Saturday, February 3, 2007

Silent Night

I've never been fond of Hotpots or steamboat cuisine in any form possibly due to the annual Chinese New Year phobia of being confronted with a steaming pot of broth in which anything and everything goes in, gets boiled to death, and is often forgotten, with the end result looking like some toxic mini nuclear holocaust. Bits of egg, burnt tofu, a couple of really over boiled prawns and god knows what semi-solid greenish grey goo stuck to the sides of the pan. Shudder.

But JuJu Hokkaido hotpot at Paradiz Center was surprisingly good with a filling set that sets one back by about $25+++ per person for dinner. Which I reckon was good value for money given the food we got and the service rendered. We decided to give it a go, partly because we intended to go for dessert later (though we were nicely stuffed after that) but mainly cause we'd always walked past that huge poster advertising the huge sets (Which were really decently sized after all) without ever giving it a try. Admittedly, it never looked very Japanese to begin with and dinner quickly confirmed that. Staffed almost exclusively by PRCs, you could almost imagine yourself being in a Beijing eatery. Even the decor and service felt distinctly Chinese. Not that it mattered, the food and service were good which is what really counts.

This also has to be the first place where they explain so many things to you voluntarily from the different sets and the dishes in them, to how to cook/eat your appetisers and the different desserts, etc. What did puzzle me was the way they constantly talked to me in Chinese, all the way from the point the waitress started explaining about the sets and the various dishes to when I asked for the bill. I mean I didn't think I look like the type who understands Chinese well.

Most Singaporean Chinese speaking Chinese I encounter inevitably end up trying to converse with me in English, even if they have great difficulty doing so. "Cause you look so Ang Mo pai." Sean always says. Apparently not ang mo enough for them. And what was even weirder was the fact they almost always spoke to Sean in English. He who speaks Chinese at home.
"I look very Cheena meh?"
" Must be."
"And you. Must be that fako Aussie aura about you." "War Der.(his Aussie version of water)" I couldn't help resist ribbing.
" War der, what's wrong? That's how they pronounce it not War Ther (emphasis on T). War TTTher." He repeats for additional emphasis on the 'Singapore' version.
"It should be Woorter, emphasis on the o and not the T, stupid."
And we both argue for a bit trying to pronounce water correctly, get confused and give up after I point out that his prawn looks positively baked. But anyway, I guess the good thing about having your own personal hotpot is you decide just what goes in when and for how long and with it you eliminate the need to ever have to dig up someone else's forgotten goo, nuked to a slimy mess. Unless that is your thing in which I cordially invite you to the extended family's reunion dinner.

But yeah if you dig hot pots, you can check that place out, go early cause it gets really packed later.

So it was later that I took the NEL back with Sean and he drove me back home cause when you're unable to meet up frequently, any time spent together is always precious. I'd just finished shoving the books into the bag and removing the laptop to make space when I turned to kiss him goodbye. Not too short, not too long, well alright long is always nice but sufficient to convey the simple message.

I suppose I did notice from the corner of my eye the presence of someone in the background when I was turning around though it didn't register then. It was only after we disengaged that I saw the figure of a teenage boy slowly jogging past the car, mere meters away.
"Shit! That boy saw us! And he looks like he's from Cat High."
" So? Does it matter?" I queried.
He turned and looked at me. Then grinned. "No, it doesn't."
Atta boy!

No comments: