Recognize this guy?
I had mentioned in my 2010 wrap-up post that I had some exciting things up my sleeve for 2011, so I’m thrilled to share one of them with you! Yesterday I got to sit down and eat with one of Singapore’s leading food critics – K.F. Seetoh. His Makanustra guide and rating system is known all over Singapore – and in a land inhabited by foodies, this is saying something! A champion of the local hawker center food culture, Seetoh is the go-to resource for Singaporean cuisine. You might have seen him on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Singapore episode, introducing Samantha Brown to the best laksa in town, and most recently in Top Chef’s season finale in Singapore! Needless to say, I was super excited.
Per Seetoh’s suggestion, we headed out for….
bak chor mee, a spicy-sour noodle dish with minced pork. The line was a little ridonk, so it had to be good right?
As we waited on the slow-moving (but totally worthwhile) line, we discussed his views on Singaporean hawker food culture and its sustainability – many stalls follow recipes passed down from generation to generation, with the younger crowd less excited about carrying on the tradition. It was really interesting to get his perspective on Singaporean cuisine and its prevalence in American culture (or lack thereof) as well as its increasing popularity due to such shows as Top Chef. I’d love to see this cuisine and culture take a bigger role in the NYC food scene – what do you think, readers – would you be game?
I was also fascinated to hear about Seetoh’s transition from photojournalist to food critic to tours, Makansutra food centers and tv shows. This man is living out my dream! Seetoh also has some new and exciting things planned for 2011, and I can’t wait to see them play out.
We finally got to the front of the line, where I witnessed first-hand the skill and dexterity with which these cooks put together a bowl of minced pork noodles. Note the various bowls of sauce, chilis, veggies and other accouterments:
There were only two men behind the counter, handling all of the orders – talk about working under pressure
When I finally sat down for my bak chor mee, I was looking forward to seeing if this dish was indeed worth the wait. I wasn’t disappointed, with the chewy noodles, minced pork, crispy sole fish and meatballs perfectly seasoned in a sour, tangy vinegar sauce. The clear, pure-tasting broth that accompanied these noodles were the perfect balance of savory yet not over-powering. True to form, I cleaned my plate thoroughly.
As with all good things, our meeting came to an end post-meal. It was a totally awesome experience to pick the brain of such a pre-eminent foodie that blazed the path for Singaporean food media, as well as transitioned his passion into a full time career and brand. Thank you, K.F. Seetoh for sharing your insights over a bowl of noodles on a hot Singapore afternoon!
Singaporean food in the US? Yay or nay? Have you had Singaporean cuisine before? I’m interested to hear your thoughts!