White Rose Cafe
by Qian Leung
@ 30 Jun 2017
Known for bringing in hawkers from Penang for their hawker fests thrice yearly since 1986, York Hotel, located on Mount Elizabeth road is also reviving some lost dishes from the 1970s of Singapore.
"These are dishes from a long time ago," says Chef Charlie Tham, "they are hometown food."
Fresh crabs are chosen for the masala crab and braised with onions, mustard seed, cardamom, cloves, start anise and masala spice mix while red snapper heads are selected for the curry fish head, which is simmered in soup with curry spices, onions, cardamon and shredded coconut.
The fried curry chicken wings, which are marinated in ginger juice, wine, curry spices and garlic for 5 hours, are dipped in a batter of curry spices, milk and flour. Hot from the deep fryer, the buttery fragrance and spicy, crispy crust makes you lose all your sense so you end up tearing wing after wing.
With the sambal prawn, Chef Tham first fries some fresh dry chillies, belacan, shallots, garlic and assam paste before adding the prawns while for the nonya dish of chap chye, cabbage, carrots, lily flower, black fungus, tang hoon (glass noodles) and salted bean paste are stewed together in a pot.
Chef Tham also does a dish of black ink sotong (squid). "It is simple traditional food," says Chef Tham. "Squid carries ink and this traditional way of preparing it makes use of the ink as well, along with red and green chillies as well as turmeric (yellow ginger)".
Because the flavours of these dishes are intense, some plain white rice with cucumber and pineapple rojak on banana leaf provides the perfect backdrop. With a dish of sambal kang kong (water convulvulus), Chef Tham first grinds dry shrimps into a paste, fries it with some garlic and dried red chilli together until aromatic.
"These are recipes which people prepared in the 70s," says Chef Tham. "It has Peranakan and Northern Indian influences but I would term it as traditional Singaporean hometown food." QL