Doesn’t the word “sing” instantly brighten your spirit? Music and songs have an innate power to make people happy, energized and renewed.
Sad or rueful, as well, but I felt nothing but joy after a recent lunch at newly opened Sing, where Singaporean dishes are featured in a brief but covers-all-the-bases pan-Asian menu.
The setup is basic: Order at the counter, take a seat at one of a few round tables or at a long communal one, and wait a few minutes for some seriously amazing food.
According to founder Jerry Lasco, known for Max’s Wine Dive and The Tasting Room, “Throughout my life, I’ve had a love affair with Asian food with its exotic flavors and intense spices. When I visited Singapore, I felt like I had reached foodie nirvana. All the dishes that I crave from China, Vietnam, Thailand, India and Malaysia were brought together in one beautiful place. Sing is our tribute to Singapore, the great melting pot.”
You may recognize chef Cuc Lam’s name from the food pages of the Houston Press. Sing’s website notes that “Cuc has been cooking Asian food for over 20 years and more recently has been involved in all aspects of the food industry, through social media marketing [and] creating and hosting pop-up events.”
On my visit, Cuc was an upbeat host with an infectious enthusiasm. I can attest that her cooking is at once mysterious and exhilarating.
Let’s start with exhilarating. A colorful order of Mango Shrimp Rolls came with a peanut-hoisin-sambal (Sriracha’s more authentic sister) dipping sauce. The rolls themselves were clearly fresh and handmade, not dense or hard to chew like many commercial rolls you’ll find.
Next time I want to try the Singapore Chili Crab Rangoon, a wonton-like appetizer, as well as the Shrimp Puffs (flash fried here, though often baked and served like muffins, as well).
You want mysterious? Order Dan Dan Noodles and you’ve come to the right dish. A Sichuan specialty, Dan Dan Noodles have become associated with Singapore, too. At Sing, the dish is traditionally prepared with stir fried noodles and ground pork, resulting in a meaty umami flavor.
OK, that describes the taste, but what about the tingle? Ah yes… Dan Dan Noodles wouldn’t be the same without the enigma of Sichuan Peppercorns. Long considered hallucinogenic (and thus illegal) in this country, they have a spiciness unlike any other.
Heat’s not the point — you won’t be grasping for water — but there’s a tingling that dances around the tongue and almost numbs it. It intensifies with each bite and if I had any Sichuan Peppercorns in the house I’d be grinding them into everything.
There’s a lot more to try at Sing, and I’ll be back to do so. Roti Canai with Indian-spiced pineapple curry sauce? Sure. Laksa, a Malay curry noodle soup, is also on offer, and there’s even a Chicken Tikka Masala! If you’re like me, you’ll leave Sing humming a happy tune.