I’m back home for a week. I can’t say I was particularly excited by the thought of coming home. My heart was filled with a mixture of dread and a wee bit of excitement. The latter mainly due to all the yummy food I’m going to eat. And man do we Singaporeans know how to eat.
I sink my teeth into the first wrap. The flavours are far stronger than what I’m used to. The duck is electrifyingly crispy and fatty, the sauce is tangy and sweet and the condiments are confusing. Midway through my first Peking Duck burrito, my waiter magically shows up with a plastic glove and a pair of chopsticks. He looks both mildly concerned and thoroughly amused.
Everyone who knows me knows I love food – but Xinjiang cuisine has a super special place in my heart. The food is SPICY, intense and packed with all kinds of indescribable flavours. And so I asked my trusty temporary housemate Fang if there’s a restaurant in Hong Kong that serves Xinjiang Cuisine… and… ding ding ding… she told me about Ba Yi. It’s one of those famous places where you have to book a time slot in advance. And yes – they will kick you out when your time is up. And no – they don’t care if you haven’t finished your meal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I realise that a Japanese man is about to serve hawker fare to a very fussy Singaporean. I have ridiculously high and stringent standards when it comes to the food of my childhood. It comes with the territory. Whenever most people do something that’s foreign – they inevitably end up leaving their accent on it. It’s not a bad thing. But I know better than to expect it to taste like it does back home.