Have a plate of rice in front of you, slathered with a thick mild curry and soy braised sauce, topped with thin battered Hainanese pork chops, a fried egg, stewed cabbage, curry chicken, meatballs and sardines in tomato sauce (yep, all that in one platter), and you know this is home, truly.
The dish – surprise, surprise, unless you have a Hainanese grandfather who told you this – has its roots in Great Britain.
It’s what the Brits brought here during their British India empire era, which also inspired the Japanese curry katsudon (rice topped with deep-fried pork cutlet and egg).
The Hainanese, who had house-help jobs with the British in the colonial days, learnt fast and took this out to the streets for us all to enjoy.
Somehow, this dish has a following, even (and especially!) in the dead of night and also for breakfast.
I may not be able to wrap my mind around the logic for that, but I do know who hawks some of the better curry rice after the witching hour.
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