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Archive for the ‘Cheap Eats’ Category

The haze is back in Singapore and no one is happy about it. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) put up these bus stop ads to remind us why. What a great way to inspire us to check the ingredients in the products and foods we buy and purchase less palm oil.

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Check out my original post about the haze here: https://texasonthames.com/2013/06/18/the-sky-is-burning/

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Watch out, it’s a bit spicy.

Thai Tofu

Thai Tofu

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With the likes of durian and passionfruit, my life has become a lot like that lastminute.com advert that urges you to “go somewhere with complementary fruit you’ve never even heard of.”  Oh come on, you’ve seen it. There’s a version of it here.

My friend, Eva, whom I recently met in Thailand urged me to try rambutans. Tricky to open, they are delicious, sweet and they come in small bite size portions. Because of their small portion size, I like to refer to them as “low commitment fruit.”

Cruising through the market in Singapore, the aunties are pushing their produce. Lo and behold! Rambutans.

I picked up a bunch for snacking. I had to, they wouldn’t sell them in any smaller quantities.

RAMBUTANS!

RAMBUTANS!

To eat, cut the skin open or squeeze in your hand until a lychee-like ball appears. Be careful of the seed!

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Hawker Center Life

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Carrot Cake in Singapore is made of neither carrot nor cake. Woh.

The dish is basically an omelet, or maybe more of a fried egg, with steamed rice flour and radish “cakes” and spring onions. You can get it black or white. The white is without soy sauce and the black is with soy sauce, which is more popular in Malaysia.

Why do they call it carrot cake then? Well apparently the radish is known as “white carrot” in Chinese.

This one is from Holland Village Food Centre. $3 for a small, $4 for a medium, $5 for a large, prices in Singaporean dollars. Honestly I’ve seen the small and medium portions and they seemed the same, so I’m not sure why the price difference. Maybe the man thought I looked a bit skinny when I ordered the small.

Have it with hot sauce. Lots and lots of amazing hot sauce. Yum.

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People love Sacred. Time Out recommends it, my coworker recommends it, random stranger on the street recommends it, so I decide to try it.

Sacred plays on it’s name as a place of worship. The barista is set up on a pulpit and the congregation spills out onto the street at it’s Soho location near Carnaby Street. This makes it a very nice place to hang out on a sunny day soaking up the rays or people watching, on your lunch break, or in-between shopping.

A customer approaches the pulpit.

Sacred offers plenty of sandwiches and pastries. It’s run by New Zealanders who sell things like  jelly lolly cake. My experiences at Sacred and the Roastery are causing me to wonder what exactly is the deal with antipodeans and London coffee shops. Two coffee shops in a row- is this a chance thing or are NZ natives really into their coffee hangouts? I think I’m going to have to make a trip to New Zealand to get to the bottom of this. Either that or call up a friend and ask. The former option seems more dramatic and fun.

Scrambled eggs with wholewheat toast.

I had scrambled eggs with feta and spring onion on wholewheat toast and an Americano. This set me back between £8 and £9. Quite a bit for what is basically an egg sandwich and regular coffee. It took about 20 minutes to get my eggs and coffee, even though there weren’t many in the congregation that morning. In their defense, it was early morning so there were probably a lot of unseen to go orders and I think one of the baristas was training. Also, the coffee was very good.

Empty early morning.

Coffee!

Sacred on Urbanspoon

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For years I heard about the Wagamama chain. When we lived in the U.S., Husband told me this was a top choice for broke university student night out food in London. Wagamama is all over London, so it’s surprising that it took me this long to try it.

I understand why it’s an old standby. Wagamama is healthy and affordable. The atmosphere is casual and it is a comfortable spot for solo dining. Staff approach you at long benches or booths on the side of the restaurant.  It’s style is dining out for the masses, albeit well designed.

The dish was standard issue but the warm broth and noodles in my Saien Soba were comforting on a cold day. I left utterly stuffed.

Saien Soba: whole wheat noodles in a vegetable soup topped with fried tofu, bean sprouts, courgettes, asparagus, red onions, leeks, mushrooms, mangetout and garlic. Garnished with spring onions.

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

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Molly needed to pick up twelve antique picture frames. Where should we go? The first place that springs to mind for antiques is Notting Hill, but that sounds a bit pricey. I suggest Spitalfields market. That place is bound to have a random booth full of quirky old picture frames for cheap, right?

Wrong. We went on Thursday because that was antiques day, but we were unable to locate anything suitable in her price range. Most of the frames had things like hand drawn maps from the 1800’s inside and we weren’t about to purchase them at £40 a piece only to ditch the map.

So we gave up (or rather decided to rely on the internet for this purchase) and get some lunch instead.

We stopped into Leon. I was really excited to try this place. Their model is healthy, fresh and cheap. They’ve done so well that they even have their own cookbook!

I stepped up to the counter and ordered the sweet potato falafel with aioli hot box and passed over my £6. A few minutes later I was presented with a box on a tray. Molly ordered a salad and hummus.

When we sat down I opened my box and urm, was a little disappointed. Look at it, it just seems so squished and sad.

Sweet potato falafel hot box

 

Well I suppose presentation isn’t everything. The meal tasted fine but I’m a calorie snob who would prefer great. Visible in the box is brown rice, coleslaw, sweet potato made into falafel-like shapes that were warm and mushy, and a slight drizzle of aioli.

The hummus was really nice but the flatbread was dull. The flatbread would have been really nice if it were toasted or warm.

 

Molly tucking into the hummus.

Did I catch Leon on the wrong day? Did I order the wrong thing? The food was decent, but not great. Definitely not cookbook worthy. Still, I am grateful for affordable healthy options.

We stopped into Montezuma on our way out where we were greeted with samples of peppermint dark chocolate. I’m not really big on sweets but I love dark chocolate and this was really delicious. I contained myself (mostly) but left with a bar of Sea Dog, dark chocolate with juicy lime and sea salt. I am addicted. Which is OK because it’s gluten free and vegan, right?

Image courtesy of Montezuma

Bottom Line?

  • Antique Picture Frames – Ebay.
  • Leon – Maybe, but probably not.
  • Montezuma – Oh yes.

Leon on Urbanspoon

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I was at Harrod’s pricing inherited bone china purchased there decades ago that our movers (EuroUSA and IMS Relocation / Mayflower) lost during our transatlantic relocation. I won’t go into details on that right now other than to say that they really botched the job.  I was unable to get the information regarding the pieces as they are no longer in production. This wasn’t a huge surprise. I figured that while I was at Harrod’s, I might as well have a stroll around.

Since I am currently unemployed and therefore broke, strolling through the luxuries was not really appealing to me. I had heard about the food halls, and well, a girl’s gotta eat. I strolled through the massive rolling areas complete with built in restaurants and took a peek at a few menus. Yikes! £15 for a sandwich? No thank you. Luckily the take out areas had more reasonably priced fare.

Harrod's food halls

Harrod's takeout areas

The food halls stretch on and on with delis, bakeries, candy shops, a fromagerie. It went from one room to the next. I was starting to understand the legacy.

My stomach was growling so I became serious about my search for a snack. That’s when I spotted this disaster.

Moroccan Roll? Which Morocco?

“What do you mean by disaster?” you might ask. Well, look closely. The Moroccan roll here is 31% pork. Morocco is a country with a  population that is over 95% Muslim (source Pew Forum.) I’m no religions of the world expert, but I am certain that the Muslim faith forbids the consumption of pork.  I’ve been to Morocco. I do not remember seeing one person eat pork or sell pork the entire time I was there. My dear friend Ghita from Casablanca even refused to eat turkey bacon, just in case. I felt embarrassed for Harrod’s and their ignorant snafu.

But enough about that. I settled on a Beancurd Vegetable Parcel. For £1.65, it was a steal.

mmm, beancurd.

Having purchased my lunch, I was on a mission to find somewhere to eat it. The clerk was of absolutely no help. When I asked her where I might go, her response was a firm “You can’t eat it in here.” Set on a mission to find a place to snack, I exited Harrod’s and went walking about.

In hindsight, I should’ve gone to Hyde Park. Instead, I wondered around the neighborhood running into small private parks that I was not allowed entry into. London’s full of these member only parks. I suppose it’s a brilliant thing if you are a member. It’s a nice way to compensate for the urban density of London, but I just feel like I’ve been expelled from something potentially great. Standing on my tiptoes peeking between bushes, I try to imagine what it’s like inside. One weekend a year about 200 of these gardens are open to the public. I missed this year’s open garden weekend, which takes place in June. I guess I’ll have to wait around 9 months to find out what I’m missing.

I ended up chowing down sitting on a ledge across from one of these parks in a very posh neighborhood. I tried to imagine what it was like to be one of these “Sloane Squarer” types as I munched on my cold and slightly disappointing vegetable beancurd parcel. It wasn’t a mind blowing treat, but not all was lost as it was filling and affordable. Tell me Interwebs, what must-have food item did I miss from Harrod’s Food Halls?

Harrods on Urbanspoon

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