Déja vu, part 2

June 21 2004

After Sunday morning's non-cultural dining start, it was otherwise a pretty good day.  I bought a new camera lens for the Minolta (analog) at Sim Lim Square, and then headed out to the National Orchid Garden to put it to use.  There was just no way to capture the diversity and beauty of the gardens with the puny little 2x zoom on my Canon Elph, though when I get around to starting a photo album for this trip, you'll see that I at least tried.  I know that I'll have a CD made when I print the analog film, so all the photos will end up online eventually.
The second deja vu moment was today's lunch.  Lonely Planet's Singapore (condensed) guide recommends a noodle bar called "Nooch", just near my hotel.  Long-time readers know my affinity for Asian noodle dishes, and this restaurant was beyond expectations.  They even had a Thai appetizer on the menu that I've never been able to find in the US -- "chor ladda", which are purple-colored dumplings containing peanut sauce inside.  I had them in Bangkok several years ago, but haven't seen them anywhere since.  
Coincidentally, I read a book on the flight over called Feeding a Yen, by Calvin Trillin.  In it, Trillin describes several foods that are seemingly only available, or only done well, in one particular geography in the world -- Cajun boudin, Ecuadorian ceviche, etc.  He puts these foods on the "Register of Frustration and Depravation", tracking them, and anticipating the next time he might be able to avail himself of them.  Anyway, these chor ladda are on my register, which, well, the book inspired me to write the Ed Brill version of the Register of Frustration and Depravation.  
So why was all this deja vu?  Well, if you read my register, you'll see that I mention a restaurant in Bangkok called "Noodi" -- it's a noodle shop, boys, not one of those Bangkok places.  Anyway, sitting at "Nooch" for lunch today, it seemed remarkably similar to "Noodi".  The decor was different, and the menu was somewhat different, but it felt the same.  So either it's a ripoff or they are in fact the same, just not using "Noodi" in a country where English is the primary language.  The business card I was given at the conclusion of the meal lists locations here and in Shanghai -- so I suppose it's possible that my Bangkok noodle shop is one and the same.
Dinner was the sought-after Singapore chili crab, at the Newton hawker centre.  A hawker centre is sort of like an American food court, except that it's outside, the food is all fresh, and it's a bunch of really hard-working individuals rather than big corporates.  Very enjoyable, though unfortunately the digital camera was acting up at the time.  Maybe I'll just have to repeat the experience on Monday...when I promise, I'll write something about technology or Lotus or...well, something more normal. :)

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