Count My Lucky Stars

Walking out of the desolate, deserted and lifeless Kaki Bukit, I was just bereft of life.

Straight off the bet, I knew it – I. Screwed. Up. – there was just no way around it. To be fair, I’ve not been given the bad news yet, but you know, it feels just like wayyy back in 2006 after my “A” Levels Economics paper. The ordeal is over, and you can heave a sigh of relief but the celebration is bittersweet – more heartbreaking than astringent. While it’s too early to count my eggs, but I’m pretty sure it’s a given. You know, this would’ve been the job that I had to do in order to get where I want to be. No, your first job is rarely your final destination. You just do that to build credentials. Alas, I’ve resolved not to be too upset. There are as many opportunities as there are fishes in the ocean.

Enroute home, I stopped by Toa Payoh Central for some sustenance. As an afficianado of Cantonese Roast, I always stop by Hiang Ji whenever I’m in the area. It was first introduced to me by my MI classmate and good friend, Mark (that’s if he’s still around… I don’t know where is he these days, since he keeps changing his cell number, and is pretty prone to shutting the world whenever he slips into an emotional trough), and it was love at first taste. Until this, I was convinced that Cantonese Roast was sooo rare, you could only literally, find it in Chinese restaurant chains like Crystal Jade and Imperial Treasure. In Singapore, there are many false deities claiming to deal in Cantonese Roast, and I had grown tired of them. The soya sauce chicken and roasted dark, as I tried them, reignited the long forgotten exquisite flavors that seemed to only be found in Hong Kong, was, in fact, available in Singapore. I was ecstatic!

That was then.

Roast duck for example, when roasted well, is supposed to produce a sweet, crisp, caramelized skin which locks all the moisture in the meat, tenderizing it. To achieve that consistency, the roast process demands skill, precision and rituals that can take ages to master, and you either need a fireplace that can withstand incredibly high temperatures, or a really intelligent roaster. The sophistication can be rather taxing, stressful and unnecessarily tedious, particularly for hawker or coffee shop owners who’ve virtually no space nor technical know-how to adapt to such a small environment, and the quality doesn’t translate well in Singapore, leading to dry and blander flavors. To mitigate the problem, sauces, previously minimal, unnecessary or non-existent in Cantonese Roast, along with the rice, once plain, now have to be amplified, enhanced and spiced. Hiang Ji, one of the last pure authentic Cantonese Roasts on the island, had localized.

EDIT:

Inspired by our talk about of our former workplace during my meet up with Keidi, Chia Erhn and Denise, I thought to myself, “I’m jobless, I’m free, why don’t I do this?” So, I decided to, with what little resources I have, like PowerPoint and Paint, and decided to lay out a online spread. So after a few hours, here’s what I’ve come up with. Sure, it’s not the best nor am I a professional, but you know what, I had fun doing it, and that’s the most important thing.

You know, I’d like to meet up with Seng Kiat and Terrance, shoot them, and do this layout thingy.

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