Many fellow travelers I have encountered have played up Singapore’s role as an eating paradise. My first time there, in August 2004, I didn’t have much liberties in where I ate, or what I chewed. That said, the local highlight was definitely using mantou to scoop up chili crab and its delicious sauce at the East Coast dining promenade. (photo thanks to thelivingpollypocket) For some reason, repeat sagas in the Lion City have kept the crustacean out of reach, and instead an easier to find snack has taken the baton, kaya jam and toast.
Kaya jam counts as its main ingredients coconut milk, eggs, sugar, and pandan, a tropical leaf with a uniquely sweet flavor that has also been used to enhance the taste of ice cream, as well as on its own in cakes. The color of kaya can be more green (as in the jar above) or more brown, depending on how much pandan is used. I think the stuff is great, but undoubtedly sweet; after a pandan binge in Kuala Lumpur, I was incapacitated for a few minutes. It’s common in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, and I’ve found it in the states as well (in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Asia Market Corp. at 71 1/2 Mulberry St. near Bayard St. stocks it in the shelves across from the cashier).
Usually, it’s spread on grilled toast. With butter. What’s that? Coconut and butter? Well, just take a look:
Singapore makes it easy for you. There’s no need to spare a moment to search the city-state for this arterial arrogance. As soon as you arrive at Changi Airport, have one of the staffers lead you to a food court, where the fun awaits. You say there are long queues at immigration, and you don’t have any Singapore dollars? No worries, use your excess euros, drams, people’s money, or punts and make sure to get a “sandwich” for passport control too, it beats the unusually-flavored hard candies that they offer when you are allowed in. In case you think the kaya toast counters might dash your dreams and run out of butter:
If you have tried kaya jam before, how have you eaten it? Virtual handshakes to all those who eat it out of the jar.