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Nov 12, 2013 12:10 PM

2.5 days in Singapore+1 day in Hong Kong, where to eat?

I will have stopovers in Singapore (5 meals excluding breakfast, the hotel is close to Outram Park/Chinatown) and Hong Kong (11 hours) on a trip from Europe to New Zealand in February and since I've never been to either city I hope someone could tell me what I shoudn't miss (hawker food, durian, chili crab, abalone, Indian/Cantonese/Nyonya cuisine etc).

I'm looking for experiences unique to those particular places and I'm generally more interested in street food/traditional cuisine than pretentious fine dining (though I'm also contemplating André's - it's probably great but it seems like an experience I could just as well find in e.g. Barcelona or London). Any suggestions?

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  1. Well, whenever I do a short stopover in Singapore, I just head to East Coast seafood and have a crab (or several, if with others....) Although chilli crab is well know, black pepper crab also has it's afficionados.

    If I have a second meal, I usually go to Little India. I would have thought fishhead curry would be the most famous Sing-Indian dish, but it's not to everyone's tastes

    2 Replies
    1. re: mr_gimlet

      Thanks! Just to avoid any cultural faux-pas: do you actually eat the fishheads? Or just the cheeks (or other meaty parts). Either way, sounds interesting...

      1. re: lojroma

        There is a lot of meat on the head--cheeks, around the neck, plus for connoisseurs only, the eyes. Plus there will be veggies like okra and delicious curry broth to eat with rice (or bread). It isn't weird or gross at all, just yummy.

    2. Hong Kong street food/traditional cuisine?
      Won-Ton Noodles, Dim Sum and Cantonese Roasted Meat are musts!
      For your 11 hours, head over to IFC in central. Have the noodles at 'Tasty's' -( try avoiding the lunch hours ). Save room and head down to 'Tim Ho Wan' in the same building for some el-cheapo, Michelin caliber Dim Sum. The fresh baked Pineapple B-B-Q pork bun and steam Har Gow shrimp dumplings is a must.
      Whether you would like to spend your time shopping or sight seeing is all up to you. However, make time to head out to 'Yat Lok' on Stanley Street, Central for some Roasted Goose, Suckling piglet or what ever delicacies that catch your fancy, hanging on display!

      5 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        Thank you, that is exactly what I'm looking for! Do we need reservations for any of those places? Are credit cards accepted?

        1. re: lojroma

          They all do NOT take reservation!!
          Cash only except for Tasty's

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Good to know. How much cash are we talking about for two people?

            1. re: lojroma

              For Dim Sum at THW, you'll get really stuffed on about HK$150 ( US$20 ) per person ( economy of scale! Ha! )
              At Yat Lok, depending on what exotic meats you plan to order ( eg.,suckling pig and goose tend to be more expensive ), I would allow about HK$300 pp, just to play safe ( very conservative estimate! ).
              For cash, just use your 'Interac' card on any bank's ATM machine. IMO, very fair exchange rate! And there are banks everywhere!!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Sounds very reasonable, will be interesting to compare cantonese suckling pig to the ones you get in Spain. I love the spanish pigs but I've always felt that there's some room for improvement when it comes to the cooking technique...

      2. Hainan chicken rice is another must try. If you are in Outram Park, go to Amoy Street Food Centre where there are some good stalls or walk further down to Maxwell Road food centre for Tian Tian.
        Abalone can be found in any top Chinese restaurant.
        For Nyonya, Candlenut is at Outram Park, near to where you are staying.

        10 Replies
        1. re: M_Gomez

          Thank you! Hainan chicken rice is definitely on the list. Candlenut looks promising, do we need reservations? Is Singapore better than Hong Kong for abalone?

          1. re: lojroma

            Yes, do reserve ahead. I think HK's better for abalone.

          2. re: M_Gomez

            Tian Tian for chicken rice at the Maxwell street hawker center is a must. Get there before 6pm for dinner or you may be disappointed.

            1. re: citywayne

              IMO, Tian Tian is over-rated! May be from the Anthony Bourdain effect?!
              The rice and the dipping sauces are OK but the mushy textured and relatively tasteless chicken is not appealing at all! Find a place using more flavorful 'free range' chicken instead!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                im going to disagree with you on this one. I think their rice is not overrated and its really excellent. It's fluffy, flavorful and delicious (their sauces are great too)

                I agree with you the chicken would be better if it was a free range chicken, but I really think chicken rice is about the rice and much less about the chicken

                I'd like it the 貴妃雞 at kwan kee in HK:

                1. re: Lau

                  Yup!! Tian Tian is one of those 'contentious' places often mentioned on this board ( not unlike your 'Daniel' in NYC ). Some people found it great, some don't. Guess, I'm in the other camp, since I'm kind of spoiled and cannot tolerate mushy textured chicken ( KFC version ) Ha!!. So, lets just agree to disagree!
                  BTW, I too love 貴妃雞! However, even that in Hong Kong aren't the same when compare to years back. Though the chicken are live but they seldom are free-range. For the latter, the real McCoy, in HK, one would need to know connection and head to places like Yuen Long. Your Kwan Kee one looks good but not 'yellow skinned' enough, IMHO. May be live caged but not free range?!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    i want to say the guy at kwan kee told us they were free range, but im not 100% sure on that. i really liked the chicken there but my friends said its normally even better bc the owner guy told us he got a different chicken that day bc the one he normally gets wasn't available. really nice meat and great chicken flavor, i think i forget sometimes what good chicken flavor is like since you just dont get it that often anymore

                    1. re: Lau

                      For comparison purposes, I'm attaching a couple of 'Toronto' 貴妃雞 and the whole one I had at Hong Kong's Yuen Long. As you can see, the chicken used were all free range hence pronounced yellow skin/oil and the meat texture are more taut!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Doesn't the color depend more on the breed of the chicken and what they eat than if they are free range? When I lived in France I used to buy chicken from a very proud butcher at the market and he cautioned me against judging the quality solely by the color of the skin. Apparently there are ways to fake it. He had some different varietys rangeing in color from yellow to greyish/blue - the only thing they had in common is that they were delicious (in rather different ways and they required very different cooking techniques).

                        ...but that's France, I don't know how it works in the rest of the world except that in Sweden it is almost impossible to find good quality chicken.

                        1. re: lojroma

                          Yes and No!
                          To my knowledge, apart from the dark skin 'Silkie chicken', the 3 major and most popular chicken breed fancied by chefs and love by the populous in the Guangdon region, all posses yellow oily skin characteristics. They include ( in Cantonese pronunciation ) 'Lung Gong', 'Ching Yuen' and 'Sing Ping'. Size-wise, Lung Gong is the biggest of the three. All three exhibit incredible flavorful 'chicken' taste!

          3. Nyonya food: M_Gomez's rec to get some nyonya food is a good idea since it's basically impossible to find outside of singapore / malaysia

            Here are my recs:
            Sin Huat: I love this place

            Hill Street Tai Hwa: I love bak chor mee and this place makes the best version i've ever had

            Outram Park Rou Gu Cha: I really like the peppery kind of bak kut teh (others may like the herbal one better) and I think this place does it really well. Go here for breakfast

            Tian Tian Hainan Chicken Rice: Get this at Maxwell Road Food Centre. The actual rice here is amazing

            Jia Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon: if you're at tian tian, i think its a mistake not to go here. This place is really very good

            Eng Seng: I like this place for black pepper crab and chili crab. If not I'd say go to No Sign Board

            Curry Mee: i love curry mee and i'd go to either Heng Kee or Ah Heng @ Hong Lim (note Heng Kee's boss just passed away, but the son took over

            Hokkien Mee: I really like the Singaporean style hokkien mee and nam sing does it really well. Old Airport Road Food Centre is also one the most famous and generally considered one of the best hawker centers

            Fyi, here's all the places i've officially written about in Singapore:

            15 Replies
            1. re: Lau

              That Heng Kee curry mee in Hong Lim. I don't know why the late owner's son always claim to want to take over from his late father. I never see him but there is one old auntie who helped his late father.
              Last week I went down there and this old auntie was cooking and serving at the stall all by herself. I never ever see the son also! I think he only takes the credit from someone else's labour.

              1. re: makanputra

                hmm interesting...well i guess the question is how does it taste? do you think the quality has gone down at all? (it was very very good before)

                1. re: Lau

                  No diff in taste. I think that auntie has mastered the recipe well.

                  1. re: makanputra

                    well thats good, that place is pretty damn awesome, so hopefully its there next time i come i would love a bowl of that right now

              2. re: Lau

                Wow, that's a brilliant list, thanks! Sin Huat sounds awesome (if so many people hate the place it must be great, right?), is it ridiculously expensive if we are only 2 people and we want to try several dishes? Is it a problem that we only speak English (if that)?

                Many people seem to recommend Old Airport Road Food Centre but if we only have 2,5 days would it be more sensible to stick to Maxwell and other hawker centres closer to our hotel and focus on the best dishes there instead of the detour to Old Airport Road? Or is it easy getting around Singapore?

                1. re: lojroma

                  Sin Huat: It's pretty unique and i think its very much worth going to
                  - Price: It's not cheap, but its not like going to completely kill you or something maybe 100 SGD per person if its only two of you (can't split it as well family style).
                  - Negative reviews: The food is very good and think you'll see more reviews bitching about the price, his attitude or the fact that its in a rundown coffee shop. Personally i thought he was really nice
                  - English: He can speak english fine ive heard him interviewed before although less sure how good the other waiters english is

                  Transport: it is very easy to get around singapore. It will probably take you 10+ mins in a cab to get from your hotel to old airport road food centre. To put it in perspective when i lived there it would take me 45 mins to get from Changi airport (far east side) to NTU (far westside), thats how small it is.

                  Maxwell: Maxwell is a good food centre, one of the best actually. Hong Lim is actually walking distrance or a very short cab ride from there as well and hong lim is a pretty decent hawker center too. I gave you recs at both and can give you more.

                  Let me know which one you decide to go to and ill throw up some recs.

                  Word of advice: I'd actually plan exactly where you plan on going for hawker centers bc some of the hawkers have weird hours. check hungrygowhere for days / times when they are open. It will save you alot of headache in terms of showing up and then the guy isn't open. Also i'd literally write it down in a word file or something bc you also need to know the stall #s in the bigger centers like old airport or maxwell you can end up wandering around for a while if u don't know the stall #.

                  Last thing, use breakfast as meal time some hawkers open up really early and if ure jetlagged its perfect to go eat a small breakfast. I could eat Outram Park Rou Gu Cha for breakfast everyday if u let me

                  1. re: Lau

                    Hi Iojroma, Lau's list is good.

                    Hong Lim @ food center is in Chinatown, really near you. I reckon you could spend a couple of lunch sessions there trying out different things.

                    Besides the Ah Heng curry mee, there is a branch of Hill St Tai Wah bah chor mee (minced pork noodles) on the 2nd floor.

                    Also, on the same floor, you can find a very good rendition of Singapore style Char Kuey Teow (stir fried flat noodles with cockles) - Outram Park Char Kuey Teow


                    1. re: cyberK13

                      thats not a real branch of hill street tai hwa. i think it might be run by one of the original's relatives, but there is only one hill street tai hwa which is the one i mentioned. they actually had a lawsuit over the whole thing a few years ago

                      here's a video of the original:

                      And here's their website saying they are the only one:

                      ive only been to the original, someone else told me its the best and the others are good but not as good...i cant say since i havent been to the others

                      1. re: Lau

                        Yes, the original is better !

                        Still, the 'fake one' at hong lim is decent rendition if Iojroma needs some place convenient.

                        1. re: cyberK13

                          man that sounds good right now, i think bak chor mee is a very underrated dish...i would eat it all the time if i lived in singapore

                          1. re: Lau

                            Lau, perhaps you should also caution lojroma that Sin Huat is located in Singapore's notorious red-light district, Geylang, and a wait to order and finally receive the food in this grimy, hot coffeeshop can be 1-2 hours. If you MUST go, dress down!

                            1. re: M_Gomez

                              Geylang while grimy looking is totally safe, Singapore is the safest country ive ever been to. Not sure where lojroma is coming from, but almost guaranteed their city is more dangerous than Geylang. Geylang also has some of the best food in singapore

                              Also, i'm not sure what day they are going, but I didn't have to wait anywhere close to that, i was in and out in probably 1-1.5 hours max. I also went on a tuesday, so it is a good point that the weekends would probably be much much worse

                              1. re: Lau

                                Hehe, I doubt that there exist a place less dangerous than where I live right now (Swedish countryside - local law enforcement is struggling with people who either put the plastic bags with dog poop in the wrong container or forget to pick it up altogether...and a guy in the next village did time for tax evasion in the 80's) but I've traveled in the U.S and South America and lived in some pretty rough neigbourhoods (by european standards anyway) in Barcelona, Berlin and Marseille so I hope I can handle Geylang. Grimy coffeeshop with excellent food sounds like heaven to me, I'm getting tired of all these fancy places where you pay more for some hand carved walrus tusk NASA technology butter levitation device (ok, that one would actually be kinda cool) than for the actual food.

                                I will definitely work on a list with all the places I want to visit and come up with a good itinerary. Thank you so much for all the help!

                                1. re: lojroma

                                  haha well didnt expect that, buy geyland is totally harmless and i think kind of fun

                                  1. re: lojroma

                                    Well, if you must go then you need to order the crab bee hoon. Everyone does.

                2. We spent two wonderful days with friends in Singapore.

                  They took us to Eng Seng for Black Pepper Crab (I like Black Pepper Crab a good deal more than the Chili Crab, but I can see where reasonable people could differ on preferences here).

                  We also got treated to a feast at Lei Gardens in Chijmes. It was really good.

                  And we visited a couple of Hawker centers in Chinatown area. I didn't pay attention to the names of the centers or stalls. I was blown away by the food and the variety.

                  The method our friends recommended: Find a long line at a stall serving a dish you want try it. We tried Curry Mee, Curry Puffs, Laksa, Fish + Bitter Melon Soup, Mee Siam and Ota's with some kind of fish sausage filling....and that was just one lunch.

                  Thavesi for Paratha and chocolate sundaes late one night after Night Safari was a real treat too.

                  I missed some of the Nonya classics. Maybe next time.

                  1 Reply