The Cinnamon Fiend is on her travels again.
First stop – Singapore.
I was very kindly invited for dinner at the newly opened McGettigan’s Irish Bar and Restaurant on the vibrant Clarke Quay on my first evening with business development manager, Caitlin and bar manager, Brendan. It was a lovely welcome to the city having arrived late afternoon tired and sweaty hauling my suitcases around Chinatown trying to find my accommodation!
Dishes vary between traditional Irish fare and general Western offerings – a nice change in a city so overrun with Asian, Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. On the night in question, Caitlin had the traditional battered Fish and Chips, which came with tartar sauce and mushy peas, while Brendan and I both opted for the Char-Grill Chicken Breast with Roasted Baby Potatoes, Garlic, Red Onion and Thyme Jus.
McGettigan’s offers no-nonsense, home-style food in a relaxed and modern setting . Plus I received insider knowledge of some very exciting upcoming events and gigs to watch out for over the coming months so watch this space!
After dinner at McGettigan’s on my first evening I strolled back along Clarke & Boat Quays, both of which are teeming with bars and restaurants of all cuisines to choose from but it is the fresh seafood tanks that draws most attention from passers-by.
Day two and three of my short Singapore visit saw me eat my way through an array of places including Hawker centres, Chinatown, Little India and the hipster Tiong Bahru area so below I will share with you a picture summary of my trails.
First up: Chinatown. Coincidentally my hostel – Adler hostel which I would highly recommend by the way; was conveniently located opposite ‘Food Street’ in Chinatown.
You will find, as in all ‘Chinatowns’ worldwide, an array of unusual foods and ingredients as you wander around stalls and medicinal halls. Take for example the pork floss, dried crocodile meat (which I was instructed needs to be cooked for 2hours!) and bovine horn drink I came across.
But it was also a great place for grabbing delicious fresh fruit, ready to eat or made into juices/smoothies.
At one stall there was husband and wife duo making Indonesian sweets, such as this bamboo-steamed rice cake with palm sugar and coconut which I tried.
Maxwell Hawker Centre
Just down the road from Food Street in Chinatown, approx 2-3 minutes walk is Maxwell Food or Hawker Centre – one of the many dotted across the city. I went early morning after breakfast seeing as it was so close to my accommodation but at this time (9.30am) not all stalls are open. I believe by 11/12pm most stalls would be open as many were already busy preparing produce for the day ahead. Zhen Zhen Porridge, the shop ran by the man pictured in the picture on the right below had a huge queue the entire time I was there and I’m told his congee with century egg and chicken or fish is worth the wait.
I was a little nervous about some of the foods – unsure what a lot of them were! Plus I had just come from a buffet breakfast at my hostel, but nonetheless it would have been a shame to leave without trying something so I got chatting to a lovely lady selling deep-fried, rice flour battered treats like bananas and sweet potatoes and I took one warm crispy banana and washed it down with a soy milk iced tea from another stand. Soy milk and bubble teas are everywhere in Singapore!
Upon recommendation from a previous Singapore expat and the girls in my hostel I went to Banana Leaf Apollo located less than a five minute walk from the Little India MRT station. Although famous for their fish head curry, it comes in a portion designed for sharing so instead I chose the Mango Prawn Curry and Bhindi Masala, all served of course on a banana leaf. Food was standard Indian, nothing above average, but the manager was very kind and very attentive/knowledgeable regarding food intolerances.
If you continue down through Little India you will reach Jalan Besar which is being deemed the new hipster area of Singapore, supposedly over-taking Tiong Bahru. I had a little look around here and saw one or two quirky cafés but I didn’t spend too long exploring.
Although I didn’t eat here as I came after breakfast and a visit to a Hawker Centre, I spent some much needed time strolling around and visiting the various little cafés, art galleries, book stores and kitsch shops on offer there.
I loved this picture in one café explaining the different types of coffees shown in traditional Singapore coffee take-away plastic bags.
Lau Pa Sat
A higher class style of Hawker or food centre I think designed to target tourists with many different options available. I didn’t eat here but food looked very fresh and clean. Again visit at lunch time or after as early morning many are closed.
Gelang Serai Night Market
I’m not sure if this was only due to Ramadan being on at the time or if it is a permanent fixture year-round but a 10 minute walk from the Eunos MRT station is Gelang Serai night market. It was very crowded when I visited on a Saturday evening around 6/7pm, again most probably due to it being Iftar time.
There was an array of stalls selling all sorts from foods from Turkish schwarmas to Indian samosas and fried squid to pancakes and crepes. It was a little over-whelming trying to see all that was on offer and simultaneously navigating the crowds. By the time I had reached the end I felt like I had ate a full meal purely from inhaling all the smells, sights and sounds!
I decided to just grab a few snacks of dahl vadai (lentil fritters) and BBQ spicy fish in banana leaf (pictured above right and below) from a lovely lady who couldn’t believe I’d never tried it before and at $1 a piece it was a cheap and cheerful meal.
Finally to wrap up my foodie frolics. was one of the highlights for me. As a lactose intolerant, ice-cream is the one thing I really miss especially when I’m in warm climates and everyone else is walking around gleefully licking big cones of creamy deliciousness! So you can imagine my delight when I stumble across Co+Nut+Ink on Sentosa Island.
A coconut based dairy-free ice-cream! First you choose what style you would like – I opted for classic which comes with roasted peanut crumble, then a fresh young coconut is taken from the fridge, broken open – the coconut water given to you to drink (cute touch!); and the ice-cream which is more sorbet-like, is placed inside the coconut with your toppings. The joy of this means not only do you get the yummy juice and the ice-cream but you also get the super nutritious coconut meat to eat with the ice-cream which only adds to it’s more-ish-ness!
Singapore really is a foodie’s heaven. As someone said to me while I was there –
“Singapore loves to eat”..