Super-Foodie Weekend In Singapore With Chowzter
Have you ever had so much good food that you just wanted to stop time right there?
We just had one of those weekends in Singapore as part of our new gig as Ho Chi Minh City’s Chief Chowzters.
It was a blur of eating that looked something like this.
It was also a weekend of meeting and award-winning.
Here is a slower version of the highlights.
First stop: fishball heaven
Delicious springy fishballs on chewy yellow noodles with a spicy sambal and dried baby prawn sauce. Our decision to go straight from the airport to this tiny hawker stall called Fishball Story was well-rewarded.
The food engineer behind this dish, which was named Tastiest Dish Overall In Asia at the Chowzter awards ceremony the following evening, is Douglas Ng, a young guy who uses his grandmother’s recipe, fresh yellowtail and no flour to make fishballs that are amazeballs.
Try it at: Fishball Story, Stall 85, first floor, Golden Mile Food Centre, 505 Beach Road, Singapore.
Second stop: Maxwell Food Centre
I used to work a short walk from Maxwell Food Centre, one of Singapore’s better known hawker centres.
We couldn’t wait to go back there and eat our favourite dishes.
We reacquainted ourselves with the soft white steamed chicken and stock-infused rice that is the signature dish of Tian Tian Chicken Rice. (We used to live near their Joo Chiat restaurant, so we really did have the best of both chicken rice worlds, back when we were expats in Singapore.)
Our lone plate of chicken rice wasn’t going to satisfy three adults and two children, even though one of the adults had been eating all morning on the Singapore food tour we’d mostly missed because our flight was late.
My other old friend, Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon, was there to save the day. Two bowls of this milky umami fried fish and tofu soup, one version with noodles, one without, kept the campers happy. Very happy.
We also managed to fit in some rojak, that strange Singapore “salad” of pineapple and fried dough coated in a sticky spicy black sauce.
And then, about four seconds after declaring himself too full to finish his drink, one of our number decided it was time for dessert.
Try all these delicious dishes at Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore.
Third stop: Roland Restaurant for a seven-course banquet
Roland Restaurant is an unassuming place in a HDB tower block, Singapore’s version of subsidised public housing. The founders of the restaurant claim to have invented chilli crab in 1956, a creation now considered Singapore’s unofficial national dish.
Wave after wave of beautifully presented food kept coming. And it was all magnificent.
There was chilli crab. There were buns (perfect for dipping in the chilli sauce). There was salted egg yoke crab. There was roasted pork.
And wine. Quite a bit of wine.
The owners of Roland Restaurant popped in to say hi, just as we were finishing up our feast (and stashing half-drunk bottles of wine in our nappy bag). They told us they’re an old school Singaporean restaurant. They don’t market themselves to tourists and they certainly don’t pay kickbacks to tour guides or travel agents.
We had lived a few blocks from Roland for years and never ventured in. I’m glad we finally had our Roland experience. It was a blast!
Roland Restaurant, Block 89, Marine Parade Central.
Fourth stop: Yong’s Teochew Kueh
On the way to our fifth food appointment of the weekend, we stopped to buy a little-known Chinese snack from a slightly run-down shophouse near our old place in Katong.
A former neighbour directed us there, and ordered us to buy a round of kueh for the other Chowzter bloggers we were meeting for a popiah-making demonstration.
We did as directed and the verdict from the other bloggers was that this turnip-rich kueh was indeed a tasty dumpling-y snack.
Try it at: Yong’s Teochew Kueh, 150 East Coast Road.
Fifth stop: Kway Guan Huat Popiah
We have a long history with Kway Guan Huat, which mostly involves us trying — and failing — to find the place, finding it closed and being turned away because a bus-load of VIPs were about to descend.
But this weekend, we were the VIP bus and so we got the full VIP popiah-making presentation.
Kway Guan Huat has been making popiah skins from its Joo Chiat shopfront since before World War II. Unfortunately, the shop doesn’t sell prepared popiah, like the beauty pictured above. Instead it sells take-home kits, with all the ingredients for a popiah party.
The problem is … if you don’t know how to make popiah, then it’s all a bit confusing. Even after watching (most of) the popiah-making presentation, my attempt was an ugly mess that split half-way to my mouth, scattering bits of egg, prawn, jicama (Asian turnip), lettuce and fruit sauce everywhere.
Still, the skin, which was all that I was left holding, was very good.
Buy a popiah kit from Kway Guan Huat at 95 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore.
Sixth stop: Wild Rocket
Wild Rocket served a truly sensational series of Asian fusion dishes, paired with great wines.
The meal was interspersed with quite a bit of baby chasing and the announcement of the winners of the Chowzter Asia awards. (More on that later.)
This stylish restaurant, with its sleek decor and team of finely-trained staff, is located, incongruously, in a backpacker hostel! We met quite a few of their guests, as well as some guests of the bar next door, and their French bull-dog, during our baby-chasing duties that evening.
Wild Rocket is at Hangout @ Mt Emily, 10A Upper Wilkie Road. Highly recommended for a Singapore splurge.
Seventh stop: Kko Kko Nara
Korean Fried Chicken is apparently the latest food craze in Singapore. (And in Korea. Apparently.)
Even after we’d ordered a serve of each type of chicken — original fried, with sweet and spicy sauce, with hot and spicy sauce, and with special garlic soy sauce — I still wasn’t convinced it would taste good.
Boy, was I wrong. It was delicious. My lovely Korean friend, who joined us for lunch, said the hot and spicy sauce wasn’t spicy enough to be authentic Korean. But it was too hot for me to eat, and left the other diners red-faced and sweaty.
Try it at: Kko Kko Nara, 68 Tajong Pagar Road.
Eighth stop: Miss Molly’s
We set out in search of ice cream and ended up with cake. Really really great cake.
The salted caramel cake was so good we ordered two slices. We also tried the red velvet cake and the key lime cake. I am not a cake person but this stuff was amazing.
(At this point, I was starting to feel a bit sick.)
Try it at Miss Molly’s, 2 Craig Road.
Ninth stop: Famous 328 Katong Laksa
I could not leave Singapore without a bowl of Famous 328 Katong Laksa.
This stuff is so good it beat Gordon Ramsay in a celebrity chef cook-off in 2013.
I ordered my laksa without cockles. And it was just as good as I remembered it. With a big cup of lime juice.
Try it at: Famous 328 Katong Laksa, 216 East Coast Road.
And then we bundled ourselves into a taxi and headed for the airport.
(We were all a bit sick and weary by this point, which made for a simply fabulous flight.)
Tastiest Dumpling in Asia
The next item on our agenda is to deliver the Chowzter Tastiest Dumpling in Asia award to Ho Chi Minh City’s very own Quan Ca Can.
(I’m also planning to eat one of their mixed banh bao. Or maybe a chicken one.)
You can read more about Quan Ca Can on our Chowzter page.
So far we’re thrilled with our new gig as Chief Chowzters. We discovered some great new foodie finds in Singapore, ate some old favourites and met some amazing food bloggers, including the lovely Catherine Ling, Singapore’s Chief Chowzter, also known as Camemberu.
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