Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Seriously Scrumptious Singapore May 2011 - Day one.

Two days ago I celebrated the end to my exam period by having a delicious buffet BBQ dinner at Habitu; the morning after my family and I flew to Singapore for a serious, relaxing trip which we three all need. Work has deprived us of the life we should be enjoying, and I was more than happy to see the exam go, and summer craze moves in to take its place.

We booked onto the Cathay Pacific flight early in the morning and after the last taste of Hong Kong condensed into a piggy bun with condensed milk and butter at Tsui Wah, washed down with hot milk tea, we flew 23.5 latitude south to Singapore, a place we last visited two years ago.

Why Singapore while there are better destinations for a summer trip? Simple – Singapore is full of good food. From Kaya toast to Laksa, we love them all. Singapore is well-known for its diversity in culture and attempts of uniting the races have not brought cuisines together down into the melting pot, cooked into something that’s neither this nor that. Instead, the authentic tastes are much preserved in the little country, and interestingly, mostly by hawkers’ centres scattered all over the North, East, South and West of the country.

So the problem with the trip is not WHAT we should eat; the issue is what we should eat FIRST. It was indeed difficult to rank the food we want to try and fit them into the itinerates of our trip. Should we have the Hainanese Chicken first, or the satay? But oh there is this very nice Kway Deow that the blogger says is a must-try. So where should we eat first? After numerous discussions (and more discussions during meals) we finally sorted out how to eat the most without stuffing ourselves to death (and gaining weight..) within the limited time we have.

At two in the afternoon we finally landed in Singapore, after a turbulent flight on the worn CX flight. Of course, I skipped my flight meal. Nothing tasted worst than flight meals and I’d rather stay starved than eating that. I was not feeling hungry as I had a nice breakfast before flying and more importantly, I had way better food coming that deserved the calorie quota better.

We spent little time finding the coach that would bring us to Sands, but the vehicle was more idle than moving as it had to stop at three terminals before moving onto the road.

Upon arrival I was disappointed by the hotel we were checking in as it was too noisy and crowded. The hotel lobby was huge and spacious but it was also full of people walking by. Worse still, hotel check-in only started at three. So we dumped our luggage with the hotel and took a taxi to Geylang for the famous beef kway teow.

Geylang is a relatively poorer district, and is commonly known for the stalls selling durians and fruits, numerous cheap food as well as legal prostitution available. Among the cafes is the Lor 9 famous beef kway teow, a favourite among the local people.

Years back then when I travelled to Singapore for the first time I had a taste of the kway teow and it marked an impression so deep that I wanted to try it again really bad. Luckily we managed to find the shop by asking a taxi driver during our last visit. The stall was not eye-catching at all. We went at two thirty and the place was empty.

A short, cheerful woman greeted us with a menu, and within 30 seconds our order was placed.

The dish of beef kway teow (S $?) was amazing. It was cooked with a dark and rich gravy. The rice noodles were chopped into shorter pieces and stuck together when stir-fried, but it was still great as they could hold the delicious gravy in. The beef were not extraordinarily juicy but that did not matter, as the kway teow alone was tasty enough.  A drizzle of spicy soy sauce made it even more amazing to eat.

We also ordered a dish of spicy cuttlefish with vegetables(M), as well as a special seafood tofu (S).The latter tasted like tofu with minced fish, and tasted great after dipping in the sweet soy sauce it came with. The meal was a cheap one and the place wasn’t that dirty and crowded at all, and the kway teow was really worth all the travelling.

After lunch we walked along the fruit stalls and bought some before heading back to the hotel for checking-in. Worse still we were told that they didn’t have a room for us unless we waited for another extra two hours. So I wandered around in the Shoppe next to the hotel while my parents went gambling, and it was only until five something that we finally got our room. Pissed, we complained and got $100 worth of dining credits which we later got exchanged for access to the internet.

The room was fine – the toilet was out of portion and the view was great, with an outlook to the Marinas Bay, but the details could have been more cared to. But the lounge chair beside the window was an amazing spot to just sit or nap on.

After a brief rest at our room we went to the Esplanade, right across the Bay, for the seafood dinner we reserved a few days ago on the web: prior reservation was a must as we learnt from our prior experience with No Signboard Seafood. We could just walk straight in this time and there were people queuing up for a table!

No Signboard Seafood just had its debuk in Hong Kong and reviews on its services and food were generally negative, but NSS in Singapore is still as popular as it has always been. And the food is great too. We ordered the Chili Crab (small) with mantou, the Coffee ribs(s), Cornflakes prawns(s),stir-fried vegetables(s) and a Tofu pot(s), and stir-fried noodles (we cancelled our order once we realized we would never be able to finish it).

The option of ordering the dish at a smaller portion was the second thing I love most about NSS – it allows smaller groups like ours to try more without having to waste a lot of food.

The first dish that came was the coffee ribs. The cubes of meat were coated in a dark, sticky sauce and drizzled with sesame. They were piping hot, and smelt of coffee but the meat tasted sweet, juicy and tender. It was great and definitely worth trying!

Then the much anticipated chili crab came in a large pot with the mantou. The sauce looked intimatingly pepper red-hot but it was not as spicy as it appeared to be. There were traces of cooked egg in it which gave the sauce a sweet aftertaste. It was so yummy that you could not help dipping the mantou into the sauce to eat the sauce! As for the crabs they were a little less impression-leaving, but the shell, well-cooked in the sauce, was soft enough to eat too. Still I thought the sauce was so outstanding that you could basically cook anything with it to make a great dish, and that need not to be a crab. It could be prawns and it might taste even better!

As for the veggies, the stir-fried one was quite spicy while the tofu pot was really boring to eat.

The last dish to be ready was the cereal prawns. The portion was generous as there were, like, ten smaller prawns hidden in the impressive heap of crunchy cornflakes!(that was the point when we decided to cancel our noodles). The prawns were terrific as even the shells were cooked until absolutely crispy, and the flesh was really fresh and juicy. Even the cornflakes, being a little sweet, tasted terrifically great. It was an amazingly clever invention of the Singaporeans indeed!

Our meal was slightly cheaper than what we had expected – the crab was pretty small and so cost not very expensive, and it was definitely worth the money. Too bad the Hong Kong branch had not succeeded in recipicating the taste of the dish!

After dinner we walked back to our hotel via the bridge connecting the Esplanade and the place. The view was great and the sea breeze was pretty cool, and a lot of people were shooting photos of the promenade as we strode. It was a nice night indeed.

1 comment:

  1. love it! haha travel journalism is always so much fun :)))


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