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May as well get this started:


Due to weather in Toronto and an impromptu layover in Hong Kong we had about 20 hours in Singapore on the front end and another 20 on the back. The downer is that we didn't get as much Hawker in as we wanted to. And this was before I was thinking about doing fully anonymous food photography so, well, there's not as much here.


Anyway, the Hawkers are insane. The chicken rice at Tian Tian at the Maxwell Hawker Center is something I was deeply skeptical about. How good can chicken plus rice plus broth be. I was triple skeptical when I saw that the skin wasn't going to be crispy. And even more skeptical when I saw the size of the line.


Was I right? Of course not. Implausibly, the chicken rice could have fit in on a Manresa menu. Technically perfect rice, broth and chicken, great ingredients, and the most intense expression of chicken flavour since, well, Manresa.


I think we had some satay after that, but then I went here:




And had the best steamed pork dumplings I've ever had. They were fractionally more expensive than what you get in Chinatown NYC and fractionally more so than what you get in Chinatown Toronto.


Singapore pro tip: They charge you $20 to go to the top of the Sands. If you do this, you can't get a drink. If you go up to the bar, it's free, but you have to spend $18 on a drink. Guess which one we chose:




Dinner was at the East Coast Lagoon Hawker. From what I understand Old Airport Road (which we didn't make) has the best food. Maybe, but East Coast Lagoon has a beautiful setting on the water and some pretty great food.


Laksa at Roxy Laksa which was a big umami punch. In hindsight, almost like seafood Khao Soi.


Obviously, what you really want to hear about is chilli crab. Here it is from Leng Heng bbq - not as famous as the other joints, but pretty great in a gross kind of way:




The sweet, soft bread on the side was perfect for the crab, as were the dollar beers from the nearby vendors.


Next: pulled tea, warong nasi pariaman, chee ming chee confectionary and L'Atelier.

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I'd better see some curry puffs somewhere. The last time I was in Singapore I did a curry puff taste test, and I kind of miss them. Whoever thought a sardine curry puff could be so delicious?

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To add, I go to tian tian whenever I'm in Singapore. It's probably not the best (I've never had the stomach to do a chicken rice taste test), but it's better than any I've had anywhere else.

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no time for murtabek, fish head curry or curry puffs unfortunately. But Nasi Warong Pariaman serves padang food. The beef rendang pretty much blew our minds, so we ordered it twice. The ayam pangang and the chicken in a chili and coconut milk curry were also first rate.




There's something else red and spicy there but I have only the vaguest recollections of what it was.



Pulled tea on Arab Street is dope and harrowing to watch:




Your more interested in the Arab Street hipsters, though. The Freeman's/multi-level hipster complex concept lives at Maison Ikkoku which a good Japanese style coffee shop downstairs, an awesome (if expensive) menswear store upstairs with all the selvedge your little heart desires and a bespoke speakeasy (their term, not mine) serving Apiary level expensive (with full tableside smoking dog and pony show) cocktails. It's actually very good and quite the scene:




Dinner at L'Atelier de JR. I could go into this more, I probably will, but not now.


Breakfast at Chin Mee Chin confectionery (I'm messing with the timing a bit - this was actually Singapore 1 - the flight out after JR was big early). I love this place. Sweet syrupy coffee with condensed milk strained through mescalin and all the traditional Singapore confections you could want. We got a lot, a beautiful soft boiled egg, various sweet breads, but I really liked these custard cones:




Sadly, we didn't have much time in Singapore - one jet lagged afternoon due to our delay out of Toronto and a second 3/4ths of a day. Would have loved to get to the Old Airport Road Hawker, the crab guy just west of where we stayed on Arab Street and even the Tippling Club. Sadly, no time, but what a food town.


JR will go here if I ever feel like it.

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I'm surprised you did JR instead of Iggy's or Restaurant Andre, both highly regarded Singaporean restaurants. But I hope to hear about your experience there, anyway!


If you get to Singapore again, try to go to Melaka, just across the border in Malaysia. Small city, but great food! And see if you can get in touch with Julian Teoh. He used to post to eG, but not so much anymore, but he still posts to Chow. He and his wife (who posted on eG as piglet) have been living in Singapore for a number of years, and they eat very well!

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I'm surprised you did JR instead of Iggy's or Restaurant Andre, both highly regarded Singaporean restaurants. But I hope to hear about your experience there, anyway!


If you get to Singapore again, try to go to Melaka, just across the border in Malaysia. Small city, but great food! And see if you can get in touch with Julian Teoh. He used to post to eG, but not so much anymore, but he still posts to Chow. He and his wife (who posted on eG as piglet) have been living in Singapore for a number of years, and they eat very well!

Thanks for the tip! We hope to get back there as soon as possible!


Why JR? Ultimately, it's a restaurant we wanted to do but couldn't think of where we'd go do it since it seems to be a restaurant that requires a certain oil monied ridiculous non-place to not feel like you're missing out on something. Given that Singapore has that scene - though it's far more than that scene - it seemed to be as good a place as any to do it. Also, reservations were possible at JR and not at the one of Iggy's and Andre that I looked at - it was kind of a last minute whim.


The finer restaurants that I wish we'd done, in hindsight, are Bo.Lan in Bangkok and either Tippling Club or Andre. Though, there's a big part of me that thinks the better move in Singapore would have been to hit up more Hawkers. JR was a great as a whim and, as I've said, not a bad meal just a very flawed and kind of dead one. I'll get there.

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Okay, so JR. As you can tell, I've been dodging this one for a bit. It's hard to be too harsh on a place when you got pretty much what you expected, the food was generally well executed and you had a really nice conversation with the chef and the somm (who was, I should add, awesome. Self taught, spot on palette. We ordered the Damaine Vacheron 2009 Sancerre - a red, quite a reasonable mark-up, but it's Singapore dollars. The first bottle was corked and, in a great education moment, he let us compare side-by-side the old and new bottle. How often do you get to do that kind of direct comparison? Almost never). Plus it's, you know, one visit. So I won't be too harsh.


Partially because I figured a restaurant in Resort World Sentosa would be a like walking into a restaurant in Vegas without the casino floor. And yeah, I did know that the point of JR is to create a restaurant that's replicable all over the world. Even still, my expectation for the room was something that had a shade of personality, that allowed me, for a second, to forget that I was sitting, not in a restaurant, but in a concept, in a mall, on landfill. At least we were at the counter.


Anyway, service was competent to very good, prices were high though less high when you did the conversation and the person next to us was chowing down on a lame steak. Once again, the sommelier was excellent (Comp disclosure: a couple pours at the end of the meal). Bread, of course, was strong. Better was the Bordier butter, next to the Manresa butter, the second best of the year. Amuses were, I think, a standard JR amuse - parmesean foam, reduced red wine, foie. Good enough to make us forget the room and, frankly, good enough to get me pretty excited for the meal.


First courses were fine. The missus's spaghetti with clams (because you start to crave Western style pasta, believe it or not, after a few weeks in SE Asia) was very satisfying with a great umami hit from some very good parm. My foie raviolis in chicken consumee were good, I guess. It was a funny dish; the consumee was technically on point, clear as day with a subtle chicken flavour. The raviolis were thin and delicate, filled with an airy foie mousse. Ethereal is a terrible word to use in a food report and, in another context, it would have been accurate. Here, the contemplative nature of the dish fell flat. The few raviolis were lost in too much broth. As an amuse, in a quieter room, in a smaller bowl, this is good stuff. As a first course in a red and black room, it's so light it dissolves.


Mains reverse things: I win, she loses. Her John Dory is a well cooked piece of good fish with some provencal vegetables. It's the kind of dish that goes nowhere. It's competence without interest. Were I to be nasty, it's food as accounting - it's nice that both sides balance, but I'm not going to celebrate it. The kind of dead dish that drains a room despite the fact that it's, I guess, kind of flawless. Worse, and revealingly, I fear it may have been a conceit to the calorie counters. I got, of course, the famous quail with foie. The portion is small, the quail is perfect. It's delicious. I guess. There's also not enough of it, the jus is nice but sparse and the salad is a thimble. A bigger portion, more jus, less white plate staring me in the face and I'm raving about this. It's technically better than that chicken with lobster and foie and sausage at Cabane A Sucre but if feels more like a dish I should like more than I do. The original, I'm sure, was magnificent.


And now a word on the potatoes. They do know where their bread is (Bordier) buttered. These things are good. Which is nice until you realize that they're plying every table with refills of the potatoes. Why am I being uncharitable about this? A few days ago at Schwa, I'm sure everyone got the truffled uova ravioli and I'm not holding that against them. But it didn't seem so studied there, it didn't seem so much like a veteran rock band playing their One Big Hit night after night, while you sing along and they fall asleep.


Pre-desert was something.


Desert was a yuzu souffle with raspberry sorbet. Technically correct, of course.


We had a great chat with the somm and chef after the meal. The chef's a German expat, doesn't love Singapore. He's very talented - you can see that, this stuff comes out well cooked, ingredients are good. It's just that this is a restaurant from limbo, located in limbos all over the world; I half expected to walk out the door and find myself at the MGM Grand. There's no dialogue between the restaurant and the place or, more precisely, there is - except the place outside is a luxury mall, filled with luxury goods that are nice and pretty but no nicer or prettier than they have to be to justify their price given their name.


We mentioned we were transferring flights in Hong Kong.


"There's a L'Aterlier in Hong Kong as well!" they said.


And that, I think, is precisely the problem.

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Merry Christmas heathens!


I will be posting this in pieces, as I've already lost it twice. This is a chromebook problem, not a mouthfuls problem.


I arrived Singapore at 6 am yesterday, and my first stop was this:



I stopped for the pic...


The apartment I'm staying in is an Airbnb in a highrise right on top of the Chinatown MRT station. The MRT system is very straightforward, and after having a shower, I wandered across the bridge and saw this at street level:




Yes and No. It is the same name as the hawker stall that won the Michelin star in July. But it's an outpost right down on street level at the entrance to the Chinatown neighborhood, that opened in November. That's the line at 9:30, a half hour before opening.


Initially I felt kindof bad about this, but I had an elucidating conversation with the nice reflexologist who told me that many of the original hawker stalls are still run by the founders. The kids (and grandkids) have little interest in cooking from 5 am, running a stand all day among a hundred others, in a tiny space, with no aircon, open until 9 or 10 at night, 6-7 days/week, it's a grueling job. If Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken has been producing such good food to get this kind of attention- yeah, let 'em grab the tourist dollars while they can- as long as the quality is good.


But I needed food now, and the man minding the queue said it would be an hour over at HKSS so I popped into the Chinatown complex and took the escalator to the second floor. Food stands, tables and people everywhere- it was madness. I found the original Liao Fan, but there was also a long line, so I opted for a shorter line at the duck wonton noodle stall, and slurped down my breakfast, and went back to the apartment for a nap and to watch the amazing thunderstorm.


After the rain let up, I went back out for a stroll, and thought I'd try the original Liao Fan, but I couldn't find it! I found a schematic for the 250+ stalls, but didn't know the number, I'd find it again since I found it once, right? but no. So I went to the outpost. No line.


Here's the dish:


It's good. It's fine, it's S$3.80. The chicken was moist and delicious, there were some sauces (chili and vinegar pepper) to add. I'll try and do a comparison with the original in the next few days.


That was yesterday, more in another post.

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I got up early this Christmas morning as thunderstorms were expected by 11, and I wanted to visit the walkway in the Supertree Grove, and also wanted to beat the crowds. I'm not really adjusted to the time change, but it's monsoon season, so I knew I'd get a nap in the afternoon while it rained.


The walkway opens at 9 am, and I was a half hour early, and even then it's quite hot and humid, so I did something that I'm not even a little ashamed of. I went to the McDonald's by the visitor center for a coffee. And their delicious, delicious air conditioning.


This is very cool- I mean, it's interesting, but there's also a nice breeze.



The trees have all kinds of ecological functions like photovoltaic cells on top, water filters, and they are covered with cool orchids and birds. The place was deserted, but the staff told me they expected to get lots of visitors later.


I have many more pictures of the grove, but you can't eat these, so I'll stay on topic :)


You're only "allowed" to stay on the walkway for 15 minutes to let other visitors up, but since it was so empty, I was up for about 30.

Afterwards, I was again hungry, so I caught the MRT to Little India and headed into the Tekka Centre. I applied the tried and true logic of checking out the offerings, and going to the place with a line.




I got the rice and curry, which runs a whopping S$5.50. Another S$1 for a bottle of water. I have to remember that when people here ask if you want spicy, it's not like the US when you say yes, but they don't believe you. Here, they believe you. You can see the smear of oil coming from the spicy chicken.




So what we've got here is the spicy chicken, some parippu (Sri Lankan dahl), rice, a crispy pappadam cracker, snake gourd curry in the bottom left corner, and by the pappadum is a strange cold and semi-sweet thing made of pineapple, carrot, green pepper and some sort of semi-firm bean. I didn't go back and ask about it. Oddly my favorite thing was the dahl, but I do love lentils. The curry was nice as well, and the chicken was indeed spicy.


Here's the interior of the market- it's not nearly as crazy as the Chinatown complex. Many stalls had signs about being closed Mondays, but I think many were also closed for Christmas today.



Delicious lunch, very filling. Very spicy. Took the train back to Chinatown for a rest and to wait out the storm.

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