Singaporean chilli crab. A totally touristy thing to do, but a must. The crab was messy and wonderful coupled with a Tiger beer. Hot climates know how to do a lager right.
Leaving Clarke Quai we stop at the only street food cart I’ve seen. They are very regulated in Singapore, so you’ll find most street food in very organized, clean hawker centers. It’s an ice cream cart and is one of the only street vendors allowed because of it’s traditional (and less litter causing) wares. Except, this is Singapore, so let’s make it weird. You go to the guy at the cart, choose from some random ice cream flavors (sweet corn, yam), hand him money, then he takes a brick of ice cream wrapped in cardboard out of the cart. Using a cleaver he chops off a slice and wraps it in a piece of white bread. This is literally an ice cream sandwich. It is really pretty good, and I would say, it is the only useful thing to use white bread for maybe other than washing your car windows.
Oh man, hawker centers are what heaven must be like. These cafeteria-like open markets are not for the faint of heart – dead chicken (still with their heads!) and fish line the food stall windows – but the most delicious, and cheap, food comes from their stove tops. We go for Hainanese chicken and rice, a favorite in Singapore. The stuff is great – steamed whole chicken, sliced over rice, served with oyster sauce, a bowl of chicken broth and scallions, and steamed bok choy. How healthy is that? And I can’t explain how flavorful. Just yum.
Turns out the man serving our food was the former chef of one of the stalls just a few rows down. He was disgruntled for one reason or another and decided to start his own enterprise a few months prior. The scandal rocked the hawkers. Joanna heard first hand about the “chicken wars” from the woman selling her fresh lime juice (like lemonade, but with lime…you get it). We picked the right stall because his meal was bangin’. Also, Singapore loves Anthony Bourdain because his picture was hung on every street cart and hawker stall in the city. Congrats?
I learned that Singaporean tourist attractions differ from US tourist attractions in three ways: cleanliness, behavior of children, and food options. I’ll speak on that last point here. Basically, you could not choose an unhealthy option. You were limited to a fresh veggie stir fry, steamed chicken and rice with chilies, a fish head curry, fresh prawn dumplings, homemade noodles with fresh broth, a variety of Indian dishes with freshly made naan, and the list goes on. I went with the dumplings and was not disappointed. Paired with steamed bok choy and oyster sauce? Stop it.
Monday night we get a reservation at Blue Ginger, a restaurant Joanna read about in Fodor’s. It’s kind of a mix of all the foods you can find in Singapore in a very Western restaurant environment. The service was excellent and the food was amazing. We had the chicken thighs in blue ginger sauce, the steamed cod in garlic and soy sauce with tofu and more steamed green veggies with meaty Chinese mushrooms and oyster sauce. Highly recommend if you’re ever in the area.
Other tid bits…banana fritters – fried banana – can’t go wrong, pass on the moon cakes – traditional baked item – pretty bland and dry, durian fruit – a Sonic, the hedgehop looking fruit that smells sweet and at the same time rotten, and finally, I wish I had the guts to try the fish head curry – the eye balls are supposed to be the best part!
In conclusion, Singapore contains all my favorite hangover takeout food within a 4-mile radius and all from really good authentic cooks for cheap. Approved.