Part four (see: part one, part two, part three) in Hankering for Home, a series from our contributor Kyle Mullin that explores how expats cope with the culinary challenges facing them so far away from home. In this fourth and final part, Kyle spoke to Singaporean expats Poh Soon Guan and Tng Leng Nah.

Indeed, finding familiar flavors may be challenging for Beijing’s South American, European, and Middle Eastern expats. But this is even true for foreigners from nearer locales. Poh Soon Guan and Tng Leng Nah, a young couple from Singapore, realize Western expats may assume that Southeast Asian cuisine is readily available in Beijing. And while the pair acknowledges that there are many local Thai options, the same can’t be said for Singaporean fare. Poh says Lau Pa Sak and Koo Kee are Beijing’s best Singaporean restaurants (he has yet to try My Humble House), but he says that our city sorely lacks other options.

“There’s been a few other Singaporean restaurants spring up over the years, but they often close quickly,” he says. Poh adds that Koo Kee might be his favorite Singaporean eatery in Beijing. Today, while visiting the chain’s Tianshui Xiyuan location (near Chaoyang Park) with Tng, he begins by ordering two wholesome bowls of bak kut teh pork soup (rougucha in Mandarin), along with two servings of the spicy galiji curry chicken soup, and two orders of gingery boiled Hainan chicken rice (Poh says there are many crossovers between Hainan and Singaporean cuisine, because the latter is home to many Hainan immigrants).

“The galiji is very popular in muggy Asian places like Singapore because it’s spicy, and most of us believe that the spice makes us sweat out the moisture and cool off,” he says.

Tng adds: “Beijing gets so cold at times, compared to Singapore. We’re mostly used to it, after being here for eight years. But having some spicy Singaporean food once in a while definitely helps, especially when I’m feeling homesick.”

Photos: Uni

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