Singapore - a few days of eating....
We started our recent Asian adventure in Singapore prior to cruising through Thailand and Vietnam to Hong Kong. We had had some less-than-thrilling hawker center experience on our last trip, and were eager to try again with some fresh research. So, we left our luggage at the hotel and returned halfway back to the airport….
East Coast Lagoon Food Village
We lunched on Sambal Stingray from Leng Heng BBQ Seafood, Katong laksa from Roxy Laksa and rojak from You Char Kway Rojak. The rojak was a nice foil for the creamy/spicy laksa and fiery smoky stingray, but perhaps not at the very high level of the other two dishes (as previously discussed in Chowhound, it is basically a complex salad, so that might be expected). The laksa was creamy and satisfying, with well cooked noodles, fresh prawns, fish cake, curry spices, laksa leaves and a dollop of chili – quite excellent. However, the major highlight was the sambal stingray – fresh fish cooked to juicy smoky perfection with a terrific spicy sambal. We wanted a lighter lunch since it was late, but after eating this dish I was kicking myself for not getting the large. Very highly recommended!
Banana Leaf Apolo
The eating highlight of our last trip to Singapore had been the Indian style fish head curry at Banana Leaf Apolo, so we had to go again. As before, it was delicious, with a piquant spicy sour braising liquid, fresh fish head (don’t forget the tongue – a really good bite and veggies. However, our favorite dish this evening was a dry cooked curried fish that was spicy garlicky and just great. The accompanying veggies are a bit beside the point, but there was enough of the two fish dishes and rice that it did not make much of a difference overall (especially because the fish head curry had plenty of veggies).
A very cheap breakfast joint serving nasi lemak and coffee near our hotel. A tenth of the price of anything we could have dined on at the Mandarin Oriental, and totally satisfying. The otak and whole fish options were best, IMO.
Palm Beach Seafood (One Fullerton)
We went to the One Fullerton branch of Palm Beach Seafood because we wanted black pepper crab nearby to where our cruise was having its “meet and greet” party ($22 drinks at the Fullerton Hotel with a $10 cover – this city can be expensive). A beautiful evening for outdoor seating with a great view of the light show over Marina Bay. We tried exactly two dishes – spicy morning glory and Sri Lankan black pepper crab. The morning glory was well cooked and tasty, with bits of both shrimpy and porky deliciousness studding the spicy funky veg. The black pepper crab (singular) was the most expensive piece of seafood I’ve ever purchased ($140), but it was HUGE (2.5 Kg) and totally tasty. In addition to black pepper, we got a lot of butter flavor, and perhaps some coconut and maramite as well. Very complex and perfectly complimentary to the crab. The service was a bit chilly (especially for the prices we were paying), and it seemed as if larger parties or those ordering higher priced dishes (e.g. fish tank fish) received better and more prompt service. But, we were hungry and they were busy, so I could be a bit ungenerous here.
Din Tai Fung (Raffles City)
We love xiao long bao. We loved both branches of Din Tai Fung we tried in Taipei last year. So, we went here for a quick lunch before boarding the ship. The Oriental Salad in special vinegar dressing was a great start, but our xiao long bao options (steamed port and truffle) and Shanghai-style shiu mai were definitely not as good as the Taipei branches – thicker, starchier wrappers and less soupy goodness. Still better than many US versions – yes. But, not as heavenly as remembered. Hot and sour soup to finish was actually an unexpected treat – well balanced and tasty.
Glad that you managed to have a taste of dining out in Singapore: both good and bad. I do agree - Singapore can be expensive - and ridiculously so - at times, even as hawker centres offer cheap alternatives to expensive hotel F&B fare.
Service has always been a sore point for many diners here in Singapore. We've always lagged behind other cities in the region in this aspect.