Contrary to evidence here, we do more than eat and think about more than food. But we do think that food is a huge component of culture, so for Kyle's birthday I got him the Makansutra 2009, the definitive guide to Singapore's street food and restaurants.The book lists 140 types of local street food--by type and location--and rates "only the best" on a scale from single pair of chopsticks (good) to three pairs ("die, die must try," some Singlish for you!).

The book also includes reviews of mid-priced and fine dining restaurants, but since the heart of Singapore's food culture is in hawker centres, it probably won't surprise you to know that we're focusing mostly on street food. Like the book says: "Eat the food and digest the culture."

So we have instituted the Eat-A-Thon: an attempt to try all of the 140 types of food (maybe, that's a fish head curry on the cover and I'm not sure about that one) on the island, seeking out the "Die, die must try" rankings, and of course tell you all about it.

Eric and Emily have joined us on this quest, and together we set out on the first Eat-A-Thon adventure: Claypot Rice.

Photo courtesy of Eric & Emily because theirs was way better than mine.
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice
Blk 335 Smith St. #02-198/199 Chinatown Cplx

Claypot rice is a Cantonese dinnertime favorite, says the Makansutra. The rice is cooked in a clay pot over a low, preferably charcoal fire. The resulting smokey rice is topped with meat and greens and flavored with a thick black soy-based sauce.

They delivered it to our table after about a 45 minute wait. Because we clearly didn't know what we were doing, our server mixed it at the table for us, first taking out the steamed meat and greens (chicken and sausage for us) and adding the black sauce to the rice. He drizzled the last dregs of sauce on the meat and greens and handed us each a bowl, spoon, and chopsticks.

We thought it was a good, filling, simple meal. The chicken was moist and tender and the black sauce flavored the whole dish without drowning out everything else. I would have preferred more vegetables, but that's a recurring refrain here so far.

After our leisurely dinner, Eric and Emily had a dessert gem to share with us:

Mei Heong Yuen Dessert
No. 65-67 Temple Street, Chinatown

We got passion fruit and berry snow ice from a shop in Chinatown that, judging from the line and the absolutely packed house, is other people's gem as well. The snow ice tastes like the snowcream mom used to make on the (rare) occasions that it snowed when I was a child. Like sweet frozen milk finely shaved and topped with a fruit sauce, this definitely will require further investigation.