Pau! Pau! – Movement Labs

Pau! Pau!

You thought I was teasing about bringing Ellie & Rhino on the Night Safari.  Nope.  Photographic evidence:

KMN and Ellie, in front of a wood carved elephant, at Night Safari

That bright white thing in Kee-Min’s hand? That’s Ellie. We tried taking this photo several ways, but the lighting was just very weird.

Rhino (the more excitable of the two) wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to take a single picture.  I think they had fun. 🙂

Our friends left Thursday morning.  While they were packing up, I snuck out for a quick run:

On my way out the door.  This cap, by the way, is awesome.  The material is so light and wicking, I don't even notice it. And the thick sweatband inside helps keep my eye sweat-free.

This cap, by the way, is awesome (REI brand). The material is so light and wicking, I don’t even notice it. And the thick sweatband inside means that my eyes need only contend with sweat that is generated from the middle of my forehead and below.

For the first time since we’ve lived here, I clocked a trail run at under 10 min/mile – and I wasn’t really even trying.  I’m a pretty diligent Garmin-checker, but I didn’t even notice my average pace until I was back home, cooling down.  Nice little bonus right there!

I wanted to share one last bit of local food with our friends before they left, so I stopped into the Sin Kim Hua Pau Shop [Sin Ming Plaza, 6 Sin Ming Road, #01-20], just down the street from our apartment

Three different kinds of pau in the steamer

Keeping pau warm in the steamer. Char siew (barbequed pork, red dot) pau, chicken (yellow dot) pau, and red bean (no dot) pau.

Pau (pronounced ‘bow’, and also called baozi, bao, pow, et al.…) are small stuffed Chinese buns made of tender white dough.  Common fillings are either savory – seasoned pork, chicken, and/or veggies; or sweet – red bean or lotus paste.  Most Singaporeans seem to prefer the savory variety, even for breakfast.  Personally, I like my breakfasts a bit sweet, and the red bean pau are my favorite, any time of the day.

We walk past this shop every day on our way to the MRT (subway) station, and every time I think, “We really should try those pau!”  So finally, we did.  I got three varieties of fresh pao: char siew, chicken, and red bean ($5 SGD for 9 pau).  Pau, like many other Chinese bread products, are steamed, rather than baked.  This preserves their super soft, tender texture.  So when you want to reheat/keep them warm, you must steam them:

Steamer and a high five in shadow

While the pau steamed, I played with the backlight and my camera.

I’m a biologist, and I like to dissect things, so here’s a pau cross-section:

Chicken pau

Chicken pau

Red bean pau

Red bean pau

Overall, I thought that the bread-to-filling ratio was rather high. I like a bit of filling with each bite of pau, but these didn’t have quite enough filling to go around.  And the red bean filling was exceptionally creamy, while I’m accustomed to (and prefer) a thicker red bean paste, with some small chunks of bean left intact.  (I think I like to delude myself into thinking that I’m actually eating beans, and a thicker, grainier texture helps!)  But I can see how some might prefer a more creamy filling.  The chicken pau filling was quite flavorful, with lots of bamboo – but again, I like a bit more filling in each pau.  I didn’t try the char siew, and our friends evaluated all the pau as simply “good”.  [I’m not sure if they were giving their honest opinion, or their be-nice-to-the-hosts opinion, though!]

Overall, I really like the idea of fresh pau, and would probably give the shop another try, particularly for savory pau – but I haven’t yet fallen head-over-heels for this spot.  The jury is still out….

Our friends headed to the airport (thanks for the visit, W & S!), and we returned to regular life.  I worked through the afternoon, then hit the gym in the evening.  On Thursday nights, I try to double up on classes: Body Pump first, then Hot Yoga.

I was psyched about Body Pump, since I think that, for the first time ever, I got my weights perfectly loaded for every single track: I could finish to the end of each set, but was shaking by the end of every song (muscle group).  I’ve done the Body Pump/yoga combo for the last few Thursdays, and I imagine that the Hot Yoga instructor thinks I’m a complete wuss: After a minutes or two of downward dog, or 20 seconds of warrior, my arms and legs are shaking, thanks to my Body Pump warm up.

But I really don’t care.  The instructor for this particular class is awesome – she’s not very “Om-y”, and she is very funny. I think this is the first yoga class I’ve been to where it’s socially acceptable to laugh in the middle of a pose.  She’s also very knowledgeable, and watches to make sure everyone is performed the postures correctly (rather than just calling the postures and ignoring the class).  I always leave exhausted, stretched, and chuckling.

Kee-Min was working late and I also had a pile of things to do, so I snagged a chicken satay burger from RS Deli, a modern Indonesian-fusion restaurant.  They serve both traditional favorites, like nasi lemak, and modern twists on those favorites, like a beef rendang burger and nasi lemak burger.  There are quite a few items I’d like to try – but having had (and enjoyed!) the chicken satay burger on a previous visit, I really wanted it again.  As a bonus, their fries are also very good.  The peanut sauce isn’t bad, either.  🙂   I won’t lie, I gobbled this down:

Burger, fries, salad

Food photographer failed to offset the bun so you could see the burger. Learning curve, folks, learning curve!

Already washed and ready to go. So easy!!

Already washed and ready to go. So easy!!

Do you like how I added my own salad to increase the healthy quotient? By the way, here’s my healthy eating tip for the day: When you buy lettuce, wash it all, and throw it in the salad spinner (if you don’t have one, get one).  Then, you’ll always have salad-ready lettuce hanging around (for considerably less than the cost of pre-washed lettuce, which isn’t really common here anyway).  This dramatically reduces the energy required to make a salad, and you will therefore be more inclined to make and eat a salad.  True story.

Pau: sweet or savory?

Salad: What do you do so there’s no excuse not to make it?


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  1. Charm January 19, 2013 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Kinda like a pau – custard buns
    The one at Mouth Restaurant is baked (custard buns are usually steamed) and good apparently…

    • Holly KN January 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Iiiinteresting. I’ll admit to being a bit suspicious of things here called “custard” that are kept at room temperature (custard is a cold thing in the US) – as well as “grainy bits of salted egg”, but I like the idea of a crispy outside. I’ll have to send Kee-Min to buy some back one day! Thanks for the tip – and thanks for stopping by. Good to have a local food consultant on board. =)

  2. Sarrilly January 19, 2013 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Mmmm I miss baozi from China!!! I like the savory kind myself…but prob. bc I’m not a huge red bean fan. I love reading about life in Singapore bc it reminds me so much of my time in China – and gives me this peek into your life there! 🙂 (Miss you!)

    Oooh I love your salad spinner tip! In an effort to eat more salad during pregnancy (esp. since I was eating only junk when I did eat during the 1st trimester), I started buying salad in a bag at Costco. The amazing part: it comes with little packets of feta cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and dressing (which I only sometimes opt to use)…all so ready to eat and yummy that I have no excuse and really look forward to it! Man, I was so spoiled by our Commons salad bar… 🙂

    • Holly KN January 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Honestly, buying it pre-washed by the bag is definitely the easiest way. But it’s significantly more expensive that way here (and not sold like that in many places), and so I wash it all, cut it all, spin it all. This double or triples the likelihood that I’ll just “throw together” a salad. 🙂

      Ohhhhhh for “free” access to all those washed & sliced goodies again. Oooohhhh…….

  3. @therunginger January 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    I agree, I think I would want a bit more filling in there. It looks like it would be too doughy. Otherwise, it looks filling! I am jealous that you are in a place with so many culinary choices.

    • Holly KN January 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      There are certainly culinary trade-offs (anything dairy is super expensive), but there’s so much variety here, and definitely things you can’t get most places in the US (except maybe NYC, LA, SF). Singaporeans love to eat, so deliciousness abounds. 🙂

  4. Silas January 22, 2013 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    I liked pau fine when I have tried it, though I was a bit put off the first time, because I accidentally ate the paper on the bottom, which was less than pleasant.

    • Holly KN January 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      I can imagine that wouldn’t have been pleasant. Like DOTS. I hated DOTS as a kid, mostly because I couldn’t get the paper backing 100% off the DOTS. 🙂

      But you have obviously matured into an older, wiser pau-eater. 🙂

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