YUNNAN RICE NOODLES
HONG KONG CHAIN TAMJAI SAMGOR MIXIAN OPENS
Those who cannot wait for the travel bubble to Hong Kong to begin can check out the latest casual eatery from the city to open here.
TamJai SamGor Mixian is a chain specialising in Yunnan rice noodle, which looks like the local thick beehoon but is chewier. The Singapore outlet is the first to open outside Hong Kong, where there are already 66 outlets.
You customise your meal by choosing the broth and toppings for the noodles (prices start at $6.50 with one topping).
The broths come in 10 levels of spiciness, ranging from no spice to extra hot mala spicy (add 50 cents). I like spicy food but threw in the towel at level 8.
If you don't like the tongue-numbing mala flavour, you can go for the peppery Wu La soup (50 cents), hot and sour San Suan soup ($1) or tangy Tomato soup ($1).
Toppings such as meat, vegetables, seafood and fishball cost $1.20 to $2.50 each. So expect to pay more than $10 for a bowl of noodles with three or more toppings. I recommend the shrimp wonton ($1.70) and cuttlefish ball ($2.50).
You will very likely end up with a bowl of Yunnan mixian in a Hunan spicy broth topped with assorted ingredients reminiscent of Hong Kong cart noodles - a unique crossover dish I enjoy.
A few side dishes are worth checking out too. My favourites are black fungus with mala sauce ($2.80), century egg with Chongqing hot sauce ($4.80) and sliced pork belly with mashed garlic ($4.80).
If there are two of you, you can share a bowl of noodles with six or more toppings plus a few sides. That way, you get a good variety for under $20 a person.
Two more TamJai SamGor Mixian outlets will open at Chinatown Point and VivoCity this month.
WHERE TamJai SamGor Mixian Bedok Mall, B1-52 Bedok Mall, 311 New Upper Changi Road MRT Bedok OPEN 10am to 10pm daily TEL 6241-8323
A LA CARTE BUFFET
DAILY THEMES AT RISE
Even though buffet spreads are still not allowed, you will not find the counters and serving stations empty at Rise, the buffet restaurant at Marina Bay Sands.
The chefs in the open kitchens continue to lay out lavish offerings - except that they are behind transparent shields and you cannot help yourself to the food.
After feasting your eyes on the spread, make your order at the table and the waiters will bring the dishes over. While waiting, take a stroll through the lush and well-designed herb garden just outside the restaurant. Many of the edible plants are used in its food and cocktails.
The a la carte buffet follows a theme each day and I was there for dinner on a Thursday when it was Barbecue Night. The highlight was a platter of BBQ baby back ribs, grilled Argentinian-style chicken, barbecue beef brisket, grilled lamb chop and grilled sausages.
These are supplemented by seafood platters, sashimi and Asian dishes such as an interesting oxtail buah keluak, Singapore chilli crab and braised vermicelli with clams.
WHERE Rise, Lobby Level, Marina Bay Sands Hotel Tower 1, MRT Bayfront OPEN Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm daily PRICE From $58 a person for lunch, $75 for dinner TEL 6688-5525 INFO Go to www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/rise.html for the daily themes and prices
HAIRY CRABS AT SHANG PALACE
Hairy crab season will continue till the end of the month and one place to enjoy the delicacy is Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Singapore. It gets its crabs from China's Taihu or Lake Tai in the Yangtze Delta.
A la carte orders are priced at $98 for a steamed 170g female crab or $128 for a 230g male one.
The menu also offers 11 dishes featuring the crustacean, such as steamed smooth egg with hairy crab roe ($38) and braised Tianjin cabbage with hairy crab roe ($38).
Or you can opt for a six-course set menu ($218 a person inclusive of a bottle of eight-year Chinese yellow wine). Besides a whole steamed crab, the set also comes with braised partridge bisque with bird's nest and Chinese yam, braised giant fish maw with Chinese yellow wine and steamed Korean rice and diced cod with hairy crab roe served in claypot.
WHERE Shang Palace, Shangri-La Singapore, Orange Grove Road MRT Orchard WHEN Till Nov 30, weekdays, noon to 2.30pm; weekends and public holidays, 11am to 3pm; 6 to 10pm daily TEL 6213-4398