Real Mexican

Posted on July 6, 2007 by Aun

margaritasfishmain.jpg

While Singapore (or more specifically our Tourism Board) likes to lay claim to having one of the world’s most diverse culinary scenes, one food that has always been hard to find here is good, authentic Mexican. Note that I say both “good” and “authentic”, because while we do have a fair share of places that purport to serve Mexican cuisine, most only offer mildy passable Tex-Mex, which is a far cry from what you’ll find if you actually travel around this North American country. I have to admit that when I first went down to Mexico in the mid-1990s, I was astounded by the food; it was fresh, delicious, complex and nothing at all like the slop I’d eaten most of my life before that trip. A week there and I had an all new opinion and respect (which honestly I hadn’t had before) for Mexican food. Here in Singapore, only one restaurant that I’ve visited comes close to serving anything that comes close to what I’d consider real and good Mexican food.

Margarita’s, started by Andy Yap, has three branches in town. Over the years, my family has enjoyed many enjoyable Sunday lunches at the branch on Faber Drive. The newest and biggest Margarita’s is in the uber-trendy and ridiculously crowded Dempsey Road area (by the way, in my opinion, whoever came up with the name Tanglin Village should be smacked upside the head!). Last weekend, my wife S and I decided to grab a late lunch there. It’s a darned good thing we made reservations. The place was packed. And by 215pm, the restaurant had to turn away all walk-ins and late arrivals; they had (at least according to them) run out of food! Despite the crowds, the service was polite and efficient, and the food was excellent.

margaritas2.jpg

S and I had a relatively small meal (for us). We shared a jug of “agua fresca de fruta”, a peach and honey flavored drink, and ordered three mains to share. We started with Margarita’s signature “enchiladas de jaibas al horno”, a baked crab enchilada. After that, we shared a “pollo de Margarita’s con adobadidas”, a grilled tequila lime chicken with chipotle cream sauce, and a “pescado almendrado”, fish in almond sauce. My brother — who is a bigger fan of Mexican food than I am — loves the tequila lime chicken. While it was really tasty, I wasn’t thrilled that the chicken pieces were only breast meat, which I always find a tad dry. I did, however, love the fish in almond sauce. It was mild and cheesy and utterly delicious. It’s the kind of thing I could happily eat weekly. And after just a few bites, I knew it’s something I wanted to learn how to make. The menu says that the recipe comes from a restaurant called Pipo’s in Alcapulco. After a quick Intenet search, I’ve found the below recipe on www.epicurean.com. I haven’t had the time to test it yet, but from what I can tell, it sounds pretty accurate. I’ll definitely be trying it out in the next couple of weeks.

Margarita’s is a great place for a good meal. It’s very, very popular, especially with families. So, don’t go expecting a quiet intimate experience. Go if you don’t mind screaming kids but want some good food and great drinks.

Margaritas
108 Faber Drive, Tel: 6777 1782
404 East Coast Road, Tel: 6440 8030
Blk 11 Dempsey Road, #01-19, Tel: 6471 3228

Pescado Almendrado
(Fish in Almond Sauce)
Recipe from www.epicurean.com
Serves 8

8 red snapper or sea bass fillets, about 4 oz.(125g)each
juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) thick cream (or creme fraiche)
1 cup (5 oz/155 g) blanched almonds
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) butter
1 cup (4 oz/125 g) grated queso Chihuahua (or Monterey Jack or medium-sharp Cheddar cheese)
8 small slices pickled chiles jalepenos (optional)
toasted slivered almonds for garnish (optional)

Marinate the fillets in the lime juice, salt, and pepper for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the cream, almonds, and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F(190 C). Melt the butter in a large skillet, add the fillets and saute lightly on both sides. Transfer to a greased baking dish and cover with the almond sauce. Sprinkle with the queso Chihuahua and bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Garnish with sliced chiles and slivered almonds.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Krista July 6, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Now I’m intrigued. Singaporean/Malaysian (yes, I’m lumping them together) and Mexican are two of my favorite cuisines in the world so I’d be curious to try a Singaporean take on the style. Unfortunately, I only get to S.E. Asia every couple years.

    (I hate blog nitpickers, but I can’t restrain myself from pointing out that Mexico is in North America even though it doesn’t seem so.)

  2. Stephen July 7, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Those dishes look great. Mexican is one of favorite cuisines. I’m very curious as to what the differences between Mexican-American & Mexican-S.E. Asian are?

  3. Elaine July 8, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I like Mexican food and will give that fish in almond sauce recipe a go. It seems simple and light.

    I really do think that like Indian cuisine and Chinese 12 course dinners, Mexican food leaves you feeling really heavy after. Perhaps it’s the amount of rice, beans and other starches that they use. But I still love it, on occasions :)

    And Stephen, what a curious question, is there such a thing as Mexican-S.E Asian to begin with?

  4. Kevin Bell July 8, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Surprised to hear that Singapore’s food scene could ever be considered to be the world’s most diverse! By comparison the diversity [at all different price levels not just at 5 star hotels] that is available in Bali is quite incredible. 52 different ones [and many more sub-cuisines] are listed on BaliEats, now that is diverse. For me Sydney has by far the most diverse cuisine availability anywhere in the world.
    But you are correct about the difficulty in finding real Mexican cuisine. In Australia there was one [out of 1,000 Mex restaurants] and they could not sell it so reverted to that American cheesy rubbish. La Cucuracha [wrong spelling I am sure] in London is the best I have ever been to outside of Mexico. Breeze in Bali used to do a perfect Yucatan Chicken, the sauce having 9 different components but one total taste, but unfortunately they could not sell it as being on skewers people confused it with sates.

  5. Maninas: Food Matters July 8, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    now this looks luscious!

  6. joanh July 11, 2007 at 1:11 am

    wow! i will have to remember to eat there if i go to singapore…. the enchilada looks great. Taipei is lacking good mexican food as well- only TexMex and mexican food adapted to the Taiwanese tastebuds. Please tell Mr. Andy Yap to come open a Margaritas here!

  7. Stephen July 11, 2007 at 3:52 am

    Elaine, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be Mexican-S.E. Asians. Are these Mexican restaurants in Singapore run by Mexicans or by Asians? Are there Mexicans in Singapore? If so, wouldn’t they be Mexican-S.E. Asian? I guess I have no idea. Can someone enlighten me? :)

  8. Leesa July 11, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    HOLY MOLY MOTHER OF BATMAN!!! That looks soooo tastey that my mouth is already watering.. I am a So. California transplant, just 20 minutes from the Mexican border and have NEVER seen something look THAT DELISH-IOUS!!!! I have some fresh banana leaves in the freezer.. that looks like my next dish to make! Thanks for sharing it with us… I am used to the across the border Mexican food… ie Taco Shop stuff and you can’t even find THAT here in France.. not even in Paris!! I DO miss it.. but we have family that sends us stuff from Mexico and California… Take care, Leesa

  9. lawrence July 15, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    margarita’s … very very interesting. what are the prices like?

  10. Erika July 19, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I would never think to have Mexican food while in Singapore, but this is beautiful enough to have me searching for flights…or atleast the nearest taqueria. I definitely need to try this recipe!

  11. noei July 25, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Wow! Lurv your photos, soo apetizing. Aha! Margaritas, used to do P/T (plus free meals)during my teens :-)
    Their food is G8 and I sure missed the Fish Veracruz & Sopa Pillas… is it stil in their menu?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


− 4 = zero

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>