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Fine Things About The Fine City – Singapore
Little Island. Big flavours.
When someone thinks Singapore, they think of glossy malls flaunting assorted luxury brands, throngs of shoppers and dozens of shopping bags dangling from well-manicured fingers! There’s one more thing to our Singapura – which it’s very famed for – FOOD! Yes, it’s a foodies’ paradise, a vibrant blend of diverse flavours and cuisines. I recently learnt that apparently food is so beloved to Singaporeans that, in some languages and dialects here, they’ve actually swapped “how are you?” with the more specific “have you eaten?” Wow, that explains all the food love here.
The most frequented places for a good eat are the various Hawker centres, more famously known as food courts. There are literally hundreds of food courts with thousands of food stalls on this tiny city island – serving ethnic Asian delights at affordable prices. Here the food is deli and the options endless. Back in the 1960s, all hawkers were moved from the streets and into this modern-day setup of food courts – the most impressive being Lau Pa Sat Festival market at Raffles Quay built in the 19th century, it’s a Victorian dome landmarked as a national monument embracing over a hundred stalls. And how can I forget other famous places for their specialities – the appetizing Satays at both Satay street and Chomp Chomp Food Centre or our national delicacy ‘Chicken Rice’ from Tian Tian. I can vouch that you will leave these places with a full tummy yet not with empty pockets.
The days when I am thinking about liquid diet, I’m presented with several choices consisting of fresh fruit juices available in almost any food court. I may not be a caffeine fan, but I still have tried the famous Teh Tarik (tea with milk), ice coffee and going a step ahead, the yummy Bubble Tea – citrusy or milky tea with chewy tapioca balls at the base, with really broad straws. Owing to all the eating and drinking, one can keep their mouths really busy in Singaland.
Some days, I walk through Arab Street with the golden-domed Sultan Mosque towering behind me. Enjoying archaic sights of carpet shops, intricate weaves, jewellery, gems and Turkish lamps. My long walks habitually windup with a fulfilling dinner at the various Kebab joints serving authentic Turkish and Mediterranean cuisines. Do check out Ala Turka, next time you pop there. Perfect place to grab some great dips and Turkish breads, mouth-melting kebabs and if you find any time, for conversations.
Another such a street is the essence-full Serangoon road. Packed with many Indian restaurants, when fiery fish curry or spiced fragrant mutton is my thing, I head to Banana Leaf Apollo or if a delectable South Indian fare of idlis (steamed rice buns) and rice dishes is my pick – I reach Murugan. Because it’s an eternally crowded place, Little India is visited lesser number of times by me. But again, food is a magnet and who am I to resist?
To add to the coastal delights, Singapore has its own feather-in-the-cap dish – The Chilly Crab. From Jumbo to Long Beach, these round the clock busy restaurants serve up this very famous crab gravy dish. I personally may prefer the black pepper variety for taste, also is less messy to dig in with fingers. But if you’ve been to Singapore and not tried its crabs, you may just be called a sinner!
Although there are many gastronomies to offer – the Perkanan cuisine is what Singapore can closely call its native cuisine – Nonya, a fine blend of Chinese and Malay ingredients to delicious effect. Mainly consists of meat and fish cooked in rich curries made from rice flour and coconut cream. One of its most popular dishes being Laksa – seafood and noodles in a spicy coconut soup, much famed for making Gordon Ramsay bow down to the illustrious hawkers of Singapore. In a face-off organised last year between this Michelin starred chef and some local top spots, 328 Katong Laksa won for being the better tasting one! Am just happy am not a tourist here, and have ample time to sample it all. And the fusion stories continue with me digging into my yummy Roti Prata – a flat bread with an egg fried inside, another one of Singaporean offshoots from the Indian and Pakistani paratha, served with spicy gravy to dunk it in. Like really, words may fall short, but dishes won’t.
While there are a million inexpensive options to pick, there is also an abundance of fine-dining abodes here. Claymore Hill, off the main shopping strip of Orchard Road, has a number of high-end restaurants. The days one feels opulent, better head to the iconic Marina Bay Sands which have extravagant culinary creations by celebrity chefs like Tetsuya Wakuda, Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali, David Thompson and more. Another quiet enclave I prefer away from the glitz is Dempsey Hill, dotted with some lovely colonial cafes, bars and restaurants. From exquisite restaurants like Au Petit Salut, The White Rabbit, and PS Cafe to alternative cuisine joints like La Salsa and Don Quijote, there is indeed an option or two for everyone.
To cut a long story short – we Singaporeans are a busy lot, for here our taste buds are constantly at work.
– Deepti Dilip, Marketing & Communications Head – Ashnik, Singapore
As the Marketing and Communications Head, Deepti oversees branding, marketing strategies and digital platforms at Ashnik for SEA and India. An ex-advertising soul with a passion for design and creativity, she’s constantly steering brand Ashnik to innovative podiums. She splits her time between a full-time gig at her job, lots of crazy hobbies and her new found role as a mother.