Tag Archive | botak coconut

Reunions with “Botak”

Peeved though I was with the higher prices of the once excellent value set meals at Imperial Treasure Windows of Hongkong, my Tuesday trip to Triple 1 at Somerset wasn’t entirely a wash out.

The food at Windows of Hongkong was still good, though the higher price stuck in my throat.

But my apres lunch discovery at Fairprice Finest, a hop, skip and jump away from the cafe — where me, mum and her Picky adjourned — to pick up groceries, veggies n fruits, made me want to skip and jump.

I found my Botak coconut again and tho vaguely remembering past disappointments since our first encounter at the same supermarket outlet many moons ago, I let my enthusiasm over-ride unhappy memories.

I grabbed three and it was only at the check-out that I remembered Picky’s last admonition as detailed here.

As there was no queue and the cashier was most obliging, I asked Picky to please take those I’d chosen back to the chiller cabinet to see if she could do better. She returned triumphant to declare she’s swopped my choices with better ones.

scraped clean

OK, the proof of the coconut is in the eating which we found out on reaching home. And each of the coconuts had plentiful delicious water and tender flesh that was good to the last scrape, as this picture (right) testifies.

So is Picky Siti such a fantastic coconut picker?

Who knows?

Yesterday, I happened to walk into another Fairprice outlet — this time at City Square where I had gone to buy nuts from Pat’s Oven, which arguably in my experience sells the best nuts in Singapore.

I wasn’t looking for coconuts at Fairprice but for cut-price oranges for juicing and Fairprice’s prices run neck and neck with a no-frills fruit store in Bendemeer and sometimes even better.

That’s how I found another pile of Botaks and promptly bought three, even though I didn’t have the self-proclaimed coconut expert with me.

Guess what?

I’m delighted to share that all my picks were excellent, perhaps even better than those that Picky picked.

My conclusion: nothing or very little to do with choosing. And very much to do with what’s available at the supermarket!

Botak and old!

Almost exactly a month ago, I was all angsty about the family not being able to locate our new found food-love, the Botak coconut, and the trials and tribulations of buying the wrong coconuts and finally, the humiliation of being taught by mum’s maid Siti on how to tell a Botak from the others.

So, picture my delight when I ran into Botak again — all four of them — sitting in the chiller of Fairprice at Jurong Point.

All the pointers that Siti had laid out to spot a Botak were met:

1) Botak coconuts are truly botak with all the husk removed – check

2) Botak coconuts’ tops are not cut for easy opening – check

3) Botak coconuts’ tops aren’t cut but could be easily prised open with a gentle tap – check

4) There are all versions of coconuts in the supermarket and if they are marketed as young, Thai or fresh coconuts, they aren’t Botak coconuts – check. What I found was marketed as “Botak”

Botak at last!

I grabbed all four of them and at 95 cents each I felt a sense of deja vu — like the first time I discovered them on sale at Fairprice Finest @ Triple 1.

I told the others with me on the supermarket shopping spree and we couldn’t wait to get home to sink our teeth into the soft coconut fresh and cool our throats with coconut water.

Now, picture my disappointment when Picky Siti after hacking off the top, delivered me a Botak that had little water but was thick on the flesh. She also hacked open hers, even though it wasn’t time for her to buka puasa. It was the same.

“You should have asked me to choose,” she said, irritatingly.

“How to ask you to choose when there were only four?” I retorted.

Silence. She hacked open mum’s. Again, low on water, thick on flesh. My sister had taken hers home, so I won’t know whether she had a lucky pick.

Botak is just another lau yah

The new pointer on coconuts? Even when it’s truly Botak, it needn’t be young!

Not all coconuts are created equal

It had started with my discovery of Triple 1, the Cinderella of Somerset Road, which I mentioned in a post  and with that, the discovery of Imperial Treasure Windows on Hong Kong.

It was after my first satisfactory lunch at Windows on HK that then led me to the new Fairprice Finest outlet at one corner of Triple 1. Nowhere near as complete in product range as FF in Thomson Plaza or Bukit Timah Plaza but I found something that made my household drool and wanting more.

Triple 1’s FF had on offer Botak coconuts at $1 each, down from I don’t know what, since it’s not a regular item. I bought enough for all at home.

If I had any reservations about the price — implying that the product was being gotten rid of in a hurry — I was wrong.

We found the cocounts had plentiful amount of good juice and the flesh very tender but not so tender that there was no bite — you know, the translucent sort which turns almost to water as you scrape it off the inner shell.

So we were hooked, and everyone wanted more but over many days, we never got to go back to Triple 1. Mum’s maid while shopping at the wet market even called back to report sighting botak coconuts.

Be4 I said “buy”, I asked her to check the price. $2 each? Forget it.

However, the longer we went without, the more we kept thinking about that delicious taste of Botak’s flesh and juice.

So much so that the next time I saw what I thought was Botak coconut at Fairprice’s Square 2 outlet, I immediately bought several “Botak” coconuts, even though the labels just declared them as Thai coconuts and despite the fact that they were priced at $1.65 each, 65% higher than what i last paid.

When I got home, mum’s Picky Siti triumphantly declared them to be the wrong type, not Botak. She was proven right. Although there was plentiful juice, the flesh was tough, almost tough enough for grating — what one commonly calls “lau yah”, old coconut or Chinese slang for “lousy”.

At that point Picky Siti gave me a lesson in picking the right Botak coconut, not from a tree but from a supermarket chiller.

1) Botak coconuts are truly botak with all the husk removed

2) Botak coconuts’ tops are not cut for easy opening, unlike the coconuts (on the left of the picture below) and which I had bought mistaking them for Botaks.

3) Botak coconuts’ tops aren’t cut but could be easily prised open with a gentle tap.

4) There are all versions of coconuts in the supermarket and if they are marketed as young, Thai or fresh coconuts, they aren’t Botak coconuts.

I’m now well versed in coconut lore. Pity, I haven’t been able to find Botaks at bargain basement prices lately but I shall keep looking.

Botak not among these

Raffles Marina’s back-handed gift

As someone who loves freebies, provided they are truly freebies — with no strings attached — I always find it an insult when around my birthday I get a bunch of “gifts” — from NTUC Income, Metro, Tangs, Tanglin Club, Raffles Marina etc etc. In short any vendor to whom I’ve ever given my date of birth.

It’s not that I look a gift horse in the mouth but because almost all send vouchers that aren’t gifts at all but cheap gimmicks to get me to spend something at their establishments.

So, over the years, I’ve learned to toss out most of the vouchers, “free gifts” (sic, if it ain’t free it ain’t a gift, geddit?) and other vultures dressed as pressies.

I toss out the $50 gift voucher from Tanglin Club — too many stipulations: it must be spent in the Churchill Room. Which is fine but then there’s a minimum spend + I must use it only for dinner. As the C Room is the most expensive facility, it means literally I must spend several times more to enjoy that $50. Hence the gift isn’t worth anything to me, not even the cost of the card it’s printed on.

The vulture-gift from Singapore Cricket Club is 15% discount for the pleasure of eating in the Padang, also the club’s most expensive outlet. Not only that: the prices of practically every item on the menu scream “the best of fine dining”; altho the results don’t quite match up, in my experience.

The discount is increased to 20% if the eating is done at dinner time on a Sunday. O, the generosity simply blows my mind! No prize for guessing what I’ve done with their “vulture”.

There is, or more accurately was, one club about whose birthday gift I used to sing its praises, for not having any conditions. $50 says the voucher and $50 value it would be. Eat anywhere; pay for food and drinks.

Alas, I don’t think Raffles Marina’s gift is that great any more. In fact it makes me mad to think I had actually fallen for its gimmick on Saturday.

We ordered four Botak coconuts, 2 garlic naans, fish tandoori, nasi goreng istimewa, grilled fillet of salmon, caesar salad and a glass of white wine. The bill came to $91.81, and after deducting the $50 “vulture”, I had to pay $41.81.

So what’s the beef you might ask. My beef is that even without the “gift”, I needed to pay abt $46! As an RM member entitled to 50% discount on all food and beverages over a certain number of years (in exchange for giving up certain privileges), I gained just abt $5, because when I used the “vulture”, I wasn’t allowed to claim the 50% discount, not even on the amount in excess of the vulture’s value. Which to me is ridiculous and makes the so-called gift not a gift at all.

Worse was the fact that the food served at RM’s Bistro was atrocious (quite unlike its standard in the recent past), except perhaps for the coconuts (I’m quite generous: actually one of the four coconuts we were served was definitely older than my mum, bringing to life the saying “Lau Yar” which means OLD COCONUT and colloquil for lousy). The nasi goreng looked all right but I won’t know what it tasted like: that was for Siti, the maid.

Of the remaining four dishes, the caesar salad was passable but not the remainder. The salmon was grilled or pan-fried to death. The flesh was almost like saw dust.

The naans dripped with oil, even after I made a desperate attempt to take out the oil with the paper napkins (which incidentally we weren’t given till we asked for them, as well as for some missing utensils and serving plates!!) The fish tandoori was hard and tasted as if they had been cooked perhaps many moons ago n reheated– stone hard and again swimming in oil.

The only thing I had to be thankful for was that I didn’t actually go to celebrate my birthday. Just to have a tasty Saturday lunch with the family which in reality turned out to be anything but. And no, we barely touched the naan and the fish, breaking them up to take away for some stray dogs off Sixth Avenue. We hate wasting food, even if someone had ruined it.