Toa Payoh Char Kway Teow

The coffeeshop nearest the library at Toa Payoh is always busy at lunchtime. I’ve been studying at the College of TCM for the past 2 years and getting a seat here at lunchtime has always been near impossible. When there are no seats, I would go over to another coffeeshop facing the 40-storey buildings. That place is seldom packed.

I’ve tried the chicken rice, fish soup, “handmade” noodles and economical rice here. All rather mediocre. I don’t need to go down to Toa Payoh anymore, but sometimes, when the food and crowds at Orchard get too much to bear, I would still take a short train ride for lunch at Toa Payoh. I regret not trying the char kway teow back then. It’s another good choice at that less popular coffeeshop.

Lime & Garlic Fish

I bought a $9 sea bass from Sheng Siong and thought I should do it Thai style – steamed with garlic and lime. Then, I realised that I don’t have such a big lid to go over my wok. Oh no!

The solution? Microwave it. I turned on the steam function. I don’t think a microwave oven can actually steam without producing steam, but it turned out pretty OK. I stuffed a stalk of lemon grass into the fish. Anyway, you should pour any liquid away.

Next, prepare the sauce. Juice from 2 large limes, lots of mashed garlic, Enough water to cover the fish halfway. 5-6 tablespoons of fish sauce, 4 teaspoons of sugar, cut chilli padi. That’s it. Pour in the sauce. There should be enough liquid to look soupy.

I’ve microwaved the fish instead of steaming it. For the second half of the cooking (i.e. with sauce), the microwave oven should come in handy. Just turn it on until the sauce boils. Add chopped parsley. It’s done. Tastes fantastic.

© Chan Joon Yee

Tom Kha Gai

Thai food by a real Thai… but I seldom find oyster mushrooms in my tom kha gai in Thailand.