So after long last, I have moved back to Detroit, Mi. I will discuss that on a later date (or you can go old school and call me). I kinda stopped blogging in between legs of the Filipino trip discussed below. Stay tuned for a later update.
Subhani Family Stall (Clementi Ave 2)-everyone was eating radioactive-looking mee goreng. I had sup kambing. Everyone is a winner.9 December
Food for Thought-I will say it: I love fruity beer. Their fried curry chicken is ginormous and delicious. Their red velvet . . . Not near as much. The au gratin potatoes were wonderfully cheesy. The pesto pasta was also tasty.
Usman’s-the grape shishah is not as potent as the apple, but my lungs probably appreciate that.
Prague-the dark lager is quite tight. Why does this place close so early?
Youtube/beer pong combos are always welcome. Shooters keep shooting; I keep missing.
Keppel Rd-the masala thosai is pretty tasty
Prive, Keppel Bay-for the second time this weekend, we found that “all day” breakfast stops at 5. There is nothing bad here-we end up eating the whole menu and struggling through a bottle of wine-my liver hates me. There is no sunset view, but the marina is both baller and romantic.
LRT to Karu’s Banana Leaf Curry. The LRT is like a radio control van that runs on a fixed guideway.
Karu’s does not skimp. The fishhead curry is delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed tearing into the soft, flaky cheek meat. There was enough flesh to generously cover my lunch the next day. The chicken curry was also tasty and will provide fodder for lunch for the day after that. It was too beautiful not to order. In asking for more rice for the takeaway, we unwittingly were charged for a briyani set. No matter, as that meant we got the cabbage and the curry vegetables that came with it.
Khansama-I finally got my hands on some daal ghosht. Mutton – check, daal – check, delicious curry – double check!
Pinnacle@Duxton Skybridge-at 50 stories up, we have a solid view of the downtown skyline and the Tooth Relic Museum. Unfortunately, we could not see much of the Marina Bay Sands (just the tip). Sunset was somewhat disappointing thanks to cloud cover and probably pollution. For $5, I support this. We were reprimanded for having wine, though.
Street ice cream-only a buck and it freakishly does not melt. The mocha chip was tasty.
Thai Accent-the green curry was delicious while the stir-fried basil minced chicken was a bit off (under-cooked, perhaps?). Plus, they were out of mango sticky rice. Double boo.
Rong Guang BBQ Seafood-mmm – sweet and sour pork. The chicken fried in curry leaves is also good.
Toast Box-the peanut toast is cooked over charcoal and has no butter. YUP!
The Circle Line is delayed for the second time in a row . . . Ahhh growing pains
Clementi Mall Food Court, Beef noodle stall-Beef kway teow is rich and no doubt artery clogging. My colleague tells me it is overpriced, at a whopping $6. Eh
The guava at the fruit stall is suspect and not what I imagined at all. Have I been bamboozled?
Lucky Plaza-I jammed my toe on every corner coming out of the escalator. Bullshit! The mall is sketchier than the glitzier ones elsewhere on Orchard Rd.
Ria Ayam Penyet-so much hype. The chicken tasted okay, but the quality of the cut was not so good.
7-legged race/pub crawl
Of course we pit stopped at Senor Taco-they love us
Wild Honey-I [of course] had the sweet breakfast which was mango-stuffed french toast with mascarpone cheese and berry compote. This would have been epic without the mango.
The Tunisian breakfast was also tasty, but I would have preferred scrambled eggs to the fried variety.
I had a bit of buyer’s remorse in not getting the traditional English breakfast. The bacon looked like the dank.
Oriole Cafe-I am not enough of a coffee drinker to confirm or deny if the latte is Singapore’s best, but it does pack a punch strength-wise. The art in the froth sure is pretty.
Erik’s Wuesterland-the cheese sausage and the bratwurst are the dank. The pretzels are best when they are fresh. I prefer them just barely over the onion rolls.
Seah Im FC, Aspirasi-why is this the only fish-free sambal I have come across in Singapore? The tomato fried rice [in the tomato sambal chicken rice] is generous and delicious. The golden fried chicken and fried floss are the star attraction of this all-star cast. I am not sure why the workers are weird about having pictures taken-this is a Singaporean thing I will not understand.
The phad thai at Thaksin’s next door is rather fishy-consider that curiosity satisfied.
Old Chang Kee-they are down to only a handful of things for the day. The chicken curry puff was not one of them, so I went with a chicken mushroom puff with low expectations. BOOM! It was piping hot and tasted like delicious English pub food. You cannot spell rock without OCK.
Zamzam-no holy water here. They are out of deer biryani, the lamb shank (yes, a whole shank) biryani is a more than acceptable substitute. The rice is proper biryani rice, even though the lamb is not cooked in it. The deer in the deer murtabak is not discernable from their mutton. That said, this is the tastiest murtabak I have ever had. There will be an internal debate in my brain regarding whether I go back for the deer biryani.
Thai Street Food, Keppel Rd-I love that hawkers are a rare illustration of flexibility in Singapore. Olive-fried rice instead of steamed rice with basil chicken: no problem. Along with the green curry chicken, it was all delicious.
Waiting for the 191-50 minutes of my life gone.
Holland Village FC-the grilled skate with sambal may be the best in Singapore. The special fried rice (only Taz knows how to order it) is equally good. The deep fried wings from the western/nasi lemak stall are also special.
Marche-strawberry crepes with mascarpone and sausage rosti; both are amazing! The apple crumble cake was too dry-more apple and less crumble would have sealed the deal.
French Stall-My expectations were way too high. The garlic pesto bread and cauliflower soup were delightful. The escargot were good, but not particularly memorable. The sea bass would have been much better grilled so that the skin would have been crisp. At least we ended on a high note with the chocolatey profiteroles.
Chinatown, Smith St Complex-we wondered if the cramped design with overwhelming layout was on purpose to scare off non-Singaporeans/Chinese. No matter, down to business.
Xin Xuan Pancakes-fresh peanut pancakes. No surprises here.
Hong Kong 101-noodles and standard fare . . . Eh
Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum-char siew bao: possibly the best evar! Soft, pillowy crust oozing with char siew goodness. Love it!
Char siew chee cheong fan-I initially wanted the prawn variant to mix things up, but was swayed by the guy making the bao to go pork. He is a wise man.
On the way to work, I see two friends running to get on the MRT. One makes it as the train closes its doors and the other gets left behind. Way to be a team player.
Bakerzin-chocolate Souffle (Singapore bucket list). A supplemental dosage of raspberry mascarpone was also very yum. The carbonara linguini made the meal a bit substantive even though we were not even a little hungry.
The Ides of March-The movie was great. Politicians are scumbags.
Peramakan (Singapore bucket list)-DIZZAMM! Everything is dank. The ayam buah keluak and lamb SHANK rendang are both so tender you can eat them with a spoon. I also end up sopping up all the curry with extra steamed rice. The sambal fried seafood rice is also a solid accompaniment. The banana (fosteresque) apom desert was an excellent (excessive) cap.
Marina Square-serious billiards, not so serious bowling. Why would the bowling folks give us cacophonous children’s party favours? Terrible (GREAT) idea. Any of the Singaporeans that think they can bowl seriously may be a bit mistaken.
Zouk, Ferry Corsten (bucket list?)-dude brought old school back. Aditim thought his set was too Tiesto-ey. Whatever-still a great show. The club is pretty dope with a great light and sound set-up. This is how I should be spending my last weekend in Singapore. There is so much Asian red face here. The capper has to be two Singaporean friends passed out on the sidewalk outside the club puking all over each other. The sidewalk in general was not passable due to the puke.
Paulaner Christmas brunch (bucket list)-I definitely prefer the lager to the Munchen, at least for breakfast purposes. They brought their A-game pork knuckle, which is greatly appreciated.
A strategery that worked for me is:
- Grab a beer
- Grab a plate of food
- Finish the food
- Finish the beer
- Repeat until stomach explodes
Normanton Park tippy cup (sans relay)-the antagonistic Malay security guard was not there. Bummer.
Nasrin’s (Arab St)-ordering 2 nargileh was a bad idea. The hummus shwarma was a great idea. I shall miss springy, tender kampong chicken.
Wild Honey (unfinished business)-I had to go back for the English breakfast. Bacon this good must be experienced. The scrambled eggs were runny like I prefer them. The New York breakfast is also tasty, but they are a bit too liberal with the sturgeon for my taste (fish!). The bagel is formidable, though.
Hunting for monitor lizards on Sentosa. FAIL-the Sungei Buloh reserve would have been a better bet. I had a good time snapping night shots of the Merlion and navigating around timid tourists on the luge. The best was someone that came to a complete halt in front of me on a fast stretch. The consequences of indecision in a soapbox flying downhill are greater than those coming off an escalator. It is all annoying, though.
We revisited the much-hyped (and imitated) 328 Katong Laksa (bucket list). The laksa without cockles was far better than I remembered. Even more fascinating was the conversation between my Indian girlfriend and my Chinese language speaking partner-really uncanny how similar their experiences in Singapore and abroad were.
Awfully chocolate-big ups for selling to us after they closed, a rare instance of customer service. The poached chocolate was spectacular, although I could have done with much less topping.
West Coast FC-claypot tofu with vegetables. A welcome healthy change of pace.
Why are so many bus drivers here in such a hurry? Do they get a bonus for not stopping for passengers and returning home? I wish they recognized the middle finger here, so I do not look line an idiot gesturing madly (too late).
Chako’s-what I forgot about this place is that only the matriarch cooks here and that she makes everything by hand. If there is someone other than you in the joint, you will be a-waiting for your food. It took about an hour to get our first dish, and she literally makes one dish at a time. That said, this is the best Japanese cooked food I have ever had in my life. The chicken katsu curry was dank and the miso mackerel was just delightful. The gyoza were a bit flat (nothing a little soy sauce and chili oil could not cure), but the outer shell was superlative. The handmade ice creams are worth trying, too; the banana is better than the mango. If I lived here, I would make it my mission to work through the menu. (Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time.)
Before I go to restaurants, I usually check out a website called HungryGoWhere-a sort of poor man’s Yelp! My favourite review I have read where a couple went to a beer bar and reviewed the food. Neither of the two even bothered with the beer-which is not surprising, since there are probably Muslim countries with higher rates of alcohol consumption.
Every commenter on the site has a food blog. This is not surprising since Singapore is such a great food destination. Every blog sight is identical-pictures and a few lines about the food. Also, the bloggers generally do not know anything about food-only that they liked something or they didn’t. The only food blog that transcends this is IeatIshootIpost; his hawker stall reviews are how I have learned about this cuisine even though his restaurant reviews are hit or miss.
I love the Cafe l’ Cair stall at NUS’ Business School canteen. $2.70 for delicious mutton, fragrant rice, salad, and an Arabic samosa. Huzzah!
I figured out that the reason I can never catch a good sunset in Singapore is because it occurs out west, where my view is blighted by the pollution generated out in Tuas and Jurong Island. Hopefully, I will catch a good one in Tioman this weekend.
La Baroque-not as “hype” as insomnia, but I rather enjoy not having to box out to get drinks during free flow.
Senor Taco-I am legend
Mughal Sweets (bucket list), Little India Arcade-ras malai, pakora and samosa
Pisang goreng-this would have been superlative out of the fryer. The perfect banana and breading were let down by virtue of being left out.
Appam-this fermented rice whatnot is seriously growing on me. Crisp on the edges, but soft and pillowy in the middle.
Senki-fresh salmon sashimi, soft shell crab rolls, curry udon . . . It is all good
Winebos-I love the new location (just around the corner from the old one in Kampong Glam). At free flow, the wine is really good and my glass never goes empty. Huzzah!
Ya Mahyuddin-they do not have daalcha. SKIP.
Brinda’s-mutton keema at 3am. Boom! Thosai also can.
I have never been happier to eat at McDonald’s (which may be one of the better offerings at the Changi Budget Terminal).
The Tioman Airport is tiny, easily the smallest international airport I have been in. We grab a sea taxi to Kg Paya and are excited by the break in the monsoon rains and the tropical paradise scenery.
We get to Paya and it is absolutely dead; I am reasonably certain we were the only tourists in the village. We try our hand at snorkeling: nature 1, us 0. The choppy swells and murky waters (monsoon season) defeat our best efforts. We give up and make our way back to Paya Beach Resort to catch the sunset, easily the most glorious exercise of the day. We grab dinner from the limited restaurant menu (they do not even have steamed rice!) and then catch a nap before a private NYE.
There is literally nothing to do in Paya. Even in the peak season, there would be the hotel bar and a few food stands more than is open now. The beach is slightly above average here, so I really do not know what the draw is here. Lonely Planet warned that Paya is the one place in Tioman overrun by KLers and Singaporeans. The village is fun only because of the company.
1 January 2012
We decide to eat the transport costs and head to Juara for the seasonal surfing-brilliant decision. We had to hire a boat to get to Tekek and then a 4WD to drive a pretty treacherous path to Juara-about $70 round trip from Paya.
Juara was amazing-I would recommend staying here if you go to Tioman in the off-peak season. I am not sure if I see the value of going anywhere in Tioman during the peak season, other than for the diving.
The surf was slightly choppy (it is raining pretty hard) but very ridable-I do end up actually catching a few waves once I remember what I am doing. Between bouts of being tossed around by the waves, we hang out at the Surf Shack Beach Hut. The owner, Jim, is awesome. He is an Aussie who has lived/surfed in Malaysia since he was 7. He drank with our ragtag bunch of backpackers and kept us fueled with cheap food and booze. Even renting boards was cheap (I think 60 ringgit for 2 people’s worth of food, beer, and one surf board rental). All in all, good times.
Cafe Le Cairo-
Adas bil Hamod (lentils)
Gibna Mahrus (feta cheese)-this was really weird, too cheesy and tasted like something I would find on the salad bar of a fast food place. The other two appetizers were pretty tasty.
Hummus bil Tomato (chickpeas)
Chicken Bukhari-this was good, but not near as epic as I remember or built up in my mind. The chicken had hardly any meat on the bones, despite being well seasoned and prepared.
Ayer Rajah FC-I was looking for the murtabak that a friend ordered but instead I happened upon “Probably the Best Briyani in Singapore”. Of course these were delusions of grandeur, but this could have been good . . . Really good. The flavours and seasonings were okay, but the meat was cooked at too high a temperature and not for long enough. This is pretty inexcusable given that meat in briyani here is cooked separately from the rice. I did get a nice workout trying to slice through the mutton, though.
While we are at it, the mango juice from the fruit stall across the aisle was a disappointment, too. The sourish mango was masked by an overabundance of sugar.
Hate hate hate . . .
Pepper crabs (bucket list), Spottiswood Park-I have not eaten crabs enough in Singapore. This is not on the level of Mellben’s or Joo Chiat, but the taste is up to par. The claws were a bit wimpy, though. The claypot veggies and fried bee hoon were standard fare.
You see tons of Maseratis here, tons, but I have only seen one Aston Martin since I moved to Singapore. I wonder why there is so little love for James Bonds’ ride?
1-Altitude: what sets this rooftop bar apart is that it is in the middle of the skyline, has fun music, has a loungey feel, and is very reasonably priced. We ordered a bottle of Yamikaze whiskey to keep the going away party going. This was a great idea.
Chili Padi-I was guilted into going here. The curry chicken set met my abysmal expectations. My colleagues seemed really enthralled with the Peranakan buffet.
What an interesting last day at work. I got taken out for lunch two days in a row by colleagues, but the exit process is virtually non-existent. I wanted to call one person out, and they deprived me of that pleasure by not being there. At any rate, I am convinced that good-byes are necessarily awkward. Luckily, I was not so attached to this place. The best one was one colleague who hoped that I find what I was looking for. Off I go in search of my sunset.
Again, we find ourselves at the McDonald’s at the budget terminal. Terrible and great all at once. We make it to Cebu to connect to Legaspi. In the Philippines, long metallic objects have to be checked in: goodbye umbrella and camera tripod. Unwittingly, I leave my phone at security-the fourth phone I have lost or broken since moving to Singapore if you are counting at home.
We make it to Legaspi, whose airport affords incredible views while you are walking on the tarmac from the plane to the building. My understanding is that there is absolutely nothing cool about Legaspi except attacking nearby Mt. Mayon. We hop on a tricycle (tuk tuk/auto rickshaw/etc.) to the bus station. The bus is a minivan packed to the gills, and once it can hold no more people, off we go to Donsol.
We knew Donsol would be pretty undeveloped, but we were still shocked when we got there. We took a tricycle straight to the resort area near the Butanding Tourist Center. While we were mulling our hotel options, we chowed down on some food at Mommy Nem’s in the Woodlands/Vitton Resort. Mommy Nem’s can fry a mean chicken! This would be the first of many trips to this delicious Filipino eatery.
After checking in, we catch the early sunset. Even though the Philippines are pretty far east of Singapore, they are in the same time zone. Weird. We then head down to the river crossing to try to catch the fireflies by the water. Fail-it starts pouring, so we give up and head back to the resort to drink by ourselves. We ate there, too, but the food was salty and generally forgetable.
After waking up, we grab breakfast at the resort restaurant. This is our last meal at this place, as not being able to fry an omelette is pretty inexcusable.
After rustling up some other tourists to share a boat (or rather getting rustled up), we embark on what we came to do in the Philippines: find whale sharks. Fail-after cruising around the boat in light drizzle, we see nothing. I am pretty sure that the “Butanding Interaction Officer” does not actually know anything about the creatures.
We are taken to Giddy’s by this overzealous/creepy tricycle driver. Giddy’s has significantly more people, and it is nice to be around humans. We even run into one of the couples from our boat. At the restaurant, we order dinner, beer and appetizers (all delicious) for two and a bottle of Moscato-grand total was like $30 SGD. Insane, and the restaurant manager thinks we are ballers. The creepy tricycle driver returns to take us home.
After the morning boats did not spot any butandings, we were advised not to go out. We meander back into the city. Village is really a more apt description. Despite the lack of development, everyone is so happy and helpful here – exactly the opposite of Singapore. Most everyone speaks at least rudimentary English, too.
We stop at a forgettable bakery and then stroll through the market. I snap a few photos of fruits and fish and then we head back to Giddy’s, where they remember us from last night. After more yummy adobo, we head back to the resort for cheap sunset beers (~1 SGD!). A father is assisted by his two precocious children in driving his tricycle in taking us home.
The creepy tricycle driver returns to take us back to the river for firefly spotting. I am pretty sure he is on the take from the river boat operators. No one else is there to share the boat with us, but it is not too excessively priced so we just shoulder the whole boat cost. Having missed butanding two days in a row, we were determined to see something of the famed wildlife. I highly recommend the boat tour IF you are already in Donsol. The fireflies light up many of the bushes like Christmas trees. Since we are on a swaying boat, I cannot take good pictures in the dark. The tricycle driver even comes along and snaps some pictures on his phone.
The driver then takes us to Amor Farm resort so we can eat at the restaurant. The food there is stellar-there was a grilled fish dish and some sort of chicken dish in white sauce. Way better than at our hotel.