Singapore: Summit City

Singapore, summit city: Local foodies point the way

From hawker food to fine-dining restaurants, the food options in Singapore are endless. If you do not know where to begin your gourmet expedition, whet your appetite with these suggestions

Janice Wong, 35, chef of 2am: dessertbar and Janice Wong Singapore at National Museum of Singapore

Which are your favourite hawker dishes?

Besides the oyster omelette from Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette at Newton Food Centre, the black version of its carrot cake (fried radish cubes with egg) is also good.

For Hokkien mee, I head to Old Airport Road Food Centre, and for chicken rice, I go to Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre.

Other favourite haunts include 328 Katong Laksa in East Coast Road and HJH Maimunah Restaurant in Kampong Glam for nasi padang (rice with various meat and vegetable dishes). I also like Rochor Original Beancurd in Short Street for tau huay (tofu pudding).

What are your favourite restaurants?

I go to Keng Eng Kee Seafood in Bukit Merah for its coffee pork ribs; "moonlight" hor fun, in which the rice noodles are topped with a raw egg; and salted egg crab.

 

For Vietnamese food, my pick is Mrs Pho in Beach Road for its Pho Bo Dac Biet (special beef combo noodle soup), bo nuong la lot (beef wrapped in betel leaves) and signature crab noodles soup.

Share with us a few of your hidden food gems. My favourite is Jaggi's Northern Indian Cuisine in Little India as it is consistent in quality and value for money, and has efficient service.

If someone has time for only one meal, what should he eat?

Chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes topped with preserved radish) from Ghim Moh Market & Food Centre.


Chef Janice Wong recommends the "moonlight" hor fun at Keng Eng Kee Seafood in Bukit Merah. PHOTO: KENG ENG KEE SEAFOOD

What dining experience can people take away from here?

I would love for visitors to experience the variety and vibrancy of Singapore's dining scene from local dishes at hawker centres to fine-dining restaurants.

Many dishes introduce three or four flavours on one plate, such as sweet, spicy and salty in a curry broth.

 

What foodie souvenirs should one take home?

Bak kwa from Bee Cheng Hiang, salted egg chips from Irvins Salted Egg and Prima Taste's laksa sauce kit.


Devagi Sanmugam, 63, chef-consultant and cookbook author

Which are your favourite hawker dishes in Singapore?

I have been patronising Ping Kee Popiah at Sembawang Hills Food Centre for more than 33 years and the taste of the popiah (fresh spring rolls filled with ingredients such as turnip, beansprouts, egg and shrimp) is always consistent.


Author Devagi Sanmugam. PHOTO: ST FILE

At Haig Road Food Centre, the piping-hot putu piring from Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring (steamed flour cakes with coconut filling) is filled with gula melaka and a generous serving of freshly grated coconut.

At Xin Long Xing Seafood White Bee Hoon at Yishun Park Hawker Centre, I love the rich stock used for making the bee hoon, along with the fresh prawns.

My favourite prata shop is Casuarina Curry in Casuarina Road. I like its egg prata with fish curry there.

For drinks, head to Maya Mohan Hot And Cold Drinks at Tekka Market And Food Centre for teh susu halia (ginger tea with milk) - it is sweet and addictive.


Author Devagi Sanmugam recommends the steamed flour cakes with coconut filling from Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring at Haig Road Food Centre. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

What are your favourite restaurants?

I go to Indochilli at 54 Zion Road for ikan bakar Bali (Balinese grilled fish) and udang bakar Jimbaran (grilled prawns), and Sunday Folks in Chip Bee Gardens for sea salt gula melaka ice cream with waffles and caramelised popcorn.

At Marina Bay Sands, I go to Pizzeria Mozza for its spinach and ricotta salata, fresh goat cheese pizza, and Meyer lemon tart.

 

At Punjab Grill, I order the salmon tikka, champ taadjar (tandoor-grilled New Zealand lamb chops) and flambeed gulab jamun. Share with us a few of your hidden food gems. Dino Cake House in Upper Thomson Road, which I have visited for more than 30 years; and Yahava KoffeeWorks in Jalan Gelenggang. Both serve good coffee.

If someone has time for only one meal, what should he eat?

Sliced fish noodle in soup with bittergourd slices, and masala thosai.

What dining experience can people take away from here?

One should not think that dining in Singapore is expensive, as the country has plenty of hawker centres.

What foodie souvenirs should one take home?

Pineapple tarts and kaya from Bengawan Solo, House brand curry powder (www.knp-housebrand.com) and Chng Kee's Hainanese chicken rice pre-mix.


Damian D'Silva, 63, executive chef of Folklore restaurant at Destination Singapore Beach Road


Chef Damian D’Silva. PHOTO: ST FILE

Which are your favourite hawker dishes in Singapore?

For steamed fish, especially the "Sultan Fish", I go to Zai Shun Curry Fish Head at 253 Jurong East Street 24.

Go to Zhen Hao Lor Mee at North Bridge Road Market And Food Centre for lor mee (a noodle dish) with a generous amount of ingredients - the flavour of the stock hits the spot.

I get my "pukul mati" (Malay for "beat until you die") fix at Restaurant Barakath in Dalhousie Lane. I love its mutton bones "tulang", the sour and rich sambal fish and pepper chicken.

I head to Sean Kee Duck Rice at Geylang Lorong 35 for boneless duck smothered with a thick and rich fragrant sauce; and Mr Fish at Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre as the smokiness in the fried hor fun is addictive and, when it's loaded with fish collar, it's hard to resist.

What are your favourite restaurants?


Chef Damian D'Silva recommends the Peking duck from Restaurant Home. PHOTO: RESTAURANT HOME

Restaurant Home at 27 Cosford Road for dishes such as Peking duck, pork knuckle bee hoon, braised chicken in hot stone and pipa tofu with crabmeat.

For French cuisine, I go to Nicolas Le Restaurant in Teck Lim Road for dishes such as duck rillettes, Tasmanian pasture rack of lamb, Iberico pork confit and Brittany pigeon. Share with us a few of your hidden food gems. Golden Mile Food Centre has a few stalls such as Chef Lam for wok-fried curry-flavoured fish head and seafood hor fun; Penang Authentic Delicacies for char kway teow and curry mee; and Traditional Handmade Yong Tau Foo for laksa yong tau foo.

If someone has time for only one meal, what should he eat?

Teochew porridge - it has the all elements to satisfy the soul, such as steamed fish, chai poh (preserved radish) omelette and salted egg.

What dining experience can people take away from here?

I hope visitors get a dining experience that only Singapore can offer, such as the first time eating laksa and that first mouthful shocks your brain because of flavours you never knew existed.

What foodie souvenirs should one take home?

Laksa and bak kut teh pre-mix packets.


Mr K.F. Seetoh, 55, founder of food guide Makansutra


Mr K.F. Seetoh. PHOTO: MAKANSUTRA

Which are your favourite hawker dishes in Singapore?

The international media who arrive in Singapore for the summit will be jet-lagged and are likely to be working all day, so it is best that they head to Geylang to eat in the middle of the night.

For crab bee hoon, head to Sin Huat Eating House in Geylang Lorong 35. For the brave ones, go to Geylang Lorong 9 Fresh Frog Porridge for supper.

Do not miss JB Ah Meng in Geylang Lorong 30, where anything you order will taste great.

 

The area around the summit is largely boring food-wise, but if you can't venture far, head to Newton Food Centre for fishball noodles at Soon Wah Fishball Kway Teow Mee and make a stop at Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette and Chong Pang Huat barbecued chicken wings.

What are your favourite restaurants?

For Indian food, I go to The Banana Leaf Apolo (outlets include 54 Race Course Road, 48 Serangoon Road and Parkway Parade) and dig into its fish head curry - eat the eyes of the fish and live to tell your grandchildren about it. Most importantly, use your hands to eat.

Check out Peranakan food at Dulukala Peranakan Restaurant - a mid-range price option - at Beauty World Centre. Order everything from ayam buah keluak (stewed chicken with Indonesian black nuts) to ngoh hiang (five spice pork roll) to chap chye (braised mixed vegetables).

Share with us a few of your hidden food gems. Try the Malay-style epok epok (curry puff) from Sinaran Chahaya Bedok Corner at Bedok Corner Food Centre. This one has a skin that is "cracker crispy" and it has a spicy sardine option too. Go to Master Tang Wanton Mee at 233 Bukit Batok East Avenue 5 for good noodles.


Mr K.F. Seetoh recommends the fishball noodles at Soon Wah Fishball Kway Teow Mee at Newton Food Centre. PHOTO: MAKANSUTRA

If someone has time for only one meal, what should he eat?

Chicken rice from anywhere, as the minimum standard is good.

What dining experience can people take away from here?

Stay away from the fancy food and try the classics from prawn vadai (Indian fried prawn fritter) to Ramly Burger (a meat patty wrapped in a thin omelette and covered in sauce). Get out of the tourist zone and you will see and taste the real Singapore.

What foodie souvenirs should one take home?

Old Seng Choong's laksa cookies at The Central in Clarke Quay or bak kwa.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 10, 2018, with the headline 'Local foodies point the way'. Print Edition | Subscribe