A night out with travel friends…does it get any better than this?
Traveling brings people together, especially when it comes to food. A few years ago, I was eating in my absolute number one favorite Turkish restaurant, Dibek in Cappadocia. It’s a cozy place where customers take off their shoes and sit on the floor. There are wooden banisters to separate the tables from each other, but the banisters do not hide the other customers or block their conversation so each time we’ve gone, we’ve struck up conversations with people from all over the world. On this particular night we met three Singaporeans, Jaclyn, Chris, and Richard. We talked and talked. We talked about Singapore and how much it had changed since the last time I was there, deciding Jim and I had to go back. We made a plan to meet up with our new-found friends.
This we did! Jackie and her boyfriend, Kim, took us on a walk around Clark Quay and out for dinner for Bak Kut Teh, which they said spoke to them as one of the more traditional foods of Singapore. The restaurant they took us too was popular and crowded. You can always tell a great restaurant by the line outside waiting to get in, and we waited for about 15 minutes.
Like many restaurants and businesses in Singapore, we walked down a few steps into a long narrow room filled with small tables with bowls of steaming liquid. The atmosphere was busy and the waitress came quickly to take our order. The restaurant really only served Bak Kut Teh, but in many varieties.
Bak Kut Teh is basically a pork rib soup. The words mean “meat bone tea” as in many Asian countries, you don’t “eat” soup, you “drink” it. The small bowls of boiled pork, and greens, were put on the table, and the waitress came around with a large teapot to pour in the broth. Subtle flavors of various Asian spices like cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds and coriander hit you every once in a while. The meat was melt in your mouth tender and the broth was sublime. What else can I say?
We slurped our way through conversations about the ethnic history of Singapore, about the economic statuses of Malaysia and Singapore, about food, about family, …It was great conversation with wonderful people, and it certainly was the highlight of our return trip to the most cosmopolitan of Asian cities.
A great resource for Singaporean dishes can be found at the Your Singapore website: http://www.yoursingapore.com/content/traveller/en/browse/dining.html