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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Song Hua Jiang Restaurant ("Dog" meat)

So on Sunday evening I discovered that a place in Jurong East - in Singapore! - was advertising dog meat* on its menu.

* - There is supposedly "no known humane method of slaughtering dogs for human consumption", but then a vegetarian would say the same of animals in general.

Seeing the many xenophobic, hypocritical and/or self-righteous comments on EDMW, I knew I didn't have much time before they would stop selling it (if they had in the first place). However I had class on Monday, so the earliest I could make it was today.

At first I was supposed to go down with Edward and a friend of his. He was supposed to pretend to be a PRC, which would increase the odds of our getting the real thing, but when I was almost there I found out that he thought the whole thing was off since it supposedly wasn't real dog. However I was literally getting off the MRT at this point (it's within walking distance of Chinese Garden MRT - just opposite, in fact) so I decided to dine there, especially since Melvin told me that "actually i went there before. their food is quite good. their lamb skewers are nice" (though I didn't find lamb skewers on the menu)

"Song Hua Jiang Restaurant", Blk 350 Jurong East Ave 1 #01-1233 S(600350), one of 3 restaurants in the same row that look like they could've been plucked from China (except the menus have fewer translation errors)

It was full - presumably a result of the publicity. As they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity! So I had to wait 15 minutes before getting a seat. And the inside felt like China - I only heard one non-PRC table.

"Dog Meat Tripe in Sauce (False), $8" and "(False) Braised Dog Meat, Tofu and Dry Cabbage, S$14"
I asked if either was spicy, and was told the latter was spicy but could be made less so, while the former was not spicy. So I decided on the former (besides, it looked smaller)

Dog Meat Tripe in Sauce (False)
I'd eaten quite a bit for lunch (another story) so I didn't have any carbohydrates. Contrary to what I had been told, it was quite spicy - I wonder what the other would've tasted like. It was also a cold dish, and was quite nice (and a generous portion too), apart from being extremely salty.

As for the million dollar question - was it dog?

In newspaper interviews, the owner said that it was actually pork meat, but this didn't resemble pork meat, being too dark and rough. But then, it resembled dog meat even less - at least the dog meat I had at Pingyao:

Dog Meat Hotpot. The bona fide dog meat was more uneven in texture, had more fat, was more tender, was redder in colour and had a heavier taste (no wonder it's supposed to be heaty). But then different cuts of an animal can taste differently, so.

All in all, the meat it reminded me the most of was donkey (though I forgot to tell them that):

@liangkaixin's colleague bought some 'dog' back, and no one dared to eat it, but it didn't look like either 'dog' dish on the menu:

In fact, what her colleague bought most resembled:

"Chicken and Mushroom Soup"

The lady boss asked me "你是本地人?" and then commented "*a lot of things I didn't transcribe* 佛跳墙,里面是佛吗?" ("Are you local?... Buddha Jumps Over The Wall - do you find a Buddha inside?"). She also said they had been subject to telephone harassment.

I also decided to have some dessert:

"Eggs in Hot Toffee"
When I ordered this the girl told me that it was egg. Hurr hurr. Amusingly the English is more accurate than the (poetic) Chinese.

The dessert. Which came with a bowl of water - at the start, when it is too hot, you dip the fried egg into the water and it cools it down so it won't burn your mouth. I was skeptical at first but it really worked - and the dessert did not lose its crispiness. The egg itself was very light.

Closeup of strands of 'toffee' in the dessert. By the end there was a large disc of solidified 'toffee' left.

Amusingly, all throughout the evening, I heard "狗肉" ("Dog meat") uttered. But that's to be expected, given the publicity.

My Starhub data connection was awful at the restaurant, but when I stepped outside it improved. Perhaps this was a form of protection from hypocritical (at least the non-vegan ones - see my essay on animal rights), self-righteous Animal Activists, or xenophobes under the guise of Animal Activists.

At least my data connection worked for long enough for me to check the translation of "ashamed" in Mandarin ("羞愧"), so I could tell the lady boss that I was very ashamed on behalf of Singaporeans, and apologised to them on their behalf. She said that she was very 感动 (moved).

I mentioned to the lady boss that I'd had whale meat in Singapore before, and she asked me if it had not been a small portion. I agreed and she pointed out that if she was serving real dog meat, it wouldn't be such a generous portion. I concurred.

$15 of whale in 2009

I asked if business had improved in the last few days, and was told that it was normally this good. Then someone said something else about if business was bad, people would feel sorry for them, which I didn't really catch.

The quality of the food was quite good, and both dishes and 2 drinks (Aloe Vera water and some PRC drink) cost me $23.80. I should be going back again with Melvin and Ban Xiong (the owners said they sold the place for personal reasons, so we only have a few months!)
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