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Singapore! Goa! Food! Oh my... [Moved from International board]

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I have the great honor of attending a friend's wedding in Chennai / Madras in December. Before, I'll be hanging out in Goa; afterwards, in Singapore. What's good eating in these locales?

I am deeply excited about Singapore, in particular. Some publication or another ranked it one of the best food cities in the world.

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  1. You have to try the chilli crab at No Signboard Seafood in Singapore. Make sure to book ahead though - I went on a Wednesday night and it was rammed! Best eaten with lots of friends and be warned that it is very messy.
    http://nosignboardseafood.com/

    6 Replies
    1. re: alexthepink

      That looks *great,* alexthepink. Thanks!

      1. re: cimui

        The Chilli crab is great but No Signboard built their rep on pepper crab... also get the Hokkien-style steamed fish and the Cereal-coated crayfish. I'm so surprised they actually have a website (OK, it's Singapore - maybe I shouldn't be), but in the "old" days, as long as you got there before 6PM, you were good to go. After that as each minute passed by 6PM, your chances got exponentially slimmer...

        1. re: bulavinaka

          no sign board in geyland was the original.
          i second the cereal shrimp. that's a legend tho.

      2. re: alexthepink

        Could you give me a price estimate for a meal, here, though? They don't seem to list any prices on their menu.

        1. re: cimui

          I'm afraid I don't know as the boss was paying! However he is notoriously stingy so it can't have been too much... Sorry that's not very helpful.

          1. re: alexthepink

            =) No prob--I appreciate the recommendation!

      3. For recommendations in Goa, please post on the South Asia board:

        http://www.chowhound.com/boards/44

        Thanks!

        1. Hello cimui, fancy coming across you on this particular board! I wish that I could give you some recs for Singapore but the one and only time I was there was 13 years ago. If you get the chance I can wholeheartedly recommend a side trip to Bangkok - I have spent the last 2 months there and it is a superb eating city offering much more than just exquisite Thai cuisine (superb Japanese, Indian, Chinese options amongst others).

          As for India, I don't know South India but if Southern Indian weddings are anything like the many Northern Indian ones I have attended (and I'm guessing they are somewhat similar especially if they are Hindu weddings), you are in for a culinary feast at the wedding itself so make sure to starve yourself on the day of. It will likely be the best food you eat during your time in India (people often use multiple caterers including street vendors specialising in particular dishes so you will get to try street food in upmarket surroundings, how cool is that?) and there should be other opportunities to eat great food at the numerous related functions that precede the wedding itself. An Indian wedding in India is basically a week long foodfest, you should find yourself in heaven. Might not be any alcohol at the wedding mind, depends upon how strictly religious the families involved are.

          Enjoy and report back.

          3 Replies
          1. re: oonth

            It's a small world, eh? Or at least a small board!

            Oh, I didn't think Chennai will be a problem at all, foodwise. Forget about fasting beforehand, tho. I'm afraid the only thing I can do is bring a few changes of clothing about twice my normal size and plan on growing into them. I'm on vacation. I'm entitled to get fat. =)

            I'm afraid Bangkok will have to wait for the next trip. Even 13 year old is news to me, though, when it comes to Singapore. Any particularly good parts of town?

            1. re: cimui

              If you get fat in India, they will love you over there! Whenever I visit the rellies, they tell me how malnourished I look and proceed to stuff me like a Christmas turkey!!

              I remember Singapore being a very good eating place with a confluence of cuisines (although Indonesia was my favourite place for eating and generally speaking on that particular trip) and I remember enjoying eating at Newton Hawkers' Market which was, and still is, famous. I'm sure others will chime in advising that there are better and less touristy hawker and night markets.

              Wallpaper has a Singapore City Guide - http://www.amazon.com/Wallpaper-City-... - I like the ones I've bought so far for NYC, London, Tokyo, Bangkok, Barcelona etc.

              1. re: oonth

                Are night markets less touristy in general?

                Will look into the Wallpaper guide--thanks!

          2. Note of clarification: I'm not looking for specific restaurants or hawker centers, necessarily, since it looks like muddling through is the way to go in Singapore. I'd love suggestions for specific kinds of food or food items to look out for. What have been your favorites in SIngapore?

            I have fruit ices on my list--but is there any particular kind I should look for? What are fruits unique to Singapore or that region? (I've tried and liked jackfruit and durian.) In general, I want to try lots of different tropical fruits. Chili crab seems to be a national obsession so I'll be trying that. What else is noteworthy?

            12 Replies
            1. re: cimui

              After a week staying with Singaporean friends, dining out the entire time, the only restaurant I remember is Pow Sing.

              http://www.powsing.com.sg

              1. re: cimui

                the fruits are OK.
                singapore is a tiny island so it imports virtually everything.
                yes it is a food obsessed.
                No Sign Board is great (speficially at the Esplanade). Chili Crab.
                Ang Mo Kio has great butter crab.
                (oh ... no prices on crab cuz i think it depends on market price)
                Newton Hawker has excellent stingray.
                East Coast Seafood center ... great seafood.
                Zion Road hawker for Kway Teow
                I guess these are the "generic" singapore dishes that would be must tries:
                Fish Head Curry (apollo on race course road)
                Chili Crab (No sign board esplanade)
                Butter Crab (ang mo Kio)
                Kway Teow (hm, think zion road hawker is the best)
                Dosa (Komala Villas on serangoon)
                Satay
                Uttapam (komala villas)
                Roti Prata
                Roti John
                Chicken Wings (usually deep fried)
                Seafood seafood and more seafood (fish, shrimp)
                stingray sambal
                nasi briyani
                congee
                dim sum (crystal jade paragon)
                Chicken Tikka
                Chinese Indian (i.e. Gobi Manchurian)
                there's a ton of malay / indonesian food...
                Thai food is more of the usual touristy stuff (i.e. green curry / penang curry / pineapple fried rice--but 100x better then anything u'll get in the states) ... best place i like is Patara for touristy thai. there's no good "local" thai food. tho if you want to go REAL local thai and eat cockroaches and stuff ... don't know where to go....
                i mean all of the food in SE asia is represented here.

                as far as fruit goes ... it's better then anything in the states but pales in comparison to what you get in japan, thailand, india.
                the good stuff that you will most likely enjoy being an American:
                mango, mangosteen, watermelon, pineapple, honeydew, cantelope, kiwi, apples, etc.

                1. re: Hot Chocolate

                  hot chocolate, this is immensely helpful. thank you for taking the time. what are the good things that a non-American might like? i like to think that my palate is not limited by my nationality. =)

                  1. re: cimui

                    Good things the locals like to eat include that I don't think you would:
                    Durian (not tamed down in an ice cream or milkshare, but real thing)
                    Porks blood and pig intestine soup
                    at the food courts there's always this "Pig Organ Soup" place where they'll eat every part of the pig and you just pick which ones (i.e. pig kidney and intestine)
                    Sea Cucumber
                    Stinky Tofu (taiwan's national dish)

                    1. re: Hot Chocolate

                      Heh, I have a few under my belt, Hot Chocolate. My grandmother fed me stinky tofu for the first time when I was six and sea cucumber a few years after that. You're right, I didn't (and don't) love either. Stinky tofu is like rootbeer for me: I'll try it every once in a while to make sure I still don't like it. On the other hand, I really do like Durian and I have had it fresh.

                      Is the pork blood actually mixed into the liquid or is it more like blood sausage?

                      1. re: cimui

                        oops sorry missed this. The Pig's blood is gelantized into a square. it looks like the square jelly they serve with your Foie Gras or cheese / cracker dish at snooty french places.

                2. re: cimui

                  some more things to consider
                  on sundays most hotels have champagne sunday brunch ... great way to try everything ...
                  my favorite is the traders hotel. ritz is pretty bad...fullerton hotel has an excellent one. it's pricey but great to try everything. and you get free flow champagne. every night Straits Kitchen in the Hyatt has an excellent buffet featuring local food that's an excellent place to start to just quickly sample everything and narrow down what you like and don't like then you can focus on those dishes.

                  some more local flair i forgot:
                  Laksa
                  Popiah
                  Rojak

                  1. re: Hot Chocolate

                    sorry just a couple more i forgot
                    mee goreng
                    bee hoon
                    economic rice (or noodle)

                    1. re: Hot Chocolate

                      *hug*
                      these are the BEST, hot chocolate. i didn't have time to look all this stuff up, before, at work, but now i am. a lot of them sound right up my alley. is there any food item that street hawkers don't do better? if not, i'll be eating street food most of the time, i think.

                      1. re: cimui

                        there is no street food in singapore. one day the gov't rounded up all the street carts and forced them to operate in specific locations. Thus the "hawker" center was born. A "food court" is just a hawker center that is a bit nicer but is air conditioned. and of course their are restaurants.

                    2. re: Hot Chocolate

                      Tell me more about this Hyatt buffet. What is the price and what is served?

                      1. re: WHills

                        not sure of the cost .... maybe 60 SGD? just call to find out. i've been twice and really enjoy it. It's not top quality across the board but as far as buffets come and go ... it's up there. There's an Indian food station where they make a wide variety of breads (not just naan but chipatis and paratas, etc), they have a variety of grilled (tandoor) meats and various curries. They have a Laksa station with other kinds of soups such as the chinese herbal soup, a seafood soup ... and the famous buddha jumping over the fence soup. They'll have chili crab... a chinese food station, an Indonesian food station (i.e. Satay), a malay station (fish head curry), etc. It's a wide variety. I highly recommend it to try out.

                  2. I go to Singapore every couple years (my mom's side of the family are in Singapore/Malaysia). I love hawker centers. I'm not a big fan of Newton's Circus -- too touristy. I prefer the centers that are attached to the housing area -- most housing communities (HBDs) have their own shopping and eating areas. If you're shopping, Orchard Road has some decent food courts. I like the one at Wisma Atria and Takishimaya. Anandabhavans on Serangoon Road has great vegetarian south indian food. Also on Serangoon Road, the Tekka Market has a nice hawker center. Hit up Arab Street for amazing biriyanis.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: boogiebaby

                      duly noted to avoid newton's circus--thank you! i'll certainly be visiting serangoon road (a friend from work also pointed me in that direction). and tho i'll be coming from south india, south indian veg is one of my favorite cuisines in the world, so i'm sure i'll stop in at anandabhavans.

                      many, many thanks!

                      1. re: boogiebaby

                        i think your post is very funny. what is the definition of "too touristy?" It means there are no local people and only tourists. the prices are higher and it's catered to the tastes / whims of of tourists. You're saying that Takishimaya is a place you like but Newton Hawker is too touristy??? dude the only locals at takishimaya are the ones cleaning your table. Most locals only go to Taka to people watch. the rest of the asians there are all tourists from surrounding areas or from other countries.

                        Newton Hawker has great food. So does Taka (crystal jade for dim sum on sunday, angus steak house thing, sushi tei - a chain- is solid, the indonesian place is great, imperial chinese is ridic)
                        Newton Hawker is great. I've been to the local hawkers / food courts (i.e. Chomp Chomp) and it still has among the best stingray sambal i've had. problem is you have to know which stalls to go to at which hawker. You can buy a book called Makansutra which rates them all.

                        THe only reason the "locals" don't like Newton is not because it's too touristy but because their prices are about $5 SGD higher. Singapore is money obsessed and everything revolves around $.

                        The other great thing about Newton is the hours ... they are open late (a positive of catering to tourists) ... if you go to a "local" place i guarantee they will be closed by 9 pm.

                        1. re: Hot Chocolate

                          I think you should reread my post. I said that if you are shopping on Orchard Road, then Takishimaya is a good choice. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there, only if I was walking past it.

                          I agree that Newton is overpriced. But I also think the food is somewhat toned down since it attacts so many tourists. Last time I was there, we stopped off there and got mee goreng (driving by and we were hungry). I put chilli sambal on my noodles and it wasn't hot at all. The woman who ran the shop said that the non-asians don't like it too spicy. That's why I prefer the estate/flat adjacent centers since they tend to cater to the people living in the area and prepare things according to their tastes.

                          I have family living in several areas of Singapore (Queenstown, Pasir Ris, Woodlands, Tampines) and none of the hawker centers in their neighborhoods close at 9pm. We regularly eat out at 9-10pm or bring food home around that time and very few stalls in those areas are closed at 9pm that I've seen.

                          1. re: boogiebaby

                            yes that's true. it's not spicy at all. sorry about that!

                      2. I was in Singapore for a semester 2 years ago, and I LOVE the food! While I agree with everything that's been said, I really recommend eating bak kwa in chinatown - it looks a bit iffy, but is absolutely fantastic - sweet, syrupy, bbqed pork/turkey/beef... MMmm! There are loads of vendors along the main street where you get out of the MRT station.

                        Also in Chinatown (in the "food stall street", there's an amazing spring roll (popiah) stand that makes fresh, big spring rolls - you can get them fried or fresh (I recommend both).

                        On a side note, I also recommend the NewAsia bar on the 71st floor of the Swissotel Stamford hotel - has spectacular views of the city, and while it's quite pricy, when I was there, cocktails were half price before 7 pm (call and check).

                        Hope you have a great time, I'm so jealous!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hangrygirl

                          Hangrygirl, the last night I was in Singapore, I had delicious popiah at a stand two doors south of a glutinous rice ball soup vendor (whose dour persona reminded me of the soup nazi). The popiah vendor claimed to be the only stall in that market to sell those big hunks of deep-fried tofu topped with peanuts and spices. Both the popiah (not fried) and tofu were wonderful.

                          Do you know if this is the stand you remember?

                        2. Singapore was my favorite food city ever. My best memories are from Little India, including the dessert place in the indoor Tekka Center (try their durian cendol). I think Katong Laksa is a dish worth seeking out. The most famous places are in a strip called East Coast Road in a lovely section of the city called Katong. It is worth taking the train and walking maybe 20 minutes through Katong to get to the laksa joints, because the area is very nice.

                          1. Here's a very old thread of mine with descriptions of some of my favorite dishes - namely, murtabak (roti stuffed with curried lamb and a fried egg) and chwee kway (steamed rice-flour cakes topped with salted radish and fried shallots), along with addresses of the stalls. Also some recommendations (from Jonathan Gold!) that I didn't get to check out - of course, it's been a long time, so I'd also get a copy of Makansutra to help you figure out which stalls are still good. It's an annually updated guide to the hawker stalls and should be available in any bookstore.
                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/259833

                            Seven years later, I'm still obsessed with those two dishes (have yet to taste murtabak in the States where the dough is thrown down and stretched by hand, to order, and a Google search during a chwee kway craving revealed that it's endangered even in Singapore.)

                            Also, before you go, find the April 2007 issue of Saveur - there's a very good article about street food in Singapore, and a bunch of hawker stall recommendations.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: daveena

                              Daveena, thank. Chwee kway sounds fantastic. And I'll dug up that old issue of Saveur!

                              1. re: cimui

                                It's definitely worth the effort to hunt down chwee kway and freshly made murtabak - I think you can find pretty good renditions of many Singaporean/Malaysian dishes in the US (although it's certainly worth it to find superlative versions of laksa, char kway teow, nasi lemak, etc in Singapore, just to have a point of reference when you come back to the States) but I've NEVER seen chwee kway here, and I have yet to find a murtabak that's even 10% as good as the one I had in Singapore.

                                1. re: daveena

                                  yes murtabak is great...especially with the chix curry they give you.

                                  another fun thing to do is to go to morton's for happy hour martini's. they give you free steak sandwiches as well ... i think it's from 5-6 pm or something.

                                  1. re: Hot Chocolate

                                    My buddy who is an expat in Sing took me to Mortons. Free steak sandwiches w/cheap Martinis. If you like that sort of thing.

                            2. It's been a few years, but I loved this place:

                              Ponggol Seafood Restaurant
                              Company: Ponggol Seafood Restaurant
                              1 Maritime Square #01-124 Harbour Promenade
                              World Trade Centre Singapore 099254
                              tel 274 3500

                              90 Hougang Avenue 10#05-18 NTUC Hougang Mall
                              Singapore 538766 tel 387 3930

                              Great chili crab, great seafood, and there was black pepper crab that blew away every other dish in the restaurant. I found a couple of references on the web so the Ponggol in Maritime square is still open, but perhaps someone else on the board can comment if they're still as good as I remember it.

                              Good luck on the hounding! The food in Singapore was incredible.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tomishungry

                                punggol's damn far. not a bad idea tho to rent a boat to go wake boarding and finish up with some crab.

                                1. re: Hot Chocolate

                                  Sounds like a great, food-centric day trip to me!

                              2. Singapore is filled with hawker centres and it's pretty hard to go wrong with most of them. You can eat great food for relatively cheap, and the only thing you typically sacrifice is air-con and comfortable seating. The dining areas are either in a covered area of some sort or out in the open.

                                The number of cuisines represented in Singapore is endless. You can find just about any type of food that you can think of, but stick with the local cuisines: various Chinese-inspired (Hokkien, Teowchew, Hakka), Nyonya, Malay, and Hindu and Muslim Indian dishes.

                                The typical dishes one thinks of when eating in Singapore are: Nasi Goreng, Nasi Lemak, Ayam Percik, Otak Otak, Banana Leaf Rice (usually vegetarian), Chapati, Briyani, Roti Canai, Rojak (Chinese, Malay, and Indian styles), Char Kway Teow, Chai Tow Kway, Hokkien Mi, Laksa, various curries (particularly fishhead), Curry Puffs, Wan Tan Mee, Yong Tau Fu, various satays, Laksa,Popiah,Chilli and Pepper Crabs, various sambals (the tastier versions have shrimp paste along with dried shrimp or dried anchovies) and the much venerated Chicken and Rice.

                                Newton Hawker Centre is probably the most famous of hawker centres in Singapore. It's frequented by tourists as well as locals, and you will find so many kinds of food that it can be a bit overwhelming. The smaller ones that locals go to are usually located near the MRT stops, in business areas, or in/adjacent to the housing blocks.

                                Many of the restos around Orchard Road are high-end but the department stores are set up like the ones in Japan - the whole bottom floor/basement level is dedicated to nothing but food - boutique/specialty stalls, bakeries, supermarkets, and food counters of all kinds where the prices are very reasonable. Also, alot of the hotel restos have great dim sum and high tea deals. The quality of the food is typically great and the prices after converting to USD are very reasonable as well.

                                There's alot in the areas that are adjacent to Orchard Road as well. Raffles, the business and financial districts, and the areas around the Universities all have great eats.

                                East Coast Park is known for their hawker center as well, but many large restos offering great food, especially seafood, are there as well. Jumbo, known for their Chilli Crab, is probably one of the most popular. When eating any large crustacean, especially Chilli Crab, be prepared to get messy. If at all possible, bring along a pack of wet wipes (they start you out with only one little guy) as it's kind of a hassle to keep asking for more napkins and wipes. Also either bring along a shirt that you're willing to get dirty or wear something that is red in color - when the sauce starts flying off of the legs and shells, your clothing is toast.

                                Another area that has built up to a very high degree is the Boat Quey and Clark Quey area. What used to be a somewhat neglected area a couple of decades ago attracted alot of businesses. This in turn attracted small restos and pubs. The synergy kept going and now it's a full blown night spot with seemingly endless restos and bars of every kind. I think this is much more attractive to young singles as it really gets buzzing at night. I can't vouch for the food here as I only walked through one night.

                                Woodlands is pretty out of the way, but there's great Chinese seafood there. My in-laws make a point of going here when visiting from Malaysia.

                                The desserts, pastries and drinks are endless as well. Probably some of the most popular ethnic desserts are Ice Kacang and Cendol because they are relatively "cooling." Pastries and cakes flavored with pandan (kind of vanilla/coconut/herbal taste) is a Southeast Asian thing. And popular drinks include various teas and coffees (teh tarik, coffee w/ chickory and condensed milk, ginger tea) as well as barley drink, soybean drink, chrysanthymum tea drink, and "Milo Croissant Ice," or iced Milo with no added sugar.

                                Fruits are pretty unique in SE Asia. Durian is considered the King, while Mangosteen is considered the Queen. Durian has been evolving into luxury fruits as breeder/growers are cultivating new varieties that are more intense and richer in flavor - these command higher prices and this year has supposedly been a bad year for durians in general, so be prepared to spend a fair amount for the good ones. Mangosteen is still cheap, as are most other fruits like Rambutan, Longan, Starfruit, Guava and Champadah. I can't remember when the various mangos are in season, but hopefully you'll be lucky enough to be there when they are, or in India which are supposed to be the best.

                                One additional thing to mention: people from all over the world come to Singapore because this city-state is known for its extensive food culture. But where do Singaporeans go on vacation to eat? Malaysia - most of the ingredients used in Singapore can be sourced in Malaysia, Malaysia is the mother culture of Singapore, and the exchange rate is more favorable. In fact, if you ask Singaporeans to be honest in which of the two countries have the best food, they will tell you it's in Malaysia.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  My heartfelt gratitude for this is a detailed and informative post, Bulavinaka! I am going to ask that it be permalinked. And I'll be sure to bring along a red shirt. =)

                                  1. re: cimui

                                    Thanks... I wish I could add more detail, but I'd be writing for days... besides, I don't want to influence anymore than I or others have already... You should be allowed to experience things on your own terms and hopefully be pleasantly surprised with your own discoveries.

                                    With that said, I'll violate my own suggestion and I would urge you to try the chicken and rice. It's a very common dish there that I don't recall seeing it mentioned in the other posts. Singaporeans crave and miss it something awful when they leave their country because it is very hard to find good renditions of it elsewhere. Everyone has their favorite place to go and it's practically everywhere. Ask around for a little guidance and you should be rewarded...

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      howdy bulavinaka,
                                      i'll second cimui's comments re: your detailed post.

                                      not much to add except maybe club street. L’Angelus is a breath of fresh (not hot and humid) air. must be good to be a french expat in singapore. food and wine is very good there. price point is pretty reasonable.

                                      1. re: steve h.

                                        I heard Les Amis on Scotts Road is excellent, but I didn't have the opportunity (or the will to spend $$$) to try it... In fact, from what I understand, the whole group of restos are supposed to be the go-to places for deep-pocket foodies living in or visiting Singapore.

                                        I forget the gentleman's name who started it all but he put himself through a rigorous apprenticeship (mostly non-paying) in Europe (mostly France) in some of the world's best restos and came back with the skills, knowledge and his creativity pumped. His goal was to have a restaurant that offered the best French cuisine that Singapore (or for that matter the whole of Asia) has ever experienced. The rest is history, as some wiseman once said...

                                        http://www.lesamis.com.sg/webtop/inde...

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          i thought you mentioned no signboard at the esplanade mall. pretty decent place when you absolutely have to have a sit-down lunch/dinner. tung lok group's, "my humble house" nearby is intersting, too. but pricey.

                                          darn, now i'm thinking hawker centres, gardens and fruit that stinks to high heaven. guess i'll have to shoot back after the new year.

                                          1. re: steve h.

                                            The Les Amis group is supposed to be pretty special... I wouldn't dare go into their restos except for a special occasion. I've never been to "my humble house," but I'll be sure to review this thread as a primer before heading out there the next time.

                                            Sounds like you've spent alot of time there as well - as you know, it's all great there - even Changi Airport has decent food.

                                            I tend to spend more time in Malaysia as that is where most of my wife's family resides. But I always want to spend as much time in Singapore as possible for its ease of transport, cleanliness, safe environs, and relatively high density of wonderful food choices. What more could a Chowhound ask for?

                                        2. re: steve h.

                                          Would you agree that it's better to eat Fr. food in France--or is there a unique and better version of French food in Singapore? (I'll be in France later this month, so I might as well get my fix there!) Some people do say that Fr food in Vietnam is better than Fr food in France, so it wouldn't be enitrely shocking...

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            france exports people. hanging out/eating with expats is always good.

                                            1. re: cimui

                                              I should preface this with the fact that I am by no means an expert on French cuisine or a Francophile for that matter, but just from what I have read about Les Amis (and the rest of the restos in the group) is that they take no prisoners and play no games when it comes to their food and service as well. Les Amis is supposed to pass as a world class restaurant all on its own but I totally agree with what you're suggesting... Why spend the money, time, and effort on a totally foreign cuisine to Singapore that you could otherwise bump right into without any effort in its home field? I guess my only argument would be that Singaporeans and the legions of expats who live there are emersed in a high degree of food culture. Food is their diversion, their recreation, their hobby, their passion. Many take details about eating down to what seems to be the molecular level; talk, revere and argue about their favorites to no end. And the founder of Les Amis is no different. He has this passion for great food in the marrow of his bones.

                                              I think fine French food has its place in Singapore, but maybe not for the majority of eaters there. Again, if I were to consider dining there, it would be more for a special occasion. But just being lucky enough to visit what amounts to a giant kitchen that is disguised as a tiny but potent city-state which is manned by thousands of chefs each day is what I would consider a special occasion in itself.

                                              1. re: cimui

                                                I think this has morphed into a what's good in singapore thread. Les Amis is the top French place in town. L'Angelus on club st is another to french choice. Club st has a lot of nice restaurants such as Da Paolo for Italian. Those restos are mostly for us Expats who live here and get tired of the local hawker fare. Brewerkz is a great place for brunch on Sundays for eggs benedict and their nachos are lovely too (double cheese please).

                                                Cafe Igauna is my fav mexican place for happy hour (margaritas by the pitcher).

                                                Best Italian place is Buco Nero on tanjan pagar.
                                                There are only two things to do in singapore. Eat and Shop.

                                            2. re: bulavinaka

                                              Bulavinaka, you should consider travel writing--or at least writing a guide to Singapore and posting it online. You clearly write with a lot of love and knowledge.

                                              1. re: cimui

                                                Thanks... I think we all have it in us. And I think we all can agree that it's hard to hold back the stars from shining when dreaming of great food.

                                        3. If any of y'all read the New Yorker, I just noticed that in this week's edition, there's an article by Calvin Trillin about hawkers' stands in Singapore. It's not as informative as the good folks on this thread, but it's entertaining.

                                          Nice to know we (or really, you) are so topical!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cimui

                                            thanks much! i'll have to figure out where i can buy a copy ... maybe borders. The Makansutra is the Hawker guide bible. However it's very poorly organized. Shockingly it's not organized by Hawker center. So for instance, if you're in the Bishan Hawker Center ... and you just want to know which stall to go to .... you'll have no luck. It's organized by Food type. So for instance you flip to the Duck Rice page and it'll list out the reviews for all the stalls across all courts. best thing to do is just eye ball which ones have the longest lines and go wait there.

                                          2. Forgot to mention that afternoon tea (usually around 2-4 pm) is very popular (only on saturdays i think?). I'd recommend the Ritz. They have a beautiful room with Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Hot Chocolate

                                              Hmm, that sounds really good. Is it tea along the lines of high British tea or tea with delicious things like tea eggs and fried cashews and other regional foods?

                                              1. re: cimui

                                                cimui, you are in for a superlative eating experience in singapore at roughly one-third nyc prices...have written articles both on restaurants in singapore and eating out in goa.....would be happy to share them with you....write in to me at....freddybirdy@yahoo.com

                                                1. re: cimui

                                                  more british high tea. tea eggs and the like u have to get from the chinese stalls. some of the places like goodwood park hotel will have more asian inspired high tea with a lot of durian pasteries. usually you pick a menu to go with your tea.

                                                  1. re: Hot Chocolate

                                                    I didn't get a chance to do high tea on my last trip to Singapore but my experience back in the 90s was that any place offering high tea was quite good. You don't last very long in Singapore if the food ain't happening. Word travels fast in this town...

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      correct they are usually high end hotels (fullerton, ritz, goodwood, etc). great to lounge around the afternoon. also great to go to KM8 in Sentosa and drink the afternoon away in the hot tub. depends on what you're doing. fullerton has an all you can eat seafood buffet sunday afternoons at the post bar which is also good but my favorite buffet is the traders hotel on cuscaden ...not the most variety but what they do have is all very good.

                                              2. I am so jealous! I have had the pleasure to spend two months in Singapore several years ago, and not a day goes by that I don't miss it. It is truly culinary heaven! And it is VERY inexpensive if you need to operate on a budget! Just like any big city there are the "occasion" restaurants and the places to eat daily. The hawker centers are are a must!
                                                Every mall and department store has one, and there are outside ones as well. To us Westerners it's like a food court. Common seating areas but lots of different food choices. For late night dining and people watching the Gelang area is amazing. In the Indian area by the Dhoby Gaut MRT station I believe, there are tons of fabulous Indian places, little holes in the wall serving some tremendous vegetarian meals, some meat as well! I had a potato curry dish that still makes me sweat just thinking about it! Ask anyone around where you are staying who has the best Hainese Chicken Rice. It is the most simple but elegant meal I may have ever tasted! I also had the same meal with duck which you hardly ever see mentioned. Le Pau Sat was one of my favorite hawker centers, it is kind of downtown, in the financial area. There is a place by the Raffles hotel that had the best chicken wings EVER! Boat/Clarke Quay is kind of touristy, but fun. A really nice place to eat is the Sizzling Rock. Different meats served on sizzling stones. They had the best Tom Yum soup I have ever had! If it is still there, Satay Club is also located there. Different stands selling Satay. The surprise dish I had there is Roti John. It is like a chicken omelet served on toasted french bread with a sweet chili sauce! OH MY! Newton Circus is another famous, but kind of touristy area. FABULOUS grilled seafood, shrimp and lobster tails the size of your forearm! I am told you have to be careful about being overcharged on the seafood, but we never had a problem. Finally, if you want to splurge (or someone else is paying for it) go to Jumbos Seafood on the East Coast Highway.
                                                You won't believe this place. On the water, kind of open air on one side facing the water, geckos crawling on the walls, TONS of people. It is a blast, but not cheap. A MUST have, the black pepper crab! OOOOOHHHHH MMMMMYYYYY! Also the drunken prawns are amazing as well. I didn't have it, but I hear they have a dish called cereal prawns. If you try it, tell me about it, I hear it is to die for. For dessert try the ice kechang. It is shaved ice with anything you want in it, from fresh fruit to corn! The one thing to be warned about is the price of alcohol when dining out. OUCH! If you like to have a beer or two, go to the local convenience or grocery store to buy it and enjoy it before you head out! As a side note, I have found Singapore to be "copy watch" heaven!
                                                If you're looking for some great gifts, you can't beat it. Some of the malls like Lucky Plaza are swarming with touts and their copy watches (rolex etc.) but the prices are crazy. If you are in for an adventure, let them take you to their store (carpets etc.) and let them take you to the secret back room to pick out the watches! It was like something from a spy movie! But if you're interested in some as gifts head to Change Alley. It is by the Merlion which you'll probably want to see anyway. About 3 stores on the left is a camera/watch store, if it's still there, ask for Angela. She ROCKS! Tell her Jerry and Mike from the US, about 10 years ago sent you! Have fun!

                                                1. Hi folks, just wanted to report back about some of your suggestions in Singapore. I've been here for 1.5 days, now, and I am absolutely floored by how fantastic some of the food has been. I'm astonished that 7-11s have filled Chinese buns that are pretty much of the same quality as the ones you find in Chinatown, NYC--and that hawkers' centers have ones that are 100x better than that. THANK YOU for all of your fantastic leads!

                                                  I went to Newton Center earlyish this morning (11:30 a.m.) and found only about 1/5 of the stalls open. But I did find some really darn tasty dim sum at a stall on the northwestern-most wall of the center and a lovely soursop ice. The dim sum place was remarkable by NYC standards (I obviously can't speak to Singapore standards). The chicken and pork bao zi were stuffed to the gills with excellent fillings. By excellent, I mean they were flavorful, made out of obviously high-quality meat and ingredients), and just moist enough with a lovely tinge of chive in the chicken bao zi. The bread part of the bao zi was minimal, just enough to hold the fillings in, not at all like the thick, indelicate variety that you find in most places in the U.S.

                                                  The red roast pork pastries, made in the shape of cigars -- sort of like b'stilla, were light as a feather. I'm not sure I've ever had dim sum pastry this flaky and perfect, and they weren't even fresh out of the oven. Same for the egg custard tarts, which topped layers and layers and layers of fragrant pastry with tender egg custard that was just sweet enough, but not too sweet. I wasn't as much a fan of the yam cakes (yam is the same thing as what NYers call taro). They were more dimly flavored than the ones I'm used to, not that interestinly textured and needed the chilli sauce they were served with to liven them up.

                                                  Since I'm staying at a hotel right off Orchard Road, I've done all my eating in this area, so far. I stopped by the Takishimaya food court yesterday for a durian pastry (pretty good, pastries not as good as the dim sum stall in Newton), but was not, unfortunately, feeling hungry enough to try much else. I tried sashimi at a place on the fourth floor or a mall with a gigantic Sony center. The other dishes -- noodles and tempura -- looked great, but the sashimi I had was lackluster and a bit disappointing. Luckily, I'd saved room for the pig tail soup across the way, topped by some delicious sausages of unidentified varieties, a fish patty, and a spring roll that I got to choose. Great broth.

                                                  One thing I am on the hunt for, for which I'd very much appreciate leads: where do I find good, ripe fruit, specifically mangosteen?

                                                  Thank you all, again. If it weren't for the sticky heat, I think I'd never want to return to NYC....

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                    Hi Cimui: I just found this thread that you started. Just want to make quick comments:

                                                    1. Newton gets crowded in the evening, not in the daytime. But since you have been there, I would not advise you to go there again unless you are in for a long stay in Singapore. You can get much better Dim Sum as well in good Cantonese restaurants in town. Especially now you have ventured to Maxwell area, there is no point to turning back.

                                                    2. The mall with the gigantic Sony cnter is known as Wisma Atria, and you must be in the 4th floor at Food Republic. There is a well known store selling Hokkien Mie (a type of noodle that originated from Hokkien, also known as Fujian where most of the ancestors of Singaporean Chinese are from) , with long queue, not too far from the sashimi place you tried. Hokkien Mie has been recently voted as the most popular dish in Singapore, even ahead of Chicken Rice. The one at Food Republic is pretty good.

                                                    3. I think you can get mangosteen in most super markets. There is one called Cold Storage very close to the Takashimaya food court.

                                                    How many more days are you staying in Singapore? After glancing through all the recommendation above, and if you still have time after the Maxwell tour, I will recommend you to next explore Geylang area for even more exotic local food (Crab bee hoon, crab tang hoon, frog legs, very good Hokkien mie and beef hor fun as well...etc etc). And not to forget Fish head curry at Racecourse Road!!!

                                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                                      I'll have to come back for Geylang, alas. I did find my mangosteen at a fruit vendor near the Tanjon Pagar MRT stop (right by a Chinatown housing complex). I like the taste quite a lot, but perhaps in part b/c they are out of season right now, they didn't live up to their admittedly quite inflated reputation. I prefer lychee, I think.

                                                      I am actually sort of glad I went to Newton before I went to Maxwell, because my tastebuds got to grow up a bit. I got to have food at Newton that was better than what I get at home in New York; certain stalls at Maxwell blew even those heightened expectations out of the water.

                                                      I can't wait to come back, FourSeasons. Thanks so much for all your help and guidance, again.