Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Dining in Singapore


Recommended Posts

I should also add the following:

During a three-hour stop in Singapore on my way home, I discovered the most wonderful chicken rice at Bukit Panjang Plaza's "Kopitiam" cash-free eating outlet.

A fortunate occurrence in a way, as I had previously spent a week in Singapore before that and couldn't find chicken rice of any noteworthy calibre.

The rice dude probably thinks of himself as a bit of an artist; he slices off thin fillets from the breast, thigh and drumstick areas and chop them up. The pieces all end up looking the same (even the colour contrast of the dark meat is somewhat lost) but the flavours and textures are remarkably different.

It goes without saying, of course, that the rice is absolutely divine.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

"There's even a small Italian restaurant deep in the Rifle Range Road area (off Bukit Timah)."

As I ate here last weekend I'd be happy to elaborate...

Valentino's Restaurant, just off Rifle Range Road.

Had dinner there on Saturday night and it was a fantastic experience.

Service: Plenty of staff, always attentive and no waiting. And, I just found my favourite waiter in Singapore. Italian, passionate about what he is serving, kisses his fingers when he describes the specials...love it.

Price: Brought our own wine (3 bottles for 6 people, $35 corkage which is steep, but I find their wines overprices), had 4 courses and it was $100 per person, not bad for this kind of quality in Singapore (especially when I can walk to the restaurant).

Food: Amazing.

Starter was parma ham wrapped buffalo mozzarella which was then grilled....crispy ham and oozing cheese...delicious.

Pasta course, we ordered three pastas for everyone to share;

Ricotta and parma ham ravioli which were mealy, but the tomato cream garlic sauce on them was SO good.

Gnochi with cheese sauce

Fettucini with a spicy tomato and home made sausage sauce..mmmmm.

Saltimbocca for main course which was tender and a generous size, wonderful potatoes, and the most delicate, delicious, lick-the-plate-good sage butter sauce.

Tiramisu for dessert was homemade and very good.

Definitely a strong recommendation to check out Valentino's

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

I will be on a business trip in Singapore and want to sample the cuisine. I am mainly interested in high end restaurants, but I would like to try some of the best of the street food also. I am trying to buy the Maknasutra book.

What is there on the high end dining scene? Will the book cover that, or is it mainly street food?

Nathan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No help from me about high end dining, but if you haven't read Calvin Trillin's wonderful piece in the Sept 3 '07 New Yorker about Singapore street food, do so! Double treat! The variety of foods sounds completely amazing and his descriptions will make your mouth water. I was ready to get on the first plane and make a bee-line for those food courts. Recently I saw a physical therapist who grew up in Singapore and somehow our chatter during every session came back around to how much she missed that food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basically any hawker centre will be amazing - if you want a specific one i can get back to you on that - I can't remember the name of the one we usually make an effort to go to at the moment.

But if you want to eat something you really can't get anywhere else then go for Peranakan cuisine which is very local and quite different. The Blue Ginger (tanjong pagar road) is really good and its in an old shophouse (typical & historical). It is higher end as well - in the singapores top restaurants book.

You could also go for chilli crab (its famous) on the east coast on the beach.

Just mention some of these things and people will know where to send you.

Try the roti pratha which you can find anywhere (like a very flakey bread/naan/roti) realllllllly good. and also beef rendang is reallly good here.

I used to live there but there are sooo many choices its difficult. Just let me know if there's anything you need help with -I still have my Makansutra (a local food book that lists every type of food , restaurant and rating, in singapore)

mmmm i'm jealous

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will be on a business trip in Singapore and want to sample the cuisine.  I am mainly interested in high end restaurants, but I would like to try some of the best of the street food also.  I am trying to buy the Maknasutra book.

What is there on the high end dining scene?  Will the book cover that, or is it mainly street food?

Hey ya

Is this your 1st trip to S'p?

Fine dining in S'p generally revolves around the various international cuisines while street/local food is best sampled at hawker centres and stand-alone coffeeshop outlets. (Of cos, having said that, there are plenty of mid-priced eateries that serve good eats from both ends of the spectrum.)

I'll just give you my two cents worth on each end of that spectrum, mostly my faves :)

Fine dining:

Modern French - Gunther's (my favourite place for a nice meal - fantastic produce, clean flavours, discreet efficient service, simple comfortable dining room);

Chinese - Hua Ting / Shang Palace / Chef Chan;

Japanese - Tatsuya / Nogawa (Sentosa);

Italian - Garibaldi / IL Forlino

Modern Continental - Iggy's

Street/Local:

Makansutra is a good starting guide to the various local dishes and where some of the best stalls selling them are. It's organised by the dish but there is a short section at the back of the guide that cross references the stalls with the part of the island they are located. For visitors, it's probably best to head to the hawker centres for the best variety of food within one convenient compound. If you have some time and are adventurous, you may want to seek out some of the stand-alone stalls. Some of my favourite hawker centres are at Whampoa, Old Airport Road, Chinatown, Hong Lim, Amoy and Maxwell.

I'm assuming here that you've trawled some of the other threads regd S'p's street food, so I won't get into it here. But do let me know if you want some info.

Happy eating.

Cheers.

OB

Amateur cook, professional foodie!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Question about tipping--when dining in a real restaurant in Singapore (as opposed to a food court or hawker stall), do you tip?

We had a quick meal at a Chinese restaurant tonight. Although there was a 10% service charge (in addition to small charges for the boiled peanuts and even the moist towelletes), there was also a space to add a tip on the credit card slip. I wasn't sure what to do, and since the waitress was standing right next to me, I gave about 10%.

Can I not leave a tip, or will the waitstaff chase me down while calling me rude names? Does the tip actually go to the staff (I assume the service charge does not)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And don't forget to try the local coffee at the hawker centers too--it's excellent.

I neglected to mention that I did have this. It came with sweetened condensed milk added into it, which was a bit of a surprise. But still dee-lish.

Speaking of coffee and Singapore...Ya Kun Kaya shops are quick and fun. The famous toast ("Same Menu Since 1944") is a treat. Last time there, I brought back several bags of the coffee. Now out. Miss them.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ya Kun is on my google map for Singapore. Don't know if we'll make it there once we return to Singapore (we're in Cambodia now), but it's on my list! There are a lot of locations, so there's a good chance we'll at least drop by one. Will try the coffee--I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I do like a good cup now and then).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ya Kun is on my google map for Singapore.  Don't know if we'll make it there once we return to Singapore (we're in Cambodia now), but it's on my list!  There are a lot of locations, so there's a good chance we'll at least drop by one.  Will try the coffee--I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I do like a good cup now and then).

The coffee is also a great (and easy) thing to bring back as inexpensive gifts for any coffee-loving friends and family. Not only tasty and typical of the region, but a good story. I brought back several bags for relatives and they were a big hit.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Question about tipping--when dining in a real restaurant in Singapore (as opposed to a food court or hawker stall), do you tip? 

We had a quick meal at a Chinese restaurant tonight.  Although there was a 10% service charge (in addition to small charges for the boiled peanuts and even the moist towelletes), there was also a space to add a tip on the credit card slip.  I wasn't sure what to do, and since the waitress was standing right next to me, I gave about 10%.

Can I not leave a tip, or will the waitstaff chase me down while calling me rude names?  Does the tip actually go to the staff (I assume the service charge does not)?

Prasantrin,

Do not tip when there is a service charge - you will spoil the fun for the rest of us. :laugh:

You are correct - for the most part, the staff do not share in the service charge. There was an article in the Straits Times recently about how the service charge was dealt with. Some places use it for providing staff uniforms and training (whatever!!!) and one featured restaurant said it "guaranteed the staff a living wage". If it's a cash tip, it most likely will go to the staff, though credit card tips will likely meet the same end as the service charge.

There is no tipping culture here, so you are at liberty not to. I generally do not tip, unless I am feeling generous that evening or I have received truly stellar service deserving of reward. The former occurs with significantly greater regularity than the latter.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jaymes--I was thinking of that. I need to bring back some gifts for my department, etc. and coffee is always appreciated. The only problem is that someone (who isn't me) has been buying up a storm in Cambodia and I'm already worried about our check-in allowance! We're now only allowed a max of 20kg total each (just a couple of years ago, I was still allowed 2 20kg bags), and we still have two short stays in Singapore, and one short stay in Kuala Lumpur left!

This is putting a serious damper on my purchasing of food items, and I'm not sure if I'll even get my Cambodian honey now!

Julian--Thanks for the info. I promise I will not spoil anyone's fun anymore. :smile: And the info certainly did not spoil my fun, and will only add to it! More money for food!

I still can't believe they not only charged a service charge, but even 30 cents for each moist towellete! Had I known there was a charge, I would have refused them--we always carry our own, anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Prasantrin - enjoy your travels in SE Asia! And no, don't tip above the 10% service charge in Singapore. That's what it is there for! It's Singapore in it's truly efficient style imposing the tip on all customers! In theory, the 10% service charge is supposed to be shared out amongst staff.

Some rare restaurants may choos not impose this charge (they'll just have the 7% other government charge), in which case, maybe leave your spare change for the waitress.

Hope you enjoyed Cambodia. I just returned from there today ;) Truly amazing! I'm about to post about my meals in the Cambodia thread. I'll definitly be back, so I'd love to hear about your time too when you get home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hope you enjoyed Cambodia.  I just returned from there today ;)  Truly amazing!  I'm about to post about my meals in the Cambodia thread.  I'll definitly be back, so I'd love to hear about your time too when you get home.

We probably passed each other in the night! Or day... (you didn't fly Jetstar did you? We just arrived in Singapore on the 28th, too!).

No free wi-fi at Swissotel, so I'll be writing my reports after my return. I don't have very many pictures of food, because it was often too dark to take worthwhile photos. We're leaving for KL tomorrow a.m., and am returning here on the 3rd for a couple of more days of eating!

I must confess, we tipped again yesterday. There was no service charge, but we made a special request for a future take-away (they probably do take-away, anyway, but we weren't sure), so I thought we should tip so they'd be nicer to us when we return. I know I'm a wimp, but I couldn't help myself!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I've been meaning to get this started for quite some time. . . oops. That respiratory infection I developed by the end of my trip is still lingering, but if I don't do this now, I'll never get it done!

Day 1--Singapore

We took at late morning Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore from KIX. While at KIX, we had breakfast--OK, this should belong in the Japan forum, but since it's the start of my trip, I'm including it here!

gallery_11355_6395_1206.jpg

Look at all that delicious seafood!

gallery_11355_6395_10758.jpg

It was soooo good, despite being older than it should have been. A couple of days earlier, we went to my local Hankyu Dept. Store food floor, and they were having a Hokkaido Fair. I think this was about Y1200, but it might have been Y1600. It should have been eaten the night we bought it, but we had so much other food to eat, that we kept forgetting about it. Oops.

After boarding the plane, we took advantage of SingAir's free Singapore Slings! One of my mother's young adulthood dreams was to have a Singapore Sling in Singapore. My plan was for us to find a nice hotel bar/lounge and for her to have her Singapore Sling. Unfortunately, we never got around to that, but at least she had one Sling! Nevermind that we were technically still in Japanese air space, and it was served in a plastic cup. . .She can't drink much alcohol, so I had to drink most of hers, anyway.

gallery_11355_6395_13924.jpg

I like SingAir's food. It's pretty decent for airplane food. I had some kind of beef--maybe sukiyaki?

gallery_11355_6395_6615.jpg

But look how squished my bun was! I think someone sat on it!

gallery_11355_6395_42781.jpg

After arriving in Singapore, we hopped on a free tourist shuttle bus into the city. We were leaving early the next morning, so we didn't bother with a hotel. The shuttle brought us to Suntec--a very large, very disturbing mall. I hate malls, in general, and found this mall to be particularly bad. It was crowded, confusing, and poorly designed, and it had a dirty feel to it (relatively speaking, this was Singapore, after all). But it also had not just one, but two Crystal Jade restaurants. We ended up at Crystal Jade Kitchen, just because it was closest one and we were both starving.

Starter--I know these things aren't good values, and we should just send them back to avoid paying for them, but my mother loves peanuts like these. She was quite happy to eat the whole little plateful by herself.

gallery_11355_6395_22751.jpg

We ordered a version of pepper-salt squid. It was tasty, and each piece of squid was stuffed with garlic. Wowsers! I felt sorry for our seatmates on the plane to Cambodia.

gallery_11355_6395_9479.jpg

And we ordered seafood ho fun with gravy (you can order it dry or with gravy). I love ho fun and cheung fun, but I can't get them in Japan. Or at least I haven't found them in my area, yet. This was also good, though I thought the noodles were a bit mushy. It had that nice wok hey flavour to it, though.

gallery_11355_6395_71863.jpg

According to my credit card statement, this cost us a whopping S$35.20, which included the peanuts, two moist towelletes, and a small tip (I can't remember how much I left--maybe S$3 or S$5). It was by Canadian standards a bit expensive considering the portions (I remember thinking the squid, in particular, was not a good value), but by Japanese standards, it wasn't too bad.

On our way back to the shuttle bus, we dropped in the Crystal Jade bakery to pick up some breakfast for the plane. I got a cocktail bun filled with buttery sugary coconut filling. I love them. :wub:

So ends Day 1 of our trip. I've got to sort the rest of my trip pictures now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Day 2--Singapore

OK, this is sort of out of order. This is Day 2 in Singapore, but Day 9 of our trip. In between Singapore Day 1 and 2 we were in Cambodia, but it's easier for me to do each country in one swoop, so that's the way it's going to be!

Taking an early morning flight, we arrived back in Singapore around 11am. By the time we got to our hotel, or rather, our correct hotel, it was around 2. Not having eaten since 6am, my mother's blood sugar was starting to crash, so as soon as we checked in and freshened up a bit, we walked to Clarke Quay to find a place to eat. There were many places to choose from, but we went to the very first one because my mother was really starting feel nauseated from hunger.

Jumbo Seafood. I think I've heard of it before, but perhaps they have other branches, because I don't associate it with Clarke Quay. It's a Chinese restaurant specializing in seafood, from what we could tell. Unfortunately, it was 3pm by this time, and they were closing! They kicked us out, and we walked next door to Cafe Iguana.

Cafe Iguana, it turns out, is a Mexican restaurant. I really didn't want to eat Mexican food in Singapore. I mean, Mexican food in Japan usually sucks, how good could it be in Singapore, especially in a touristy area like Clarke Quay? And it's sort of kitschy.

gallery_11355_6395_22550.jpg

We decided to stick with simple stuff, because it's pretty hard to screw up the simple stuff. My mother ordered queso fundido. When it arrived, it sort of looked like processed cheese food. It may have, in fact, been processed cheese food. But it was really good! It was cheesy enough, but not too cheesy or greasy, and it had a bit of a kick to it. And the tortilla chips were warm. We thought maybe they fried them onsite, but it's hard to say.

gallery_11355_6395_12506.jpg

We really liked this, so we asked what was in it. They said cheese, tomatoes, capsicum, chile. . . and I think that was it. But look at it! There's no way that can be just cheese unless it's processed cheese food--can it? Here's another look:

gallery_11355_6395_7657.jpg

I'd be willing to use processed cheese food (if i can find it in Japan) if someone could give me a recipe. I looked a bunch up, like those crock pot cheese dips made with cheez whiz, but none of them seemed like they'd turn out like our beloved queso fundido. And I tried doing a cheese sauce (just bechamel with lots of cheese) mixed with jalapenos and tomatoes, but it wasn't the same at all.

Back to food, As I was looking at the menu, I noticed that brunch dishes were available till 4pm on Sat. and Sun. and they had chilaquiles! I love chilaquiles! I had to ask the waiter what day it was (hey, I was on holidays. I didn't need to know what day it was!) and confirmed that it was Sunday (he only laughed at me a little), I ordered my chilaquiles con pollo.

gallery_11355_6395_27181.jpg

No, that is not a side of poop. Refried beans with a crusty exterior, is what that is! The whole dish wasn't too bad, but it was oddly sweet and it couldn't hold a candle to the queso fundido!

We paid, leaving a tip despite the 10% service charge because we asked if we could do take-away later on. Maybe they usually do take-away, I don't know, but the waiter had to go to the kitchen to ask, so we assumed it would be a special request and we wanted them to be nice to us when we returned (and we would definitely be returning).

Then we headed to Orchard Road, where I stumbled across this fellow:

gallery_11355_6395_25503.jpg

Fresh ice cream sandwiches! The ice cream comes in blocks that he slices to just the right size, then he sandwiches it between cup-cone like cookies. I liked it, though it did have a slight medicinal flavour.

gallery_11355_6395_20232.jpg

I had decided my quest would be to find the perfect curry puff. I love curry puffs, but they're not easy to find in Japan. Our first stop was Old Chang Kee, where we picked up (from left to right) a curry puff, sardine puff, and pineapple pie (which they call a pineapple feel'in).

gallery_11355_6395_12392.jpg

Curry puff innards

gallery_11355_6395_12752.jpg

Sardine puff innards

gallery_11355_6395_8666.jpg

Pineapple pie innards

gallery_11355_6395_17583.jpg

The curry puff was tasty, but the shell was more like a pie crust. It crumbled rather than flaked, and I prefer the flaky kind. My mother liked her sardine puff, but I don't like tomato-sauce sardines, so I didn't care for it. I loved the pineapple pie! It was like a fried McD's apple pie, but better! Except it didn't have enough filling. I really wanted more of them, though!

That seems to be it for Day 2. I think we just had the curry puffs for dinner, and maybe some yoghurt. That's all I remember.

Whew! Another day posted for a two-week trip, almost a month after it ended! That didn't take long at all! I think I'm learning from Peter Green here. :raz:

Edited by prasantrin (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After losing an almost-finished post, I am starting again. Sucks.

Singapore Day 3

We woke up bright and early for breakfast. Our hotel, it turned out, as we discovered the night before (after being turned around exiting the MRT) was right across the street from a Ya Kun Kaya Toast coffee shop! If you don’t know its history, it’s a rather sweet story of a Chinese immigrant done good, and you can now find Ya Kun all over Singapore, as well as in several other Asian countries. I had heard about it many years ago, but for some reason, although I had tried kaya toast before, I’d never tried Ya Kun

gallery_11355_6395_3507.jpg

My mother ordered the cheese toast set, and I ordered the kaya toast set. Props for being eco-friendly and using only one plate for both sets, but which one was which? They both look like they have slices of white processed cheese in them!

gallery_11355_6395_12503.jpg

Upon closer examination, we found the one on the left was my mother’s—the white stuff was slightly more stringy. There’s kaya in there, too. She said it was good, but quite rich. It wasn’t really that rich, but she had eaten some leftover curry and sardine puffs before heading over (my mother is a hobbit), so it was a bit much for her.

gallery_11355_6395_12327.jpg

Mine was the one on the right. That’s a pat of butter (margarine?) sticking out. I love butter, I really do. But when your pat of butter is thicker than the bread it’s on, it’s a bit off-putting. I didn’t really have a problem eating it, though. I’m made of animal fat, so a little more wouldn’t kill me. I couldn’t really taste the kaya—they use a very thin schmear and the butter predominates. Had I been serving myself, I would have but much more on, but I guess that’s why they don’t let customers serve themselves. The coffee was hot and tasty (they put condensed milk in it). It wasn’t as strong or sweet as Vietnamese coffee, but it had a good kick to it.

gallery_11355_6395_8891.jpg

The soft-boiled eggs are more like yummy onsen tamago. I love onsen tamago. I noticed the one Singaporean family in the shop (with their Filipina maid) put soy sauce on theirs, but I like mine plain. Runny yolk goodness :wub:

gallery_11355_6395_2781.jpg

I noticed some of the signs that were in the shop were also translated into Japanese, and the two or three other occupied tables were filled with Japanese tourists with their guidebooks turned to the Ya Kun page. There’s also a Ya Kun in Japan, so I guess Japanese people love kaya, too!

We left Ya Kun to head to Chinatown. It was, in a way, fortunate that we were staying at the wrong hotel. You see, when I booked, I was quite sure I had booked at Swissotel The Stamford. But when we arrived at The Stamford, I was told (by lovely man who didn’t laugh at me) our reservations were at Swissotel Merchant Court! How did that happen? Luckily it was a quick cab ride to our wrong hotel, and it turned out to be very lucky, because a) we would never have found Café Iguana from The Stamford, b) we were right across from Ya Kun, and c) we were within a 5-minute walk to Chinatown! It was a bit unlucky, though, because we’re both kind of lazy, so instead of exploring other areas, we would say, “Let’s just go to Chinatown.” Oh well.

We arrived a bit too early to go to Yue Hwa, so we walked around a bit. Because I was on a curry puff quest, whenever we passed a curry puff stall, I needed to try one.

People’s Park is right behind Yue Hwa, I think.

gallery_11355_6395_21923.jpg

It was early, so not all the stalls were open, but there was this one Muslim stall that had puffs.

gallery_11355_6395_20408.jpg

Sardine on the right (red dot), potato on the left. I liked the looks of these. The skin looks crispy and not too greasy. I think had they been hot, as one might have expected them to be at 10am, they would have been ok. Unfortunately, these were cold.

gallery_11355_6395_24860.jpg

Innards—potato then sardine. The fillings were fine—not terribly memorable in a good or bad way. The potato filling was a bit sparse, though.

gallery_11355_6395_5732.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_18780.jpg

About a block down from People’s Park is another food court, I think called Pearl Centre. There was a little cart, and I wasn’t going to buy a puff, but I did. They only had potato.

gallery_11355_6395_4818.jpg

I liked the looks of the curry puff, plus it was hot! These were the best so far. The crust was a little more flaky than crumbly, and the filling was well-spiced. The only problem was the filling was a bit mushy. I think the potatoes absorbed too much water. But these probably ranked second in my curry puff quest (first is coming up soon).

gallery_11355_6395_5030.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_4362.jpg

Yue Hwa finally opened at 11, so we went straight to the food floor. If you’re ever short of time in Singapore, Yue Hwa is a good one-stop-shopping kind of place. My mother was able to pick up some chicken rice seasonings, and other stuff I can’t remember. I spied these cucumber-flavoured potato chips, but didn’t try them. How could cucumber-flavoured chips taste good? They sound almost as bad as "baked chips". What's the point? I wonder if anyone ever buys them.

gallery_11355_6395_6320.jpg

After spending about an hour or so helping my mother choose some linen table accessories :rolleyes: , we finally left for lunch.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Singapore Day 3 continued!

My posts are getting unwieldy, so I’m breaking up my days.

Lunch was at Ci Yan on Smith Street. Ci Yan is a Buddhist organic vegetarian restaurant that we first found in 2005, our last visit to Singapore together. The owners are devout Buddhists, becoming even more devout after the wife’s bout with cancer. All the food is not only vegetarian, but the ingredients are mostly (all?) organic.

gallery_11355_6395_5076.jpg

Our first visit, not realizing it was a vegetarian restaurant, we walked in to try the fish head soup that was advertised on a signboard outside their restaurant. The fishy taste in the soup comes from some kind of seaweed, not fish (obviously). My mother fell in love with the soup, and had been thinking about it often since then, so we had to go back. Problem—no fish head soup!! The owner said they have hundreds (or maybe ninety, I can’t remember exactly) items in their repertoire and the selections change daily so their customers don’t get bored. Good for regulars, bad for tourists who fall in love with their fish head soup! :sad: I placated my disappointment with a curry puff. It was dry, and not horrible, but not great. I think fried foods should never be healthful in any way, not even by using organic ingredients. It ruins the point of being fried.

gallery_11355_6395_13105.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_3115.jpg

My mother had the fish congee. Hot and filling, but not what she really wanted.

gallery_11355_6395_4.jpg

While my mother was eating her soup, I left to do some recon. I had wanted to try a Chinese restaurant specializing in seafood, so I went to see where it was located. On the way there, I found a long line waiting to get into this place on Neil Road. I did some research, and I’ve read some mixed reviews, but most of what I’ve read has been positive (their xiao long bao is especially good, I read). We didn’t have the chance to go back to try it, so if you happen to be in Singapore, please try it and report!

gallery_11355_6395_6382.jpg

After picking up my mother, we went to another famous curry puff place—1A Crispy Curry Puff.

gallery_11355_6395_17499.jpg

They had a lot of varieties, but I stuck with potato and I might have gotten a sardine one, too. The crust is more like what I like—see the rings? That’s a sign of a good homemade crust, spiralled then rolled. They were very fresh when I bought them, but we didn’t get around to eating them till the next morning. They were very flaky (super messy to eat), but I didn’t really like the filling. One of the predominant spices was one I don’t particularly care for—cumin? No, I like cumin. Maybe cloves?

gallery_11355_6395_7809.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_9601.jpg

We were tuckered out by this point, and felt we needed massages before our long bus ride to Kuala Lumpur the next day. We found a place in Chinatown Point Shopping Centre called Kimochi (which happens to be Japanese for “feeling”). I love Chinese-style massages. They’re a little painful, but so good! If you happen to be in the area, Emily is particularly good.

Now that I was feeling refreshed, I could walk a little more to Hong Lim Food Court, just behind Chinatown Point. I went in search for some, ahem, curry puffs. I had read that Richie’s Curry Puffs were supposed to be very good, so I walked all around the food court looking for them. Nada. But I did find Tanglin Crispy Curry Puffs.

gallery_11355_6395_7899.jpg

Since it was a little late (maybe 3 or 4pm), the woman told me they only had sardine left, but they were just fried. I hate sardine puffs, but my mother loves them so I bought one. I tried it, just for comparisons sake.

gallery_11355_6395_13182.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_14860.jpg

It was soooooo good! The crust was perfectly flaky, and not too greasy. It didn’t have as many layers as the 1A puff, but I preferred this puff. And the filling was excellent, even though it was sardine. I wished I had bought more, but we needed to relax.

Dinner was. . . should I tell you? Café Iguana. Yes, we went again. This time we had queso fundido (part of which we packed up to take with us on the bus the next day), and something else but I don’t remember. I also had another lime juice, and when I checked my bill, I found out it was S$6!! That’s a lot for what tastes like Minute Maid Limeade!! (I happen to like Minute Maid Limeade, but not enough to pay US$4 for it!) By the way, there was no price for juices on the menu, I was just stupid enough to order it without asking how much it was. Twice. At least the queso fundido was as good as I remembered!

Edited by prasantrin (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Singapore Day 4

This day was comparatively short in terms of eating. We returned to Singapore from KL late afternoon on January 3rd. We went back to our hotel and took a bit of a nap before heading out to dinner. This time, we were going to Little India.

The Banana Apolo Leaf is a 34-year old Singaporean institution. Supposedly this was the first place in Singapore to offer banana leaves as “plates”, and the food is supposed to be quite good. True or not, I was determined to try it at least once.

We started with coconut juice/water. We wouldn’t have many more opportunities to drink this lovely stuff, so we needed to get it while we could. This coconut was a little older, so while it had more meat, it also had less coconut water. It was still good, and I’d have ordered another one if I had the room.

gallery_11355_6395_16779.jpg

TBLA is mostly known for its South Indian specialties, but they now have a North Indian selection of dishes, as well. We placed our order, and we were told it would take at least 15-20 minutes for the Northern stuff, but the Southern stuff could be served immediately. Most of the things we ordered were Northern, so we had to wait a bit. This wasn’t easy, because we were very hungry, but we managed to assuage our hunger by eating the coconut meat from our coconuts, and the meagre stale papadums we were given. We noticed that other tables of two got more plentiful basketfuls of papadums, so we probably got the dregs of an old batch, while the new tables got a fresh batch. We have all the bad luck.

Finally, malai kofta and naan. This was one of the best versions of malai kofta I’ve had. The sauce was so creamy, and the kofta were quite substantial, though it was a bit too salty for me (my mother thought it was perfect, though). It was a very filling dish, but we still had room for others. I thought the naan were a bit small, though. We ordered two pieces, but it wasn’t enough for us to scoop up all the delicious sauce (and it would have taken another 10 minutes for another order of them, so we didn’t bother).

gallery_11355_6395_1111.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_21223.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_22268.jpg

Samosas—also considered a Northern Indian dish. I didn’t know that, and had thought they were prevalent all across India. We had one order of chicken and one potato. I don’t know which these were, but they all looked alike, so just imagine it’s one of each.

gallery_11355_6395_2635.jpg

I think the one on the left is potato, and on the right is chicken. They were served with a delightful yoghurt and cilantro(?) sauce. I prefer tamarind chutney, but my mother really liked it.

gallery_11355_6395_17867.jpg

Here’s the kicker. The reason most of the Southern dishes can be served right away is because they’re cooked ahead and kept under heat lamps. The Northern dishes have to be made to order. Why, then, did it take us an additional 20 minutes after receiving our Southern dishes to get our Northern-style chicken? Probably because we had to remind them to give it us. I hate it when restaurants forget my order. We had ordered Apolo Chicken 65, which is “small pieces of chicken marinated in masala & deep fried.” Tasty, but dry and lukewarm. I wasn’t impressed. The other Southern dishes I saw under the heat lamps looked similarly dry and lukewarm.

gallery_11355_6395_22867.jpg

If I were to return to The Apolo Banana leaf, I would probably stick to the Northern dishes, even though they aren’t the specialties. They were fresher and better prepared than the Northern dishes I saw. The exception, I think would be the fish head curry. The ones we spied around us looked very tempting. My mother would have liked to order one, but she said it wouldn’t have been satisfying to eat it at a restaurant (she wouldn’t have been able to suck out the eyeballs or really gnawed on the head). There are plenty of good Indian restaurants in Singapore, though, so I don’t know that I will return.

One funny thing about our meal here, when we received our food, I started to serve my mother some of the malai kofta and she said, “You don’t have to serve me! I can do it myself,” quite indignantly. It was a little odd, because she has never had problems with my serving her before (it’s an Asian thing, we serve our elders first). Then I noticed that she was putting her curry directly onto pieces of naan, rather than on her banana leaf.

This is my banana leaf after I was done:

gallery_11355_6395_10873.jpg

This is my mother’s:

gallery_11355_6395_15522.jpg

Now, mine isn’t the messiest you’ll ever see, but look at my mother’s! It’s so clean! She was actually a little embarrassed by it, and she folded it up to hide her cleanliness. It’s actually not about cleanliness, but something else which I’ll address when I get to the Malaysia posts.

After dinner, we went to Mustafa’s. I love Mustafa’s, and go whenever I’m in Singapore. I like to buy saree material there, and I also love their food floor. We bought a lot of stuff—more chicken rice things, some Malay marinades, TimTams (my mother wanted to try them), and a can of mango puree for me (so I could make more mango pudding). It’s about Y800 in Japan, but only Sing$5! In US$, that’s $8.80 vs $3.30! I only had to figure out how to shift the things in my already too heavy suitcase and carry-on to accommodate it. Oops.

Just 1 ½ more days to go!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great job. Almost like we're there with you and mum!

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice posts, Rona!

When you mentioned that the Ya Kun Kaya was at the MRT station and right across from your hotel, I wondered if you were staying at the Swissotel. Sure enough...

I stayed at that hotel in December and went to the Ya Kun Kaya twice. I wish I'd ordered the eggs - those do look like the hot spring eggs.

Being close to Chinatown is a real plus. The Maxwell Street Hawker Centre is within walking distance. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Jaymes and edsel!

Edsel--I can't believe you didn't have a set! Eggs always come with the set. Did you just have the toast? You didn't by chance try the french toast, did you? I was curious about it.

Yes, the location of that Swissotel was quite convenient. The only problem for me was that it was my fourth or fifth time in Sing., so I really wanted to explore other areas. Of course, by Day 4, I was pretty happy that it was so convenient to Chinatown (I'll get to that in a bit). We didn't go to Maxwell Road Food Court this time. Not even a single sliver of chicken rice entered my mouth! The one day I was in the mood to go was Monday, and they're usually closed on Mondays. Except when I walked by after having already eaten (at Ci Yan), they were open! I have all the bad luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Singapore Day 4

I had been feeling very tired for a few days, but I chalked it up to all the running around we were doing. In two weeks, due to changes and lack of planning, we had gone from Osaka to Singapore, Singapore to Siem Reap, Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and back, returned to Singapore, then went to Kuala Lumpur where we took a day trip to Melacca, then back to Singapore. That’s a lot of travelling for someone who likes to lie in bed all day. There’s a reason I’m mentioning this, but I’ll get to it later.

First, I can’t remember what we had for breakfast, but I’m sure we had some. We always eat breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day, you know. I would guess we had curry puffs from KL, some fruit, and perhaps some yoghurt. Oh, and leftover samosas (what are samosas but a different kind of curry puff?) and chicken from The Banana Apolo Leaf. And gulab jamun and jilebi purchased from the ABC (?) across from Mustafa’s the night before.

Then we went for a walk back to Yue Hwa so my mother could buy more linen table accessories. We’re creatures of habit, and we like to do the same thing again and again. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day, but it’s real life. :rolleyes: But at least lunch was different today!

OK, it was still in Chinatown, but it wasn’t anything we’d ever eaten in Singapore! Dim sum! It’s hard to get good dim sum in Japan, so I really wanted to have it at least once in Singapore. We ended up at Spring Court, the oldest Chinese restaurant in Singapore (open since 1929), as the guests of my sister’s childhood penpal and her mother. Does that seem strange? In junior high school, way back in the early ‘80s, my sister and I paid a company to find us penpals. Mine was from South Africa, and my sister’s was Jacqueline, from Singapore. They’ve kept in touch off-and-on throughout the years, mostly through the efforts of Jacquie, and when Jacquie heard my mother and would be in Singapore, she jumped at the chance to meet us! (She and my sister have never met.) One of the reasons she chose Spring Court for our meeting was because they have a number of Peranakan specialties, but now I can’t remember which ones were Peranakan.

Some kind of spring roll-type thing with shrimp. I think the wrapper was either tofu sheet, or popiah. If it was the latter, it was probably a Peranakan dish. The shrimp was plump, and the if the wrapper was tofu sheet, this was one of the best versions of this kind of spring roll I’ve had. It wasn’t greasy at all.

gallery_11355_6395_952.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_13729.jpg

It also came in a shrimp and mango version which I liked even better.

gallery_11355_6395_13505.jpg

Char siu cheung fan. It would have been very good had I not had the best version of char siu cheung fan I’ve ever had in my life a few days earlier in Melacca. But comparatively, it was just good.

gallery_11355_6395_6400.jpg

Carrot cake/Lo bak go. I liked this much better than the usual slab version. Plus this one had a lot of other stuff mixed in with it. It wasn’t as good as the version at West Villa in Hong Kong, but I can’t compare it to any of the food court/hawker stand lo bak go in Sing., because I've never had it anywhere else there.

gallery_11355_6395_21800.jpg

Siu mai. A very nice version. Sometimes siu mai has an odd flavour to it—something they put in the marinade of the pork perhaps? But this one didn’t have that, and the skins were relatively thin and not tough as siu mai skins can sometimes be.

gallery_11355_6395_15336.jpg

Har gau. Again, very plump shrimp. I couldn’t help but think it could have been more flavourful, though. As things turned out, it was really that my taste buds weren’t working properly any more. A bit more on that later.

gallery_11355_6395_4288.jpg

Popiah. The wrappers are made fresh to order. There were two types—one with hot sauce, and one without. I like the one with hot sauce better. These were a Peranakan specialty, and also one of the specialties of this particular restaurant.

gallery_11355_6395_10840.jpg

gallery_11355_6395_16916.jpg

They really pack a lot of filling in these, and it’s very filling for your stomach, too. I was starting to fade, when. . .

gallery_11355_6395_7730.jpg

It's woo kok (taro puff) to the nth degree! I suppose in this incarnation, it can’t really be called “kok” because “kok” means “corner” (like the little corners of the taro puff—see picture here), but then what’s it called? Or am I wrong about the “kok”? (I’m assuming it’s 角)

Back to the food, this was good. I don’t really like woo kok because it’s so pasty, but this type, because the taro filling is quite thin, has a decent crunch to paste ratio, so it never feels like you’re eating glue. Plus all the filling adds more contrast to the pastiness. I especially liked the cashews.

gallery_11355_6395_19667.jpg

Finally, what our hosts said was the piece de resistance, peaches! I can’t remember if they were filled with lotus bean paste or red bean. We were already quite full, so my mother and I just shared one. They were tasty, but expensive! I think they were S$3 each—not quite US$2. They were not too sweet, and were small enough not to make one feel really bloated after already having eaten so much. And they’re so cute!

gallery_11355_6395_18867.jpg

I’m missing pictures of the char siu bao, but I think I got pictures of everything else. I liked the bread portion of the bao, IIRC. It was fluffy, but it didn’t have that after-taste bao sometimes has (from too much baking powder or something?).

It was a really great meal, not least for the company. We learned that Jacqueline and her family are Peranakan, and J’s mother used to make her own kaya!!! And she’d even do the stirring for 6 hours! Or maybe the maid would, but still, she used to make her own kaya! She pooh-poohed Ya Kun’s kaya, and said there were much better places to get some. Next time we’re in Singapore, she’ll tell us the good places (and hopefully we won’t have filled our suitcases by then). She also used to make her own popiah, including the wrapper! She and my mother also had a long talk about our dangerous foray into the Orchard Towers area. Sing. isn’t that dangerous, but we accidentally wandered into Orchard Towers and when we realized what the place was, we were afraid we would be mistaken for one of the “girls”. Well, perhaps my mother wasn’t worried for herself (she’s almost 73, after all), but I look much younger than I am, and I’m almost half-Filipino! Luckily I didn’t quite blend in (I think I was wearing too many clothes), so the patrons left me alone. Whew!

After lunch, we went back to our hotel to rest before dinner. I was very tired by now, and my throat was starting to feel quite dry. A sign of things to come. . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You got sick. That sucks! I'm enjoying these reports, though. I've been to Singapore only once, in 1976, but did have wonderful food there.

By the way, lobak goh is usually called "turnip cake" here, but "daikon cake" would be more accurate. "Carrot cake" gives the wrong image (sweet cake, probably including raisins and with icing), and really, as you probably know, carrots are called "red daikon" in Chinese and Malay (the Malay version is "lobak merah").

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You got sick. That sucks! I'm enjoying these reports, though. I've been to Singapore only once, in 1976, but did have wonderful food there.

By the way, lobak goh is usually called "turnip cake" here, but "daikon cake" would be more accurate. "Carrot cake" gives the wrong image (sweet cake, probably including raisins and with icing), and really, as you probably know, carrots are called "red daikon" in Chinese and Malay (the Malay version is "lobak merah").

Pan, "carrot cake" is the misnomer that is adopted nationwide in Singapore (I think it is also officially endorsed by the Singapore Tourism Board). It's always fun explaining to visitors that it isn't really made of carrot, especially after they make faces about "I thought we were actually having dinner before dessert."

Great posts, Rona - keep them coming!

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...