***This is part 8 of my “Big Fat Indian Wedding” trip report detailing a recent trip to Singapore and India***
2. United Global First Lounge at SFO
3. Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Lounge at SFO
4. Singapore Airlines First Class San Francisco to Seoul
5. Singapore Airlines First Class Seoul to Singapore
6. Conrad Singapore
7. Eating Singapore Part 1 – Flowers, Supertrees, and a River Safari
8. Eating Singapore Part 2 – Hawker Stands, Chili Crab, and Kouign Amanns
9. Dinner At Singapore’s Best Restaurant, Restaurant Andre
10. Premier Lounge at SIN, SilkAir Economy Class to Hyderabad
11. Part Hyatt Hyderabad
12. Exploring Hyderabad
13. Etihad Airways Business Class Hyderabad to Abu Dhabi
14. Etihad Premium Lounge at AUH
15. Etihad Airways (Jet Airways Config “Jetihad”) First Class Abu Dhabi to San Francisco
Now for my favorite half of the trip, the food! As I mentioned in the introduction, I’d rank Singapore as a close 2nd behind Japan as the best eating destination in the world.
One of the big reasons that I could never rank it first? For a big-sweater like myself, it’s literally impossible to sit down and truly enjoy a meal at an open-air hawker center because of the insanely hot and humid weather. I’d literally shovel the food into my mouth just so I could get out of there faster and escape to an air-conditioned oasis.
Our eating tour actually got off to an unexpected start. We planned to briefly meet up with a friend who worked at Google and as our tour of the office took us through the cafeteria, it only made sense to grab a try and stay for a bite. There was a great mix of food including a tasty Indian fish curry, noodle bar, and delicious pork bone soup.
The plan had been to just stop by the office and then head across the street to Lau Pa Sat for lunch. Even though we were already quite full, I somehow convinced my wife to stick to this plan.
It was peak lunch time, so it was pretty crowded.
Here’s something that I thought was particularly interesting about eating in Singapore. When you asked people who were knowledgeable about the Singapore food scene, they were very, very particular about only eating certain dishes at certain places. For example, Maxwell Road food center is the best for Hainanese chicken rice and Lau Pa Sat is known for satay in evenings, and on and on. In fact, it would be borderline blasphemous to eat certain dishes at the sub-optimal place.
If we had an unlimited amount of time then perhaps we would have tried to follow these recommendations, but that would have been incredibly impractical and we were short on time. Plus, for someone who can barely distinguish between chicken and pork, would I really be able to tell the difference?
Anyways, I bring this up since many people have mentioned that the laksa at Lau Pa Sat isn’t the best. To me at least, it was still pretty darn good. We also got an order of fried carrot cake, which actually isn’t make of carrots but instead was similar to turnip cake that you get at dim sum.
We actually came back that same evening since people kept raving about the satay. Outside there were several different satay stands setup, and we just picked one and ordered up a huge mixed plate.
The next day we made it over to the Maxwell Road hawker center for the famous Hainanaese chicken rice. Tian Tian is probably the more well-known place to eat that dish here, but Ah Tai was the only one open at the time. Apparently the chef here used to work at Tian Tian but there was some sort of falling out between them. Talk about the ultimate F-U to setup shop next door.
Even at this random hour there was still a line of people about 20 deep. Another thing I realized about eating in Singapore – the locals, many of whom looked like they were in work clothes, really had no issues standing around for up to an hour to eat at certain places. That just seemed crazy to me. I definitely don’t have the patience nor the free time to cut out of work at lunchtime for that long.
Of all the famous Singaporean dishes, this was the one I was most skeptical about going into this trip. I mean, how tasty could boiled chicken and rice actually be?
The answer is AMAZINGLY delicious. Seriously, I was blown away by this dish. I’d had chicken rice in the US and this simply put it to shame. The chicken was so succulent, and the rice was incredibly fragrant and flavorful.
Later that evening after our evening at the Gardens By The Bay, on the way home we stopped by the Marina Bay Sands hotel for a snack at the Raspura Masters food center.
I forgot the exact name for what we ordered, but it was basically a form of cool and refreshing shaved ice dessert.
The next day we headed over to the Chinatown Complex food center which was the biggest one we visited. This also meant that there were way too many options for two indecisive eaters to choose from. We honestly spent about 15-20 minutes walking around, trying to settle on a place to eat.
I finally landed on some fried kway teow mee which was delicious. Another observation – no matter how busy a food stand was or how long the line got, even if they essentially only served one dish, they would never mass-produce the food. So even if the next 5 people in line all ordered the same thing, they’d never cook 5 orders at once then split it. Each order was cooked fresh specifically for that person, which wasn’t the most efficient method that’s for sure.
My wife opted for something lighter and went with a mixed meat soup.
Afterwards we went around the corner to Mei Heong Yuen for dessert. The green tea ice here was just OK, and we’ve definitely had better.
That afternoon we headed over to Haji Lane to do some shopping, which I didn’t mind for once since I got to hang out in air-conditioned rooms all day.
We had seen the rainbow cakes at many different cafes around Singapore and finally decided to try one at Maison Ikkoku. For me, it’s a style-over-substance situation and it looked better than it tasted.
For dinner we went to Red House Seafood specifically for one thing, chili crab. Jumbo Seafood is the restaurant that gets the most attention for this dish, but Red House was recommended by someone we trusted on the subject and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
This dish just blew us away. First of all, the crab was incredible fresh and meaty. And the sauce? We were literally eating it by the spoonful and by soaking the bread in it. I know that you can get this dish at the hawker centers, but I’d highly recommend eating it at an air-conditioned restaurant since you’ll sweat from all the effort it takes to eat it, and it gets really messy.
For our last day in Singapore we started with a visit to Tiong Bahru Bakery where I fell in love with a pastry that I didn’t even know existed until that day, the kouign amann. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and salty, chewy and crunchy. Just the thought of these makes me start to salivate.
There were three types available here – plan, chocolate, and apple.
We also got a green tea brioche cake but really we should have just ordered all three kouign amanns.
And lastly, a final stop before heading off to the airport where we grabbed lunch at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. This was definitely the longest line we faced, which clocked in at 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The minced meat noodles were fantastic, although as one person pointed, apparently my bowl of noodles had a hair on the wonton. I guess that makes it more authentic?