Singapore - One Day Only!
My partner and I will have but one eating day in Singapore as first-timers. We're pretty sure we'll be eating lunch at the Maxwell Food Centre (Stalls 10, 42, 54 and 64 plus others with long lines and/or good looking food ). Since we are not the type who can eat all day long, our only other meal would be dinner. We've narrowed it down to the following options:
(1) Old Airport Road Food Centre--Mattar Road Seafood BBQ, Rojak, etc....
(2) No Signpost--white or black pepper crab plus other seafood items
(3) Apolo Banana Leaf or other for Fish Head Curry
(4) New Whampoa Hawker Center--sounds promising!
Any thoughts on what might be the best choice here? Wish we had more time to gorge, but we don't!
Since you will be trying the local hawker food for lunch, I will suggest you to pick (2) or (3) for dinner. (1) and (4) are just another 2 local hawker centres with similar food as your lunch. I will probably recommend (2) as the seafood dishes are more appropriate for dinner; moreover, you get to be at Geylang or Espplanade, which are more livelier in the evening compared to Race Course Rd where Apolo Banana is located. I tend to have curry fish head for lunch instead of dinner, that is just my personal preference.
no signboard seafood is good for chili crabs. i prefer black pepper crabs. and the best one is here:
241 Joo Chiat Place, Eng Seng Restaurant Open 5pm to 10pm, Closed on Wednesdays
it opens at 5pm, but lines form at 4pm. and they run out of crabs at 6pm. it is absolutely the BEST black pepper crab that i've ever had anywhere.
as for the fish head curry, i liked the one at the botanical gardens the best. second was the one at banana leaf curry in little india. i did not like muthu's at all. it lacked the vinegary bite.
We are back from our trip (we went to Indonesia but had layovers in Singapore). The first afternoon in Singapore we went to the Maxwell Food Centre. Aside from the chicken with rice, we did not eat anything that really wowed us. One of the stands we wanted to try was not open and one of them ran out of food when we got to the front of the line. Overall the things we ate seemed a bit bland and greasy. Somewhat of a letdown.
While walking around the city we passed by a place that specialized in meat jerky. They were grilling thick slabs of bacon in front of the place. We got some slices of the spicy grilled bacon which was slathered in chilies. It seemed expensive, not sure if they overcharged us, but it was amazing.
The first night in Singapore we went to Banana Leaf and had the fish head curry and a stir fried spicy crab dish. The crab dish was good but not great: the seasoning was good but the crab seemed overcooked and mealy. The fish head curry was a very memorable dish: fiery hot, creamy with a rich fish flavor. It was absolutely delicious and deeply satisfying. I couldn’t stop eating it and sipping the rich flavorful sauce.
The last night in Singapore we went to the restaurant Jumbo at the eastcoast seafood center. We had scallops with taro, chili crab, black pepper crab and the Hong Kong dried noodles. The scallops tasted good but the dish did not work for me, the taro seemed too sweet and did not go well with the scallops. I thought the chili crab was ok, but the sauce overwhelmed the dish and I could not really taste the essence of the crab. I much preferred the black pepper crab. It was spicy, rich and buttery. The spices perfectly complemented and enhanced the crab flavor. I wished that we skipped the chili crab and ordered two of the black pepper crabs instead. The noodles were truly amazing: not at all greasy and extremely flavorful. I could not remember the last time I had a more satisfying noodle dish.
I can’t wait to go back to Singapore. For sure we will go back to Apollo for more of the fish head curry.
I also only go to Maxwell Market for Tian-Tian's chicken rice. You are right about the bland, greasy foods from the other stalls. Most of my friends go to Maxwell Market for a Malay-style kueh stall which makes steamed sweet potato dumplings, rolled in fresh grated coconut. It usually sells out by 1.30pm.
There is also another stall which sells fry-it-yourself "ham chim peng" which are deep-fried Chinese bread or buns filled with red bean paste. You will see a permanent queue at lunch-time.
Honestly, I can't think of any other reason I'd go to Maxwell Food Centre.
I agree, Jumo@Eastcoast seafood centre is overrated though still very popular and crowded, the quality has declined over many years when Jumbo over-expanded (actually, same problem with almost every local seafood chain in Singapore). It used to serve the best chilli crab in town, but that was like 10 years ago. I am not sure about Jumbo@Clark Quaye as I have not been back there for years but it remains very crowded every time I passed by that area.