Walking by the neighborhood yesterday, realised that the 848 coffeeshop at Yishun just went through a major renovation. New black/beige tables and chairs, looking chic with more than a hint of art-deco influence. I miss the rickety plastic stools, the tables that tilt everytime the hawker uncle serves a plate of meepok, and the everpresent empty condensed milk tin-cum-ashtray. But some things never change: still in business were the huge metal fans that blast hot, stifling wind at your face, forcing you to hold up your hair least it flips into you food.
Poser renovations and sweltering wind aside, at least the food was good. The popiah uncle had his own glass pane window, so we could see him making his rolled radish creation. Soft rice wrappers, with just the right amount of crisp. Topped with sambal chilli, minced garlic, shredded hardboiled eggs, taugeh, crabmeat, peanuts, and of course, cooked radish. Something mysterious too, a powdery kinda floss, added before the radish. The ubiquitous “secret ingredient” every respectable hawker uncle and aunty possesses. Whatever it was, it made the difference. yum.
That’s the great thing about layered food, you get to taste all the different flavors individually when you pop a piece into your mouth. A flavor explosion, if you will. Not like curries, where the spices and flavors mingle to create an unidentifiable bang on your tongue. Not that that isn’t good, but clean, sharp flavors are such an experience, no?
Thanks to D for introducing popiah to me. My new favorite hawker snack.