O for Usman

The awesome staff at Usman

As part of my first week’s adventures in Singapore I was taken to Little India, the main reason being to visit the Mustafa Centre, which is kind of like a mall but X10 IN AWESOMENESS. Little India is totally rad all round. I got some sweet silk shirts for $10 and saw a bunch of cool stuff that was so cool I can’t even tell you about it. What I can tell you is to go to Usman. This cracking corner restaurant is a must-visit for newcomers and regulars alike. Sade the waiter recommended the chicken jalfrezi for me, Jacqui got the paneer and there were oice tees all round.

Sizzle plate

Mine came on a sizzling plate billowing terrifying plumes of steam. My old workplace used to do a cracking-good jalfrezi but this blew it out of the water. It was really light and clean-tasting – “it’s almost like a Chinese stir-fry” I exclaimed with a satisfied smile. This is until I asked the chef (who was sitting next to us) where the dish was from.

“China”, he said.

Jacqui's paneer

Trust me to order the only Chinese dish in a curry house.

It came with the best garlic naan I’ve tasted and some excellent conversation from the staff.

The staff are keen to spin a naan

So on your next sojoun to Mustafa, stop in at Usman. Just don’t buy any silk shirts on the way. They’re mine.



Home cooking – marinated beef stir-fry

My first visit to the wet market was an eye-opener. It was fish day, apparently, so there were all sorts of aquatic animals on display, dead and alive. A bare-chested man was chopping the heads off wriggling frogs and deftly skinning them in one go with a pair of pliers. He was surrounded by buckets of live eels. There were plenty of other weird fish on display but we skipped that and went to the beef section, where a jovial man opened up a huge side (is it side? I’m no butcher) of rump and expertly cut us off two big chunks off rump, sliced them into stir-friable pieces and vacuum-sealed them. All for $16/kilo. It. was. awesome.

Possible more awesome was the little old lady who told us the best way to cook it – marinate in ginger, sesame oil and oyster sauce and stir-fry.

After picking up some mung beans and bok choy, Jacqui and I went home and followed the woman’s instructions. The end result was excellent. I always wanted to make something like this in New Zealand but never had basic ingredients like sesame oil or oyster sauce.