First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore
Greetings Chowhounds of Singapore & Hong Kong! I've been thoroughly enjoying reading the various threads of the past few years on both subjects...what excellent information!
I'm embarking on a 17 day trip in 2 weeks to China (Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai). Then 3 nights each in Hong Kong and Singapore. I feel for the sake of space, I'll split the first half in China's cities and the 2nd half into 2 threads...better than cramming everything in 1 thread or making 4 different ones. This will be my first visit to all of these cities, as a diner who lives in SF and also has lived recently in LA and Paris, and spent good time in Tokyo. No need to go to Mozza in Singapore as much as I love it in Hollywood.
The catch on Hong Kong is it is the only leg of the trip where I will be on my own. I know that can make certain restaurants more awkward/too much food ordered but perhaps I can arrange tasting portions beforehand for such places (Tim's Kitchen, Seventh Son, Chairman...)? A little communication maybe can go a long ways...
Here's what I'm working with after lots and lots of reading. Please, please offer thoughts!
Hong Kong (3 dinners, 2 lunch, plus 1 lunch Macau)
Dinners: Yardbird (living in SF, I know how to wait), Chairman (either arrange a special tasting menu, do the 3 course solo lunch menu instead?, or order a la carte?), and The Seventh Son (same issues as Chairman).
Lunch: Won ton soup (Charles, should I do Mak Man Kee or Mak An Kee or one of the others from your list as a first timer?) and Mui Kee Congee
Dessert: Australian Dairy Co.
Others Still thinking About: Bo Innovation, Lung Keen Heen, Yan Toh Heen, Fook Lam Moon, Liberty Private Works, Hoi King Heen, Tung Po, Tim Ho Wan (I do need a good dim sum meal, right?), Tim's Kitchen...
Cocktails/drinks: Honi Honi, MO Bar, Ozone Ritz, Butler Bar, Quinary, Totts or Hooray for a view, Wyndham the 4th
Staying either in Central or lower Kowloon by Star Ferry...still being decided.
Now, Singapore! Wow have I wanted to visit and eat here for years...beyond excited.
3 dinners, 2 lunch: Reserved at Andre for one dinner. Burnt Ends looks very unique and special for another. Hainan chicken-- sounds like Tian Tian despite people adoring it or despising it? Laksa-- 328 Katong Laksa. Then decisions to best enjoy carrot cake, satay, fish head curry, durian, kaya toast...hard to trim the suggestions in various threads. And would love thoughts on other spots that aren't on my radar.
Drinks: Hey, I have to go to Raffles Long Bar for the Singapore Sling and history. Do it once. also, B28, Tippling Club, 28 Hong Kong Street, Jigger & Pony, Cufflink Club, Nektar, Maison Ikkoku, The Library.
Staying in Downtown by Raffles Place.
For both Hong Kong and Singapore, I'm open to all ideas. Great espresso baristas, bakeries, breweries, wine bars...you name it. This will be a special trip and I know it will be even more special because of your help. Many thanks!
For Won Ton noodles. Mak An Kee, hands down! Add a plate of beef brisket and tendons on the side for a nice lunch package.
Bo innovation is 'fun' but not all dishes are necessarily tasty and harmonious.
No need to consider Fook Lam Moon if you are planning to try out Seventh Son. Very similar food and menu.
Lung King Heen is over-rated for dinner but a definite candidate for a great Dim Sum lunch experience. Tim Ho Won is much much more casual and cheaper, more traditional and less innovative. However, great value for money.
Why Liberty Private work?! I'm sure there are tons of restaurants in the SF area that can offer better food than LPW?!!
re: Charles Yu
Haha, you know I just read like a CNN or Travel & Leisure thing from 2011 on Liberty Private Works yesterday. It sounded great. Then looked up the website and it looked the same as described a few years ago. So, I thought, hey why not see what Chowhound thinks? But you're right, no reason for me to try it when we have speakeasy type dinners everywhere.
Charles, what would you recommend on doing with The Chairman as a solo diner? Should I go for the 3 course lunch or maybe try to arrange with them beforehand a one person dinner banquet? So many dishes there worth trying...same dilemma I'm having with Seventh Son.
Mak An Kee it is! I knew not to even ask about Wing Wah. I'll skip Bo Innovation. Thoughts on what to order at Mui Kee Congee/are they open at lunch or just mornings?
Forgot to ask about a lunch in Macau too...
Do you have time to tag on another lunch after a Won-Ton noodle lunch at Mak An Kee and a Dim Sum lunch at one of the Michelin star establishment?
If so, no harm giving the Chairman a call or e-mail them about a tasting menu for one? They might just add your extra order to another existing one?
As for lunch in Macau?! The Michelin 3* 'Robuchon Au Dome' without a doubt!! Their business lunch at HK$458 ( US$65 ) is one of the best 3* deal around! Book really early though! If no luck with reservations, there are three 2* Cantonese restaurants at the Wynn, Four Seasons, Encore or Grand Lisboa.
If you are sick of Chinese, then do give local Macaunese/Portuguese cuisine a try.
re: Charles Yu
You know, now that I do the math with plane arrival/departure times, it really seems like it can just be the 3 dinners, 1 lunch, 1 early lunch/late breakfast (does Singapore Airlines serve food in economy HKG to SIN?), and then either 1 more lunch or lunch in Macau on my daytrip day to Macau.
The early lunch should probably be for congee? Or, should I scratch that and do a really early Mak An Kee, dim sum for the other HK lunch, and then a lunch in Macau? If I eat in Macau, I'd certainly consider Robuchon au Dome (strangely I just lived for 3 months in Vegas for an assignment about 3 mins walk from his L'Atelier and never went there) or local Macaunese.
For Macaunese, it looks like from previous threads Fernando's, Litorai, and A Lorcha are good choices, or at least they were.
When are you coming to Singapore, I have a week off 16-20 May, if you want to do a hawker/street food crawl with me through the various food centres in Singapore: Old Airport Road food centre for its Hokkien noodles, wanton noodles & pork satay, Maxwell Road food centre for Tian Tian's Hainanese chicken rice, fish porridge, Hainanese curry rice and steamed taioca cakes, Amoy Street food centre for "Lor Mee" (braised noodles), steamed Chinese glutinous dumplings, etc.
You might want to try Mary Gomes' "Beef smore" and "apom bokwa"; Princess Terrace (Copthorne King's Hotel)'s unforgettable Penang lunch or dinner buffet - the spread of Nyonya dishes have remained virtually unchanged since 1970s; Shashlik restaurant's Hainanese take on the Russian Borschsh soup and shashlik steaks; PeraMakan's Nyonya cuisine; Ocean @ Teluk Ayer Street's curry fish-head (it's *more* palateable than you think!); best kaya toast (using orange ciabatta) at Good Morning Nanyang @ Hong Lim Green; and exquisite to-die-for 5-star Cantonese cuisine at Mitzis, a little stall located in an old food centre in Chinatown.
I can try and muster some other Singapore-based Chowhounds to join us (how about it - M_Gomez, FourSeasons, Makanputra, sg_foodie?)
You need to dress light though - Singapore's weather is a veritable sauna this time of the year. Singapore Sling at the Long Bar - it's a touristy thing, but I won't discourage a first-time visitor from it. Mind you, the version you get there is far from the best. But the experience is like a first-timer to SF trying an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe.
Klyeoh, that would be great! I won't be arriving until May 24th though...not sure if that works. On that subject, are lots of the street food/hawker centres closed on Sundays?
Funny you mention Buena Vista—though I've lived here almost all my life, only been there once. BUT, I actually thought the Irish Coffee was pretty good. As in, it wasn't bad and sure you have to go once.
Thank you so much for the list—I'm especially interested in the Ocean @ Teluk Ayer St fish head curry. They seem to ebb and flow with opening hours...
Has anybody been to Burnt Ends? Menu looks terrific and it sure is getting the global magazine press (which can be a good sign or...not so much).
Sorry, pats38sox - I'll be in Penang for a food hunt that weekend (23-24 May) at the invitation of some local friends there.
Food centres all open on Sundays in Singapore, so no problem for you. Not sure if Ocean @ Teluk Ayer is open on Sundays, as it targets the office crowd in the city. If possible, try and catch it for Sat lunch.
I'd not been to Burnt Ends (as I'm not a big BBQ fan), though I'd heard some favorable reviews.
re: Julian Teoh
Ah, need to try a Million Dollar Cocktail too...maybe a little Raffles crawl of Million Dollar at Writers Bar and Sling at Long Bar...not worrying much about quality but soaking up classic atmospheres.
Of "not touristy" Singapore cocktail bars, Tippling Club seems like the biggest must-hit...any other favorites anyone from the my initial list or ones I don't know about?
We were in Singapore for 5 days earlier this year....didn't move a lot beyond DTF because my young adult daughter decided she had died and gone to heaven when dining there....! But hubby and I did manage to get out to Candlenut, which was one of the best meals I've had in a long while. We also loved Zam Zam murtabak.
It was just my daughter and I in HK,,,so we had a lot of meals in the hotel! Luckily we were staying at Hotel Icon and she loved her meal at Above and Beyond. My favourite meal was at Lei Garden IFC mall. Massively disappointed in how downhill Yung Kee had gone since I last went there in 2011.
I strongly recommend to consider Man Wah at the Mandarin Oriental. 7th Son is my next target but during my last visit I did not made it there. Yan Toh Heen in Kowloon should be a good complement. If you can not go there for dinner go to the lobby bar for one of the best views of HK. Tip: Try a New Zealand Pinot Noir called George Michael while watching the view and waiting for your reservation in Yan Toh Heen. For drinks if your are solo I would consider the Grey Bar or The Pawn. For fun + drinks + live music go to Dusk till Dawn in Wan Chai - can't go wrong. Enjoy!
Thanks Domenexx-- terrific advice. The coin flip will be Man Wah and 7th Son to go with dinners at Chairman and Yardbird.
Then the question for lunch dim sum-- Tim's Kitchen, Tom Ho Wan or one of the other major dim sum spots?
For the board-- for time, I'm going to stick to coffee/pastries in Macau. Any favorites for something light but excellent and local. Maybe Lord Stow's?
I went once to Chairman for lunch and did not impressed me at all. Maybe a bad day or wrong selections. A popular with this board to take my advice with a grain of salt. For lunch dim sum consider Lung King Heen (four seasons hotal) Fung Shing, Fook Lam Moon (causeway bay or the legendary Luk Yu Teahouse.
If you are going solo I recommend that you ontact the restaurant beforehand so that they can assist and prepare small portions of different items. I do it all the time at Man Wah and Yan Toh Heen and they do it with pleasure. I would reconsider going to Yardbird when there are so many other options in HK - Enjoy
Greetings everyone from Shanghai!
Heading to Hong Kong now...almost all set on my plan but still curious about choosing between Man Wah and Seventh Son for one dinner and a dim sum lunch at Tim's Kitchen or Tim Ho Wan. Any tie-breakers?
Re: Man Wah, they're willing to do a tasting menu and sent a copy of it to me (looked far better than Yan Toh Heen's offer) but I'll still go to the latter at least for that glass of Pinot Noir Domenexx.
Other 2 lunch: Mak An Kee and Mui Kee Congee. Other 2 dinners: Yardbird and Chairman (menu arranged already).
How about desserts and any cafes/ morning pastries for my half day visit to Macau?
Agree on Tim Ho Wan it's very good for the price (it's cheap) but it's far from the best at any price.
I thought Seventh Son was OK but Man Wah may be safer. Seventh Son is geared up much more for wealthy locals and I suspect it's better for those who are "in the club". Man Wah is obviously in a hotel so maybe more accessible.
For Macau I think you simply get the Portuguese custard tarts. There are a couple of rival chains so it depends where you are going to be - you are not going to go everywhere in just a morning.
IMHO:Do Man Wah (recommend you try to speak to Rest Mgr. Ricky Chain for a more personalized option rather than their tasting menu);
Reconsider going to Tim Ho Wan for Dim Sum and try to get a spot in Lung King Heen. You would avoid the hassle of waiting in line and going to Kowloon. Nice setting at LKH and good Dim Sum.
I go to Yan Toh Heen every time I'm in HK as well as to Man Wah. I have to admit that Man Wah has the edge but YTH is right behind. The drink at the lobby bar of the Intercontinental is a must specially for the light show.
If one does not care much about the 'view'. I would add Ming Court to the list of must try. IMHO, quality of their 'traditional' Dim Sum dishes are amongst the best. Love 'Above and Beyond' as well. They have a few interesting luncheon 'dim sum + cooked dishes' prix-fixe options. Pretty good view as well!
The trip is complete...17 days, 4 countries (really 3 since I didn't have time to eat in Macau), at least 30 excellent meals of the highest end to some very exciting street food. Sadly no durian or fish head curry (but I did get fish head in sauce at Chinatown Hawker Center).
I'll report back at the end of the week after I combat this jet lag. But I'm curious, thoughts on Tian Tian vs Ah Tai @ Maxwell when it comes to Hainan chicken rice?
Ok, here we go! My belated Hong Kong and Singapore report from late May 2014, picking up after a week and a half in Beijing and Shanghai. Everything went well for the most part...can't control all the rain in HK (why is the pavement like black ice in HK? Made for a nasty spill running in Kowloon Park...)
Day 1: arrived from Shanghai in the afternoon. Great cocktail experience at Wyndham the 4th. The one knock is my drink came on too large a rock in too small a glass (I'm all for the oversized rocks you see everywhere these days...but this one literally blocked most access to the drink. It was a battle with the rock for a half hour).
Then per Chowhound suggestion, solo dinner at Man Wah with their pre-arranged tasting menu. Overall: so-so. There were some real highs and no lows except skip-able dessert. It was just a very lethargic feeling the whole time there. Not a "destination." Terrific braised beef cheek and also the stir fried prawns.
Finished next door with a great view and an overly sweet cocktail when it wasn't supposed to be at MO Bar.
One note-- I did try about 4 days in advance to arrange lunch at Lung Keen Heen. Well, they were booked for about a month out, even for a solo diner. I should've followed Charles' advice and gone to Ming's Court.
Day 2-- excellent lunch at the original Tim Ho Wan. As a party of 1...no wait! Yes, you share a table, but who cares? Tim Ho Wan lived up to the hype. Certainly one of the best $15 USD meals I remember. Best dish? of course the pork buns. The pigs liver vermicelli roll, the glutinous rice dumpling, and shrimp dumplings all close seconds. Skip the steamed egg cake--- just tastes like neutral fluffy vanilla cake.
Then a big coffee crawl. Started at Alchemy in Quarry Bay for good, not great espresso. Excellent flat white next at the first 18 Grams in Causeway Bay. Finally, very much enjoyed the Coffee Academics. Good espresso at those last 2 for sure.
Lots of sightseeing before the evening stage. Definitely grab a beer at the Globe in Central. Yardbird was a great choice for dinner. Like Tim Ho Wan, the hype didn't drag it down. The Korean fried cauliflower, maitake mushrooms, tsukune, chicken neck, and chicken tail were stand-outs. Pair with sake, not cocktails.
Finished with drinks at Lily (you want the aged Sazerac), Butler (excellent Japanese style cocktails in Kowloon, a worthwhile splurge with $30 HKD cover), and a nightcap at Ned Kelly's Last Stand because a close friend at home frequented there when he lived in HK in the 70's.
Day 3: Pouring rain. Bad injury from running but we move on to lunch at Mak An Kee for won ton soup. Verdict: Great experience and choice but...the soup itself just isn't a real flavor heavy hitter. Maybe I expected more to the broth? Very friendly place, great rec none the less. Won tons just didn't move me nor did the soup...too plain.
Then great espresso tasting at The Cupping Room. Terrific baristas and experience.
Brings up the point-- with espresso routinely over $3 USD, is espresso just really expensive overall in HK?
Then a rapid trip to Macau. As in arrive in Macau by ferry at 4:15 pm, return at 5:45 pm. Yes, 90 mins. That means no eating. When I asked about a nearby Lord Stow's, the tourist desk thought I was crazy. At least I saw the MGM and Wynn to return me to when I lived in Vegas (I'm not a gambler!). But neither had any pasteis de nata despite many French pastries on display.
Dinner: arranged tasting at The Chairman...was on par with Man Wah. Meh, ok. Loved certain dishes like pickled cherry tomatoes, razor clams, and superb fried crab and mushroom dumplings. But I was rarely bowled over. And bland porridge for dessert...Plus, really, they have one wine by the glass and it's a sweet Riesling? I understand that but a restaurant of that caliber should have more...
Finished with drinks at Quinary, Barsmith (recommended by owner of Butler whose wife runs Barsmith, great pick), and Honi Honi. All are highly recommended. Get the Zombie at Honi Honi and prepare for a wait.
Left the next morning for Singapore. Sadly because of the early Hong Kong subway closing time, taxis to Kowloon made the return late and I chose a little sleep over breakfast before the flight at Mui Kee Congee. :( Will report on Singapore tomorrow.
Overall, missed out on congee (outside of the un-impressive one at the Chairman). Great cocktails and coffee. Loved Yardbird and tim Ho Wan. Man Wah and The Chairman...I think you can do much better.
Now the last part of the trip-- to Singapore from HK. Before landing at Changi, I must say the food & service lived up to the hype even in economy for Singapore Airlines. You get a choice of an "American" or "Asian" meal. I chose the latter and very much enjoyed a terrific vegetarian rice plate with sweet soy milk to drink (hey, this was good by airplane standards, so let's keep things in perspective).
Singapore Airlines offers free Singapore Slings...I didn't sample it but somebody needs to do a taste-off between that and quickly sprint to Raffles for comparison. I bet the Airlines win.
After an airplane lunch, it was off to Restaurant André for dinner.
I'd put André right smack dab in the middle of the classical to modernist spectrum, central between say, The French Laundry and Paul Bocuse on the right and Alinea/Noma on the left.
Many, many very special dishes. Very personal restaurant and you can tell Chef André cares a great deal about each diners' experience (none of this it's all about global press, World's Top 50, being a celebrity chef stuff). No, he's in the present.
This clearly is a team that knows how to work with each other. After all, there's only 4-5 servers period doing everything, including wine service. It's really more a theatre troupe than a typical wait staff. These are pros who are absolutely in sync with each other.
On the subject of wine-- definitely try the pairings. The opening Champagne was hands down the best I've ever had, a Brut Blanc de Blancs from Michel Turgy. Ken Hasegawa's wine "book" (it's literally within a novel) presents on biodynamic wines from small producers and growers in France. Very few Bordeaux and Burgundy. Big time creativity and flavor with even some very good values to be found.
I'm not the biggest fan of the all cream white parlor look but it is charming to me (some would find it a bit stuffy I bet). The black sheep guarding each table help add levity, as does the enormous human sculpture outside.
Ok, I'll just recite the night's menu, then highlight my top, top favorites.
Snacks: Green Chicken Curry; Scallop/vitelotte/chard chips; Pineapple olive martini; patatas bravas; fish and chips; onion/onion/onion
Pure: Stone crab raviolis/ pear snow/ leek water
Salt: Gillardeau oyster/ sea corals/ granny smith apple mousse/ seawater emulsion
Artisan: Braised aubergine/ needlefish/ sea urchin/ caviar
South: Homard bleu/ orange yellow rutabaga marmalade
Texture: charcoaled squid/ fennel/ smoked piquillo dip
Unique: Grilled topinambour (Jerusalem artichoke)/ black truffle dirt/ wild mushroom/ malt vinegar ice cram
Memory: the classic Warm foie gras jelly/ Perigord truffle coulis
Terroir: Tri Tip/ black garlic tapenade/ mixed heirloom beets & berries
Musk melon/ Muscat Grape
Camambert with hay ice cream
Kaya toast/ popcorn/ raspberry sangria chupa chip/ French earl gray crustalline/ chestnut madeleine/ churros/ nutella/ pain d'epices
Highlights: green chicken curry bite on chicken skin, "Pure" (beautiful flavors, clear with no seasoning), "Artisan" (come on, perfect aubergine, uni, and caviar...), "Terroir" (perfect steak, I mean as good as I've had anywhere, anytime), "Camambert" (brilliant how André re-engineers the cheese and adds the hay ice cream), kaya toast macaron (is there a better Singapore-French hybrid than this?), and Churros with nutella (this is cheating, how can this not be good?).
Only decent: Very few but I wasn't moved by pineapple olive martini (nothing stuck out to me), patatas bravas, and the chestnut madeleine (a perfectly fine madeleine, no chestnut detected). The "unique" was enjoyable to me but others might be turned off from so much mushroom-truffle going on. Not me.
Other quibble-- too many dishes with "soil." I counted three. I think one is enough and I'm sure André is aware of this and will make a change. Soil is fun briefly. But not with bites, "unique," and "Snickers."
At the end of the day, André is a beautiful experience, very unique, and one I will cherish as long as I eat.
Nightcap-- at long last, the 27 Singapore Dollars Singapore Sling at Raffles' Long Bar. Worth it? Once. Way too much grenadine and pineapple juice, not enough cherry heering. And is it me or is the long bar not actually that long like at the Waldorf in Shanghai?
Ok, to the 2 full days.
Day 1: met my friend for a lunch of tastes around Old Airport Road. He and his friends just kept bringing foods to the table and quickly explaining what they were. I could never remember everything. 2 types of oyster omelettes (best was Xing Li Cooked Food). A pork noodle soup. A shrimp and pork soup with just broth. "dark" carrot cake (love it). A dish of like 6 pig offal parts, cabbage, and hard boiled egg. A bland flat, thick noodle brown broth soup. Tan Beng Otah Delights' fish curry mousse in banana leaf. Kah Ping Ri Ye Xiang's excellent rojak was a joy. Lao Bay soya beancurd (tried cold and warm, both are great).
Then best espresso of Singapore at Assembly by the botanical gardens.
I realized Tian Tian wouldn't be open my only other da (Monday) so I tried for an early dinner there at Maxwell Center. Well, I got there at 7 and despite saying it closes at 8, it was closed. I wasn't the only one bummed there. Alas, we all went next door to Ah Tai. IMO, it's excellent. Not a salty broth. Beautifully moist, slightly cold chicken with fragrant gravy. A winner. Maybe the rice could be a bit fluffier and have a bit more perk to it.
Then a little bar crawl of the Million Dollar Cocktail at Raffles Long Bar-- good, not great, way better than the Sling. Apparently they have a craft cocktail program upstairs now on the 3rd floor someone should try. Then to Waku Ghin's bar in Marina Bay Sands (excellent Jamaica Martini of darm and rum and PX sherry, shows how great ingredients can bet together, very smooth), and Lantern on Fullerton Bay Hotel's rooftop. What a view. What a scene.
Last day: started with kopi and orange ciabatta kaya toast at Good Morning Nanyang Cafe. Great rec!!!
Espresso at Nylon Roasters- terrific. Then taxi and lunch at 328 Katong Laksa at 216 East Coast Rd. Again, excellent. My first laksa...a high standard. Very friendly server/ cook.
Excellent espresso at Toby's Estate (ok, tied for best with Academy) and my first "Piccolo" nearby at Common Man Roasters. Is it me or do Singapore cafés all expect you to eat? It's always strange with table service and just getting a tiny drink.
Met friends for a big Chinatown Food Center dinner...highlight was hands down the fish intestines with gourd and the fish head in spicy sauce from An Ji. Also the decent beer selections from Good Beer Co., I had the chance to try Jungle's Siloso Beach steam lager.
Some mediocre chicken wings and cockles from 188 BBQ. A fish tartare plate. I didn't get pictures of much else but there were a few noodle soups amongst others.
I thought about a second dinner at Burnt Ends for kicks but instead got snacks with a drink at Tippling Club. The "Transatlanticism" was the best cocktail of the trip and definitely get the "chocolate-orange" dessert. A masterpiece. Very fun and talented bartenders. One day I'll do the full tasting experience in the dining room.
Great cocktails also at 28 Hong Kong St and Cufflink Club, and a Tiger beer at on the waterfront because I had to try it to say that I've tried it. I prefer the Sling...(hey, I had to leave at 3 am for my flight back home from Changi, so I chose to stay awake!).
By the way for future reference, the Cufflink Club and Tippling Club bartenders made a list of under the radar cocktail bars to try one day: Manor Bar, The Study, Manhattan Bar at Regents Hotel, Spiffy Dapper on Boat Quay, and Ah Sam.
What a wonderful trip start to finish from Beijing to Singapore. Thank you again every so much for your help. I hope my journeys help others find excellent food and drink. Not that this is a surprise but Singapore is a gem when it comes to eating. Now I need to find laksa and Hainan chicken rice in SF.
Thanks for reporting back.
I'd yet to be able to convince myself to shell out over S$300 (US$240) for dinner at Andre - maybe because it's 20 minutes' drive from my home. It always seems more "okay" pay that amount when I'm on holiday abroad, but that's just me.
Getting a reservation at Burnt Ends can be a pain though.
Back in SF Bay Area, your best bet to get authentic laksa or chicken rice would be to befriends the folks who run Shiok! in San Jose, then get invited to their homes for the "real stuff".
A Singapore travel programme, "Singapore Flavours", featured it and their food preparation techniques (for the benefit of the Singapore camera crew) certainly looked 100% authentic.