But if HK is a foodie's paradise, Singapore is a foodie's nightmare.
I'm not talking about nightmare in the sense of lack of food, a world with bland food that all looks and tastes the same. No, I'm talking about a different kind of nightmare.
One where there's no end. One where there's too much food.
The first and last time I'll be hungry the whole trip...
As a traditional melting pot of Chinese, Malay, and Tamil Indian cultures, Singapore has a wide variety of food. Add in more recent immigration from the rest of Asia, as well expats from the Western world, and you can find authentic food from just about anywhere.
Next, throw in the "Hawker Centre," a Singaporean government-sponsored institution to bring street food off the streets, sanitize it (but not too much), and sell it under open-air food courts. Mix in an influx of world renown chefs with these humble stall owners, as well as everyone in between, and what do you get?
Too much to choose from. Too many flavors, styles, variations, dishes, cultures, and simply put, too much food.
How much is too much? Let's break down my brief sojourn day by day and you decide.
Starts out late as my flight got in around 10. Breakfast at a hawker center in Chinatown. Go for a tasty, yet touristy Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel right after. (Tip: Definitely a tourist trap at an overpriced $30, but with a Citibank card, it's 25% off, plus free peanuts that you can throw the shells on the floor!) Lunch at a hawker stall, Tian Tian Chicken Rice at 1pm, the version featured on No Reservations. Some fresh fruit before a quick game of roulette, and up $50 later at the Marina Sands Casino, it's time for an early afternoon cocktail at Ku Dé Ta on the top of the Marina Sands Hotel. Quick stop for boba (Bubble Tea) right after, which happens to be just before dinner--the world-renown Chili Crab. And still not done yet--a nightcap of Tiger beer and satay at one last hawker center before going to sleep.
I want to point out--this is the first time ever I went to a restaurant seen on No Reservations that hadn't gone out of business when I tried to go.
Notice in the background--other people taking pictures of the food (and updating their status as well)
It's time for a Tiger.
Breakfast of kaya toast and runny eggs at Ya Kun Kaya Toast before taking the MRT to Eastern Singapore for a Malay Wedding. Lunch? A buffet of various foods and flavors I've never tried in my life. Gorging ensues for a few hours until it's time to go to Little India. Before the Mustafa Centre, it's a "small" snack of roti prata at Teka Market, another hawker center. A quick pre-dinner drink and snack by the bay, followed by dinner of various pork goodies, such as skin, intestine, stomach, chitlins, and the like, soon followed by a second dinner of hor fun (like chow fun, like chow mein, but with flat rice noodles) and frog porridge in Geylang, the red-light district. Dessert? The king of fruits, the ubiquitous durian.
Kopi O and Runny Eggs--Simply Delicious
Buffet at the wedding. An incredible ceremony followed, and unlike anything I've ever seen. Video coming soon.
Mmmm... unrecognizable pig parts...
Never tried durian? It's... quite the experience.
Still one more day.
Runny eggs and toast again at a local coffee shop. Morning at the Singapore Zoo, so a slight (and much needed) reprieve before lunch of fish and chips. Some more boba to top it off, and then off to Newton Circus Food Centre for an early dinner of sea snails, grilled stingray, calamari, and seafood hor fun. Updated my blog about Singlish, and then a well-deserved snack of praata and a paper-like version of it before off to see the Avengers (no room for popcorn, though I did think about it...).
Baby Squid. Crunchy and satisfying.
A sort of prata, paper thin and rolled into a cone.
Wow... really? All that in 3 days? After typing it out, I'm kind of disgusted with myself. Granted, it was my Singaporean friend who sent me this list, with the goal of trying as much as possible before I left. And though I felt like I ate a lot, and I did... I didn't eat nearly enough. I left with restaurants left un-visited and food left untried. For example, I never went to the biryani place in Little India, ran out of time for sisig in the basement of Lucky Plaza, or didn't even make it to Golden Mile Complex for some Thai food. Hence, a foodie's nightmare--you're never satisfied. It's an addiction, always trying to get your next fix, from one taste to the next. I'm not even exaggerating when I say there was always talk about the next meal before even finishing the one in front of us.
Maybe the word nightmare is too harsh--I mean, what kind of nightmare would you voluntarily live through again?
Because when it comes to Singapore, I'll be back for seconds.