So I was in Singapore for my buddy’s wedding. It was a long weekend, and unlike my past visits to Singapore, I decided to take it easy, slow down… and smell the flowers, literally. One hot afternoon (it’s always hot in Singapore!) I found myself at Gardens By The Bay.
A friend of mine recently went to Penang for a holiday. When I asked how his trip was, he only had one word for it – eat. Eating is almost like a religion in this island state of Malaysia. Penang is famous for its local cuisine, probably second only to my beloved hometown Ipoh. The best of Penang food can be sampled along the famous Gurney Drive, which was the inspiration for this chain of restaurants now bring the flavour of Penang to Singapore.
What food comes to mind when you think of Penang food? Top of the list for worth foodies would be spicy Penang laksa, refreshing rojak, greasy char kuey teow (fried rice noodle) and fragrant prawn noodles. I was at Changi Airport recently with my Singapore hosts and buddies (hi Terence & Dora!) and we went to sample some of this famous Gurney food right at Terminal 3.
How the Burmese food scene has changed.
I used to have a Burmese staff in my first job, and he and I used to be very close. Often after work we will go out together, and one of our favourite Burmese food haunt is the Inle Myanmar Restaurant, located at the basement of Peninsula Plaza, in City Hall Singapore.
Back then, Inle is probably the only place in Singapore for you to get Burmese food. But as I returned to Peninsula during my recent trip back to Singapore, I was shocked. Not only that Inle has expanded tremendously, easily covering two shop lots, but the large shops next to it has been developed into Burmese food heaven, with multiple stalls selling Burmese food and Myanmar (the way you call people of Myanmar, and not Burmese) are gathered.
It was like a little Myanmar in Singapore. About time, I’ll say. They were certainly plenty of them in Singapore before, I am sure they are even more now, and every community needs “a place to call home”.
When my friend asked to meet at Wild Honey at Scott’s Square for brunch, my immediate reaction was one of reservations. I remember there was some kind of a PR news with one of their ads last year – the name “Wild Honey” kinda stuck in my mind – but hey when I ask my friends for recommendations, I heed them. What’s the point of asking if you are not going to try them out?
It turned out that the decision to do brunch at Wild Honey (they have an all day breakfast menu, similar to The Flying Pan and The Brunch Club in Hong Kong) turns out to be satisfyingly good. I walked into Scott’s Square with no expectations, but boy was I in for surprise!
It has been said that porridge is one of the few iconic food of Singapore which will stand the test of time. I am not a fan of porridge at the best of time – save for those days when I am too ill to take solids – so the genre of food is usually lost on me.
So when my buddy and host for my recent Singapore trip took me to Alishan Taiwanese Porridge at Upper Serangoon Road recently, I was amicably intrigued. I knew that my dinner will consist of porridge with some side dishes, similar to Chinese economical rice (where you mix 2-3 dishes together with rice to form a meal), but with certain key characteristics.
The side dishes are definitely Taiwanese style. While I can’t really describe how to tell the differences in words, but if you are familiar with Chinese dishes the way I do, one glance at this stall is all you need to know that you’ll be in for a different experience… though still of the Chinese kind.
I have been living in Singapore for ten years and not once had I been to the famous Jalan Kayu Roti Prata. When I exclaimed as much while we were on our way there for breakfast during my recent trip back to Singapore, my friends looked at me in incredulity and wondered what kind of university life I had.
Not much of a life, if you don’t count endless book mugging and computer games, heh!
So! Apparently Jalan Kayu Roti Prata is one of those place university students hanged out for late night suppers when the semesters are in session. I don’t know about you, but unless you have four wheels at your command (together, not separately), it is kinda hard to travel all the way out from Boon Lay to Jalan Kayu, and back. The ridiculous taxi fare alone could probably buy you enough roti prata to last you one whole year.
So there we were, sitting in my friend’s car (look ma, no taxi fare wasted!) all excited about having a spot of true Singapore experience. My worries for lack of parking space was ultimately unfounded; a spot was open right in front of Thasevi Food (that’s the stall of choice, folks). We didn’t even have to go far in search for one and then walk miles back to the restaurant.
Roti telur (egg) with onions.
American diners done well are really few and far in between. Balancing between the perfect food and awesome deco, to be able to pull it off on an island as densely populated as Singapore must have been a Herculean feat.
To top that off, Jerry’s Barbecue & Grill was highly recommended by one of my favourite foodie in town, Sparklette.net. So of course I had to pay a visit, despite the intense humidity and all-engulfing heat that was the local weather that night.
Located along the bohemian boulevard that was Club Street, the restaurant would be hard to miss. Boldly decked out in blue and red, Jerry’s stood out a mile even amongst the trendy pubs and fashionable stores around the area. Once inside, I wasn’t disappointed to discover the place lived up the American spirit with US-themed posters and cheekily phrased signs covering its walls.
And the food? Well we are about to find out.
Haven’t you heard? I spent a mega week in Singapore recently. Partly for work, attending the incredibly inspiring Ad:tech Singapore 2012, partly to revisit my friends some of whom I have not seen for more than two years. Knowing that I have mere days to catch up with everyone, I broadcasted my imminent arrival on Facebook, making catch up plans well in advance.
On the very first night of my arrival – in fact, within two hours after my plane touched down at Changi airport – I was whisked from my hotel to Rumah Rasa at Bay Hotel. Located at Telok Blangah near Vivo City, this restaurant showcases the best of Indonesian archipelago.
It was quite a strange experience. For one, the entire restaurant was empty and only half-lit. We were not even sure if it was open for business despite our reservations and online reviews which said it opens till 4 a.m. Granted, it was past 10 p.m. when we arrived and only a skeleton crew of wait staff was on duty. However the captain assured us that our reservation is valid; only that the buffet was already close at hour, and the kitchen only do room service.
So we had the whole restaurant for ourselves! Despite the late hour the service was impeccable, friendly and warm; I had to give them kudos for making my first meal in Singapore so incredibly enjoyable… and tasty.
It was a night of great – and I do mean GREAT – Indonesian food. First off is the emping with sambal belacan – a cracker made from egg plants dipped in a special chilli sauce. The sambal was incredible, so good that we asked for seconds.
And of course I had to have Tahu Telur Surabaya – beancurd fried with eggs and served with sliced carrots and cucumber in peanut sauce. It was the peanut sauce which made it a favourite of mine, and Rumah Rasa did it in spade.
It was such a humid night. My feet were aching from all the walking, but the girls seem not to notice my obvious discomfort. The shopping bags weighed heavy on my shoulder, but I soldiered on, wondering what was in store at the end of the hike.
And then we went into Miss Clarity Cafe.
Needless to say I was very smitten by the place. It was like my little chick lit book store cum cafe dream come true. Decorated in various shades of pink, green, orange – yes, the colour of highlighters – the place exude a charm like no others, cheering up my weary group of friends.
Supposedly the food is good, and very reasonably priced too. I can’t tell since I only had a bottle of beer for my first visit.
Anyone wants to test out the place with me?