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Jun 22, 2011 08:14 AM

Singapore - incredibly overdue thanks

Greetings all. I'm happy to say that my wife and I will be returning to Singapore for a few days in August. We were there two years ago and ate our way through town. Relied heavily on you hounds as we did food research, and I was just trying to find my old "report back" post. Um.......I can't find it, and other than a review of 53 (which we thoroughly enjoyed) I have a bad feeling that I might never have posted. Bad chowhound!

So.......many, many thanks to all of you, especially FourSeasons, klyeoh and MGomez for your voluminous and spot on posts. I won't do the details here, but we had a chance to graze through Tiong Bahru, Lau Pa Sat, Maxwell, Gluttons Bay, Food Nation and Newton Circus food centers. Fantastic! Especially liked the variety and settings at Tiong Bahru and Gluttons Bay (we were staying at the Mandarin so Gluttons was hugely convenient as well).

We had (other) lunches at My Humble House, Straits Kitchen, Palm Beach Seafood, and 53. Even tried a breakfast at Melt in the Mandarin. (Other) dinners at Madras Woodlands and 53.

Then we came home and just had broth for a month. ;-)

Loved being there, loved everything we ate, and immediately started thinking of our return. Well, here we come. I'm deep into reading all posts on this board and thinking of where to return, what new to try, etc. I will post separately with questions regarding this trip. And yep, know all about all the new, high end places in the Marina Sands. That was still a construction site in 2009.

Thanks again and I'll be asking some questions within the next few days.

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  1. Good to hear from you again, Geoff. In the past 3 years, Singapore has seen the opening of 2 new casinos (we prefer to call them Integrated Resorts) and with them, a slew of new restaurants like Wolfgang Puck's CUT, Mario Batali's Osteria Mozza, Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne, Tetsuya Wakuda's Waku Ghin & Guy Savoy's self-named restaurant at Marina Bay Sands; a couple of Robuchon restaurants & the ever-dependable Chinois by Susur Lee at the Resorts World Sentosa.

    Foodcourt-wise, Marina Bay Sands has the new Rasapura, which brings together some legendary Singapore food-masters in one place: chicken rice from Sin Kee (Margaret Drive), bak kut teh/pork-rib soup from Ng Ah Sio (Moulmein Rd), etc. Prices are higher there (by 20-30%) though, but for air-con comfort & the opportunity to find everything in one spot is hard-to-miss.

    Also try the upgraded food court in Ngee Ann City, or pop over to Salt Grill & Bar by Aussie uber-chef Luke Mangan perched on the 56/57 floor of the new ION Orchard, with peerless views of Singapore :-)

    Looking forward to your specific new queries.

    16 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      OK, I'm back. This is LONG, sorry! Thanks again for your ideas!

      I’ve reviewed the past couple of years’ posts, as well as some other info I have on hand. And, for kicks, I got a copy of Makansutra. This time we’re staying at the Fullerton. Obviously, the choices are endless. THANKS for any thoughts on any of my ramblings, below.

      It seems that the major change(s) since August 2009 is the opening of the Marina Sands complex and all that goes with it. We’re not really interested in going over there, frankly – those high end places aren’t really what we want to do while in town. Regarding the Rasapura food center: is it worthy of a stand-alone visit? I’m asking this knowing that we will be taking full advantage of several other centers during our stay – will probably have most breakfasts, at least a couple of dinners and who knows what other snacking opportunities at food centers, depending on where and when we find ourselves out and about.

      Food centers that we didn’t visit, or fully visit, but that get fair notice here, seem to be: Peoples Park Center(?), Hong Lim (just renovated?), East Coast, Food Republic (at Wisma Atria); basement of Ion, Takashimaya basement at 2 Ngee Ann City, Commonwealth(?), Ghim Moh(?), Old Airport Rd, and Chinatown complex. Any favorites here? I do realize that often you have faves spread out everywhere; a couple or more stalls in each center with your fave of a particular food.

      We’ll probably have 3 or 4 lunch, 3 or 4 dinner (reservations or not) opportunities.

      - We had such wonderful experiences at 53, and were treated so well when we needed an unexpected dinner rezzie, that we want to return. Probably a lunch.
      - The only other “high end” place that truly intrigues me is Andre. I’ve no doubt it’s wonderful………but do you think it’s “worth it?” Big money. What about Wild Rocket? Vansh? Yantra? Mustard?
      - We’d be happy to eat at the other places we had reservations last time; any thoughts about those, or similar replacements to that list?
      - Believe it or not, we never got out to East Coast - we’ll do that this time for sure. There’s some disagreement on this board regarding favorite place(s) for crab – would you weigh in again on that?
      - Really enjoyed our dinner at Madras New Woodlands. For diversity, will probably try one or more others in Little India (or elsewhere). New recs welcome. I’m seeing mentions of Jaggi’s, Anjappar, Murugan’s, Raj of Kolkata, Malgudi, Muthu’s, Komala Vilas, Saravana Bhavan, Sakunthala’s Restaurant.

      Other places that I see in posts that I’m wondering about:
      - Lucky Plaza – is this a food center or something else? Indo Kitchen sounds good.
      - My Cosy Corner, Famous Sungeo Rd Trishaw Laksa, Prima Taste Kitche for laksa
      - Founder, Ng Ah Siou for Bak Kut The
      - Chatterbox, Yet Con for Hainanese chicken rice
      - Warung Nasir, Nasi Pariaman, Sabar Menanti, Haji Maimunah for Malay Padang food
      - House of Peranaka, Guan Hoe Soon, Peranakan Inn, Ivins, Baba Inn for Peranakan food
      - Dim sum, if we’re in the mood: folks seem to like Hua Ting, Jade Palace at Forum, Lei Bai at Sheraton Tower, Crystal Jade, Imperial Treasure, Lei Garden, Tung Lok

      1. re: Geoff

        I was hoping some other Singapore-based CHs will weigh in on this, since I have just relocated to Kuala Lumpur this year!

        Lucky Plaza on Orchard Rd is a medium-sized shopping mall which seemed to be stuck in the 70s - in contrast to the upmarket, glitzy neighboring malls surrounding it. Its uniqueness stemmed from the concentration of Filipino and Indonesian eateries which cater to the working class populations of those two nationalities which congregate there during their off-days. Lots of cheap eating gems there.

        Anyway, you've got your list of eateries, so what you do is pick the ones nearest to where you are and which would fit into your itinerary.

        1. re: klyeoh

          I'm not based in Singapore but travel there frequently and was just recently in town. I have posted my recommendations and suggestions below. Please note I posted something similar in an earlier thread, but I have since updated the information to reflect the experience from my most recent trip:

          *** CHINATOWN AREA ***

          Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa #02-66 --- 11am-6pm, closed Sun
          Outram Park Char Kway Teow #02-17 --- 6am-4:30pm, closed Sun
          Heng Kee Curry Mee #01-58 --- 10am-5pm, open daily (?)

          A few blocks from Hong Lim is Maxwell Food Centre where you can try the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice #01-10 (11am-8pm, closed Mon). I used to really like this place (especially the rice) but think the quality has gone downhill (chicken is way too dry, rice is not as oily or fragrant) ever since they opened two other branches. I think Chatterbox at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel is still the best (and most consistent) but it is $27 vs. $3 at these other places!

          (3) TONG AH EATING HOUSE
          Kaya toast is good at places like Ya Kun and Killiney Kopitiam (both are big chains with lots of locations) but quite exceptional at Tong Ah Eating House, 36 Keong Saik Road (6:30am-10pm, daily (?)). I love the "slim toast" which is like the standard kaya toast except they toast the bread several times to make it extremely crispy.

          (4) YA KUN
          Kaya toast is also good at the flagship location, 18 China Street (8:30am-5:00pm, daily (?)).

          *** TIONG BAHRU FOOD CENTER ***

          Jian Bo Shui Kueh #02-05 --- 6:30am-11am, daily (?)
          Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice #02-82 --- 10am-9pm, closed Mon
          Tiong Bahru Carrot Cake #02-83 --- 8am-10pm, closed Wed
          Tiong Bahru Lor Mee - #02-80, 10am-6pm, closed Mon
          Teck Seng Soya Bean Milk #02-69, 10am-6pm, closed Mon

          *** EAST COAST ROAD ***

          328 Katong Laksa --- 8am-10pm, daily
          Marine Parade Laksa --- 8:30am-5:30pm, daily
          Boon Tong Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice --- 11am-10pm, daily
          Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice (flagship location) --- 9am-3am, daily
          Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (2nd location) --- 10:30am-9:30pm, closed Mon

          *** MISCELLANEOUS ***

          Chilli crab --- Palm Beach Seafood at One Fullerton
          Satay --- Chuan Kee #01-85, Old Airport Road Food Centre (6:30pm-10:30pm, closed Mon/Thu)
          Prata --- Casuarina Curry, 136 & 138 Casuarina Road (7am-12am, daily)
          Carrot cake --- Chey Sua Carrot Cake #02-30, Toa Payoh Food Centre (6am-1pm, closed Mon)
          Spicy Prawn Rolls (good souvenirs) --- Bengawan Solo (a lot of locations)

          1. re: hong_kong_foodie

            RE: Bengawan Solo. Another good souvenir from there, Pandan Chiffon cakes.

            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

              Kaya toast at Ya Kun is like coffee at Starbucks. I went to the China St "original" and was sorely disappointed. I'm going to Chin Chin Confectionery next time.

              I'd also rec Founder Bak Kuh Teh, for an alternative to Ng Ah Sio if you're a BKT person. Best Teochew-style (pepper) BKT I've had.

              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                This may be an old post, but I found your list organized by location tremendously helpful.

                I went to both Outram Park Char Kway Teow and Heng Kee Curry Mee for lunch. In the char kway teow, I appreciated that the cockles were more cooked and tasted milder, like mushrooms. I preferred this level of well-done over the stronger flavored ones I had at 328 Katong Laksa, which I think are inserted into the broth raw?

                I had a follow up question about Outram Park Char Kway Teow. While I was in a line of at least 20 people, an elderly woman came up to me with a pad of paper and asked to take my order. I thought this was part of the efficiency process, and I paid her upfront (3 SGD). Then after 5 minutes or so while I was still waiting in line (about 15 people deep, see attached picture), she delivered a plate of char kway teow to me. I got out of line when the people in front of me didn't move. Is this normal service, or did I somehow get special treatment? I ordered the standard dish except asked for chili sauce on the side. Is it possible she come from a competitor stall?

                  1. re: Steve

                    Good question, I'm so silly for not even mentioning that. It was tasty, but not mind-blowing. I don't remember tasting any wok hay. Does the Outram Park version have that?

                    1. re: tofuflower

                      What an unusual experience. I don't remember anyone doing that - i.e. taking order from someone in the middle of the queue, then delivering it to that particular person.

                      Did you see any other "char koay teow" stall in the vicinity? I don't remember seeing any on the same aisle.

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        I can't remember for sure, but I don't think there were other stalls nearby.

                        I wonder if I were targeted as a tourist? I was wearing sneakers and maybe jeans (I think that day was cloudy).

            2. re: Geoff

              Just my 2 cents worth regarding your list:

              For laksa, try Sungei Road Laksa at Blk 31 Kelantan Lane, #01-12 Seng Chuan Eating House. Once there you cant miss it. It dominates the entire coffeeshop (in the singaporean context, its a smallish food centre). Its the inspiration for all the 'trishaw' laksa, in that the original 'stall' was a trishaw! Now it its 3rd generation. A cab should get you there.

              For Peranakan, I regard Peramakan (an obvious pun, 'makan' meaning 'to eat' in malay) at the Keppel Club, Telok Blangah Road as the best in singapore.

              Lastly, for Dim Sum, my current favourite is imperial treasure at Paragon. It says Super Duck Restaurant on the outside, which is just as well, cos the Peking duck is very very good, at SGD68 per duck, additional $10 to cook the remainder of the carcass in another style, Salt and Pepper being recommended. Oh, their dim sum is value for money for its quality. With the duck, its shouldnt cost you more than USD40 per head. Do make reservations for seat and duck though.

              Happy Chowing!

              1. re: Geoff

                Quick reply to your questions:
                -Rasapura food centre at MBS is not worth to visit as a stand alone place. They are way overpriced too, it's a trap for visitors to MBS who have no other options for cheap hawker food but yet still way more expensive than what is available outside of MBS,
                -If you like old style hawker places, Hong Lim and Old Airport are the ones to visit. It's been along time I visited People's Park so not able to comment. If you prefer the more modern air conditioned place, Food Republic at Wisma Atria is a good option.
                -53: dinner is much better than lunch, so don't expect the same experience if you visit there for luncheon.
                -Yantra is a good choice for high end Indian food. The other option is Tandoor at Holiday Inn.
                -If you want to look for cheap Indonesian food at Lucky Plaza, Ayam Penyet is a better option than Indo Kitchen. The fried chicken set and oxtail soup at Ayam Penyet is quite authentic.
                -My Cosy Corner is not convenient for tourists; moreover, it is in residential area. If you visit Hong Lim, Sungei Laksa is there. Prima Taste at Centrepoint is a decent restaurant that serves local hawker dishes, slightly more expensive than hawker centers but it is full service with air con.. Moreover, their standard is quite consistent. Much better than Straits Kitchen. If you go there, don't forget to order Popiah as well, a local style spring roll.
                -Ng Ah Sio is more adventurous for western visitors though very popular for Asian visitors. I think they closed at 1-2pm so visit there in the morning or early lunch. Famous for Bar Kut Teh, basically pork rib in peppery herbal soup, order the "long" version ribs instead of the short ones (u need to pay more but worth the extra). If you dare to eat offals, good to try some there too.
                -Chatterbox is good for chicken rice but you need to pay like 4-5 times more than hawker places so I don't go there anymore but still a good option.
                -Warung Nasir is the best out of the 3 choices you listed. But if you want better Indonesian style Padang food, you can try Garuda at Orchard Central (opposite Centrepoint where Prima Taste is located).
                -Re Dim Sum: all you listed are pretty good for Dim Sum. I go more to Jade Palace at Forum because I think their prices are more reasonable. Opposite Jade is a small shop called Subway that I recommend "Mee Siam" on another post (use search if you want to read more about Mee Siam on earlier posts).
                You have a very ambitious list so good luck and enjoy.

                1. re: Geoff

                  Old Airport Rd FC is wonderful and convenient by MRT. I like the bao stall (if it's still around) there and the Teow Chew Kueh stall at the rear in addition to the famous Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Noodle, Satay etc etc.

                  @ Chinatown Complex, i like ice-kachang (in all kind of combinations), Heng Ji Chicken Rice (look for the line) and the famed Outram Park Roast Meat (bbq pork and roast duck) and many others.

                  Also worth a visit during lunch with two floors of food: Amoy Street Food Centre (Tanjong Pagar MRT) behind Shenton Way. The rice dumpling stall always sells out for some reason.

                  And Albert Centre Food Centre behind Bugis is pretty good as well (Guan Kee Fried Carrot Cake and Singapore Rojak, Bean Curd come to mind).

                  1. re: Geoff

                    Try the revamped Hong Lim hawker centre if you can!

                    1. re: M_Gomez

                      Definitely one of my first stops when I'm back in Singapore again next weekend :-)

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        But the place may still be too hot for you, my dear ;)

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