Saturday, September 15, 2007

FoodScapes at the University - II

[Continued from Part I]

Next to the Chinese stalls, the one serving Western food is my favourite. This one does a brisk trade in breakfast, heavier meals, and side dishes. Unlike the Chinese outlets, where mix-'n-match rules, here a plated system prevails. You ask for various 'sets' - pork chop set, fish and chips set, bacon and egg set, and so on.

These sets comprise elaborate affairs. Apart from the main item as advertised, they include some cole slaw, a spoonful of baked beans, a fairly greasy fried (bread) roll, and a huge quantity of french fries. One has the option of asking for rice instead of this paraphernalia. I happen to be inordinately fond of fries, so haven't yet tried this last option. The breakfast platters are smaller, limited to baked beans and a reduced amount of fries.

The beef steak set represents possibly the best value for money. A decent-sized steak plus trimmings at $3.80 for NUS students, $4 for outsiders. The meat is excellent - juicy, succulent, and not a bit chewy. One can cut it easily with the usual cafeteria knives, mildly serrated - no need for steak knives..

The cooking is, well, tasty but functional. 'Well done' is the only option you get. But this lives up to its name. I haven't once found it the slightest bit overcooked. The flavours and texture of the meat remain intact. It comes smothered in a lovely brown gravy. Mopping it up with bits of fries or roll is a pleasure in itself.

My personal favourite, however, is the grilled fish. It's the most expensive single item on the bill of fare, at $4 for students and outsiders alike (the mixed grill, which contains several sorts of meat, is pricier at $7). They give you a large piece of dory fillet, once again of excellent quality - no smell at all. It is grilled so that the outside becomes mildly crispy, and the flesh tender as you please. Then they add lemon-butter sauce to it. I suspect they use Calamansi lime for the sauce. I've detected its distinctive aroma in the sauce once or twice.

I've tried out several other things, including fish and chips, chicken chop, and pork chop. Excellent stuff, all of them. The crumb-fried fish is surprisingly non-greasy, and the pork largely lean. Incidentally, the chicken chop and pork chop come covered in the same brown gravy as the steak.

Breakfast here is disappointing. I tried it only once; ordered bacon and eggs. For two Dollars I got two skinny overfried rashers and an inspid egg, along with the usual accoutrements.

The stall also features several side-dishes. I haven't tried the chicken sausage at 50 Cents each, but the huge load of fries they give for a Dollar is something I always look forward to. Together with the chili sauce on offer as a dip, it makes for a most delightful snack.

[Continued in Part III]


Prithviraj said...

ayto fry khele biye'r suite'r size bere jabe! :p

Abhik Majumdar said...

Suit? South Indian marriage, saar! Dhuti, angavastram, essentially topless affair.

Receptioneo na hoye dhuti pore nebo :P

ys said...

Most boring for a veggie other than the french fries! But I like to learn what points the eaters look for in each type of meat, so a very good read. Hmmm, I do share Prithviraj's concern for your girth... :))).

Got a nice sounding word verification for a change - hsugqc! Do remove this setting, pleeeze?

Anonymous said...

As a Westerner, I have never been to the "Western food" stall, mostly because I detest baked beans and coleslaw. In the US those items are restricted to picnics. All the "Westerners" who go to NUS agree with me that the food doesn't look particularly good. In any case, your average American (if not a Brit) is more likely to eat pizza/a sandwich/Indian curry/Chinese noodles for lunch than a chicken fillet and fries. But we're similar in rejecting the familiar -- you won't eat at the Punjab stall, I won't eat at the Western stall.

Abhik Majumdar said...

Hey Anon, beans and coleslaw (especially the ghastly mayo they use) are peripheral in nature. Matter of fact, am not too fond of them myself either. Ignore them, tuck into the grilled fish. In any case, they use dory. Fantastic to eat, and don't think you can get it so easily in the US.

Archisman said...

A nice article. Enjoyed the easy flow of words.

As they say, "raag, rasoi (ki article) aur pagri, kabhi kabh ban jaaye".