Anyone who’s been to Singapore swear by its food. Due to the country’s cultural diversity–a melting pot of mostly Chinese, Indian, and Malay–it’s no wonder that the food scene thrives. Eating out is often considered a national pastime and I made sure to participate on my most recent trip.
For all of Singapore’s signature dishes, it was amusing that for my first two meals, my friends treated me to a delicious Taiwanese dinner in Din Tai Fung (love the xiao long bao; have no photos to show for it though) and a Nepalese brunch at Everest the following morning. Both were excellent, so who was I to complain.
When we went to the Night Safari Zoo, P (who had just arrived and was famished) wanted to grab a bite to eat before we hopped on the tram. I recommended the sambal stingray because I wanted to taste it as well, forgetting the fact that P only likes it mildly spicy and the sambal was far from mild. He liked it though. He just tried to eat it as fast as he could; maybe his taste buds wouldn’t notice the serious beating it was getting.
After the Night Safari, we went to the hawker center Lau Pa Sat (18 Raffles Quay) for dinner with our friend Terrie. It’s considered by some local foodies as the best place to get good satay (for Pinoys in SG, it is also where Tapa King and the lechon stall Mang Kiko’s are located). Its outdoor area along Boon Tat Street (opened only in the evening) has so many satay stalls (and quite the aggressive stall owners and street vendors), but I gravitated toward stall #8, which was called “Best Satay.” And what do you know? There is still truth in advertising.
The day we explored Ann Siang Hill in Chinatown, we first stopped at Maxwell Food Centre for lunch. Blame it on Anthony Bourdain and the New York Times for commending the chicken rice of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, so you get a long queue of people who all want a taste of it. Of course, I was one of those people. I was in line for around 40 minutes and the minute I sat down, I started devouring that plate of chicken rice. None of that shoot-the-food-before-you-eat-it. How was it? I’m not a chicken rice expert, but the rice had a delicious aroma and flavor, and the chicken was firm and juicy with a wonderful taste of ginger. I especially love the ginger sauce and thick, dark soy dipping sauce it came with.
My friends meanwhile ordered this tofu dish below (loved it) and char kway teow (a bit too oily for me, but still enjoyable). I also noticed that at least in the hawker centers I got to check out, drinks are not sold in every stall; there is a particular stall (or two) that only sells drinks. These stalls often have a long queue as well.
The day spent going around Ikea in Tampines and Marina Bay ended with a gluttonous dinner in Makansutra Gluttons Bay. The popular food guide, Makansutra, got some of the country’s best hawker stalls to set up shop by the Esplanade theater complex for an al fresco hawker center of sorts. It’s touristy, but you supposedly get some of the best hawker fare in one place. Once we finally found a table, our gluttons’ feast included two popular dishes–the chili crab and the oyster omelette.
To satisfy any sweet cravings, on our second trip to Ikea the following day, we had coffee and this slice of cake again. Or you can do what other tourists do and have an ice cream sandwich.
The night before we left, my friends asked if we could take a break from all the Singaporean or Asian food. Was it okay if we had some onion rings and chili dogs instead? They had me at onion rings. They took me to their favorite chili dog joint, Superdog at Somerset 313. I’m not sure if it was because I’ve had an embargo on onion rings and chili dog for quite some time since I’ve been attempting to eat less fastfood fare, but those dogs and onion rings seemed to be the best ones I’ve tasted. I particularly love the batter they used for the onion rings; it didn’t come out too greasy. God knows, by that time, I could use less grease.