December 10, 2011

Mutton Murtabak in Singapore

Two months have gone by already since Tom and I started our 'grand tour'. The good news is, we've got four more ahead of us. After three weeks at Balinese pace - read: very slow and unwinding - we stopped in Singapore on our way to Sydney for a few days. This turned out to be the perfect way to reacclimatize ourselves to the big city rhythm.

It also proved to be an excellent way to end our Asian culinary adventure, as Singapore boasts some delectable local dishes (as anyone who has ever stopped over should know). A visit to East Coast Park hawker centre had been on the agenda for a good while, after the food court being highly recommended to us by a friendly Singaporean couple we came across at Luang Prabang's night market. I was delighted to be back. 

Indeed we treated ourselves with some succulent Chilli Crab, and enjoyed a perfect Laksa as well as a very rewarding trip to East Coast Park on the way to the airport for our last evening. But that's not all. Tom had some old memories to relive, dating from his first trip to Singapore as a young boy. He and his parents sampled "Roti Prata" in Singapore's Muslim neighbourhood, the pan-fried layered flat breads obviously left the boy's taste buds with a long-lasting impression..

We found the very place without effort near Arab street. Two eateries with a virtually identical choice on offer stand right next to each other, the corner one priding itself for being the historic venue in town and using olive oil. We sat at the equally good-looking neighbour named Victory, and ordered two mutton "Murtabaks", which refers to the minced meat filled version. Almost instantly, a couple of mild curry sauces were brought to us to go with our Murtabaks under preparation. Funnily enough, these immediately reminded us of the coconut soup that constitutes the base of Khao Soi, our new Thai favourite since our recent stay in Chiang Mai. We then remembered that Khao Soi itself has Muslim origins, therefore traditionally featuring chicken and never beef as opposed to most other Thai dishes.

Two golden steaming Murtabaks followed a few minutes later, hugely mouthwatering despite looking rather rough. They proved deliciously crispy on the edges while soft at their centre, and generously filled with tasty minced mutton, egg and onion. It took me no more than a bite to be utterly charmed by this gratifying dish. Yet someone was still more satisfied than me at this moment: Tom naturally, whose expression of utmost contentment made the whole experience even more enjoyable.

So next time you're in Singapore, don't forget to try Murtabak at either Victory or Zam Zam. The two establishments are respectively located at 701 and 697 North Bridge road, practically at the crossing with Arab street.

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