The Alkaff bridge at Robertson Quay, also known as the art bridge (the link takes you to the website created by the artist who painted it, Pacita Abad)
Here are some happy face pancakes to welcome the start of school holidays. Wait! Did I just say holidays? That must mean we’ve been here in Singapore a whole term already. Cliched as it sounds, time really does fly. In fact, the whole first week of the school hols have gone by while I tried to find time to create this post!
So, what have we been doing? Still eating relentlessly of course. Luckily, the food consumption has been balanced out a little by our use of public transport. Walking between stations/ stops on the MRT system helps burn off a few of those extra calories ;).
And what have we been eating? Well, in a country as food-obsessed as Singapore, it’s pretty easy to eat something new every day. However, there have been a couple of places that we’ve deemed worth a return visit. Here’s a sampling:
*disclaimer - part of the reason we like some of these places is because we can reach them easily by public transport, usually within 20-30 minutes from our doorstep.
Chomp chomp hawker centre
With a name like chomp-chomp, it was definitely worth visiting at least once. Plus, it’s been touted as one of the best hawker centres in Singapore, so we had to put it to the test didn’t we?
Does it live up to the hype? If you like barbecued seafood, chicken wings, fried carrot cake, and sugar cane juice, then yes. Because that’s about all you can order here.
Ok, ok, I do exaggerate but there are many, many barbecue seafood stalls. Which one to pick? I’m not really sure, but I liked the look of the first stall that caught my eye as I walked in the main entrance and my food radar is usually pretty reliable. We’ve eaten the barbecued stingray from this place twice and both times it was really good. The “sambal” is rich, layered, and delightfully smoky (that would be from the barbecuing).
Barbecued stingray, sorry, shaky nightime iPhone shot!
The stingray is served with cincalok a type of condiment made from fermented tiny shrimp. See those tiny black spots? They are shrimp eyes! I know this sounds quite gross but it is really tasty.
The barbecue stall - I can see the numbers 01-01 on the edge, so that must be the stall number. Good luck.
The really fun part about this hawker centre is how the drinks arrive in ultra huge mugs if you order the “large” size. This mega sugar cane juice set us back S$2.50!
The hawker centre is really popular so be prepared to hover and nab tables when you see anyone just about to leave. Forget about waiting politely until they completely stand up and move away because chances are, another more seasoned hawker centre regular will suss you out for a newbie and steal the seat from right under your nose. True story.
Another favourite haunt of ours is the Shokutsu-10-Yosoko Japan! area at the Serangoon NEX shopping centre. Shokutsu 10 is a little enclave of Japanese eateries (I think the number 10 refers to the number of eateries). You can find everything from sushi to Japanese pasta. So far, we’ve eaten at the Shimbashi Soba joint a few times. The noodles are hand made and you can watch the chef at work as he rolls and cuts the noodles. On one of our visits, we happened to be there at the end of his shift, and he entertained us by drawing caricatures of the MCs in the flour on his workbench. The girls were absolutely thrilled to bits.
The noodles are tasty and pretty affordable for a sit-down restaurant, and the desserts are really interesting too. Not your standard green tea ice-cream here! Desserts feature all sorts of interesting ingredients including kinako (roasted soybean) powder, an ingredient I’ve been wanting to taste for a while. (If you’re wondering, yes, I did enjoy the kinako, it tastes quite malty).
Next door to the noodle place is the Green Pumpkin bakery. Upon first inspection, some of the flavours on display are quite bizzare, but we’ve been back very often and we love it. The flavours are actually very restrained and subtle, and if you get the cakes, don’t be put off by the size vs price ratio, they’re worth it.
Green Pumpkin's signature soft buns - filled with, what else? Pumpkin puree. It's nice but I'm not a fan of pumpkin, so this isn't my favourite.
Some buns I haven't worked up the courage to try. They are strawberry-melon, mango-melon and choc-melon flavoured. Not too sure about melon in my buns...
This one is soooo cute and delicious. Chocolate filled soft sweet bun, and his nose is a dried apricot.
Sakura (cherry blossom) cake and a chocolate cake . I can't remember the exact name of the chocolate cake but it was amazing, with a surprise crispy layer hidden in between the rich chocolate.
Odd but I had to try it. A takoyaki (octopus ball) flavoured bun. The bun is wrapped around an actual takoyaki. Strangely satisfying!
Ironically, before I left Asia, I never really drank coffee. But living with a coffee snob changed all that. Plus, we were lucky enough in Sydney to live around the corner from some awesome cafes.
Kith cafe gets the thumbs up from MC Junior. If you sit indoors, be prepared to leave smelling like breakfast as the ventilation isn't that great. But the food is good :)
So it was a bit of a shock to the system to discover that good Italian style coffee is not as easy to find. Of course, we have done like the locals and drunk “kopi-O” or “kopi-ais” but every now and again, the urge to sit and savour a coffee and a pastry takes over y’know? Luckily, we’ve found a few places to sate the cravings...(and for everyday fixes, we’ve bought ourselves a coffee machine).
Toby's estate cafe, cool place to hang out but the service can be a little slow, especially if they're busy. Friendly though.
I could go on and on but I think I’ll save the rest for another post. Instead, here are a few more happy snaps from our school holiday adventures and I’ll try to return with a Malaysian Monday post soon. Don’t hold me to it though, my uni workload starts again on Monday so posting might become quite erratic again.
We visited the Singapore Art Museum.
A very rare example of "street art" outside the art museum. Visitors had stuck their entry stickers on this traffic light pole. I was a bit sad to discover that the pole was completely squeaky clean when I passed that way again a few days later...
Until August 12, there is a highly interactive and very fun exhibition called Art Garden, aimed at the little ones. This is housed in the building known as SAM at 8Q just around the corner from the Singapore Art Museum (SAM). Your entry fee covers both buildings and it's worth a look even if you don't have kids :)
We also paid a visit to the National Museum of Singapore. Foodies will like the Singapore Living gallery featuring food. Rows of ingredient replicas line the walls.
At the ground floor of the museum, you'll find Novus restaurant and cafe, and the most decadent chocolate cake I've had in a while! It is a huge slab so make sure you share.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of the weekend. (Please excuse poor photo quality, all these shots were taken with my iPhone)
And here's a random photo to finish. Sometimes, the shopping malls in Singapore have slightly prehistoric decorating strategies...