Iced coffee SG$1.20 (in a Ribena cup!)
Playing the tourist is thirsty work.
Our Singapore day tour, hosted by Nuffnang, boasted a jam-packed itinerary. By 1.30pm, we'd already visited the MINT toy museum and the Chinatown Heritage Museum, whilst squeezing in a second breakfast and a heart-shaped barbecued pork snack before lunch at the amazing Maxwell Food Centre hawker market.
The touristing continued with a visit to the Urban Development Authority where hands-on activities, information panels and 3D models gave new appreciation of the intricacies of town planning.
3D model of the central area of Singapore
Then off to Bugis Street, a bustle of undercover market stalls alongside the gleaming modern monolith that is Bugis Junction shopping centre. We had a brief look at t-shirts, jewellery and souvenirs, but Suze and I really only had eyes for the food stalls.
A rainbow of drinks SG$1.50
Fried snacks on skewers
Fresh young coconuts
Young coconut juice drinks SG$2.00
Dragonfruit beneath a canopy of bananas at a fruit market
We were so tempted by the durian stands, their sweet fragrance punctuating the air with their unmistakable aroma. Eating durian takes time though, and we had little of it. Instead we found room for ice cream!
Ice creams SG$1.00
For weeks, Suze had been taunting me with Singapore promises of ice cream! In slices! With rainbow bread!
Ice cream stand
There's an element of theatre the way the ice cream vendors yank out slabs of ice cream wrapped in cardboard, and then uses a cleaver to carve the iced confection into thick icy doorstops. You can choose to have your ice cream sandwiched with wafers or rainbow bread. Suze recommends the bread as the wafer disintegrates and goes soggy.
Sweet corn ice cream SG$1.00
The bread is not sweet, despite its psychedelic swirls, but it's soft and fluffy, and makes a convenient carrier for the ice cream, both absorbing the drips and protecting your fingers from frostbite. My sweet corn ice cream doesn't possess much in the way of real corn kernels, but it's cool and refreshing and makes you feel like a little kid all over again.
There's an obligatory photo stop at Singapore's famous Merlion in Merlion Park. The Merlion was designed by Fraser Brunner for the Singapore Tourism Board logo in 1964. The head is that of a lion, referencing Singapore's original name "Singapura" which means "lion city". The Merlion's body is that of a fish, representing the sea and referencing Singapore's heritage as a temasek, or "sea town".
We get a bird's eye view of the island from the Singapore Flyer, the world's largest observation wheel that reaches a height of 165m from the ground. The entire loop takes thirty minutes.
The Esplanade Theatres on the Bay
affectionately nicknamed the Durian by locals for its spiky appearance
Are you tired yet? We were! We ended up back at our hotel for a late afternoon snack at the nearby hawker centre in Tiong Bahru Market.
Tiong Bahru Market
Tiong Bahru Market is said to boast some of the finest hawker stalls in Singapore. I, again, was astounded by its size. A short ride up the escalators brings you to hawker heaven. A circuit of the building takes you past a myriad of hawker stalls. Plenty of seating is provided and the ringed balcony in the middle overlooks a garden and the wet markets below.
Tiong Bahru seating
Chwee kueh SG$2.00 for 9 pieces
Howard, Teresa and Qing introduced Suze and I to their new favourite snack chwee kueh. This traditional Singaporean breakfastcomprises steamed cakes made from rice flour and water that are topped with preserved radish and lashings of chilli oil.
Chwee kueh with chilli on the side
The plainness of the rice cake is a perfect vehicle for the salted crunchy radish and the fiery hit of chilli. I also loved how these little cakes were served on a sheet of brown paper, the package folded over into a makeshift parcel that became your cheap-and-cheerful plate.
Red ruby dessert SG$2.00
Suze and I opted for dessert - mountains of crushed ice doused with coconut milk are my preferred heat saviour. Suze's red rubies in her dessert weren't quite as crunchy as we'd hoped. The red rubies are meant to resemble pomegranate seeds but are actually cubes of waterchestnut coated and boiled in red-tinted tapioca flour. The bright yellow and blue tapioca pearls were a little different to the boring brown ones we're used to.
Guava ice kacang SG$2.00
I'd tried to order an avocado ice kacang but as they were sold out, I settled with the gauva ice kacang, not so much with fresh fruit, but served a sweet and slightly tart guava syrup.
Four hours later, we had had time for a quick nap and were hungry for dinner. It was almost 11.00pm but in Singapore, dinner time is anytime.
Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant
Our destination was conveniently across the road from our hotel. Sin Hoi Sai, we'd heard, had a reputation for good crab.
Sri Lankan crabs
Kangkong water spinach with belacan
We started with soft wilted stems of water spinach, stir-fried with belacan shrimp paste. Salt and pepper pork ribs were tender with a sweet and crunchy batter scattered with fine slices of chilli.
Salt and pepper pork ribs
Sri Lankan mud crab with salted egg yolk SG$40/kg
We ordered two crabs between the five of us. We'd been hoping for a crunchier version of the salted egg yolk crab (more like this version) but we all loved the flavour of the black pepper version, the mild heat of the pepper contrasting well against the sweet white flesh of the crab.
Sri Lankan mud crab with black pepper SG$40/kg
Oatmeal butter prawns
My favourite dish of the night was the oatmeal butter prawns. Think buttery oat clusters adhered to fresh prawns that have deep-fried so crisp, their shells can be crunched down whole.
We paid about SG$30 per head for this feast. Singapore - give me more!
Grab Your Fork travelled to Singapore as a guest of Nuffnang Australia for the Asia-Pacific Blog Awards.
Urban Development Authority
The URA Centre
45 Maxwell Road, Singapore
Tel: +65 6221 6666
Singapore City Gallery open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm
30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore
Tel: +65 6854 5200
Tiong Bahru Market
Corner of Lim Liak St and Seng Poh Road, Singapore
Open 7 days 7am-11pm
Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant
55 Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore
Tel: +65 6223 0810 / 6224 3905
GYF MEDIA COVERAGE
Did you miss out on hearing Grab Your Fork on ABC 702AM? You can hear Demis, Lorraine and I talk about our favourite Sydney International Food Festival events on Simon Marnie's Food at Eleven segment. Listen to a stream of the show (note: the stream is updated weekly).
There was also a brief mention of Grab Your Fork in the news.com.au article "Australians win at Asia-Pacific blog awards". Great to hear bloggers are starting to register on the local news scene, and congrats again to all the Australian finalists and winners at the Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards. Read the full article.
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11/03/2009 02:10:00 a.m.