Singapura Gastronomica

OK, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t pick Singapore as your first international trip. Ever. Of course it will always be somewhere dreamy, and far, and Paris, and Egypt. One that would cost you your entire poor lifetime savings. I remember one co-worker asking me wide-eyed and bewildered, “It’s your first time in Singapore? But…why?!”, as if I told him that I have a third eye — one that is located in my navel and it can see through clothes and minds and stuff. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Because I’m jologs like that”. Imagine his mini heart attack if I’ve mentioned, “And oh, BTW, it’s my first out of the country trip. And I applied for a VISA just for this. Thankyouverymuch”. I spared him the trouble. He’s a friend, anyway.

But Singapore as my first isn’t that bad. I remember walking around its clean, busy-bee street, and uttering to myself: I can rock living in here. Yes, I have plans of flying over and work there for a decent couple of years to save up for my *sarcasm starts here* Wedding of the Century Themed Wedding *ba dum.. tsssss*. But it’s an entirely different topic so scratch that.

As I was saying, Singapore exceeded my expectations. There’s too much to say that I feel so overwhelmed just thinking about how I should describe my 5-day stay. But since travelling is mainly about food, attractions, and the people and their culture, I will divide it into such. Let me start with my favorite: Food.

Beware: I will not be detailing here the many first class restaurants that we visited. Whenever I go to a new place I make it a point not to be a food snob because (1) I am definitely not a food snob — I can practically eat anything except for strawberries, and (2) It’s always fun to experience the best of both worlds. Yes, it is fun to be classy and all from time to time but to me there’s nothing more exciting than to immerse yourself in a totally strange place.

So here goes:

Din Tai Fung (Xiao Long Bao )

I have a separate blog entry for this because it deserves one. Do check it out. If you’re in SG, make sure that you visit this place and be early. Trust me. Din Tai Fung is not only known for its Soup Dumplings but for its long, long line as well. Some other dish that I recommend are the Fried Rice with Pork Chop and the Braised Beef Noodles. Both are good for sharing. 🙂

Old Changkee

This is my first Singaporean food experience. Every MRT station has one so you will never miss this. If you’re looking for a quick tummy fix that doesn’t cost much, then this one’s for you. It has a wide variety of snacks, ones that we call in the Philippines ‘street food’ or tusuk-tusokbecause they are mostly cued by a wooden stick. My favorite is the breaded prawn which is only 1.50 SGD. It is so good, I could probably eat 3 sticks in one go.

Tusok here, tusok there

Hawker Centre

Another good place to go if you’re on a budget and is in dire need of a local dining place done al fresco style. After unpacking in our hotel, we headed over to Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre for a very late lunch. I can’t remember the exact name of the place where we ate but if you go to that part of Geylang, there are numerous stalls that sell identical delicacies. I would like to commend their pork dumplings. They are so tasty and full — you’ll feel that you’re eating so much more than what you paid for.

Dumplings Overload

Yeo’s Winter Melon Tea

I wish we have this in the Philippines. That way, I wouldn’t have to line up in Gong Cha, Serenitea, or whatever popular milk tea place right now. I also don’t need to shed a minimum of 90 bucks just to buy one. A can of this refreshing drink can be found in every grocery store for only 0.80 SGD. And a can of this drink is enough to make you giddy all day. Oh, Singapore. You are one lucky country.

I will smuggle you… >_<

IKEA

There’s just something magical about being in IKEA and the food is no exemption. The moment I stepped in, I knew I found a haven. I think everyone who’s ever dined in this place has nothing bad to say about their meatballs. The gravy and cranberry sauce and the potatoes are superb! I also got crazy over their salmon. Just look at the picture and you’ll know what I mean. One kick that worked well with this dish is the mustard sauce. Again, I’m not a fan but it just blended so well with the soft meat of the fish.

Mr. Bean

There’s something about soy that reminds us of our morning ritual as a kid: waiting for the taho (bean curd) vendor in our neighborhood. If you’re a 90’s kid in the Philippines, your childhood is not complete without this breakfast staple. This is what Mr. Bean reminded me of. Like Old Changkee, you can easily spot it in any MRT station. A friendly tip: If the ale ask you something that sounds like ‘Wa o Col?’, just say ‘col’. Warm soy milk are the most unappetizing thirst quenchers; my friend can attest to that! While enjoying your drink, get a piece of flavored pancakes too. They are fluffy and tasty; perfect for an afternoon snack while walking the busy streets of the city.

About a Soy

Ajisen Ramen

To start off, I’m not a big Ramen fan. To me they all taste the same and they fall into the made-me-bloated-but-not-satisfied  food category. But Ajisen Ramen is an exception. The noodles is perfectly cooked and the soup is so tasty, not at all pasty like the ones I have eaten (and learned to hate). There are also a lot of sahogin the soup, depending on the flavor that you ordered. The best I’ve tasted are the seafood and scallop ramen. If you have some spare cash and tummy space, you can opt to order another serving of the ramen soup. It is a bit steep when it comes to the price but I’m telling you, it’s all worth it! If you’re budget is really tight, you can always share. One order of ramen bowl is good enough for two. They also have set meals, ramen and a plate of side dish, sold at a lesser price. Some notable side dishes are the gyoza and the cuttlefish.

Itadakimasu!

Hawker’s Iced Coffee

It’s not comparable to Starbucks or CBTL, but it did kept me alert and awake for a whole day of shopping. Plus, it’s so much cheaper (0.50 – 1 SGD, i think) and the packaging is so cute. It kinda looks like a blood bag, right?

Roasted Duck

This reminded me of the Filipino’s lechon mainly because of the skin. It’s so crunchy and oily, never mind the fats and calories that goes along with it. The meat is tender and juicy. It doesn’t have a queer taste of some sort, not the one that I was expecting. It was just like eating a meat that is half chicken and half pork.

Dibs on the skin!

Ice Cream Sandwiches

We stumbled upon a stall selling these outside of ION Orchard. Apparently, this is one popular Singaporean street food. There are so many ice cream flavors to choose from. You can also choose between the traditional wheat bread or wafer for your sandwich. All these goodness for only 1 SGD.

Yum!

Chili Crab

My roomate has been raving about this special delicacy weeks before we arrived in Singapore. Everyone, this is definitely a no miss. What made this dish so special is the chili sauce. I don’t know why but there’s something about the taste that makes you go for more. And what’s more awesome about it is that it goes with everything. And I mean EVERYTHING — rice, squid balls, prawns, you name it. Even the bland pancit bijonthat we ordered became special when we poured the sauce over it.

Chili + Crab = ♥

There goes my superb foodie experience. Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and it doesn’t end with the food. From Taiwanese, to Japanese, western, down to the local delicacies, you can be sure that you’ll find something that may be the sole reason for you to come back.

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