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Aug 27, 2012 06:58 PM

Feedback on Singapore Itinerary

My new husband and I will be spending part of our honeymoon in Singapore, and after much research, we have narrowed down our choices. We would appreciate fellow hounds' advice. We live in an area of the US that lacks good Asian food, but we are both of Asian descent and know our way around most Asian cuisines. We want to focus on eating Asian food and want to avoid celebrity chef outposts. We are staying at the Mandarin Oriental, and we will be taking most breakfasts at the hotel as our rate includes free breakfast. We are willing to travel for good food if worth the extra time, money, and effort, but we will not have a car. The sky is the limit on the budget. Other legs of our trip include Hong Kong (separate post) and the Maldives.

Saturday, Nov. 17
Dinner: Makansutra Gluttons Bay (will be jetlagged after a 36 hour journey and looking for something quick and easy near the Mandarin Oriental)

Sunday, Nov. 18
Morning wandering around Singapore Botanic Gardens
Lunch: Newton Centre
• #28 Heng for carrot cake
• #15 Kwang Huat for Hokkien Mee
• #12 Bee Heng for chicken satay and popiah
• #13 Keww Heng for duck kway teow
Afternoon exploring Little India
Dinner: Apolo Banana Leaf
Evening at the Night Safari

Monday, Nov. 19
Morning exploring Chinatown
Lunch: Maxwell Food Centre
• Tian Tian Chicken Rice
• Zhen Zhen Porridge
• Jing Hua Sliced Fish Bee Hoon
• Big Scissors Curry Rice (Assam Fish)
• Lim Kee Banana Fritters
• Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake
Afternoon shopping on Arab Street
Pre-dinner drinks: Ku De Ta
Dinner: Waku Ghin (exception to the celebrity chef rule :) )

Tuesday, Nov. 20
Lunch: Katong Laksa (Is it worth a trip out to Katong just for the laksa, or are there decent enough renditions at the hawker markets?). Other choice would be Ayam Penyet Ria or other Indonesian at Lucky Plaza.
Afternoon shopping on Orchard Road
Dinner: Palm Beach Seafood

Thanks in advance!!!

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  1. Your itinerary looks as good as any I'd recommend. A few things to keep in mind:
    - it's bloody hot & humid in Singapore - as long as you're willing to sweat it out in the hawker centres (Glutton Square, Maxwell), then you're in good stead.
    - any particular reasons for choosing Waku Ghin? After the initial hoo-ha, there doesn't seem to be many noises coming out of that over-priced spot.
    - 'worth a trip out to Katong?' - a definite YES. The area has an old-Singapore vibe which you won't find anywhere else on the island anymore. Besides the famous Katong laksa spots, do visit Rumah Bebe for its collection of marvellous Nyonya-Baba homeware and Nyonya "kuehs" (cakes, sweetmeats), and also Kim Choo next door for its "bakchang" (glutinous rice dumplings with minced pork, coriander & sugar-cured wintermelon filling), plus array of Nyonya "kuehs". Or trek 5-10 minutes further down the street for Chin Mee Chin's "kaya" toasts and Hainanese coffee (it's opposite the Katong Holy Family Catholic Church).

    To cool off, you can go to the new Katong I12 mall - I liked the Japanese grocery store at the basement as it's the ONLY place in Singapore which I can find the Gokuri grapefruit drink (I used to have to lug those back from my Tokyo trips). Lots of cafes & restaurants in there as well, whilst the Da Paolo Gastronomia outlet there baked the best chocolate croissants in Singapore - better than those in its sister-outlets around the island.

    3 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! We should be fine with the heat and humidity - some of our favorite food experiences have been eating on the streets and in the night markets of places like Thailand and Taiwan (in the summer no less).

      Even though it is touristy, we wanted one high-end dinner at the Marina Bay Sands. Waku Ghin seemed to be the only one without a branch in the US, and my husband loves Japanese food. Any other suggestions for a fantastic high-end Asian meal with a view?

      1. re: Yvonne

        Waku Ghin does not have much of a view. If you want to have high end Japanese food in Singapore, but not necessary in Marina Bay Sands or with a view, I would recommend Shinji Kanesaka (that focus on sushi) instead. Ryugin at ICC Kowloon, the one I recommended below, has a great harbor view of Kowloon and Hong Kong though.

        1. re: FourSeasons

          Hmmm, we may have to reconsider Waku Ghin then. Thanks for the tip on Ryugin. It looks amazing - I only wishI had more time to spend in each city!

    2. Do not go to Newton for lunch. Most stalls are closed. My favorite carrot cake Heng does not open during lunch hours as well. You can have the Apolo Banana Leaf for lunch instead and Newton at night. BTW, the food in Night Safari is pretty good too though I have not been back for many years.

      Since you will have jetlag issues, I would suggest you to visit Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre for breakfast instead. Many stalls there opened in the early morning.

      My view differs from Klyeoh. It is not worth a visit to Katong just for the laksa. Laksa there is way overrated and I would not recommend Katong for just 2 days stay.

      Re Waku Ghin: it is good but extremely expensive. Be ready to fork out USD400 or more per person. if you want to try Japanese kaiseki fine dining style and since I notice you will take a trip to Hong Kong, a better choice would be Ryugin at ICC (where Ritz Carton is located) Kowloon instead. Ryugin is a Michelin 3 stars from Tokyo. Better standard and value (around USD300 per person) too.

      6 Replies
      1. re: FourSeasons

        But, FS, if Yvonne's from the US, she might want to experience Singapore's old Katong district, which has a unique character. Besides, the Katong laksa there *are* the best on the island.

        Some photos I snapped around Katong a few months ago - I get all sentimental about the neighborhood ever since I started work in KL last year.

        1. re: klyeoh

          what about including a proper meal at katong, rather than just a bowl of laksa? many peranakan (straits-born chinese) restaurants in the area, which may be of interest to the OP.

          personally i'd skip newton for katong.

          1. re: klyeoh

            To each his own. Even the katong laksa: I don't think it is the "best" but has been hyped more by its history than the dish itself. There are plenty of much better options to dine in Orchard Rd itself which OP plans to spend that day.

            I would agree with Akated that Newton is NOT a "must-go" destination too; Heng's carrot cake is the only outstanding stall there.

          2. re: FourSeasons

            Thanks for the tip about Newton! We will switch our plans around for that day and do Apolo for lunch and Newton for dinner.

            1. re: Yvonne

              Hi Yvonne, fyi Tian Tian are closed on Mondays :)

              1. re: byronshoh

                Good catch! I am so glad you noticed, since I am most looking forward to chicken rice on this trip. :) I will switch around our days.

          3. My dear, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is so "yesterday". Everyone in Singapore, and some, are making a beeline for the Gardens by the Bay:-

            I've been there more than 6 times in the past few weeks and am going back again this weekend. It's just so beautiful and spectacular, and you see plants from all over the world as you walk through the massive greenhouses, large enough to enclose our Changi Airport inside :D

            Dining options at Gardens by the Bay include:- Peach Garden Noodle House (Chinese dim sum, noodles, congee), Casa Verde by Les Amis (Italian pizzas and pastas, done very well as the Les Amis Group is famous for), Canele Patisserie Chocolaterie (very luscious sandwiches, crepes and cakes), Hill Street Coffee Shop (SIngaporean steamed bread with kaya and butter, Singapore Nyonya Laksa). These casual eateries are near the Supertree Grove, OCBC Skywalk.

            Newton Hawker Centre is best done in the evening, and many visitors go there to try the BBQ seafood like sambal stingray.

            What are you looking for besides laksa if you go to Katong? Like Four Seasons said, if your visit is short, you may want to spend more time in Orchard Road. If you compare Singapore to New York, then Orchard Road = Fifth Avenue, whereas Katong = Greenwich Village/Tribeca/Soho.

            7 Replies
            1. re: M_Gomez

              Gardens by the Bay sounds amazing! We will do that instead of the Botanic Gardens.

              Honestly, I would probably only go to Katong to eat the laksa and browse the area for an hour, so I am not sure if it is worth it. Orchard Road seems more convenient for spending the day, although we are not into shopping either, just browsing and passing the time. Thanks for the New York comparison. ;)

              1. re: Yvonne

                Singapore is very small, really, so any trip to Katong from your hotel will take 15 minutes by taxi. It's nice trip outside the city as Katong is a low-rise area and you see Singaporeans as they go about their lives. Orchard Road is like the glitzy window dressing which we'd like to show the outside world, and the shops are pretty international and looked the same as those you'd find in HK, LA or Tokyo.

                If you take a ride to Katong, and if the taxi takes the Mountbatten route, you can see old pre-war bungalows. I go to Katong for their laksa every month, usually on weekend. Other times, I go there for wanton noodles and also Nyonya food. It's worth 1 or 2 hours of your time just to glimpse that part of Singapore which Peter Bogdanovich featured in "Saint Jack".

              2. re: M_Gomez

                Our prepaid tour takes us to the Botanic Gardens. Should we also go to the Gardens by the Bay on our own time? We've heard that the Botanic Gardens are "not to be missed".

                Aside from Asian cuisine which we will, of course, partake in...what are a few Western restaurants that serve wonderful food and have great views that you would recommend?

                1. re: josephnl

                  Sorry, I was going to refer you to the Catalunya thread but we had this conversation there already!

                  1. re: josephnl

                    I should think that you can do both Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay during the same trip to Singapore, especially if you are into flowers & gardening, like I am :)

                    The Singapore Botanic Gardens has very mature plants and trees, and has a very old-fashioned feel to it which some people may find charming. I, for one, view a visit to the botanic gardens as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city's rat race, and a refuge where time seemed to have stood still. The man-made lake, the old band-stand, all seemed unchanged through the decades. You also get to see large rainforest trees. There is a nice restaurant there called "Halia" which serves nice breakfasts, and other meals throughout the day.

                    Gardens on the Bay, on the other hand, is showy but very spectacular. I like the fact that they planted full-grown trees there almost overnight. You get to see flora from all over the world - South American creeper plants, African baobabs, rare exotic orchids, they have everything. Some parts of Gardens on the Bay are still under construction and shrubs have yet to be transplanted there, so you can feel the "new-ness" of the place.

                    Coming to your question on Western restaurants with a great view, hmm, let's see:- Salt at ION Orchard, Jaan at Swisstoel, Ku De Ta at Marina Bay Sands, Forlino at One Fullerton, Clifford at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, Level 33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre and Stellar @1-Altitude (One Raffles Place). The views are all great. The food? You didn't hear anything from me ;)

                    1. re: M_Gomez

                      Isn't the National Orchid Garden still at the Botanic Garden? That bromeliad greenhouse is quite charming too and on a more "intimate" scale than what I suppose one would see at the Gardens by the Bay (I've never been to this one, of course) on those huge fake trees and splayed around in the greenhouses? Just asking.

                      1. re: huiray

                        Man, I'd never been to the Botanic Gardens for ages. Over 12 or so years back, I still used to be able to take long walks there every Sunday with my family, then go for breakfast/brunch at the Taman Serasi Food Centre on Cluny Road. That place was famous for its "roti John", "prata" and fresh soursop juice. Dining under the big trees. Unfortunately, the food centre closed down a few years back when the Botanic Gardens were renovated and Cluny Road was re-aligned to be nearer to the Botanic Garden Mansions across the gardens. The hawkers moved away & spread out - some went to Serangoon Gardens, others went to Punggol, etc. I missed Taman Serasi FC :-(