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Report on 3 days in SIN by a San Francisco hound


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Restaurants & Bars China & Southeast Asia

Report on 3 days in SIN by a San Francisco hound

Thomas Nash | | Mar 11, 2014 04:48 AM

Here's the mostly great, and some unfortunate and surprising, experiences we had this week in Singapore. In chronological order.

Arrived 6AM direct from SFO, where the Laksa in the SQ lounge was the best I've had in the Bay Area, with 6 hr layover in Seoul, so decided to hit the breakfast buffet at Edge in the Pan Pacific. Huge, expansive buffet with a bit of everything, but not quite everything since I was dreaming of more laksa and they serve that only at lunch. Items of uneven quality from all over Asia, but many Asians were at the American breakfast counter. Guess it is exotic.

Afternoon headed out to the Old Airport Rd Food Centre for some crab and rojak. The rojak at Toa Payou Rojak was marvelous. The old man was assembling the orders, helped by his son.

The crab at Mattar Rd Seafood BBQ was ghastly. I really don't know what happened as I expected this to be a high point as Rick Bayless, a Chef hero, had raved about it. Maybe I shouldn't have taken the Makensutra recommendation to have the white pepper crab. Maybe it was because I asked for a larger crab for 2 and got one a bit over a kilo. Maybe I am just spoiled by the juicy tasty Dungeness crabs we get at home. We got a she crab with massive amounts of roe, which was so overcooked as to be hard and bitter. The crab was dry and uninteresting. Sauce mild and bland. The cook seemed to be the owner. Can anyone explain what happened?

Things got better when we found the Nam Sing Hokkien Prawn Me Stall which was just closing. So we were given a take out order from a freshly made batch. It was wonderful. So 2 for 3 at Old Airport Rd were spectacular.

Next day we went to the Sunday 'buffet' dim sum at Jade in the Fullerton, which I had booked in December. Absolutely the best dim sum, including Hong Kong, TPE, SF, and LA. One of the best meals in years. Every item was refined most were creative upgrades from standard or new creations. Example, truffled small fried taro puffs. High point and best dish in years came at the end, and was fantastic even though we were quite full, was the stewed grilled lamb loin. Shredded soft braised lamb, marvelous flavor, with a charred spicy crust in a little square cake, slice for presentation with pickled veggies. Wow!

For dinner headed to Maxwell St for chicken rice. Arrived at TianTian at 6, just as they sold their last order, not to us, despite almost a display of tears for me. Discovered Ay Tai 2 stalls down just before a huge line formed. Lady in the line said she slightly preferred TT for the rice, but like us she had come to Maxwell St with her heart set on chicken rice and Ay Tai was almost as good. For us it was incredibly good and we now appreciate why this dish is such a big deal in Singapore and surroundings.

Next day, excellent beef murtabak at Zam Zam. Never have seen this so light and tasty. Earlier stumbled on a Din Tai Fong, with incredible XLBs. No where else comes close. Lots of excellent soup. I see y'all have more DTFs than TPE. Lucky you. Don't know why we can't get a branch in the Bay Area.

Then headed out to crazy Sentosa for dinner at Sam Leong's Forest. We had experienced his creative modern take at Jade a few years ago when that was his spot. I still think he is one of the most interesting chefs around, much like Wolfgang Puck in his prime. We had foie gras with duck breast in a crispy tofu skin cup with interesting unfamiliar flavors. Shrimp stuffed with smoked oyster with was I sauce, a fine dish. I over ordered heavy meat dishes, but both were excellent, Wagyu beef cheeks, pressed duck with yam. Impressive, maybe not as exciting as he was at Jade. Not sure why this has to be tucked away in a remote corner of Sentosa.

All I all a great food town youse guys have here. Headed for CCU and when we come back through SIN will have along enough layover to get some of the East Coast Rd Laksa.

Thanks to klyeoh and others on this board who really made this visit work for us.

I've posted some photos, mainly dim sum, on twitter, @tomnash