Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
Aug 19, 2007 07:50 PM

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

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

    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:


        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 - - 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.


              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)
                Uttapam (komala villas)
                Roti Prata
                Roti John
                Chicken Wings (usually deep fried)
                Seafood seafood and more seafood (fish, shrimp)
                stingray sambal
                nasi briyani
                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:

                  1. re: Hot Chocolate

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

                    1. re: Hot Chocolate

                      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!