
A gajillion stories later, our table was finally ready. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for our food. A large bowl of Hot and Sour soup was served almost immediately. Chunky, gooey, steamy hot and sour goodness. Good way to start the meal.
After that, they brought out a plate of what my friend Rabbit identified as her newest addiction, Prawn Pancake. Now Rabbit is addicted to anything shrimp, so I thought it was just her shrimp love acting up. It wasn’t much to look at, but biting into the pancake was a pleasant surprise. Crisp on the outside, moist, flavorful, firm and fleshy on the inside. It mimics the feeling of biting into whole shrimp, rather than minced ones as shrimp cakes tend to feel like.
Soon, plate after plate of food was coming to our table. Next up was a plate of Pork Chop Rice. A dish of fried rice piled on top with a whole porkchop, cut into slices. Deliciously tender and quite filling, yes. But honestly, I was waiting for the star of the evening, which was…
Xiao Long Pao! A very interesting dumpling filled with meat and soup, it never fails to fascinate because, well, it’s filled with soup. SOUP! In a dumpling! It’s a very novel experience, biting into resilient, stretchy dough and being rewarded with a tasty soup. And occasionally, a burnt tongue if you’re too eager. Try it with the black vinegar and ginger for added layers of flavor.
As if the Xiao Long Pao wasn’t enough, we had to get Xiao Long Pao with shrimp too. It’s yummy too, but I prefer the plain one because it’s easier to eat. Besides, I’m happily content with the soup inside the dumpling so no need for extras, even if it is shrimp. But I imagine shrimp lovers will not have it any other way.
Was Din Tai Fung worth the way? If only for the Xiao Long Pao, yes. The food is generally good but I can eat trays of the lovely soup dumplings all day long. Soup has never been this fascinating. Nor dangerous.