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Singapore Advice

I'm going to be in Singapore for four days in September and needed some help figuring out what to eat. I've been reading a lot of reviews and feel even more confused now than when I started. It seems as there are so many places and opinions for the best, I don't know where to go. I was thinking of doing my own eating tour where I'd just go from hawker market to hawker market and eat at the different stalls. Please tell me which hawker markets are favorites.

So here are the things that I absolutely want to try:

- Chili Crab

- Chicken Rice

- Indian Food (Roti Parata, Fish Head Curry, red meat with marrow

- Coffee and Kaya Toast

- Pulled Tea

I also wanted to fit in a dinner at Gunther's, lunch at The White Rabbit or Humble House, possibly a meal at Iggy's, and the buffet at Strait's Kitchen. I'm wondering if all these restaurants were worth it to go and if not, what should I avoid and what to substitute.

Help me figure out where to eat. Thanx.

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  1. Most of your questions are similar to those posted by comiendosiempre on a recent post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/536647 , and those not included there have been answered in recent posts as well. Please just go to the top "Search this Board" and type the type of food and restaurants and the comment will be there.

    Again, everyone has different preference, so not knowing your background (and your own profile does not show your city of origin and any type of preference), I don't think it is wise for anyone to tell you exactly where to go and to avoid. For me, Gunther's and Iggies are good. Never been to White Rabbit. Avoid Humble House unless you like fusion modern Chinese. Go to Strait Kitchen if you do not plan any trip to hawker centres, but if you do, then forget about it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: FourSeasons

      You can read more about White Rabbit in Chubby Hubby's 21 June entry in his food blog - he's got some gorgeous photos of the restaurant:

      http://www.chubbyhubby.net/blog/

      I've not been there yet myself, but initial reviews by several diners seem to suggest average food/service at higher-than-expected prices.

      1. re: FourSeasons

        I agree with FourSeasons about the Straits Kitchen. It really is aimed more at non-foodies who want to sample the local food without hitting the hawker centers. I did a eating tour of Singapore last year and I hit up Straits Kitchen early on, but now that I look back on it I think that time would have been better spent in one of the multitide of hawker centers I didn't get a chance to visit on my short trip.

        1. re: huaqiao

          I have to say there are some advantages going to Straits Kitchen. First, it is buffet setting so you get to sample many different local dishes, which you will not be able to do so in hawker centres since you have to order individually on each stall. Second, it is a comfortable air condition setting, so you get away from the hot humid weather in hawker places. Third, it is a very convenient place for tourists just right at the heart of the city so if there is time constraint, this is a good place to visit as well.

      2. Thank you everyone to your responses. I prefer very authentic food and like to avoid any type of tourist traps. I live in Los Angeles and travel quite a bit for food. This is my first time in Singapore and would like to be able to try all the different dishes Singapore has to offer. I think I will probably do the hawker markets but am unsure of which ones exactly. I have made reservations for Gunther's and as a result of your suggestions will probably skip Straits Kitchen and Humble House.

        I did read Chubby Hubby's blog about White Rabbit, which is what had prompted me to go in the first place.

        Is Iggy's and Les Amis worth a trip? From the posts I've read it seems as though Gunther's has surpassed them both?

        4 Replies
        1. re: imda14u29

          There are too many hawker markets in Singapore, and in every one of them, you can try different local dishes. Many enquiries from tourists ask for the "best" hawker centre; unfortunately, there is really no such thing as the "favorite". Most hawkers have 20-100 food stalls; in most cases, a few are good, majority is average. Most locals go to the one that is convenient to them. Just to introduce a few here that is convenient for you. If you are going for breakfast, you can go to Tiong Bahru Market, which is a wet market that opens early for local residents. There is a hawker market on the 2nd floor that opens as early as 6am. (so if you have jet lag, that is a good place to go in early morning) Most tourists like to go to Newton circles, and recently the one beside Esplanade is gaining some fame as well. For more "authentic" yet convenient hawker market, you can go to Maxwell hawker centre. Since you are interested to try Chicken Rice, there is a famous stall called "Tian Tian", a Manhattan hound ciumi gave a review about 1 year ago which I added some comments on that area there too. (Just go to the top Search and hit Tian Tian) If you are interested to see how old time hawker centres look like before Singapore become affluent, you can head to Hong Lim Food Market, one of the few old markets that still remained. It is in Chinatown, another good area for tourists to shop around as well. (Actually, both Maxwell and Hong Lin are not too far from each other, about 5 min taxi ride)

          For Chilli Crab, Jumbo was previously discussed in com's post. No Sign Board has been extensively written here, seems to be the favorite one in Chowhound. Last night, my friend spoke highly of Long Beach Seafood at Dempsey but I have never been there so not able to verify. http://www.longbeachseafood.com.sg/lb...

          For Curry Fish Head, my personal favorite is operated by Chinese chef (even though the majority and well known ones are operated by Indian chefs) at a rather inconvenient place for tourists. (Our Makan Shop at Blk 34 Whampoa West #01-27, tel: 6297-9729) But for tourists, I suggest to go to the more popular ones (such as Muthu's, Banana Leaf etc) at Race Course Road.

          For Kaya Toast, the better known chains are Ya Kun http://www.yakun.com.sg/ , and Toast Box (that are available in many shopping malls).

          Gunther's, Iggies and Les Amis are the top fine dining restaurants in town. Personally, I prefer Gunther's and Iggies. And for more resasonable pricing, go to Nicolas: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/522404

          1. re: FourSeasons

            Maxwell is the must-visit hawker center for visitors, I think. It's very centrally located and has a number of well-regarded stands. Made famous by the Tony Bourdain episode filed inside. :)

            Newton felt too touristy to me, the prices were higher, and I found the vendors more aggressive, which I did not like.

            If there's a specific hawker stand that you're going for, make sure to check the Makansutra to see when it's open. I visited Maxwell twice during my trip and still wasn't able to get the oyster cakes I wanted to try. First time because it wasn't open yet and second time because it was closed that particular day.

            And use cabs! I walked to Tiong Bahru from the closest subway station and it was a trek, especially in the hot weather. There were hawker centers I didn't try because they weren't close by any public transportation. Cabs are cheap and plentiful and next trip back I'd use them to get everywhere instead of limiting myself to places I could easily walk or take the subway to.

          2. re: imda14u29

            If you have only 4 days in Singapore & is seeking for something really "Singaporean", then don't bother with Iggy's, Les Amis & their ilk, as they are basically French-style fine dining establishments, but without the glam/hip factor which you can find in LA, NY, Tokyo or even HK in this part of the world.

            None of the restaurants in question have any views to speak of - Iggy's dining rooms are low-ceiling & cloistered, no windows. Les Amis look out into a small street.

            1. re: imda14u29

              I dined at White Rabbit a couple of nights ago. The only thing I liked about the place was the very beautiful building itself: high ceilings & Gothic windows. After all, it used to be the Ebenezer chapel.

              One dining companion & I started off with the laksa prawn bisque. We both thought the soup could do with more taste! Other than the golden-brown eggwhite souffle topping on the soups, which was a nice touch, we were really disappointed by the tepid, watery "laksa" broth. Our other dining companion had the mango salad which, in his opinion, was "quite okay", although it was also a tad bland & uninteresting.

              For our entrees, I had the much-talked-about White Rabbit Mac-and-Cheese, which I understood was an "adult" update on mac-and-cheese with the addition of truffle sauce & shaved black truffles. It was, again, a let-down - hopelessly bland & tasteless. The shaved black truffles were totally scentless! My 2 dining companions quite liked their entrees: an oxtail stew and a scallop-pasta dish. Both were pretty standard fare, but don't have that "wow" factor which one would expect in such a beautiful new restaurant whose name seemed to suggest a playful, quirky take on the world of "Alice in Wonderland" (the restaurant's calling card was in the shape a small playing card - very nice touch).

              Well, it was up to the desserts to save the evening. We decided to share 2 desserts - the Mars Bar souffle, and the deconstructed Blackforest Cake.

              The Mars Bar souffle, again, was an exercise in blandness - CHANGE THE COOK!!!

              But we did love the Blackforest cafe - which was not a cake at all, but a cylindrical chocolate parfait resting atop a bed of chocolate cookie crumbs, accompanied by whipped vanilla & chocolate creme, and liqueur cherries. Simply loved this dish, but don't think it's enough to make us want to go back!

               
               
               
            2. I just got a couple weeks ago from a 2.5 week trip to Singapore and Malaysia, visiting family. I hadn't been back in 3 years so I had lots of eating to do!

              My cousin and her hubby took us to Bong Teng Kee (sp?), which is known for their chicken rice. It was very good, Normally I just eat chicken rice at the various hawker centers (I don't have a favorite one, we go to whatever is nearby). Their claypot taufu with pork was also very good.

              For Indian food, I always go to Serangoon Road. Best place to get Teh Tarik too.
              For fast food style food, I love Anandabhavans, and for sit-down service I like Apolo Banana Leaf. The Maharaja Masala Thosa at Anandabhavans is great.

              My favorite place for coffee and kaya toast is Toast Box! I make kaya toast here at home (I buy 'made in Singapore' Kaya and asian style bread from my local 99 Ranch) but I wanted to eat it there too. We hit up Toast Box twice. I preferred the way they made it at the Vivo City branch.

              Didnt eat chilli crab at any restaurants/stalls this time around since my uncle made it at home.

              Me, personally, I like to check out the local haunts. I prefer hawker centers and small shops to larger restaurants. Not sure where you'll be staying, but you should ask around to see where the locals eat.

              1. My husband and I are obsessed with Sammy's for Indian food ... delicious ... We are flying through Singapore again later this year and are thinking about putting back one of our flights so we can grab a meal there!

                1. Hi, for a great guide on what to eat, where to eat in Singapore, check out http://ieatishootipost.sg

                  This is a blog started by a Singaporean doctor who is an amateur photographer as well as a foodie. Hence he started a blog documenting the marriage of 2 of his favourite pastimes. It has since become a definitive guide to eating and drinking cheap in Singapore, with contributions from its forum members on the better places to eat as well.

                  By the way, I suggest you scrap The White Rabbit from your list. Other than the nice building, everything else is overpriced and over-rated.