Saturday, September 4, 2010

5 things to bring for Singaporeans in London if you are flying from Singapore to London

A couple of friends will be visiting London in the next couple of weeks and as a matter of courtesy they emailed us and ask whether they can get us anything from home. And we’re busy making our shopping list now, paying little heed to the fact that their individual 20kg allowance might be exceeded.



But not everyone is like us. I mean, some actually find it a bit embarrassed to ask their visitors lug their stuff over halfway across the globe. So after coming up with a list of what Singaporeans will buy when they are in London, I thought it’ll be apt to come up with a list of 5 items to bring for Singaporeans residing in London if you are flying over from Singapore.


1. Bak Kut Teh

Or 肉骨茶. It’s essentially MSG laden dried blended herb neatly packed in sachets. Just add some spare pork ribs and boiling water with ground black pepper to taste. Perfect for late autumn and winters. Nothing come even close to having a bowl hot flavourful soup when the temperature plunges below zero.

The best ones that I have tasted comes from Singapore’s Eu Ren Sheng. I can’t seem to find this in London Chinatown’s grocery stores. Let me know if you manage to find it. Don’t think this is halal though.

2. Ya Kun kaya

Coconut jam (or kaya) always goes well with lightly toasted bread. While we do have overpriced varieties in London, Ya Kun does quite a mean one. This is available on the counter of every Ya Kun Coffeeshop in Singapore.

3. Pork floss

This is for those of us who prefer have plain porridge every now and then. Sprinkling some pork floss (肉松) on the porridge adds some meaty flavour to the otherwise bland meal.

You can get some rather decent pork floss in any of the major barbercue pork stores in Singapore’s Chinatown. Also, Bread Talk has come up with chilli flavoured ones. Get those only if you are certain the recipient is fine with spicy food. Better still, get both varieties. This is definitely not halal.

4. Barbecued pork

Speaking of pork floss, remember to get some barbecued pork (肉干) as well. Needless to say, you wouldn’t be able to fly with those fresh ones (don’t even try) unless you fancy a chat with the customs officials at Heathrow. Instead, get those vacuum packed ones. They come in either bite sizes as well. Perfect for afternoon snacks. Not halal as well.

5. A copy of Straits Times (Sunday edition)

Let’s face it, Singapore’s Straits Times isn’t exactly the Times, Guardian or even Independent. But there’s this certain nostalgia when overseas based Singaporeans flip through a copy of it.

Articles on neighbours’ disagreement on how a common corridor should be used in a Toa Payoh HDB flat, some housing estate clinching the ‘cleanest estate’ award, which local school emerging as the top of the league, or even Sumiko Tan finally settling down, never fails to remind me of the hours that I spent poring over the only mainstream English newspaper back home.

For a treat, bring along the Sunday Times instead. Yes, the one with pagefuls of comic strips. If you’re flying out from Singapore onboard Singapore Airlines on a Sunday, chances are you’ll be able to grab a complimentary copy upon boarding the flight.

Did I miss anything? What else have you been asked to bring from home before? I’m sure the list varies from country to country, would be great to hear from the rest as well!

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18 comments:

creating my life said...

hi, good selection, my personal addition would be dried curry leaves. cannot get them here in london. maybe this is a malaysian choice rather than a singaporean one. we grow them in our garden in pj. not sure if we are allowed to bring them into the uk nowadays.

Joanne said...

When I was staying abroad, I was craving all kinds of odd things. I would suggest those Prima pastes for cooking curries etc, but I think they can be found in London too...

Anyway, something to add to your list of items Singaporeans buy abroad- Walkers Sensations chips, especially the Thai Sweet Chilli one. The Singaporean students in London I know are all crazy over that flavour.

C K said...

@creating my life,
Hmm, never thought of dried curry leaves. I haven't gotten around cooking my curries from scratch, have always been doing it from Prima Taste (which brings me to Joanne's comment, anyway...) but the overwhelming coconut oil from Prima got me sick of curries for a couple of months immediately after so...

I suppose you use them in your curries? Is there any other substitutes if you run out of those?

@Joanne,
Prima Tastes! How can I miss that out. It used to be available from Loong Feng along Gerrard Street and Xin Loong Feng opposite it until they have been replaced by cheaper Thai substitutes, which somehow just don't deliver.

As for Walkers, there are tons of interesting flavours... my favorite - cajun squirrels! Just wondering how the tourists pack their bags with crisps. I mean, they aren't exactly really hardy, are they?

Blackswan said...

Interestingly, the items u've listed are those common items that my Japanese friends would request whenever I visit them :)

I guess sambal chilli will be one of those I'd get for friends in LON. The chilli pastes there somehow taste different. Oh, I miss LON!

Looking fwd to sharing @ Luxury Indulgence!

creating my life said...

hi ck, i dont cook my curries from scratch either ( ie i dont pound the ingredients into powder). i buy the malaysian curry powder £1.30 for a 250mg pack.(the latest one i bought is baba's brand) from chinatown shops, and add the curry leaves. there is no substitute for curry leaves unfortunately.
i have not heard of prima paste, but googling it , it is ready made pastes. $3-$7 each.god alone knows how much they will be in london if u can get them. i think they are rather expensive but maybe everyone likes them for the convenience. u mentioned the coconut with the laksa paste making u sick, u can make laksa gravy using malaysian curry powder, and u can add coconut cream powder according to ur taste.not to mention u can add salt to ur taste. the packets always make it so salty and sweet. so much easier and cheaper i think. there was mention of laksa leaves added to the laksa paste in the primapaste website. i have not heard of laksa leaves before, but i think they might be curry leaves.

C K said...

@creating my life,
Thanks for the recipe for Malaysian curry. Will try to convince Wife to try it out (I'm basically good only for eating... ahem).

As for laksa leaves, I think they are Persicaria odorata, which according to Wikipedia is a Vietnamese coriander. Prima Taste packs used to be sold at Chinatown's grocery stores some time back at just over 2 quid per pack, which is comparative to back home. Haha, I used to stock up half a dozen every trip. Don't seem to find it these days.

C K said...

@Blackswan,
I assume your Japanese friends have spent quite some time in Singapore for them to ask for those items. :)

Funnily, I don't yearn for sambal chilli but now that you mention it... Mmmm....

Anyway, just curious, what do you miss most about London?

Blackswan said...

oh yes, they've lived here for so many yrs so craving for S'pore food. lol!

What do I miss?? Being a shopperholic, we may have different views... besides stolling around the Big Ben area, I enjoy the flea mkt & designer shopping. Hahaha! I remember I bought my Chanel pumps for just S$600, it's selling here @ about S$900!! Love shopping in Europe, missed my flying days :<

Oh, oh, & the Crispy Aromatic Duck @ Bayswater is the No.1!! I dun eat duck but the only 2 ducks that I eat are Peking Duck & this. LOL!

Laksa, oh I love Laksa & Prima Taste paste is good :)

Just back from a short trip. Chk out my latest on Paradise In Bangkok!

Christabel said...

hi. bak kwa is a no thru customs, even the vac packed ones as its still considered meat products and there is a new 'law' which was recently passed forbidding all meat and meat related products. My mum flew in from SGP last week and the bak kwa had to stay at heathrow!

C K said...

@blackswan,
Yep, apparently roast duck and lobster noodles are London's specialty Chinese dishes. Four Season's roast duck for me any day.

@Christabel,
Thanks for the warning! Didn't realised that even vacuum packed ones are prohibited as well. Hmm, any idea where to get it in London then?

What do you normally have your mum bring over besides bak kwa?

Cookie said...

I would ask my family to bring to bring me thai honey mango when they're in season.

You can get mango in London but they are simply not the same. They can be sweet, but they are not as fragrant. They can be frangrant, but the fibrous flesh is nothing close to the thai specialty. And of course, the price play a part too! :)

C K said...

@Cookie,
Honey mango? That's a new one. I normally pick up my mangoes at the local Tesco. Yes, while they aren't as good as the Thai variety, they do normally get rather 'fragrant' when we eat them only they have been left to ripe for a couple of days.

Speaking of which, I feel like having another go at the black glutinous rice with mango at Isarn. Hmm...

Christabel said...

Tiong Bahru Chwee Kueh.....hahaha...unless i can master how to make it over here!

C K said...

@Christabel,
Believe it or not, we actually brought the chwee kueh molds over here (yep, those small metallic ones). Have not had the chance to try them out though.

That said, if you are looking for some chai tou kuey, you can prepare some from fresh carrot cake, which can be obtained from Lo's Noodle Factory.

MC said...

Old town white coffee! Reminds me of home when I drink it in London

C K said...

@MC,
Now, that sounds familiar. Is it one of those 3-in-1? You don't get those in London, do you?

dawnb said...

Im due to migrate to UK from SG in a coupla months. Finding this blog is fantastic! Now i know what to stock up. Thanks so much! :)

C K said...

@dawnb,
Glad that you find this useful. You might want to check out If you are moving to London as well.

Welcome to London!