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Jan 14, 2014 07:43 AM

visiting singapore for a couple of days in Feb

We are foodies and love to try out avant garde cuisine on our travels. This time around I am also looking for local delicacies and best places to find them. For dinner, we want to splurge but for lunch we want to have quick service. Any recommendations for both lunch/dinner?

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    1. Hey there!

      Singapore is a fantastic place for foodies :) I spent almost 3 weeks there trying to eat everything and found some really amazing dishes. One thing to note is that the Singaporeans really like waiting in lines. So a lot of the best places have long queues. I almost wondered at some point if the cooks deliberately cooked slower so there would be a longer line and thus indicate better food... So lunch at some of my fav hawker places may not end up being all that quick (though they're worth it)

      **Hawker/Street food**
      - 328 Katong Laksa - the best place to try the classic Singaporean Laksa soup

      - Ya Kun Kaya Toast - more of a breakfast spot, Kaya Toast is a super singaporean place and the original one at 18 china street is the best (and most scenic). Kaya is a really delicious coconut jam (i brought several jars home as gifts)

      - Maxwell Road Hawker center has several very popular (and very good) stalls including Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (featured on just about any Singapore eats list - it really was worth the hype. I recommend trying to get there right before it opens to avoid the lines) and Zhen Zhen porridge - it's rice porridge (congee) with fish and very very good. Long lines at both of these places. And while you're there, also go to Lao Ban for their soya pudding (SO GOOD.)

      - Geylang Lorong 29 fried hokkien mee are delicious friend hokkien style noodles.

      - Song Fa Bak Kuh Te is another traditional Singaporean food and the best of all the bak kuh te chains. Also get the braised pork trotters - heavenly. Not street food, this place would be a great lunch or more casual dinner.

      **There's also some great Indian food in Little India due to the large Indian population**
      - Bismillah Biryani is a really really good Dom Biryani (the rice and meat are all cooked together)

      - Singapore Zam Zam has a really delicious murtabak

      - Tekka Center is the Indian hawker food stall and has some really good indian food

      For singaporean crab, I recommend Melben Seafood or Uncle Leong - the other places (Long Beach, No Signboard, etc) were more expensive and just meh. Roland restaurant was also pretty good, though it's weirdly located on a floor of a parking garage (looks nice inside, but was so empty when we went it felt a little sterile).

      The interesting thing about Singapore is that they have to import everything - nothing grows on the island. So for high end restaurants, all the ingredients will be imported... which means that they're all very similar to high end restaurants in other cities. You'll be fine picking any place on a list of the top restaurants. We did go to Iggy's which was good (in the same way a restaurant is good in NYC or San Francisco) but not particularly "Singaporean." All their ingredients were flown in from Japan, which made me think that the food in Japan would probably be way better since it wouldn't be traveling over the ocean...

      Happy eating and have a great trip!

      --- /

      8 Replies
      1. re: heydana

        Thanks for the recommendations. I had two other sources also recommend 328 Katong Laksa independently, so I figured this would be a hit. One was a Malaysian flight attendant on Singapore Airlines, and the other was my cousin who's been in Singapore for the past 5 years (but I wasn't sure how into he was in food!). I only had laksa in the KL Singapore Airlines lounge, and that version made me so happy that I've always been craving it.

        So I have some embarrassing learnings to share as a "newbie" who never had a "real" version before. Make sure to add chili paste (picture attached)! I ate almost all of it before I realized it was there on the table in the metal jar. They also sell it in a jar, which I bought very happily to take home.

        Also, the traditional versions have cockles, which I had no idea and thought I was eating oysters. I think they're a different species from those I've had before because these tasted so much stronger, which is why I thought they were jarred oysters. They were too intense for my liking (but I don't like strong fish / seafood taste), but I could see how they added a lot of depth to the broth flavor, so I just avoided eating them directly.

        heydana - you mentioned you bought kaya as jars to take home as gifts. Do you remember which brand you liked, and where you got it? Was it sold at Ya Kun Kaya Toast?

        And speaking of sauces (the theme of this response!), does anyone have recommendations for sauce brands that come in jars for the Hainan chicken chili sauce? I enjoyed the rice at Tian Tian but didn't appreciate the chicken as much. But then I was more impressed by the condiments, and I'm not sure if it's just because all the chilies are more potent in SE Asia?

        1. re: heydana

          Oops, forgot to attach the photo from 328 Katong Laksa!

          1. re: tofuflower

            Yes - the kaya I bought at Ya Kun Kaya Toast - they had small airplane friendly jars, too!

            Good tip about the laksa - yes the chili paste is essential (and delicious).

            Unfortunately, no idea about the chicken chili sauce - though I agree with you it's definitely a highlight. I had a similar experience with Hainanese chicken rice in Chiang Mai where the soy/chili sauce (almost like a marinade?) really made the dish.

            1. re: heydana

              Thank you! I read your response just in time to buy a stash of jars. It seemed just a tad sweeter than other kaya toasts I had, but so convenient.

              Next time's quest - a chicken rice vendor that sells its chili sauce? :)

              1. re: tofuflower

                If you are in the US, you can find Glory brand Chicken Rice Chilli Sauce at some asian supermarkets. It's a Singaporean brand and the sauce is quite good. I normally make my own chilli sauce for chicken rice, but if I don't have time, the Glory sauce is good.

                1. re: boogiebaby

                  Interesting, boogie baby. In Singapore, I always buy Glory's kaya :)

                  1. re: M_Gomez

                    I buy the Glory kaya here too. I prefer the thicker, green kaya, but my kids adore the Yeo's orange kaya in the cans. :)

                    Glory also make a Chicken Rice seasoning paste in a jar, which was good, but it is about $6US and tasted very similar to my homemade recipe. I had originally picked a couple jars up at NTUC 2-3 years ago, and then saw it here in So. CA last year. I don't mind paying S$4 a jar, but US$6 is not worth it to me. :)

                2. re: tofuflower

                  Actually, I just had the Ya Kun Kaya as a thin spread on both sides using Japanese thick white toast instead at home. (Got the idea from the kaya toast version at Wu Shi Nian Dai.) With the higher bread ratio, it wasn't too sweet at all! At the Ya Kun Kaya storefront, they used a lot more spread with very thin toast, so I think that's why I thought it was sweeter.

                  Also, thanks for all the Glory brand recommendations, for both the chili and kaya! I will keep my eye out next time. Good to know for replenishing because the small Ya Kun Kaya jar (75 g) I bought for myself barely lasted 4 servings.

          2. thank you all for this list - we are going for 10 days in august and i look foward to eating my way around town. any recs for sentosa island beaches or food options in other day trip destinations? thx