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KennethT

Recommendations for a week in Singapore

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Oh no, it's not the service I care about so much, but there is a difference between a poor service issue and being actively mistreated by restaurant staff, which is where I draw the line. Danny, for example, is infamous for refusing to serve certain customers for some perceived slight.


Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink

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Btw, lunch at Hong Lim food centre was fantastic. Outram Park Char Kway Teow was amazing. I loved the super-light and crunchy little cubes of puffed pork rind. Also had an excellent chicken curry bee hoon (the decent sized line of locals at 2:30PM was a good giveaway). They also had wheat noodles, but most of the people on line ahead of me seemed to get the thin bee hoon, so that's what I did.... There was a Hokkien St prawn noodles shop, but they were closing as we got there.

Unfortunately, only one more full day until we have to leave.... Saturday will be a sad day indeed...

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Oh no, it's not the service I care about so much, but there is a difference between a poor service issue and being actively mistreated by restaurant staff, which is where I draw the line. Danny, for example, is infamous for refusing to serve certain customers for some perceived slight.

I see what you're saying... Like the Seinfeld "Soup Nazi" dilemma. I don't know if Danny just gets a bad rap by some, or maybe he was just in a great mood that night or what.... He definitely didn't seem to mistreat anyone that night (I was watching his interaction with other tables out of curiosity). I wouldn't call him chatty, but he spent plenty of time with some tables, and even cracked several smiles.

One thing to note that I haven't read before is that there is a decent sized durian vendor across the street. There were times of being momentarily downwind that were, ahem, interesting.

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Btw, lunch at Hong Lim food centre was fantastic. Outram Park Char Kway Teow was amazing. I loved the super-light and crunchy little cubes of puffed pork rind. Also had an excellent chicken curry bee hoon (the decent sized line of locals at 2:30PM was a good giveaway). They also had wheat noodles, but most of the people on line ahead of me seemed to get the thin bee hoon, so that's what I did.... There was a Hokkien St prawn noodles shop, but they were closing as we got there.

Unfortunately, only one more full day until we have to leave.... Saturday will be a sad day indeed...

Those super-light crunchy little cubes are not puffed pork rind; those are pieces of lard.

Each morning (way before 7 am), the chef is rendering his lard, and this is the end result which he throws into the dish for that crunch. Char kway teow is a sinfully delicious dish because of the lard.

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Want to give a thumbs-up to Geylang Claypot Rice, at Lorong 33. We called ahead to 'reserve' our table and give them a head start on the claypot. I had a hard time understanding the woman on the phone (not for her lack of trying, mind you, but my Singlish needs lots of work), but she put me on to someone else and it was fine from there. Once we arrived, we also ordered some kailan and a fried soft shell crab. The crab was incredible - it seemed to be batter dipped, but the batter was very light, and crunchy, and not oily at all. That dish was so addictive with its sprinkling of chopped chili and curry leaves, and then a chili dipping sauce - we wished we could have gotten two... The namesake Claypot rice was great as well. Chinese sausage, and some other kind of sausage, salt fish, chicken... Rice was perfectly cooked, and the crunchy parts that were stuck to the pot were awesome.... Really enjoyed.... Service couldn't have been more pleasant within their service model. I'm sure they get plenty of tourists (thank you patron saint of foodies everywhere, St. Bourdain), but they seemed very happy to see us, and thanked us about a hundred times upon leaving, and presented us with their card (maybe this is typical here? The same thing happened at Lai Huat)

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Topping up this thread....  I don't know if any Singapore locals or frequent visitors are active here anymore, but I figured I'd give it a try.  My wife and I are returning for about a week in early July... looking for recommendations for local food - any favorite specific stalls at hawker centers, sze char, etc... we have an open itinerary with plenty of time to move around for something worthwhile.

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I can second the outram park char kueh teow and also maxwell rd food center. I was there last August and want to return for the food. The pork hock at Makansutra was also brilliant.

Simon

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The last time I was there, I went to that char kway teow place 2-3 times... my doctor still has not forgiven me!

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Have you considered going to Penang or Ipoh or even Kuala Lumpur for better hawker food, or "non-hotel" food?  I myself have not sampled the stuff in all these places (including Singapore) for many years [i grew up in the area] but from what I read (especially in CH, in posts by well-regarded and knowledgeable posters there) the hawker food in Singapore - in general - has deteriorated over the years to a shadow of what it used to be, whereas the stuff in Malaysia retains the "hands-on"'/"old-style"/painstakingly-done characteristics typical of excellent "hawker food" now apparently missing from a lot of Singaporean "hawker food".  I remember reading several comments about how S'porean hawker food seems to come from some central processed food facility with dialed-down tastes and so on – although there are exceptions to be sure, but one needs (again, so I understand) to be aware of WHICH stall or vendor is good and not simply try out one at random.  There are many discussions on this matter as well as specific recommendations for good hawker food in S'pore (with said limitations in mind) on that other food forum.

 

ETA: I would clarify that "hawker food' includes food plied by vendors in places like kopitiams or small shops, let alone "sanitized hawker centres with roofs" as is increasingly common.  Food sold by itinerant vendors pushing carts around or setting up "shop" on some street side of course would qualify for "hawker food", duh. :-)


Edited by huiray (log)

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I would also remind folks that the terminology for various dishes may seem to be the same but are, in practice, quite different in reality.  "Hokkien Mee", for example, means QUITE DIFFERENT things in Singapore versus Kuala Lumpur versus Penang.

 

ETA:  Sigh.  I really, really miss a GOOD plate of KL Hokkien Mee.  No, I DON'T mean "Hokkien Mee" as found in Singapore.

 

ETA2;  I presume folks here are aware that "Singapore Mei Fun" as commonly found in both Chinese takes-outs and various restaurants in the USA is an invention (some say originally of HK cooks) which is not found in Singapore itself  :-) and has been RE-IMPORTED into the region as a novelty of Western Reconceptions of "ASIAN" cuisine.


Edited by huiray (log)
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A few years ago, another member who lives in SG, also recommended a day trip to Ipoh further up in this post. Unfortunately, we're not there that long and don't feel like jumping around that much. One day we will have a trip devoted to Malaysia and will definitely hit those spots.

It was true when we were there a few years ago - some vendors are certainly much better than others, and this was true not just for cooked food, but the juice vendors as well!

We never went to the heavily touristed hawker centers - like Gluttons Bay or Newton circus, but we enjoyed some of the stalls with lines of locals at maxwell, hong lim, golden mile, and the hawker center on the east coast parkway... also some in the more "suburban areas" like off the Lavender MRT stop.

At all of the places we went, you could easily see people (typically they were older and appeared to have been doing their job forever) cooking away using raw ingredients, so I don't know about the whole central processing facility thing everywhere. But you make a good point - which was why I posed my question - hoping to get any remaining local's opinion as to which stalls/kopitiams are worthwhile.

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you may want to check out this blog - by a GP who writes this blog as a hobby.

 http://ieatishootipost.sg/local-food/

 

as previous posters have pointed out, food in Malaysia, especially hawker centers,  is much better in terms of variety, quality and  value for money, etc., when compared to singapore. For Malay and Indian cuisine, Malaysia wins hands down. Malaysians go to Singapore for shopping, but Singaporeans go to Malaysia for the food. 

 

as for central processing facilities, it depends on the type of food or ingredients.  Char kway teow and similar hawker foods are cooked 'fresh' and on the spot, but roast meats like char siu, siu yoke, roast duck, and even the chicken in Hainanese Chicken rice  is unlikely to be cooked from scratch in situ. Similarly for dim sum, the fish and other meat balls. Personally, i dont have a problem with central processing facilities.

 

ETA: and yes CH has some knowledgeable posters on this topic. 


Edited by jsager01 (log)
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It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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Thanks for this blog recommendation...

I understand that hawker food may be better in Malaysia, but, as the case may be, I will be in Singapore - and since I come from NY which has plenty of French, Italian, Spanish, etc., I would like to concentrate on having things that I can't get at home. And, I've found that the best "local" food is not found in hotels or most restaurants that are featured in guide books.

Like Jsager, I understand if certain things can't be done on the spot - it is very difficult to do roast meats in a hawker stall. Doing the several day process offsite wouldn't bother me at all, so long as the finished product is good.

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Like Jsager, I understand if certain things can't be done on the spot - it is very difficult to do roast meats in a hawker stall. Doing the several day process offsite wouldn't bother me at all, so long as the finished product is good.

 

Yes, true enough, if the final product is good.

 

FWIW, the best siu-yoke and char-siu in Kuala Lumpur which is better than in S'pore or Penang (which the posters on CH agree on) are all made on-site, in the back of the shop.  No they are not at hawker carts on the street – but are in kopitiams/shops/covered premises – which fall under the rubric of "hawker stall".  I had an exchange with a poster on CH some time ago regarding which place to visit first (in KL), for example, if one wanted to sample excellent siu-yoke and char-siu in the same meal (meaning which one to "ta-pow" (carry-out)), with the two corresponding places at opposite ends of town – and it was commented on that getting the char-siu first would be the way to go, because the shatteringly crispy skin on the siu-yoke would degrade much faster (after coming from the roasting bin to the shop front) than the desirable characteristics of the char-siu.

 

ETA1: As for things like beef balls and fish balls, the last I knew of it the best places in KL would be doing them in the back of the house.

 

ETA2: At a place like Hutong Lot 10 in KL, yes the fish/meat balls may well come from the "mother stall" premises; although the folks manning the stall (often Burmese transients) in THAT space may not be entirely engaged in putting out what the owner/proprietor of the "named stall" may have desired – with one or two exceptions.  There were also various discussions about how the absence of the owner-proprietor at Hutong Lot 10 resulted in a product far, far below what was obtained at the original stall where said owner-proprietor did the cooking himself.  All of which factors into what one experiences at a "hawker stall", whether in Singapore or KL or Penang, depending on what sort of quality control is exercised and/or what is being eaten or discussed.  (There was a particularly glaring example, in KL, of the difference between the stall-owner at an Imbi Road kopitiiam (which I also used to patronize) and its off-shoot elsewhere, for pork ball and pork innards/spare parts noodle soup.  And so on and so forth.)


Edited by huiray (log)

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