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Jan 18, 2012 03:13 PM

Geylang Late Night Must Eats

I'm visiting my Father in Phuket next week, and on the way there, I've got an overnight layover in Singapore. Since it's fairly near the airport, I booked an inexpensive Hotel in Geylang near the MRT. My flight plans will have me eating dinner fairly late, so I'm wondering what the can't miss eats are that will be available after 10 pm Monday night. On the way back from Thailand, I've worked in a four day layover in Singapore (I've never been before), and I've got a VERY aggressive gastronomic agenda. Yahoo!!

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  1. Geylang is a good choice. More interesting than Maxwell, Old Airport, Chinatown that are often discussed here.

    Sin Huat: Crab bee hoon and other seafood. Not cheap though. Featured in Bourdain show.

    Go to Lorong 9: Beef Kway Teow is good. On opposite side,try the frog porridge at Lion City Pork Porridge.

    On Lorong 27, try the charcoal Hokkien Mee at Swee Guan and Pork Satay at Kwong Satay.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FourSeasons

      seconding the frogs' leg porridge (incidentally, it's lion city FROG porridge; just in case you decide to visit). they serve the frogs' legs in claypots (and there are two versions: kung pao - spicy, and garlic + spring onion - non spicy). you order porridge in a separate claypot.

      hopefully the weather will cool down a bit; eating a hot bowl of porridge + spicy frogs' legs in sweltering heat (even at night) is not a particularly pleasant experience...

      i find sin huat to be very hit and miss. i've had superlatively good crab bee hoon there; i've also had crab bee hoon that was so disastrously fried that i swear not to return ever. if you do decide to visit, make sure you read up on the "dos and dont's" of that place. and plan on a long wait if the place is crowded - the owner does all the cooking himself.

    2. Slightly off-topic here, crowdingthepan - I assume you've Googled & do know that Geylang is Singapore's premier red-light district, and that the hotel you'd booked yourself into may very likely be one of those which cater to the "working girls" and their clientele there?

      That said, Geylang - as FourSeasons had mentioned, is indeed a very "exciting" destination for late-night suppers. If you look at Chinese history - bordellos and eating houses usually go hand-in-hand, and Geylang district, lined with the modern-day equivalent of such sensory-gustatory pleasure-domes, is no different.

      9 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        Thanks for the heads up, Klyeoh. Yes, I'm aware of Geylang's red light reputation. While I've got no plans for taking part in the services offered by the working girls, I do have a great appreciation for the "color" they lend to a neighborhood. Since I seldom spend much time at my hotel, and I don't travel on an expense account, my usual move is to book an inexpensive hotel in a part of town with some local flavor. I love the fact that, unlike here in the States, funky/inexpensive, usually doesn't also mean dangerous in Asia. It's a routine that's worked pretty well for me as I visited and ate my way around Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Phuket earlier this year.
        Four Seasons and Akated: Thanks for the rec's. Sin Huat is on my short list, but I'm on the fence about it because of mixed reviews. I've heard that it's fantastically expensive. While a high price for a meal isn't a deal breaker, spending an arm and a leg for sub par eats is a bummer (example: a dinner I had at Under Bridge Spicy Crab in HK). Frog Porridge sounds interesting. Is the porridge Congee?

        1. re: crowdingthepan

          The last time my husband & I had dinner at Sin Huat about a year ago, the crab bee hoon costs S$75, which is more than US$55 I think. Quite expensive for a not air-con, not very clean kopitiam, won't you say?

          1. re: M_Gomez

            more if you decide to order other dishes! and his dishes are not cheap...

            he will give you a bit of attitude if you are a big group (4 persons or more?), and decide to only order the crab bee hoon. wonder if that's why the bee hoon was so lackluster the last time i went.

            1. re: akated

              Must be. 4 persons and only order crab bee hon, that's not paying too much respect to him :-)

              @crowdingthepan: yes, it is congee. And my typo error above, akated is right, it is Lion City Frog Porridge.

              1. re: FourSeasons

                haha. i would order something else, but my mom was insistent on only ordering the bee hoon =(

                ah well, lesson learnt. next time, i will ta-bao (takeaway) instead of eat-in. at least then he won't know how many people are going to eat the bee hoon. lol.

                1. re: akated

                  I have ta-bao the gong gong a few times. One of his signature dish as well which I probably prefer to crab bee hoon.

            2. re: M_Gomez

              That's actually not as bad as I'd feared. I'd heard tales of other folks paying upwards of S$200 for the crab bee hoon.

              1. re: crowdingthepan

                think the price depends on how big the crab is (i.e. by weight). it's not a fixed cost.

            3. re: crowdingthepan

              Yep, porridge = congee here. Same consistency as Cantonese congee, but the rice congee here is tasteless, and you need to flavor it by adding the frogs-driedchillis-soysauce-ginger-scallions stew which comes in a separate claypot.

          2. Sin Huat. I still dream of the evening there (thanks FourSeasons!)

            1. We're basically doing the same thing. My husband and I are leaving Bangkok tomorrow, and also staying in Geylang for a couple days before heading back to Japan.

              1. most of the posts here are about singapore food, but i dont really find them to be particularly great, especially the frog porridge(poorly made cantonese style porridge, is only frequented by locals because i think it is overhyped and they like frog meat, but the cooking is not great and even a layman can cook that kind of porridge) and the lorong 9 beef horfun( it is precooked and is served within a minute, its even faster than Mac Donalds!)
                i recommend ethnic chinese cuisine, like sichuan, or chinese lamb skewers if u are trying to get a great and decent value to ur meal, and because there are many chinese nationals around the vicinity in geylang . sichuanese restaurant like Song ji at lorong 13 along the main road is great for its sichuanese dishes and is famous for its crab fried in dried chilli and nian gao(glutinous rice cakes) (not singapore style thou), the shop is from shanghai and has many branches over in shanghai..

                for lamb skewers head to liu da ma( inside lorong 11, this branch is newer), or bbq box nearer to lorong 3 at geylang ... each skewer averages around $0.80 to $2 ..

                there is also Ji Gong Bao ( along the main road at lorong 9 beside the thai restaurant diadin leluk), which means sort of like a chicken claypot hotpot - cooked in sichuanese style i think, be sure to tell them to have less spice coz it is rather spicy.. and i have noted, all these restaurants dont seem to have many locals, and cater more to the chinese nationals here.. all these eateries open till late like 3-4am and are among the top eateries patronised by chinese nationals. Also popular is the hotpot/steamboat here at lorong 9, but not a fan of that.. eat all u can for around $25(which is a little on the expensive side for steamboat, there is cheaper in bugis)..

                As a local in singapore, I would suggest u get ur singaporean food not in geylang, but at the old airport road hawker centre, it is near the dakota MRT(if i am not wrong, VERY NEAR to Geylang) , hawker centres close rather early like before 9pm-10pm.. Some famous stalls are Mattar seafood for the crab, the crab here is good but the wait is long. Others like the char kuay teow from Lucky char kuay teow stall or the stall in front Lao Fu Zi. Also is the immensely overhyped soybean curd Lao Ban Beancurd, queues are very long for this. Also the western food stall is good here, Holy grill is the name ..

                also around geylang, head to joo chiat, where u can have the famous tian tian chicken rice over there. Or u can head to balestier, they have boon tong kee for chicken rice or bak kut teh ( pork rib soup), many bak kut teh eateries around there too.

                There is also lavender food court, where u can get the famous singaporean style wonton noodle at Kok Kee ( which i think is overrated ) , local satays and some local seafood style. Nearby there is also a dimsum place which opens from evening till morning. Swee choon dimsum,. dimsum here is cheap and relatively good, but prices seem to increase every now and then. u can have a basket(4 pieces) of xiao long bao for around $3.50 , if that is ur kind of chinese food revelation. Everything here is not bad, just dont try the sichuanese style food here like the mapo doufu etc.

                bourdain ate at the geylang claypot restaurant in the layover series, but i dont recommend that, it is 30mins of wait, and its pretty generic tasting although the ingredients here i say are slightly more plentiful and fresher in terms of taste.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Lucil

                  Thanks for the recommendations, Lucil! Sichuan food is probably my favorite cuisine on Earth, but I live just North of Boston where there is a significant Sichuanese transplant population, and some great restaurants to show for it. When I’m traveling, I like to focus on foods that are scarce back home. With easy access to both Boston and New York, I’ve got most regional Chinese cuisines covered. Malaysian food, Singaporean food, and all the foods of the Chinese diaspora (Hokkien, Teowchew, Paranakan/Nyonya, etc.) in Southeast Asia are fairly underrepresented, though. So, that’s the stuff I’m primarily interested in. But, I’m certainly game for something else if folks are raving about it.
                  Unfortunately, due to Chinese New Year, all of the restaurants on my short list were closed during my one night layover. So, I settled for an open air street restaurant selling porridge and various braised meats. The porridge was prepared by spooning a bunch of white rice into a bowl and dumping plain hot water onto it. That didn’t appeal to me, so I had rice with some very nice pork belly and pig intestine on top. I also had them throw some lightly sauced mai fun on there too, because I couldn’t resist doubling up on carbs.
                  Late the next morning, I walked to the Old Airport Road Hawker Center, with hopes of sampling Nam Sing Hokkien Mee, or Hua Kee Hougang Wanton Mee (based on Klyeoh’s past suggestions). Again, Nam Sing was closed, and I couldn’t find Hua Kee. Of the few stalls that were open, I picked a solid if unremarkable Nasi Lemak from a stall called Warong Nasi Jawa because it had a fairly long queue. All the components were good, but there wasn’t much coconut presence in the rice. They did throw on a free ladleful of a spicy tofu concoction that I couldn’t identify, though.
                  I’m in Phuket now, and I’ll be back in Singapore tomorrow for a five night stay. I’ll be sure to report back with all of my completely unqualified opinions!

                  1. re: crowdingthepan

                    Oh yeah, there was some tasty braised cabbage on that first plate, too.

                    1. re: crowdingthepan

                      is there any northeastern chinese meat skewers in NYC and boston??? they dont tend to migrate to the states, from what i know, the states has alot of southern chinese cooking like hunan, sichuan and guangdong i presume...
                      for hokkien at old airport road.. .here are a few that are rather popular... i've never eaten at these stalls thou.
                      lor mee at Xin Mei Xiang Lor Mee #01-116
                      whitley road prawn noodle
                      and the blanco court kway chup for teochew.

                      1. re: Lucil

                        Yeah, the vast majority of Chinese immigrants in the States came from in and around Guangdong. Even the Sichuan dishes were largely just soupy Cantonese numbers with a few dried chilis thrown in, and no Sichuan peppercorn. But that's changing, and we've got a good representation of Dongbei cuisine, food from Xian, Lanzhou, and even a few Uighur restaurants. I haven't noticed any meat skewers specifically, but I'll keep an eye out.
                        I'm eating my way around Singapore right now and having a blast. But WOW, decent beer is expensive here!!

                        1. re: crowdingthepan

                          I hope you will post your experiences back here. Waiting to hear how foreign visitors view Singapore's eating scene :)

                        2. re: Lucil

                          yes, actually there are terrific lamb skewers in Flushing (NYC)! of course they also have beef and chicken, but I've never tried them. there are several carts but my fav is the one outside of Citibank (I forget the cross streets)