Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Singapore (SG) Takeout London - four cheese laksa takes the cake

Singapore+SG+takeout+London+review+Janice+Wong+Peter+Gordan+popcorn+yuzu
Janice Wong's Popcorn Nostalgia - duo of sweet and salty popcorn ice cream with yuzu parfait and salty caramel

As far as blog posts go, the cardinal rule is to put the important stuff right up front. Well, here goes: Singapore laksa tastes perfect with four-cheese. I tasted it and it can be replicated in the comforts of your own kitchen.

That was probably my main takeaway from Singapore Takeout, an initiative by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to introduce Singaporean cuisine and upcoming chefs in a whirlwind tour around the world's major cities in 365 days. How do they do that? "By putting the chefs and their kitchen in a shipping container and fly them around" as the introduction so succinctly put it.

London, being one of the world gastronomical capitals, was their first stop over the weekend. The event, held at London's Southbank, was hosted by Janice Wong of 2am Dessert Bar and Peter Gordan of Sugar Club.

I didn't let the weather dampened my spirit for it was solely my fault. Despite the gloomy skies, I chose to travel with only my camera in hand without a brolly. Had to pop by a sandwich bar and ask for a paper bag for my Nikon at some point. As you can imagine, it wasn't the most dignified way of turning up for a media event.

The sight of the display case that featured Prima Taste’s laksa pack cheered me up considerably. Prima Taste is also launching a ramen pack as well but as it is only being pushed out in Singapore, the pack in the display case was probably the only one outside the country.

Singapore+SG+takeout+London+review+Janice+Wong+Peter+Gordan

Singapore+SG+takeout+London+review+Janice+Wong+Peter+Gordan

I thought that the container bit was a nice touch given that much of Singapore’s coast line is taken up by port activities with cranes and containers dominating the landscape. If I was looking for some good old comfort food at the event, it was not to be. It was in fact something far more refreshing. Janice and Gordan managed to marvel those present with new takes on the mostly spicy Singaporean cuisine.

Singapore+SG+takeout+London+review+Janice+Wong+Peter+Gordan

Singapore+SG+takeout+London+review+Janice+Wong+Peter+Gordan+four+cheese+laksa

My favourite is no doubt the four-cheese laksa that Janice dreamt up during one sleepless night. “What about adding blue cheese to laksa?” she recounted her thoughts during the demonstration. I managed to catch a whiff at the demonstration and then sample it thereafter. It was probably the best thing since someone decided to break an egg into roti prata (or roti canai if you will). I was so besotted that we made a trip down to Neal’s Yard Dairy at Borough Market the very next day to get the four cheeses. If you are not sure what the four cheeses are, just ask for the “four cheese” at the counter. We added the four cheeses to the Prima Taste laksa pack and down it with the Tiger beer that I got from Singapore Takeout. Life seldom gets better than that.

Singapore+SG+takeout+London+review+Janice+Wong+Peter+Gordan

Singapore+SG+takeout+London+review+Janice+Wong+Peter+Gordan+pork+belly

Peter did a five spice pork belly accompanied with steamed jasmine rice. The pork belly, unlike the stewed ones that I am more familiar with, was "steamed, baked, pressed and chilled before being deep-fried". The result looked deceivingly underwhelming. But it did left me wanting for more after I was done with it. The roasted pineapple with tamarind and pineapple juice neutralised the pork belly's heat and left the palate with a refreshing aftertaste.

In case you're wondering, after London, Singapore Takeout will be heading to...

Paris:
30 Jun - 2 Jul 2011
Moscow:
15 - 17 Jul 2011
New York:
16 - 18 Sep 2011
Hong Kong:
10 - 12 Nov 2011
Shanghai:
1 - 3 Dec 2011
Delhi:
13 - 15 Jan 2012
Dubai:
18 - 20 Feb 2012
Sydney:
30 Mar - 1 Apr 2012

As a nation, we love our food. However, I dare say that if we were asked what our favourite dish is, the answer would invariably be some street food (think char kuay teow, laksa, Hainanese chicken rice, roti prata, chilli crab – I can just go on and on). I guess Singapore Takeout aims to go beyond the street food that we grow up with. With the Integrated Resorts making waves back in Singapore, I wouldn’t be surprised if the culinary scene would look quite different going forward. Who knows? We just might get a Fat Duck equivalent soon.

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