Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eating Singapore: Best of the Best (and an Intro to the Rest)

Singapore is my birthplace, so it's with not an ounce of bias that I say it's one of the most boring places on the face of the planet: the shopping is overpriced and generic (Chanel across the street from Chanel!), the heat and humidity are unbearable, and everything is intolerably clean and hygienic.  But it's also with not an ounce of bias when I say that it's probably got the best food on earth.

Chendol Ice at Blue Ginger Restaurant

Okay, perhaps I should limit my claim just to saying that Singapore has the best street food culture on earth; when I'm back in Singapore, all I want to do is hover around the covered hawker centers -- the food courts in which the cheapest, most traditional of food vendors ply their goodies -- so I can't tell you what the haute cuisine is like there.  But who needs molecular gastronomy when the most perfect bowl of wonton noodles can be had for less than the price of a Happy Meal?

Toa Payoh Rojak at Old Airport Rd. Food Centre

Singapore's food culture is so rich because it is influenced by European, Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, and Indian cuisines.  Singaporean food is somehow all of these and yet not any one of them in particular.  It's each of these cuisines amped up: more spicy, more savory, more unami, more sweet, and more delicious.

Tian Tian Chicken Rice at Maxwell Road Food Centre

I had two gastronomic goals for this trip: (1) eat only "classic" dishes, the ones of my youth, the ones that my mom will not stop talking about, and (2) attempt to find the best -- the most "authentic," flavorful, famous, well-tested . . . however one wants to define "best" -- of each type of dish.  We definitely succeeded in the first.  And I'm fairly sure we came close to achieving the second.  Either that or even the not-so-great in Singapore is pretty fantastic.

Fried Banana Fritters with Kaya Fondue at Makansutra Gluttons Bay

Precisely because there's so little to do in Singapore, my family and I spent literally all day, every day eating.  We could barely start one meal without thinking about where we were going to eat next.  We're talking at least five meals a day -- so much food that I could scarcely fit into my clothes after three days of exhausting and happy gluttony.

Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wonton Mee at Old Airport Road Food Centre

There's a Singaporean expression, "shiok," which means "really delicious."  I can't wait to share with you the food I ate on this trip; it was awesomely, ridiculously shiok.


Try Anything Once Terri December 30, 2010 at 8:42 AM  

I want to go to Singapore so badly jsut to hang out for the food!!! I'm excited about your upcoming posts. Woo hoo!!!

lavenderpug December 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

ooh, i really want to try that chicken. and i love that there's a place called gluttons bay.

Katie January 1, 2011 at 9:39 PM  

I would very much like a banana fritter please! ;)

BigAppleNosh January 2, 2011 at 8:28 PM  

Mouthwatering! Love the pics :)

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