Up early, slept really well, bed was very comfortable fell really rested? It was probably the best night sleep of the trip so far. Mind you it did thunder a few times in the night.
I wander downstairs and into the breakfast room. I’m greeted warmly by all the staff and they show me to my table. I order off the local dish menu and have Nasi Lemak. It’s a dish of rice, small wing of fried chicken and cucumber. Alongside is a dish dried fried anchovies, peanuts and a sambal, fiery hot and sweet. On top of the rice is a fried egg. In my haste, I add a little too much sambal, wow…but once mixed in with the rice it's all very nice. After a couple of cappuccino’s I sit back and start to think about the day.
The crew arrive and have breakfast and we get all the plans in place. First we are to re shoot the arriving shot in the Daimler. It takes a few goes as its raining still but all in all its fine. The head porter looks splendid in his Gieves & Hawkes uniform.
Next we film taking tea in the main foyer of the hotel, it looks great, and I’m then introduced to the Executive head chef by Andrea. She apologies that he’s French and we laugh. We meet our Singapore fixer and head straight off in the mini bus to our first filming location. It’s the Paradise Seafood Bar right on the harbour side with a magnificent view of the harbour. Here we were going to film the classic local dish Singapore Crab. As we wait for the owner, we wander about this cavernous restaurant and I get few shots of the wall of fish tanks that hold huge crabs, oysters and a plethora of fish I have never seen before. Eldwin the owner arrives, and seems like he really can’t be bothered. It could be the fact that I thought he was the chef, he quickly corrects me. I go into the large kitchen with Will to see the layout. It’s a hive of activity, lots of chefs of preparing, chopping, cooking and organizing. I get a few nice pics of ingredients. Eldwin re appears and is much more friendly (Nigel had told him I was a chef) and we run through the ingredients and the sequence of cooking.
The chef gets to work, by searing oil and a little onion in a huge wok. Quickly he adds the tomato sauce and sambal it boils within seconds. Next, he adds the prepared crab that moments earlier I had photographed in the restaurant tanks. He swirls the crab chunks around in the deep red sauce, then adds crab stock and places a lid on top and leaves to cook for 2-3 minutes. Off comes the lid and he stirs again, next adding a little starch to thicken plus some chopped parsley. He adjusts the sauces flavour using ingredients from a large tray and stirs again, the sauce is now nicely thickened. Finally he throws in a large ladle of beaten egg and stirs twice, turns the heat off and brings the wok to the table. The semi cooked egg finishes thickening the sauce perfectly. Deftly his assistant places the crab in place on a large plate, using big tweezers and finished by spooning over the hot sauce. Its served with fried rice flour buns to mop up the sauce. It smells and looks fabulous, I hold up to the camera. The chef then demonstrates a second dish, black pepper crab. This was even simpler, black pepper is seared in hot oil, and then the portioned cleaned crab is added along with a little water and cooked for 2-3 minutes. Onion, green pepper, fried garlic are added along with dark soy sauce and a little starch. Again within minutes the crab is cooked and presented beautifully.
Chef produces a beef dish finished with a tiny amount of foie gras butter, spring onion and garlic. Its so simple but is delicious.
Eldwin, asks us to go into the restaurant where we taste the three dishes we have seen cooked. He’s a charming man and explains how he started out in the restaurant business. He started out in an industrial part of town cooking hawker food, basically street food for a small unit. Then he progressed onto a small café and expanded. Now he has 50 restaurants, 30 in Singapore and 20 around the world. All this at a tender age of 36!.
The kitchen produces more food we feast on coffee pork ribs a sort of sweet and sour version in a glazed sauce. The coffee adding a nice and distinct twist along with fresh oyster sauce. Bacon and cheese rolls are coated in black sesame seeds and are delicious. Deep fried prawns with wasabi/mayo glaze are stunning as is the dough fritters with peanuts and dipping sauce. Finally and thankfully (I was stuffed by now) a Chinese curry, light and fragrant with okra, aniseed, tofu and curry leaf served with rice. I have never tasted curry like it, very interesting indeed.