Before our family vacation there this holiday, I had gotten a huge and amazing list of types of food I must not leave Singapore without trying from Sofia of Burp and Slurp, and a rec from globetrotting food maven miffyeats for the hawker center on Old Airport Road.
Out of Sofia's list of signature Singapore eats, I was most excited to try barbecue stingray - it sounded intriguing to me, and not something you can find easily anywhere else (definitely not in LA that I'm aware of!) So it was actually by happy accident that we ended up at the Old Airport Road hawker center - we had a short amount of time to slide in a quick visit to the closest hawker center before 'proper' dinner - and so my 'strategy' (or rather, lack of) was to jump into a taxi and let one of the friendly drivers (who so far have been self-appointed, proud tour guides and ambassadors for the city) take us to the closest place for stingray.
It was exciting to stroll through the aisles looking at all the unfamiliar dishes - I was in heaven and wanted to order a huge spread, fan them out over several tables and spend the rest of the night working through them all!!! My dad was weary of the cleanliness of it all though, and was merely 'tolerating' the space for my benefit (my mom is the adventurous diner) - so I knew the clock was ticking and I could probably only fit in one quick dish.
We asked fellow diners at the communal tables the best place for bbq stingray (love that everyone is at least bilingual - if not trilingual or more - in Singapore) - and got directed to a stall that seemed to specialize in all kinds of sea creature deliciousness. There were fresh plates of clams, and live crabs being...well...crabby...in their cramped little cages.
And then I spotted the sign / photo (i.e. for me the holy grail): "BBQ Stingray".
|Photo: Jeremy.Collins via Wikipedia|
So, what did we expect stingray to taste like? Even my mom, the adventurous foodie, was skeptical it would be good - stingrays are kite-shaped marine animals that seem like they would have either a gelatinous, or tough, muscular texture like swordfish (check out the photo, they don't look like they would have much / soft meat, right?)
I also loved that the stingray is served with skin-on - I always appreciate it when chefs leave the skin on with fish, it adds nice flavor and texture as well as gets points for presentation!
But, I was really glad to have had this adventure with my parents - these are some of the best memories that we will have of our awesome travels together. Sharing new discoveries, the sense of adventure - and the joyfulness and sense of accomplishment that comes from pushing ourselves to continually see and learn and experience new things (even if it is at first uncomfortable to get out of our comfort zone!). Which I realized I may not have had the appreciation for when I was younger - when I was a little more rebellious, and a much more self-conscious wallflower. Now older, not at all wiser but much more appreciative of my parents, and their unconditional love and support (indulging, encouraging and enabling this little passion project of a blog) - I am grateful that we can have these kinds of adventures together - thank you for being the best!!! :) Ok sorry for the temporary bout of sentimentality.
So, fantastic time at our first Singaporean hawker center, as one of many stops and great eats on this trip. Hope to be back again soon!
[For more photos and stories from our visit to Singapore, check out the album of over 120 pics on my Facebook page!]
SingaporeOld Airport Road Food Center
Block 51, Old Airport Rd Geylang, Singapore