My Food Guide for Singapore

 

Row of restaurants at Boat Quay
Row of restaurants at Boat Quay

Singapore is blessed when it comes to cuisines. It is the amalgamation of Chinese, Malay and Tamil cultures and cuisines. The richness and diversity that each of these unique cuisines bring to Singapore is phenomenal. Singapore is now a much respected and coveted city that boasts of a quality of living that very few other cities can offer. Present Singapore has expats from all over the world who have brought in their own cuisines with them. Hence one can find murtabaks, baklavas, french madelines and Japanese tempuras in the same food court jostling for attention and teasing your taste buds.

Here is my attempt at encapsulating the wonderful gastronomic tour that is called Singapore.

Dimsums

Dimsums at Din Tai Fung
Dimsums at Din Tai Fung with ginger on the side

Soft, intricate, melt in the mouth parcel of yumminess aka dimsums. The best dimsums or momos as we call them in India that I found in Singapore were at a restaurant chain called Din Tai Fung. The restaurant is acclaimed for the intricately folded dimsums. Each dimsum is folded to have perfect 18 folds. The menu has a lot to offer besides dimsums but these succulent dimsums are a must have.

Decoding Teh and Kopi

Teh in vintage looking cups
Teh in vintage looking cups

Tea and coffee in Singapore is a delight as it contains one of my favorite ingredients, condensed milk! Condensed milk makes everything right. The cups that the tea and coffee is served in draws even a skeptic to give it a try . They are pretty vintage looking china cups with green floral designs. Teh is tea and kopi is coffee with milk for Singaporeans. Teh-o and kopi-o are black tea and coffee respectively. Another unique offering in Malayasia, Singapore and incidentally Kerala (India)  is teh tarik or pulled tea which is made by an art of pouring and frothing tea by hand. Sit down to a breakfast of Kaya (a jam like spread made with eggs) toast and tea at any local tuck shop to start your day Singaporean style.

Jasmine Tea warmed by a tealight
Jasmine Tea warmed by a tealight

Chinese restaurants and tea houses across Singapore, serve Chinese tea which are sometimes medicinal. Nevertheless they are almost always refreshing and rejuvenating, especially with a heavy meal.

Chilli Crab

Chilli Crab at Boat Quay
Chilli Crab at Boat Quay

Welcome to some messy eating and crab breaking apparatuses. It is one dish that makes you work towards actually eating it. Chilli crab is a unique dish which is packed with flavor. No crab loving human should pass it up for anything. One of the recommended places to have chilli crab is at boat quay but there are many other restaurants and places that serve up a mean chilli crab.

Idlis for the soul

Murugan Idli @ Little India
Murugan Idli – The photo is an after thought

Little India is bursting with cuisines, dishes, clothes and everything Indian. This area is predominately a Tamil settlement and has some dishes and traditions that even India has forgotten in its past. Delicacies like the melt in your mouth Idlis at Murugan’s is a must for Indian food lovers. One plus for idlis is that it is a very baby friendly dish so it gets a big thumbs up from me. The idlis are just so right that this photo was clicked with the sole purpose of sharing our joy, after half of it was devoured.

Fish Head Curry

Fish Head Curry
Fish Head Curry

Fish head curry is another one of Singapore’s offering that is found in many restaurants that serve Tamil fare. Order up some hot rice and sambar and a plate of this spicy Fish head curry and simbly enjoy. Dempsey Hill is also rumored to have some amazing fish head curry.

Lao Pa Sat

 

Satay @ Lao Pa Sat
Satay @ Lao Pa Sat

Telok Ayer market colloquially known as Lao Pa Sat is predominately a hawkers market with street food being served with beer. The vendors compete among themselves with annual satay competitions. Satay is a Malay version of kebabs and barbecues with different types of meat and fish. Most stalls have certificates proclaiming themselves as the record holders of the best satay or most satay’s cooked in an hour. Stroll over to Lao Pa Sat for some authentic Singaporean street food.

Chicken Rice

Chicken Rice
Chicken Rice

I can write poems and ballads for this simple Hainese chicken dish. Chicken rice or Hainese chicken rice is found in most Tuck shops in Singapore. The longer the line, the better the taste. Join the next long line you see to enjoy this dish made with chicken stock, chicken, rice and pandan leaves, you will need to be early as the dish is notorious for getting sold out.

Katong Laksa

Katong Laksa
Katong Laksa with Nasi Lemak

For laksa which is a sea food soup with coconut milk base, head to Holland village. The soup is a meal by itself  and ranks high in the comfort food category. The dish beside laksa soup in this image is Nasi Lemak which is an Indonesian dish with rice, chicken, crunchy peanuts and wafers on the side. Singapore has a lot to offer for every tourist but the food in Singapore takes the dimsum.

 Image credited to Razor Rasu

Image credit for Teh cup http://quirkygastro.blogspot.in/2011/03/cheap-eats-review-malaysian-restaurants.html

Image credit for Fish head curry- http://www.expatliving.sg/wine_dine/restaurants/Indian-restaurants-in-Singapore-Best-curry-houses-by-area-26369.ece

 

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Birds eye view ; Singapore

I have experienced utopia, living in Singapore for three months. We were living in a service apartment on the 61st floor at The Sail @ Marina Bay. The first few days I was overwhelmed with the feeling of how high up in the sky we were. What would I do in case of a fire or god forbid some other disaster . In fact, the day they were doing some work on the fire alarms, I stood in the hallway with my passports and my baby contemplating on the possibility of running down 61 flights of stairs.

After adjusting to the pressure difference a ride up on the elevator caused, I settled down and started enjoying the view from my cozy apartment. Of the ships docking at the Singapore port and the fast paced bubbled existence that was Singapore. Every four hours or so a new ship would dock and unload its containers on the waiting trucks. At night the ships would light up and you could see the whole armada of merchant ships waiting their turn on the Strait of Singapore.

Every morning people would emerge from the hole in the ground that was the subway and head for their work places always crossing the road in a perfect line much like the industrious ants heading towards their sweet destination. Cable cars would ply to and fro from Singapore’s destination of fun, Sentosa island like tiny bubbles on a string. The Merlion would stand guard at the Marina Bay spewing his never ending stream of water. And further  away you could see the beautiful vertical gardens of Gardens by the Bay.

From my perch on top watching the thunder clouds rolling in from the sea was a sight to behold. The clouds would circle around my apartment which was all windows and then lightening would strike. After the rain had spent its fury, the sky would clear up, the clouds would part and a ray of sun would descend on the earth.

In the evenings when it was not raining baby and I would go for a stroll along the bay and the days it rained go underground and become part of office going Singapore at the link mall who were going to the metro station and doing their shopping en route. Singapore has everything you would ever need and the most kid friendly place I have been to.

The food in Singapore is the culmination of three great food loving civilizations Malay, Chinese and Tamil. The best noodles, satay, laksa, dumplings and idlis can be found here. I hardly cooked while in Singapore as there were new and amazing dishes just waiting to be tried. I used to stand loyally in line everyday at the nearby Tuck shop for my daily dose of chicken rice. My small window of life in Singapore has made me fall in love with the city where chewing gum is forbidden .
(Photos are taken on a phone from long distance, please forgive the quality)