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Mar 30, 2006 01:18 PM

Chapel Hill: Merlion query

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Hello all,

I’m planning to visit Merlion in Chapel Hill next week. I know nothing about Singaporean food, beyond what one can guess from geography, etc. So let me ask those of you who have been to Merlion: what’s really good there? What shouldn’t one miss?

Thanks in advance,

[p.s. to David A. and Sant – email either Nab or me right away if you want to meet for dinner.]

410 Market St (Southern Village)
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 933-1188

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  1. Amata,

    I've only been once and have no real reference point / knowledge of Singaporean food. I thought my meal was heavenly and will head back soon with my wife who also enjoyed it. For an appetizer, we had the curry samosas which were tasty though not "knock your socks" off good.

    My entree was great. I chose from the "uniquely Singapore" portion of the menu. I had Nasi Lemak - a dish that was extremely flavorful from start to finish. As you can see from looking at the menu, shrimp and calamari are the stars of this dish. Both were tender and the coconut rice that accompanied them on the plate was fantastic. I find it odd to type fantastic in regards to rice but it's not hyperbolic in this instance.

    I look forward to returning.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kevin N.

      a good way to find out is to google 'singaporean recipes' to get a feel for the food. Merlion is new to me. But Singaporean specialties are Laksa, Hokkien noodles, roti & chicken curry..
      Hope this helps, see you!

      1. re: Rory

        Thanks, Rory and Kevin, I'm looking forward to it!


    2. I had a meal there with three friends last fall (2006). None of us were very happy with what we had, but it might have been an off night. We haven't been back.

      1. I have been there a few times (not in the last six months), and have had consistently good meals there. A good friend lives in the neighborhood (Southern Village) and Merlion is their go-to place when they want a good meal quickly.
        I recommend the Singapore Laksa (Rice noodles in spicy, fragrant coconut broth, topped with shrimp or chicken, egg, tofu and a sprinkle of laksa leaves that gives the dish its distinctive flavor), and the Golden Shrimp.

        Please post if you have been there recently, I would like to hear if it has changed quality-wise.

        1. I ate there for the first time ~ 6 weeks ago, and I'd say our meal was by-and-large excellent. The only thing we had that seemed more "average" were the fried basket-style dumplings, and even they were fine, just not thrilling. Everything else was great, and as a plus for this beer drinker, they've got the same big Rogues that Jujube has (the light & dark Soba ales, and the imperial pilsner, IIRC).

          The one weird/amusing aspect of the place is its resemblance to a hotel lobby, both in decor, and in the number of kinda stodgy older couples in sportcoats. I think it's to their great credit, though, that they can turn out really well-conceived and well-executed Singaporean dishes that were exciting to my relatively adventurous palate, while still [apparently] providing solid & unthreatening dishes to the sportcoat set.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rossgrady

            You're so right about the hotel lobby thing! And I'm *always* amused by the whole bringing your drink on a cart business.

            Almost everything I've had there has been very good, only the laksa really let me down. It was just kind of bland (for my palate) and oily. But that chicken curry dish is spectacular, and the masi goreng (sp?) was also very very good. The curried beef and potato appetizers are a little greasy, but they're very tasty.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Seeing this post has reminded me of some very nice meals had at Merlion. But I really write to say that I'm most reminded (at the moment anyway) of the sago pudding dessert which was fantastic. I'm not a dessert guy at all, but this was a great bite, and I currently find myself craving it.

              A description & picture of it which also recaps a hound dinner from a year ago:

          2. Both times I have been there I have gotten Char Siew & Dumpling Noodles tossed in special dark sauce and really enjoyed it. What I like most about this place is that they serve bubble tea...