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Awesome culinary adventure in Singapore and Indonesia - TIPS

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Awesome culinary adventure in Singapore and Indonesia - TIPS

Han Lukito | Jan 2, 2003 04:19 AM

Without a doubt these two countries offer outstanding and unique cuisines. I think Indonesia holds definite edge based on my judgement of 3 days in Singapore and many years in Indonesia. On the value and service, Indonesia wins hands down. You just raise your hands and scores of waiters will assist you. As far as taste, it might be relative but there was just no comparison. BTW, I also had done lots of research at the main food website of SGP which is makantime.com.

What I found was that places recommended by the makantime.com were difficult to find and sometimes non-existent. You would be wasting your time unless you had two months time to explore. The food courts are the best way to explore the local cuisines. Hawker centers are also OK but they are without AC. The food qualities and prices at the food courts and hawker centers are about the same. So why go to hawker center ? There is no reason, skip it and go to a nice food courts that has full AC.Some were better but not significantly so to warrant special trips. As an example, Makantime.com recommended highly a chicken rice stall at a hawker center that is so hot because there was no AC. The chicken rice was maybe slightly better (also boneless) than what we had at a HUGE 4 story food courts that is fully AC. I will recommend to find a good sized food courts that has AC. Almost all the malls had a decent sized food court at their basement.

Some of the local cuisines not to be missed:
-Chicken rice, Laksa, Char Kwee Tiauw, Hokkian Mee, Nasi Lemak set in banana leaf, Oyster Omellette. The others were not so memorable. But if you go to Indonesia, you can find them there also. Cheaper and better IMO although they are not as prevalent as in SGP.

-The chili crabs were best found in East Coast Park. Anyone of them will do but prepare to spend $25 per person. But if you go to Indonesia, skip this as it is cheaper there and better.

I will highlight the best places that I found:
-Takashimaya huge shopping mall at Orchard road has a basement food court that is fully AC and has bewildering selection of local foods as well as International offerings. It has a nice decor. All the shops are professionally designed.
-I stayed at Phoenix hotel also at Orchard road which has advantage of having a high speed internet at all the rooms at a reasonable cost. It is also centrally located that you can walk to the major malls at Orchard road.
-Across from the Phoenix hotel, there was a food court at the basement of a building (local PG&E) that open at 7 am. Decent Nasi Lemak can be had there.
-I had good meals at nearby malls but I did not bother to take notes. There was just a lot of good food around.

Now, Indonesia is different. The qualities are significantly different from one place to the next that special trips are worth it. I recommend that a visitor stayed near the center of the city close to the presidential palace or Monas square. You need to hire a driver in Jakarta. They can be had for about $175-250 per week (both the car and driver). You will feel like a royalty for sure.

Some food not to be missed:
-Satay (chicken, lamb and pork), chicken rice set with roast pork, cha siu pork, etc, Nasi Tim (claypot rice), Padang cuisine, Jogja cuisine, Cirebon cuisine, small foods such as LEMPERS, kue lapis and also the ES KACANG (shaved ice with mix of agars, fruits, etc), Chinese cuisine.

Here are some places that I found outstanding:

TAMAN ANGGREK MALL food court: fully AC and you can find great many of the Indonesian specialties there. You have to buy coupons to buy the food and whatever leftover coupons can be refunded.

SARI KURING: excellent fried fish, tofu omelette, spicy squid and boiled shrimps.

HARI-HARI in Pluit area: excellent egg fu yung, frog legs, fried noodles, fish, pickles.

GAJAH MADA noodles: good noodles place.

BOROBUDUR HOTEL: the buffet offer excellent Indonesian dishes and superb OXTAIL soup.

HOLLAND BAKERY: awesome LEMPERS (glutinous rice with chicken fillings) and baked goods.

For chicken satays, I recommend to find one of those moving carts being pushed around with the person yelling SATEE out loud. After eating them, I just realized I am in FOOD NIRVANA. It is simply awesome.

Do not forget to go to PUNCAK which is about 2 hours from Jakarta. It is a cool area with many tea leaves being grown on the rolling hills. If possibile, stay there a night or two - I say that it is a must do. RINDU ALAM is one outstanding restaurant on the way to PUNCAK PASS (highest point). It has excellent PADANG food which is a bit spicy. It also offers other dishes such as satays which are excellent. No need for AC here and the environment and the coolness will transport you into another soothing realm. The view is also great. Get the seating near the outside.

I recommend to people who are not afraid of warm and humid weather to go there. You need to spend at least one to two weeks to fully appreciate the place. Get a nice hotel like Hilton or similar with a cooling swimming pool. For shopping and eating, Indonesia is paradise. But for sceneries and weather comfort, it is not the best place by any means.

Any others who wants to share/opinions ??

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