boon tong kee, ang mo kio

reliable, comforting local cooking (and of course, very good hainanese boiled chicken).

boon tong kee is a local institution for chicken rice. known most particularly for the white, boiled variant of the dish, they serve up plates of tender and juicy chicken that arrive doused generously with a sweet-and-savory soy sauce (that I think could actually be the true star of the show).

they also do a large range of cooked dishes, or cze char, but these – while decent – tend to run second fiddle to the chicken (and rightly so, perhaps). on this visit, we ordered bitter gourd sauteed with regular and salted eggs (our new favourite thing to order everywhere, also possibly a reflection of increasing age), and seafood hor fun (the thick rice noodles had a hint of wok hei, but were a little gloppier than we would have wanted).

definitely a good option for the weekdays. the place is packed at dinner times, and is a good alternative if you had initially planned to visit melben seafood, which is just a couple storefronts down (which was what we had initially come for). the common (and typically, the only) gripe I’ve heard about this place is its price, but hey, let’s not be stingy about paying for local food.

char, guillemard street

good caramelisation, great flavours, but very fatty meat at this upmarket version of your typical roast-meat stall.

straight up, it’s pretty expensive – you could argue that a slab of pork in a restaurant would cost much, much more, and you would be right. but value is relative, and the comparison is more accurately made with singapore’s (gradually less) plentiful good-and-cheaper hawker stalls.

but the flavours are worth a visit – if only just to see the hype – and you’d be eating in a modern bistroesque environment with air-conditioning.

n.b. all Chinese and dialect spellings are mere illustrations and may not reflect their true pronunciations (though they certainly reflect my imperfect grasp of the language).

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ah lam’s abalone noodles and salt-baked chicken, jalan besar

quite a special bowl of noodles at this coffee shop in jalan besar – they might first incite interest because of the expensive mollusk, but this otherwise pedestrian-looking bowl of minced meat noodles would hold that interest with its flavours.

it’s a typical-looking coffee shop, but spruced up white and clean – with an impressively old-looking signboard and a photo of our prime minister up there.

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satay by the bay

a short one for a bad one – this one was nearly on the same scale of disappointing as the refurbished lau pa sat. I had read rather lackluster reviews about this place before visiting, but one must appease one’s mother confirm such opinions, so we came here for supper one late saturday night.

the turn into the carpark is a pretty out-of-the-blue sharp ninety-degrees, so be careful – and we missed it once before finally arriving at a half-occupied complex smelling very strongly of satay (I know, duh, but this was a clothes-soaking, grease-sticking sort of smell). many stalls were actually closed, or closing (and it was only just before 10), so we settled only for a plate of chicken and beef satay and some cut fruit to wash away the fattiness.

I applaud the effort that went into creating such beautiful space, but really, it’s nothing without good hawkers. the satay was average at best, and could do with rendering a bit more fat and grease, and the fruit was cheaper than I expected.

neither of which makes for good advertisement or reason to return, however.

Satay by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953
$$: 5-15 a person (it really depends on what you’re ordering)

people’s park food centre, chinatown

sometimes, it’s back to the traditionals: noodles, half a soy-sauce chicken and bits of roast pork, and a plate of vegetables for two.

have a great weekend!


p.s. the perimeter of the food court is now taken up by mainland chinese offering a wide range of indigenous foods (which I like, but haven’t had the chance to try), while the inside has a smattering of more local offerings. it’s an experience!

People’s Park Food Centre (just outside OG People’s Park)
32 New Market Road
Singapore 050032
$: less than ten per person (unless you’re greedy like me)

lagnaa barefoot dining, little india

a gimmicky, very-expensive indian restaurant in little india – not the traditional indian foodery as you’d expect in this neighborhood. it seems catered toward tourists, tripadvisor (on which it has a fantastic rating) and unknowing diners a like – the gimmick of barefoot dining and variable heat levels (and of course that means there’s a barely-human level up there) saying possibly everything you need to know.

and of course, it could be not a gimmick, but a preference for no-shoes and a care for customers’ varying heat requirements. but I’m just saying – coupled with the high prices and the small portions of supposed-to-be-cheap food, I’m more likely to put this off as a tourist trap than anything else.

but I’m cynical (that’s why you like me, right).

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hawker food, or national day 2014

happy 49th, singapore! you know they* say only bananas don’t improve with age – and really, you’re doing great.

(*they, a usefully anonymous group of people you may rely on for validation)

I may complain about this infernal heat, and I may not partake much in hawker culture – the first makes me incredibly, authentically singaporean, and the latter negates that same –

but I love you. your passport is gold, opportunities abound, and food is hearty and in good supply.

here’s to many good years ahead!


p.s. photos taken at the rather institutional changi village food market, which can almost singlehandedly uphold that widely-acknowledged wisdom that the east is where the food’s at.

p.p.s from top to bottom, barbecued satay and chicken wings, tauhu goreng (peanut sauce over fried tofu cubes, and now one of my favorite local things), nasi lemak (coconut rice with sides), chicken noodles, beef balls, and an oyster omelet.

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all things n’ice, suntec city

unfussy, but also unspectacular dishing up of local desserts at this food-court-like store by the fountain of wealth in suntec city. it’ll do in a pinch – but its rather unimpressive mien is a double-edged sword for people new to local desserts: you won’t know how bad it is much better it could be, but forming a first impression of localness in this place probably wouldn’t encourage you to eat any more.

this ain’t bashing, because this place isn’t gourmet (and it knows it), but really – it’s only good if you want something sweet and really can’t care about what you have (because if you did, you’d head to patisserie g, just barely five minutes away).

it’s a food-court-like store that looks like it morphed out the food republic just next to it – an open-air cafe lining the edge of the atrium and manned by harried staff dressed in cute, rather kitschy retro-type aprons. the name rather indicates its offering of desserts only, cheap plates/ bowls of things like grass jelly, ice jelly (a generic name for a lime-ish clear jelly), chewy tapioca balls and sweet-cooked beans on ice – all local, pretty authentic, but none really that interesting.

perhaps the best thing was the osmanthus jelly: two a serving, these were fragrant (and perhaps almost suspiciously so) tender, scallop-edged jellies with plump wolfberries.

according to me* – it doesn’t really bear coming back (it makes me wonder if the dessert store in the actual food court might do better) – its biggest recommendation is the big, airy space by the wealth fountain, and as a relative escape from the manic crowds. but its cheap, the desserts are cold, service is prompt and the space is pretty kitschy – you could certainly do much worse.

p.s. according to me was a phrase I heard this week from a rather opinionated, egoistic individual – and I’ve wanted to repeat it since just to relive that outrage I felt upon first hearing it. and where better to do it than my own blog? 🙊

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lau pa sat, raffles place

it’s refurbished and very pretty – but it’s now pretty much officially a tourist trap. and by that, I mean the food is bad, the food is expensive, service is pretty much non-existent, though I suppose at least it’s clean and gorgeous.

I’m not impressed, at all.

at the top of my list of why-I’m-so-irritated-with-this-place (besides the mediocre food):

  1. no table numbers. that means everything is self-service, and you can’t order at hawkers that offer to bring the food, since you can’t describe how to get it delivered to you.
  2. little variety. the hawker centre stores are all tenanted out, sure – but the apparent choice doesn’t translate to any real choice at all (they mostly sell the same things, and it doesn’t look very good either).
  3. expensive. I already expected this, but the (lack of) quality made this really annoying.

enough said, I’d think. I suggest paying more and hitting up a restaurant, or going to chomp chomp if you must have some local hawker.

Lau Pa Sat (or less colloquially, the Telok Ayer Market)
18 Raffles Quay
Singapore 048582
$: perhaps tenish a head, but it’s not worth it