Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Singapore - I fell in love with Chinatown!

During our recent trip here, we basically spent two afternoons food hopping from one hawker stall to the next in Chinatown. (When I say I want to eat my way across Turkey and our other travel destinations, I mean it.) And there was plenty of pork!

Fried pork dumplings - don’t mind if I do! 
Steamed pork buns - of course!
Steamed pork buns and one order of shark fin dumplings, right, which tasted like chicken!
A piping hot bowl of steaming Laksa noodles with prawns - yes, please!
Chinatown’s various hawker complexes are nothing like the bland American food courts filled with tasteless fast food. Thank goodness!

Each one is filled with dozens of tiny stalls selling just about any type of authentic cuisine you could ever want! First, you scout out a stall’s menu and see what you want to eat. Then, order. Second, find a table. If there’s two of you, one person should get the food while the other person obtains beverages - preferably Tiger beer. Sit down, eat. Go find some more tasty nibbles and repeat.
Lunching with the locals at People's Park Complex, Singapore.
We only had 3 days in Singapore, which was not enough time to eat, sight-see, shop for Christmas presents and eat some more. But I’ll share some of my favorite photos and good eats from our trip below.

At People’s Park Complex, 32 New Market Rd.,  we started out with a large order of the fried pork dumplings at Tian Jin Fong Kee, a dumpling stand in business since 1948. Crispy pork goodness! Cost: 6 SGD for 12 dumplings.
Then, about two blocks away, we stopped at the Chinatown Complex, 336 Smith S. The main floor is filled with clothes and some touristy souvenir shops while the huge food center is on the second floor, divided into colored sections.

Several tables filled with durian greeted us, but we didn’t stop to try this stinky fruit. Maybe next time!
Instead, we found the friendly owner at Terry Katong Laksa #02-94, who was touting his MSG-free Laksa noodles. Apparently, Katong Laksa is a strong contender for the title of Singapore’s national dish. The bowl of broken noodles was filled with prawns and cockle pieces with a spicy, fish broth. It was good, but a bit too fishy for me. Cost: 3.50 SGD.
While we ate our noodles, the owner chatted with us and we were entertained by the Singapore Funny Man. He makes funny noises with his mouth or can be found twirling an umbrella on the tip of an ink pen.
Singapore's Funny Man can be found on YouTube.
Next, we stumbled upon a new beer stall called The Good Beer Company, stall #02-58, started by a young man, Daniel Goh and his uncle. We were thrilled to find some premium and craft beers such as Storm IPA, Samuel Adam’s, Hoegaarden and more. Real beer! (May 2013 update: Sadly, "Beer Uncle" passed away in April this year.)
The Good Beer Company's good beer menu.
Jason ordered us some ales, and I went searching for more food. I found large, pillow-like steamed pork buns at Hong Kong Dim Sum, stall #02-101. So cheap! 3 orders of dumplings were only 6 SGD.

We ended up chatting and enjoying several pints of beer with Goh and Mr. Goh, his uncle, as I called him. What a lucky find!

On our return trip to Chinatown, we visited the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, thanks to a local Singaporean who chatted with us while we figured out directions on our map. This temple and museum is well worth a look as it is filled with ancient Buddhist artifacts and very detailed story boards explaining Buddhism and its history.
In the pouring rain, we ran across the street to have lunch at the Maxwell Food Centre, 12 Murray St. My main reason to eat here was thanks to celebrity chef and “No Reservations” host Anthony Bourdain, whom I am totally gaga over!
In one of Bourdain’s previous shoots in Singapore, he recommended the “flavourful” chicken rice at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, stall #01-10. I waited in line for about 15 minutes for two orders of this famous dish while Jason bought two bottles of Tiger beer. It’s rather a simple dish featuring super moist chicken served atop a bed of fluffy rice and a super spicy, homemade chili sauce on the side. 

The dish was good, but I was not as impressed as Mr. Bourdain was.
We did a bit of Christmas shopping in Chinatown and then decided to head back to The Good Beer Company for one last round of proper ales. Of course, we needed something to eat with our beer. We found stall #02-44 that had lots of pork products hanging in its window and ordered the pork sampler rice platter.
BBQ pork, Chinese pork sausage and more pork served with a Chinese-5-spice-like dipping sauce.
After stuffing ourselves, we wandered down a random side street in Chinatown and sampled - what tasted like crispy, chewy pork jerky at Bee Cheng Hiang, 69-71 Pagoda St. Brilliant! 

We bought two boxes of this succulent treat, BBQ pork and BBQ chili pork, and four links of Chinese pork sausage. At first, I thought the guy was grilling pork skin, but turns out it is compressed leg and thigh pork meat. I just call it delicious!
A new, fun way to enjoy pork on the go!
Beer and pork - I can’t imagine a better way to end our trip in Singapore!

Afiyet olsun!

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8 comments:

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi joy!

you travel like i do! eat and shop and in that order!

http://octoberfarm.blogspot.com/search/label/durian%20fruit

this is a link to my son an his girlfriend trying their first durian fruit.

on my side bar there are two different recipes for asian pork buns and steamed pork buns that you might like if you get your hands on some pork!

we are big anthony bourdain fans. he was in town this past year and my kids went to hear him speak.

eat on!!!

Joy said...

Here's October Farm's fab pork bun recipe if you want to try it at home:

http://octoberfarm.blogspot.com/search/label/Asian%20pork%20bun%20recipe

Afiyet olsun!

Joy said...

Hello Singaporeans!

According to my stats, a lot of you are reading or at least finding this post. Would love to hear your thoughts or know about any must-try places when we go back to Singapore someday! =)

Anonymous said...

You missed out trying local malay, indian and eurasian cuisine.

Joy said...

Hi, unfortunately, we only had 2 1/2 days to enjoy in Singapore. But we liked the island so much that I'd be happy to visit again, and even potentially live there someday! =)More reasons to come back and eat in Singapore.

mvmaithai said...

Hello,
Just discovered your blog. The Turkish word got my attention. I have a Turkish friend whose cooking I love, and I fell in love with Istanbul when I visited years ago.

Anyway, I'm a Malaysian Chinese living in TN. I'm impressed with your willingness to experiment all the different food. Then again, you live in Turkey. Durian is an acquired taste, like whiskey or even beer (did you like it the first time you drank it? I still don't care for either). The inside of the spiky fruit is creamy and sweet. It's used in cake fillings, like a buttercream. Real yummy. Try it next time!

Joy said...

@mvmaithai, Thanks for following! I didn't try fresh durian, but I have it before in a steamed bun and that was fairly delicious. There was so much I would have loved to have done and eaten if we only had more time in Singapore!

Hope you enjoy the Turkish recipes I post from time to time from here in Istanbul then. Cheers!

Steve Cook said...

What? No review of the Lychee Honeydew beer?

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