Back to my Singapore trip!
So I’ve talked about another major activity in Singapore, shopping. But I’m told that the number one thing to do in Singapore is eat. There’s good reason for this – in terms of food there’s excellent representation from three of the major cultures present on the island (Chinese, Malay and Indian) as well as a host of other cuisines. Possibly because of the sheer number of eating establishments, quality is almost always excellent and in general extremely cheap by Western standards. I spent 5 days in Singapore, which some people have told me was enough to see all there is to be seen (it wasn’t); even if this were true, it wouldn’t be anywhere to eat all there is to be eaten.
With a finite amount I could fit into my stomach, I tried my best to make each meal and snack count – don’t you dare waste valuable eating space on a chain junk food restaurant!
Between our hotel and the train station was Bugis Street, a sort of covered market with big fruit stalls at either end and many little food and juice stalls inside, as well as tons of cheap bags, clothes and watch stores. Being a fan of tropical fruits my mum went nuts buying the ones that are expensive in Australia, and for a few days we ate them for breakfast. My favourite was mangosteens, although I was also impressed by the papaya (which I usually dislike). I didn’t dare try the durian – even in the open air you could really smell it around the stall!
Juice stalls seem pretty ubiquitous in Singapore, with prices varying according to the location. I think I bought a juice in Bugis Street almost every time I went through it – the sugar cane is extremely refreshing in the warm weather, but my favourite was definitely the avocado juice.
Also ubiquitous in Singapore, and also on the way to the nearest train station (meaning I ate at least one every day) are these little ice-cream carts, which I’ve never seen anywhere else before. The ice-cream comes in large blocks, which the vendor will cut a slab from for you and hand it to you wedged between two wafers or a slice of sweet bread. Genius! Unless you eat it too slow, and the warmth of your hand melts the end. The best thing about these is the ice-cream comes in flavours that you don’t get at home – red bean (above), mango, durian, taro, corn(!?) – as well as more standard flavours. My favourite was definitely the mango.
Hawker centers and food courts make up for what they lack in ambiance with cheap, awesome food. The best hawker center I visited was the main one in Little India, although I barely scratched the surface really. The best stalls will have long lines, and often sell out quite early (I’m still sad we missed out on roti prata!). The problem with these places is that there’s too much to choose from – my mum and I would be complaining that we can’t eat another thing one moment, then spying an excellent dish on a neighbouring table that we just had to try. I’ve resolved to spend a good portion of my next trip to Singapore in Little India hawker centers just eating Indian food – the briyani I had was amazing! There’s always fruit juice stalls in these places, so a refreshing lime or sugar cane juice really hits the spot.
This post is ending up massive, so I’ll continue in a few more posts over the next week. Coming soon: chilli crab, seafood steamboat, and high tea!