Singapore is famously known as Little Red Dot because Singapore is so small on the World Map that only a little red dot could be used to identify Singapore. Though Singapore is small, she is a bustling city that has different nationalities staying together harmoniously.
I visited Singapore for 3 weeks to celebrate one of Singapore’s major festivals – Chinese New Year (CNY). About 2 weeks before CNY, the streets would be decorated with red Chinese lanterns, various shops would be playing CNY songs, and Chinatown would be crowded with Chinese men rushing to buy CNY goodies.
Chinese men love to buy pussy willow flower on CNY because when the flower blossoms, such growth represents the coming of prosperity. Chinese men will also buy paper cuttings of Chinese words to decorate their houses.
There are several CNY goodies sold and eaten especially during CNY. Most CNY goodies are cookies like sesame cookies, cornflake cookies, kueh bangkit (white coconut cookies), and peanut cookies.
My favorite CNY goodie is pineapple tarts. Pineapple tarts could be either made by having the pineapple paste on top of the pastry or the pineapple paste is wrapped inside the pastry. Personally I prefer the pineapple paste to be wrapped inside the pastry. That way I could taste the pastry and the pineapple paste together. However, in terms of presenting as a gift, it would look more presentable if the pineapple paste is on top of the pastry.
One of the favorite activities that Singaporeans like to do during CNY is to play mahjong. Mahjong is a gambling game which involves 74 tiles and 3 dice. It is a rather complicated game. A new learner has to sit down to play and learn at the same time in order to understand the game fully. My dad and my older sister are experts in playing mahjong but not me. Playing mahjong is one of my favorite activities because the game is full of excitement, and playing mahjong helps my brain to think fast and to be always on alert-mode.
2 bottles of sparkling white wine that have exteriors which complement the mahjong tiles.
One of the Chinese tradition during CNY is, the young ones would hold two oranges with two hands, and give them to the elders while saying some Chinese blessing words like “身体健康”, which means enjoy good health. The elders or married couples would have to give ang baos (red packets) with some money in it, in return, and would also be accompanied with Chinese blessing words like, “学习进步”, which means progress in studies. When giving the red packet, two “new” (two different oranges) oranges would also be given back to the young ones. The words said would usually be in fours as they sound nicer and more compact, following the China Chinese tradition in the past. The red packets were usually distributed by banks, and the designs would always be very attractive and competitive – just like the one I received from Credit Suisse.
Alright, enough of CNY. Let me introduce you food that Singaporeans eat. The most common breakfast food that Singaporeans eat is a toast set from Ya Kun. The most popular toast set is kaya-butter toast. As I do not like kaya (coconut jam), I ordered the butter-peanut butter toast set. Other than two slices of bread cut into half with peanut butter and butter in between slices, I also got two large half-boiled eggs, and a cup of cold barley as a set. You could get coffee or tea for the drink but I desired barley more. This was a perfect start for a great day.
Another delectable breakfast food that Singaporeans love to have is dim sum from Tim Ho Wan. Tim Ho Wan has a Michelin star in their Hong Kong main store. Tim Ho Wan serves delicious dim sums at affordable prices. I ordered the crispy char siew buns, vermicelli roll, and har gow (shrimp dumpling). Of course, a cup of Chinese tea was compulsory to digest the yummy food. I was very satisfied with my breakfast, and wished I could eat dim sum every morning.
Another restaurant which is famous for their dim sums is Canton Paradise. The crispy char view buns, wontons, har gow, congee, fried carrot cake, and vermicelli roll tasted so delicious. The congee was made perfectly, which is the cantonese way – thick and smooth. The wontons were seasoned well, and the carrot cake was not that oily. These food were perfect for breakfast or bunch.
As I usually take heavy breakfast, I would eat some snacks during tea time, before dinner. One of my favorite snacks is egg tart from Tong Heng in Chinatown. Tong Heng has been around for very long and they sell many kinds of Chinese pastries ranging from wedding pastries to egg tarts, and they also sell Chinese traditional desserts such as sesame paste and peanut paste. Tong Heng is reputable for their egg tarts, and the queue is always long just to get one of the egg tarts. Tong Heng sells two different kinds of egg tarts – traditional egg tart, and coconut egg tart. I would always buy the traditional one as I do not like coconut. Their egg tarts are diamond shaped as opposed to the conventional round shaped. The egg tarts should be eaten while they are hot as that is when you could taste the richness of the egg filling, and the pastry skin will be flaky and crispy. Usually I would take more than two at one go because I could not say “Stop” to the yumminess!
My another favorite snack is tau sar piah from Loong Fatt Eating House & Confectionary. Tau sar piah is a Chinese pastry that has either sweet or salty fillings in it. I especially love Loong Fatt’s tau sar piah because the proportion of filling to pastry is just right, and most importantly, the filling tastes super good. The pastry skin is made so well that even the pastry skin itself is so yummy and flaky. Ooh so good!!
My alternative snack is Chinese paus (buns) from Tanjong Rhu Pau. The fillings vary in the paus. The fillings could be char siew (pork), lotus seed, or red bean paste. There is a pau known as da pau (big bun), which has a big chunk of pork, and a quarter of hard-boiled egg. My favorite pau from Tanjong Rhu Pau is the lotus seed, though their best seller pau is the char siew pau. The paus from Tanjong Rhu Pau is small but tasty. The skin is soft and smooth, and the fillings are generous. Every bite into the paus is just so heavenly.
When it comes to dinner, I love to eat Japanese food. Actually Japanese food is my favorite cuisine of all time. One of the nights I dined at Itacho Sushi, which is quite well-known for their expensive and unique sushi. I decided to have salmon sashimi rice set, while my partner got chicken cutlet rice set, and soft shell crab temaki roll. The salmon sashimi was fresh and tasted good. My partner definitely enjoyed his chicken cutlet set and the soft shell crab roll. While I was enjoying my rice set, I saw a small piece of cloth in my rice. I was shocked to see it as I did not expect it. I informed one of the waitresses and the floor manager was alerted. The floor manager was very polite. She apologized to me and a new rice set was served to me within 5 minutes. On top of the normal salmon sashimi, I was given two slices of salmon belly sashimi too. It was very thoughtful of the floor manager. After finishing my rice set, the floor manager apologized to me again, and offered to give me a complimentary pudding dessert. Thumbs up for the excellent service!
I also love to dine at Ichiban Boshi because of their set menu. They have very good set menu, and the portion is always good. I got the beef yakiniku (grilled meat) set, which came with chawanmushi (steamed egg), a bowl of rice, three slices of salmon sashimi, a small cold tofu, two slices of oranges, and a bowl of miso soup. The price of the set was affordable, and definitely worth the money. Whenever I would like to have a very full meal, I would go to Ichiban Boshi.
Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is my another favorite sushi place. One of the food items I would always order is shiok maki (California roll), which is what made Koh Grill & Sushi Bar so famous. There are two shiok makis – shiok maki generation 1, and shiok maki generation 2. The difference is, generation 1 is grilled eel wrapped in lightly torched salmon, while generation 2 is crispy fried prawns wrapped in lightly torched salmon. I would only order the generation 1 because grilled eel and salmon is the ultimate combination. The California roll is covered by melted cheese and topped with fish roe. Oh my… I could eat this everyday.
Other than Japanese cuisine, sometimes I would like to go to Din Tai Fung (DTF) for Chinese cuisine. DTF is well-known for their xiao long baos (Chinese dumplings). What made DTF so consistent and good is that every dumplings, wontons, and small side dishes, are made and measured using a scale. Observe this when you dine in the restaurant. DTF’s xiao long baos have a small amount of soup in it, and they are simply awesome. I also love the oriental Chinese salad, which would be a good appetizer because of the slight sour taste. As I love spicy food, I would not give the wontons in spicy chili oil a miss. What a wonderful meal!
I fell in love with Korean cuisine ever since I went to South Korea. Fortunately I found a Korean restaurant called Togi Korean Restaurant in Chinatown. My cousins and I ordered quite a lot of food – army stew, cold noodles, stir-fry beef, zhajiangmien, and ttoboki (rice cake). All the dishes were yummy! The army stew had very good soup base. The noodle dishes had different textures, and they tasted very good. The stir-fry beef was really good, and I could not taste any fats in the meat. A sumptuous meal!
Sometimes eating at Mos Burger is a good change. I particularly love Mos Burger because Japanese food hardly goes wrong and most of the time, it tastes very good. Other than normal burger buns, Mos Burger serves rice burgers. I had the kakiage (seafood) rice burger and it was fantastic. The sauce was amazing and the seafood portion given was just right. Every time I have craving for burgers, I would only go to Mos Burger.
Miam Miam, a French cafe with Japanese twist, is famous for their French Toast (first picture). The French toast was thick and fluffy, which had nice texture. However, the French toast’s taste was a little plain to my liking. The second well-known food served by Miam Miam is soufflé. I had the vanilla (original) soufflé, and I was slightly disappointed by it. The soufflé was not that great. The filling was a little mushy, and tasted like steamed egg. The creme brûlée was not that fantastic too. The flavor was so-so, and it was slightly cold. Furthermore, the creme brûlée was not fragrant. I would most likely not go back to Miam Miam again.
When it comes to desserts, I could not say “No” to chocolates. Having a cheese and chocolate buffet at Club55 was brilliant. A wide spread of delicious chocolate food accompanied with nice view from the 55th floor at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) was so relaxing. Every item on the buffet spread was super delicious. I especially loved the chocolate bread pudding. Could not stop myself from eating more of it. Definitely a must-go place for chocolate lovers!
Other than chocolates, I love to have desserts at Mei Heong Yuen Dessert. They sell traditional desserts and also shaved ice. There are various fruit shaved ices but their best seller dessert is the mango sago with pomelo. I love every dessert from Mei Heong Yuen because they never failed me.
Llaollao, founded in Spain, is natural frozen yoghurt. Many like to order the Sanum, which is three layers of seasonal fresh fruit + caramelised seeds + honeyed cereal + topped with frozen yogurt. The frozen yoghurt tasted not too bad. The fruits served in the Sanum were fresh, but the yoghurt was not fantastic. I would not eat it often because there are better yoghurt stores other than Llaollao. Sometimes having frozen yoghurt after dinner would be good for digestion.
Selegie Soya Bean makes a good dessert or a supper food. The beancurd was so soft and smooth, and most importantly, it was not very sweet. The beancurd was a complement to any food that I had eaten the whole day. One bowl was not enough for me!
Ritz Apple Strudel is a pastry dessert place that I frequent. They have many different strudel flavors, and my favorite is durian, out of the common ones like apple and strawberry flavors. The strudel consists of pastry followed by the filling then layers of pastry again. I love Ritz Apple Strudel because the pastry is crunchy, sweet, and flaky. The fillings used are always fresh, and the price is reasonable. Sometimes I would eat the strudel for breakfast!
When it comes to supper, Singaporeans love to eat roti prata. The Prata Place is my favorite place to go to when I have cravings for prata (pictures below were not taken from The Prata Place). Roti prata is a fried flour-based pancake that is cooked over a flat grill. It is commonly eaten together with curry or sugar. There are many different kinds of roti prata now though in the past, there used to be only plain, and egg prata around. Now there are flavors like plaster prata, prata bomb, chocolate tissue prata, milk tissue prata, cheese and mushroom prata, etc. I would always order the cheese and egg prata (first picture), and the plain tissue prata (second picture). The cheese and egg prata is a must to get because the combination is really good when eaten with sugar. The tissue prata is crispy and when eaten with sugar, it is super delicious. Murtabak (third picture), a stuffed pan-fried pancake with meat fillings, is also a common supper food. It is relatively big and it would be good to share it.
Other food items that I ate while in Singapore were BBQ food, minced pork noodles, char kway teow (fried noodles), matcha bingsu from Cafe Insa-dong (which did not taste good), durian, white fungus and longan dessert, popiah, and matcha red bean tea. Awfully Chocolate cake is so far my favorite chocolate cake because it is not too sweet and the sponge is moist. The cake’s texture is great! I had so much fun eating so many different food in Singapore.
Some Singapore sceneries (did not edit any pictures)…