I always dread going to Singapore because I thought the place is so boring and the food is uninspired. I was only exposed to my usual routine of hotel to office and eating in Orchard Road, Clark / Boat Quay, or Suntec City Malls, the usual tourist route. Boy, was I dead wrong.
Singapore is a foodie haven! My taste palette just got expanded when I tasted the best of Singapore Makan delights. In fact, Singaporeans are known for their 24-hour passion for makan — the malay word for "food" or "eat". Armed with a Uniquely Singapore Makan Delights brochure, a popular book called Makan Sutra (singapore makan bible), and a singapore local foodie, my family went on a makan food trip in Singapore. I now respect and appreciate Singaporeans passion for food and as they say, the best food is found along the streets. That I would have to agree 100%!
Here is my top 10 Makan Favorites! For those who will have a chance to go visit Singapore, you have to seek out these Makan Delights! Just an additional tip if you are going on a Makan food trip: a) bring your own tissue/ water and, b) you can say no to the wet towels and peanuts which usually comes with a fee.
1. Bak Kuh Teh — This is the Singapore/ Malaysia version of our Bulalo. There are two versions the one with clear, aromatic broth that is full of garlic and white pepper and the one with a dark broth full of Chinese herbs that is good for your health. I like the latter one (dark broth) and it is usually served with white rice, yu tiao (chinese fried dough fritters), sliced red chillies in soy sauce, and a pot of Chinese tea.
The best Bak Kuh Teh can be found in Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Eating House located at 208 Rangoon Road. This is near our Novena office and the pork used is so tender and fresh. They are only open from 6am to 2pm and closed on monday to ensure freshness of the meat which I believe is one of the secret of this pork soup dish. It is said that all the meat butcher shops are closed on a Monday so they don't want to serve frozen meat bought on a Sunday.
You can also find Bak Kuh Teh along Balestier Road which serves the clear broth one pictured above. If you prefer this, I would recommend Founder Rou Gu Cha at 347 Balestier Road. They are closed on a Tuesday, serves lunch from 12nn-2pm and dinner 6pm onwards.
2. Chili Crab — Singapore's unofficial National Dish and the most famous dish known to tourist. The juicy King crabs are cooked in a chili-spiked yummy gravy perfect as a dip for the small fried buns. You won't go wrong with this dish and you just have to be careful the cholesterol that you take in.
There are only two places I would recommend. Either you eat in the Jumbo Seafood located in #1-07/08 East Coast Seafood Centre, Blk 1206 East Coast Parkway or in the No Signboard Seafood located in 414 Geylang Road, next to Lorong 24 or their Esplanade (pronounced like lemonade) branch.
Also, nice to eat with the crispy cereal prawns but this might be a cholesterol overload. I like eating at Esplanade because of the cool ambiance it brings especially at night. It was a good thing we ate there past lunch time so there was barely people eating. It sure can pack a lot of customer come dinner time!
3. Kaya Toast — Kaya is a local jam made from eggs, sugar and coconut milk. The Ya Kun version (a popular Kaya Toast chain) comes in green color with a caramel taste and texture, their version of our coco jam. I was instantly hooked with Kaya Toast and you can opt to eat it traditional style with a thin layer of pure butter spread all over the bread. This is one of the best pasalubong from Singapore that I bought. In the many years that I visited Singapore, I was ignorant about this local favorite treat.
5. Prawn and Banana in Dragon Beard Dimsum — I should say this is a nice combination. You could taste the sweetness of the banana and mayonnaise after a bite and the prawn adds flavor to it. Ever wonder why it is named dragon beard? Question got answered when our Aidan got a bite and caught some of the crispy noodles on his mouth that resembled a beard. A messy eater he can be.
6. Singapore Satay — Singapore's version of our barbecue, marinated and skewered mutton, beef and chicken and grilled to perfection. The lemongrass was the dominating flavor which I liked. This came with ketupat (compressed rice cake, like our puto but this is one bland puto that obviously we did not like.) to complete the meal.
7. Mee Siam — A sweet and spicy noodle soup that you will sip away and not leave anything in your bowl. The tanginess flavor from the squeezed lime makes you want to finish it all off. One cannot forget their sambal, their version of our bagoong, which is almost part of their every meal. This soup also comes with a hardboiled egg, fried tofu and beansprouts.
8. Otak – Otak (Grilled Fish Paste) — Taste like your favorite maling or spam except that this is made from fish and vegetable. As usual, this is kinda spicy and is nice to eat it with rice. Cooked in banana leaves that also gave a flavor to the otak-otak. Sometimes, eaten with nasi lemak.
9. Mee Goreng — This was one of our last chance to eat a noodle meal, a meal before flying out to Manila. I noticed that there are so many noodle dish so I did not want to miss at least one of them. It is like eating pancit canton but this is much better with its sambal sauce to go with it! So tasty!
10. Fried Oyster Omelet — Your aphrodisiac meal for the night. Full of oysters fried with egg. My first time to eat and it did not disappoint me. But you have to be careful since this is highly packed with cholesterol. Come on, just this once!
Too bad, we had to go home because I know there are just too many dishes to try in Singapore. But I am also relieve to go back because I know I have again gained so much weight. Maybe next time, we will try to walk more.