So I spent about a week in Singapore to renew my passport and to transfer my Australian Visa from the old to the new. I went all out with food, and with a new passion for cam-whoring on food, I took the camera to places I love with my soul in Singapore… some that allowed me to visit the realms of nostalgia, and some new places that made me go “mmmm”.
I will not do a review of the places because there are too many but I will give a short description of each place, and where you might be able to find it, so if you love people do end up heading to Singapore for a holiday, you might wanna pop by these eateries! It’s too difficult to give the description of each dish, so all you have to do is hover your mouse over the picture to get the name of the dish (and I will give a description of those items that have local names :)).
AJITEI – Plaza Singapura
My first meal in Singapore – Japanese. How appropriate. NOT! But quite frankly, the number of Japenese places opening up is just amazing and is quite surprising. I reckon it’s the big anime craze in Singapore for all things Japanese. Anyway, this place had interesting food, but had the usual sushi as well. Not too bad, but it would be a once-off experience for me. Not something I would go back to.
That said, the food is NOT bad. :)
Mong Hing Teochew Restaurant – Key Point
Teochew cuisine is close to my heart because I am a Teochew myself. Wikipedia will assist me in explaining our cuisine a little more:
Teochew cuisine is particularly well known for its seafood and vegetarian dishes and is commonly regarded as being healthy. Its use of flavouring is much less heavy-handed than most other Chinese cuisines and depends much on the freshness and quality of the ingredients for taste and flavour. As a delicate cuisine, oil is not often used in large quantities and there is a relatively heavy emphasis on poaching, steaming and braising, as well as the common Chinese method of stir-frying. Chaozhou cuisine is also known for serving rice soup (潮州糜 or mue), in addition to steamed rice or noodles with meals. The Teochew mue is rather different from the Cantonese counterpart, the former being very watery with the rice sitting loosely at the bottom of the bowl.
Authentic Teochew restaurants serve very strong Oolong tea called Tieguanyin in very tiny cups before and after the meal. Presented as Gongfu cha, the tea has a thickly bittersweet taste, colloquially known as gam gam (甘甘).
A condiment that is commonly associated with Teochew cuisine is Shacha sauce. This popular paste is also used in Fujian and Taiwanese cuisine. It is made from soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chilis, brill fish, and dried shrimp. The paste has a savory and slightly spicy taste. As an ingredient, it has multiple uses:
as a base for soups
as a rub for barbecued meats
as a seasoning for stir fry dishes
as a component for dipping sauces, for example as used in hot pot meals
In addition to soy sauce (widely used in all Chinese cuisines), Teochew cuisine is one of the few regional Chinese that makes use of fish sauce due to Chaoshan’s coastal land. It is used as a flavoring agent (for e.g. in soup), rather than a dip. As an ingredient, peanuts are a relatively prominent feature in this cuisine; used both in savory dishes and desserts. They can be boiled, fried, roasted, crushed, grounded or even turned into a paste. Peanuts can be used as a garnish or feature in soups, amongst others.
Teochew chefs often use a special stock called shang tang (上湯). This stock remains on the stove and is continuously replenished. Portrayed in popular media, some Hong Kong chefs allegedly use the same shang tang that is preserved for decades. This stock can as well be seen on Chaozhou TV’s cooking programmes of today.
There is a famous feast in Teochew cuisine / banquet called “jiat dot” (食桌) which literally means “food table”. A myriad dishes are often served, which include shark fins soup, bird’s nest soup, lobster, steamed fish and braised goose.
Teochew chefs pride themselves in their skills of vegetable carving, and carved vegetables are used as garnishes on cold dishes and on the banquet table.
Teochew cuisine is also known for a late night dinner known as “meh siao” (夜宵) locally, or “da lang” (打冷) among the Cantonese. Teochew people enjoy eating out in restaurants or at roadside food stalls close to midnight before they go to bed. Some dai pai dong-like restaurants stay open till dawn.
Unlike the typical menu selections of many other Chinese cuisines, Teochew restaurant menus often have a dessert section.
Many people of Chaoshan origin, also known as Teochiu or Teochew people, have settled in Southeast Asia during the Chinese Diaspora, especially Singapore and Thailand; influences they bring can be noted in the cuisine of Singapore and that of other settlements. This review article, for example, illustrates a Teochew Noodles House in Singapore. A large number of Teochew people have also settled in Taiwan, evident in Taiwanese cuisine.
This place serves authentic (in my own opinion) teochew dishes, and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. Will definitely go back there for more Teochew dishes to relive my childhood!
Ding Tai Fung – Basement of Paragon Shopping Centre, Orchard Rd
I had heard all about this place from mom, and it does serve pretty good food! Famous for its Shanghai Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao), the dumplings are special because it contains some meat and some soup in it. Also famous for its fried rice (which I never tried because I only came to know of its fame when I came BACK to Perth. BOO), this place is reasonably priced and is of fairly good quality.
One thing to note is that it gets really crowded (they have a numbering system when it gets to peak period because of how many people are actually willing to wait to eat!). So be there early.
BrotZeit – Raffles City (directly opposite CHIJMES)
I was craving for some good beer, and so I told my friend to bring me to a place where they had good beer. He brought me here – this german pub/restaurant. I definitely have had better beers, and because of the hot weather in Singapore, you had to really drink the beer rather quickly before it became luke warm beer (yook? I think so too!).
We only had one dish which was their specials for the night but it was MASSIVE. We finished it off with a nice blackforest cake (why wouldn’t you, when you’re in a german place?).
Lovely place to be in, great service, but average food (other than the dessert which was YUMMO).
Kushinbo Buffet – Suntec City
I was rather impressed with the range/variety in this buffet meal. My friend told me about this many a time, and so it was nice to be able to try something that has been talked about so often.
This was a Japanese-themed buffet, and the spread was amazing. I wouldn’t say everything was fantastic, but I was most impressed by the amount of things they had to offer. Would definitely bring others to this buffet (assuming their standard doesn’t drop any further).
Shokudo – Bugis Junction
Caught up with my high school friend whom I’ve missed dearly since the last time I caught up with her, and she decided to bring me to a modern take of a Japanese cafe (yes, it seems like I have eaten too much Jap food on this trip!).
The food’s interesting but nothing too fanciful… they do have a mean Macha (Green Tea) Latte that really surprised me tho’! Kudos for that drink!
Oh, and they’ve got Tako Yaki (fried octupus balls)… something we can never really find here in Perth!! And guess who suggested to order? :)
CHOMP CHOMP - Serangoon Gardens
This is probably the only place I would HAVE TO visit each time I go back to Singapore. Lovin’ it from childhood, this place is not exactly for the faint-hearted. The area is small and crowded most of the time, with a talent to make people perspire all the way through the meal because of how humid and hot it is. They have made some changes/renovations over the years to improve this but hey, it’s not a Singaporean food centre if you don’t actually perspire!
Love the food there, especially the special BBQ-ed stingray (yes, it’s edible!), their Hokkien Noodles (prawn noodles), oyster omelette, sugar cane juice (please order the LARGE cup with lemon… yummo!), and many other local delights.
The pictures shall tell the story. Get a taxi there, and a taxi back. It’s definitely worth the trip!
Wah Lok – Carlton Hotel (Opposite CHIJMES)
This is a Cantonese Restaurant that’s rather famous among the locals, especially the business people because of its classy yet traditional look in the restaurant itself (I was too hungry to take any interior photos… Oops!). Before I continue, a little something on Cantonese Cuisine:
Cantonese cuisine draws upon a great diversity of ingredients as Guangdong has been a trading port since the days of the Thirteen Factories, bringing it many imported foods and ingredients. Besides pork, beef, and chicken, Cantonese cuisine incorporates almost all edible meats, including organ meats, chicken feet, duck and duck tongues, snakes, and snails. Many cooking methods are used, steaming and stir-frying being the most favoured due to their convenience and rapidity, and their ability to bring out the flavor of the freshest ingredients. Other techniques include shallow frying, double boiling, braising, and deep-frying.
For many traditional Cantonese cooks, the flavors of a finished dish should be well-balanced, and never cloying or greasy. Also, spices should be used in modest amounts to avoid overwhelming the flavors of the primary ingredients, and these primary ingredients in turn should be at the peak of their freshness and quality. Interestingly, there is no widespread use of fresh herbs in Cantonese cooking (and most other regional Chinese cuisines in fact), contrasting with the liberal usage seen in European cuisines and other Asian cuisines such as Thai or Vietnamese. Garlic chives and coriander leaves are notable exceptions, although the latter tends to be mere garnish in most dishes.
This place is beautiful on the side, but the food to me was rather average. Perhaps I’m not one with an exquisite-food palate. But I have to give them kudos for their beautiful presentation. It is on the expensive side, so just be forewarned. :)
Sushi Tei – Paragon Shopping Centre
This Japanese (yes, again!) place has a few chains in Singapore, with this chain being one of the best, and from my own knowledge, was the original branch. If you have heard of Sakae Sushi in Singapore, this place is sort of the cousin of Sakae but of much higher class and quality. The idea of it really, is a sushi train, however, they have revamped to be more of a sit-down concept, where you order your sushi from your table, and the sushi chefs will make it for you fresh when you order (or so it’s supposed to be).
Some of the dishes are special and really worth having a try, the rest – well, they’re ordinary and you probably can find equally good or even better ones outside, and even right here in Perth.
It’s affordable and thus many people flock to this place. No reservations, so be there early, or be prepared to just wait!
Tambuah Mas - Paragon Shopping Centre, Basement Level
I left Singapore with a taste of some Indonesian Food. We had wanted to go to Ding Tai Fung again (I wanted to try the infamous fried rice!), but the queue was just far too long for us… especially for me – the one who would be boarding a plane back to Singapore filled with so many fond food memories.
My lovely auntie suggested the place saying that the food has always been pretty good. I was happy to try – afterall, I do have about 25% of Indonesian blood in me. :)
The thing I will definitely rave about is the Chendol (Cendol), which is a nice coconut-milk based drink, filled with nice big red beans,a nd some green jelly like “worms”.
The other thing I definitely enjoyed was the petai, which is literally “smelly beans” when translated from Teochew. In any case, I would definitely go back there to have another go at the dishes the next time I go back if I do get the opportunity. :)
And so wraps up the delights I found in little red-dot Singapore! My homeland. Someone once asked me, “where do you consider home?”…. my answer was “Singapore will always be a home to be because I was taught my values there, but Perth is a home to me for how it’s been able to allow me to keep those values”.
So to all you foodies who are heading to Singapore, you might want to take down some of these places’ information – who knows where you will go and when you do head there, think of these beautiful pictures, and I hope you’ll enjoy these munchies as much as I did! :)