25 October, 2011

Singapore: Where to Eat & Drink Like a Local

25 October, 2011
Singapore, the ‘little red dot’, about 3.5 hours from Hong Kong by air, a little-known foodie paradise. I’m Malaysian so I tend to get a little competitive with my neighbours across the causeway, but I do have to admit: Singaporeans really know how to appreciate food. On a recent business trip, I packed in more than a few extra calories as I guzzled my way across both local and top-notch international cuisine, desperate to sample everything. Here are some of my top picks.
Breakfast: Ghim Moh Chwee Kueh
Chwee Kueh, a palm sized, rice-based concoction, is plain to behold. Made from a mixture of rice flour and water, it is punctuated by preserved radish cooked in lard. Absorbed into the dimple-shaped Chwee Kueh, the topping gives this dish a distinctly piquant flavour. What a way to start a day!
Block 20, Ghim Moh Road, Ghim Moh Food Centre
Brunch: PS Cafe
A chic, intimate restaurant modelled after European cafes, with a rooftop terrace and plush sofas for lounging. The bistro food is beautifully executed and compares favourably to any cafe in Paris. Great for a lazy Sunday brunch.
45 Ann Siang Road
Lunch: Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh
So quintessentially Singaporean, the Government flew them out to a Singaporean students’ event in the UK. (Presumably) aimed at enticing the overseas-educated Singaporeans back home, it probably lured a fair share of foreigners too. A potent, peppery broth of pork (‘Bak Kut’ is Hokkien for pork ribs) and garlic ingested with rice and deep fried flour rolls, washed down with bitter tea (colloquially ‘Teh’).
208 Rangoon Road; opens 7am – 10pm daily, closed on Mon.
Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice
The best of the bunch – although every local has their favourite – this hits the spot for me every time. The chicken is tender and juicy, the rice is superlative and the broth that accompanies this dish is light yet packs a flavourful punch. A tangy, spicy sauce brings this dish together. This Singaporean institution can now be found on Facebook.
275 Thomson Road, #01-05; opens 10:00 – 00:00, Mon – Sun. 
Dinner: Sin Huat Eating House
Eating here is always a dilemma: it takes up to an hour for the food to arrive, so either you come prepared to wait, or choose to eat an at awkward time. It is all worth it, however, for a taste of the signature crab bee hoon, a noodle dish infused with crab essence. The garlic prawn and frog’s legs are brilliant as well, just be sure to leave some space for the crab. Despite the humble surroundings, prices aren’t cheap so be prepared to ‘shell’ out.
Geylang Road, Lorong 35 
Casual Dining: Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant
SHS serves ‘zi char’, a type of local Chinese fare served in casual surroundings and usually in generous portions. I go weak for the Marmite pork ribs, which sounds a little strange but is in fact the stickiest, loveliest sauce known to mankind. Black pepper crab is a specialty (and a national dish) so don’t neglect this in your order.
55 Tiong Bahru Road, #01-59
Drinks with a view: Lantern Bar
Perced on top of the phenomenally chic Fullerton Bay Hotel, the Lantern offers panoramic views of Marina Bay. With a classic cocktail in hand, recline on a lounger and admire the skyline. Not quite the same as the fragrant harbour we live in but no less inspiring.
Fullerton Bay Hotel, 80 Collyer Quay
Gourmet cocktails: Bar Stories
Nestled in the chic shopping destination known as Haji Lane, Bar Stories is a bright and airy furniture shop/cocktail bar. The mixologists create cocktails based on your taste. Choose your favourite fruit, describe your preferred liquor and hey presto! A drink that matches you to a T. I love their banana surprise, not unlike a banoffee pie but in liquid form. Lethal but yummy.
55-57 Haji Lane
Casual drinks: Merry Men Bar + Kitchen
A laid-back, friendly atmosphere (above) makes this the perfect spot for post-work drinks. Drink and dine alfresco, all the while gazing at the lights dancing on the water. They do a pretty mean mojito, perfect for pairing with their home-style fried chicken wings.
86 Robertson Quay, #01-02 Robertson Blue
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