It is really hard to get tired of Hainanese Chicken Rice and during my stay in Singapore, everywhere I go I tried to spot places with Chicken Rice because I just love it so much. I once talked about the various school of approaches to preparing Hainanese Chicken, the blander vs the richer chicken. After quite a few meals at various restaurants that serve chicken rice, I find many carry similar flavors while their rice are what distinguish them apart. After a short stop at the Singapore Flyer (sorta boring to be honest), we head to the Singapore Food Trails under the Singapore Flyer which offers a place full of 1960s-themed food stalks. Of course Hainan Chicken Rice was on top of my food list! I read from a magazine or something which recommended this Bugis Street Famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, so perfect timing.
While I like the plain Hainanese Chicken, the Roast Chicken can be quite delicious as well. In most places and in most cases, only a handful of roast chicken will be prepared due to longer preparation time perhaps. (based on my observations of course) Here at Bugis Street Famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, there seemed to have more roast chicken on offer so to fulfill my cravings, I order a mixture of both. A stronger flavor indeed with a firmer texture to the meat. The normal variation flared less desirable when compared with the roast chicken option in this case. As for the rice, which I think is the most important by the way, was quite disappointing, lacking in any sort of flavors in relative terms. Despite my inconsistent experience at Tian Tain Chicken Rice with their chicken, I have to say their chicken rice is way up on my top five based on my own experiences.
I tried this Cold & Hot Bird's Nest Drink. To be honest, up til this very moment I still have no idea what this sweetened drink is. I really don't think the little chewable pieces within were real bird's nest considering the offering price.
Please don't judge the outlook of this plastic take out drink because the main point was that it was refreshing! I quite like how drinks here use this sort of plastic bags for take away. Whether it is the best option, best green option is a different matter. It is convenient, easy to carry, easy to dispose, easy to store and quite fun to carry around (as a tourist of course).
Just a quick glance in the food court, one would realized the wide selection of cuisines not just in this location but everywhere in Singapore. The list of official languages in Singapore is a strong sign for its diverse cultures and it is quite apparent from the various districts such as Little India and Arab Street.
I had plenty of teh tarik during my few days stay here and the level of sweetness varies from store to store. The teh tatil reminds me of my rather interesting encounter at Ya Kun Kaya Toast when trying to order coffee for take away. I stood in front of the menu for many minutes because I cannot figure out what is the difference between Coffee / Kopi-O Coffee/Kopi-C and Tea-C ... rather confusing. I tried asking but the answers still puzzles me, among the three which I tried within a few hours, I prefer Coffee-O! (Kopi-O = Black and Kopi-C = with "Carnation", the brand of evaporated milk.)
As a chocolate lover, I had to make a detour just for some chocolates. The visit to Max Brenner Chocolate Bar at the Esplanade Mall was my first and as recommended, I order the DIY hot chocolate of which I can melt my own chocolate. A serious complaint (perhaps it was with my patience) was that it really took AGES for it to melt with such small flame! Was I doing it incorrectly?
Should I be adding milk before or after or during? I had no idea because no one told me how this should be done. How did it turn out? Of course great because I was the one making it! haha ...
It took me a while to find this food joint that serves Tu Tu's Coconut Cake, a traditional snacks quite difficult to find nowadays. Steaming is the main process for making this cake and with plenty of coconut of course!
Some other favorite finds would be the Durian Pancake at Four Seasons Durian ... slurp! Must eat fresh! Must eat right after freshly prepared!
Sugar Cane Juice was a refreshing choice under such hot climate.
Another must go has to be Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House. I had a few Bak Kut Teh at various hawker centers and they were outright sad / disappointing! Many places in Singapore offer the pepper-based instead of the herbal type of Bak Kut Teh. Same for Ng Ah Sio with its Bak Kut Teh which gave a punchy kick on first sip.
There was quite a long line up but with plenty of tables and fast turnover rate, we waited about 10 mins or so. Great Bak Kut Teh indeed with the punchy soup and tender pork ribs. Service was ... sub-par but as expected.
Still hungry? Give the pig's tail a try! The sauce was quite rich which I liked and with the layer of fat around the tail, it was beyond good. Did I mention all these for breakfast?
I have talked enough about the positive yummy food I have tried, it is time to cover some of the not-so-pleasant experiences? First off, the Smith Street Food Market which opens at night during weeknights was truly something ... I rather miss and head somewhere else. A lot of the restaurants on both sides are targeted for tourists and a few of our dishes were quite greasy even with my high standard. Flavors were ultra rich as well. The sweet rice dumpling in peanut soup I had was ... beyond watery, enough said. Perhaps it was my bad luck day?
Why stop here when I can talk about yet another sub-par experience? It was the Afternoon Tea at TWG Tea at the ION Orchard.
The large selection of tea has to be one of the key draw of this place and the tea I lost the notes on which one it ordered so to be fair I will skip that and move onto the food part.
For SGD 39 (which translates to 6 chicken rice approx.) per person, I had the choice of one savory item. I picked the TWG Tea Croque Imperial (Warm toasted sandwich with Gruyere cheese and smoked salmon severed with greens.) ...... Rather boring I have to say but not as boring as the ...
... set of slightly under-baked scones
.... and the 3 macarons.
Yes, all the above for SGD 39. I usually don't associate the price to food I eat for various reasons, one being that I believe the matter of worth is very personal. However, at SGD 39 per head, I personally, really was expecting a bit more, seriously!
This marks the end of my Singapore trip (Feb 2011). It was a great trip, a rewarding journey in gastronomic terms as well as cultural encounters. The whole journey made me think about many things, beyond my normal food related issues of course. The bottle line is, SG has many similarities with HK just better in many senses in my opinion. SG has a richer cultures in terms of preserving them with government support and a more balanced work-life style truly beat that of HK's. Many may argue that there are many rules and regulations in Singapore, but I say rules are not necessarily a bad thing, it is how you interrupt them that matters. SG has quite strict laws on littering and with that you get very clean streets even in Chinatown. (am I stereotyping Chinatown? That is for you to judge. From my personal experiences, even as a Chinese, I find that most Chinatowns around the world tend to have an impression of being messy and dirty. what do you think?) Hence, rules, strict rules to be exact, are necessary in some cases for the greater good.
Hopefully I will return soon for another gastronomic adventures and experiences yet another side of Singapore.