Singapore Fling II
Colony at the Ritz-Carlton Millennia Singapore
After a little breather from my previous post, here's the rest of this exciting foodie adventure to Singapore. There's neighbourhoods to explore, a very swish afternoon tea 'Journey' and Gordon Ramsay's own nightmare!
Singapore has lot's of little neighbourhoods with different ethnic groups dominating certain parts, it makes for an interesting step into another world, all be it with a heavy Singaporean twist! Here's a few cool ones that we visited -
Singapore Tourist Map
The colourful sights of Campbell Lane, Little India
We strolled into the colourful Little India neighbourhood and it was like Pitt St on steroids. So, so, sooo many people everywhere in the streets we could hardly even stop at anything as we were swept along with the flow. Our mission to reach the Tekka Centre for a feast for both our senses and our bellies was finally achieved and into the weave we went.
Tekka Centre Markets
This centre was a mix of cooked and fresh items including butcher, poultry, seafood, fruit, veg and of course the wafts of glorious spices! People were piled in, seated on every chair available including the ground and eating traditionally with their hands from their banana leaf (literally) plates. It was tricky to find a seat so we did the rounds enjoying the wonderful hawker stall banter, the fresh naan bread smells and the colourful plates of curry and tikka combinations. As pleasing as all that was, when we hung a right at the rear of the complex into one of the butcher isles, wham I halted mid stride, I've never smelt anything like it and I've smelt my share of let's just say, 'interesting' smell's in fresh food markets before! Survived to tell the tale though, but take the tip and maybe just stick to the cooked food section and fruit and veg isles to avoid any potential embarrassing moments!
The egg man at Tekka Centre
A zip across Serangoon Rd and we diverted into the quaint little Campbell Lane, stumbling literally into The Banana Leaf Apolo Restaurant a friend had told us about. It was slightly touristy certainly price wise, but it had seats and air-conditioning and that was a bonus. The place itself didn't offer a lot of character but the meal was pretty good, especially the Butter Chicken, but the naan was slightly under par for me possibly due to the late afternoon dining time. It was a nice place to visit and true to it's name as we too ate with our hands from our banana leaf plates. Add it to your list for a stop if the queues at Tekka are too long or the tables are full at Aromas of India on Racecourse Road.
The Banana Leaf Apolo Restaurant - we were well into the eating before I took the shot - oops!
Delights among the laneways of Chinatown
We aren't tour people but to mix things up we found this awesome little free walking tour of Chinatown run by Wei from Indie Singapore. There were only 6 of us on a rainy day as we strolled the streets, but what an amazing insight we were treated to from this enthusiastic young fella. We found gekko lollie pops, the serene Buddhist Tooth Relic Temple (actually housing what Buddhists regard as the left canine tooth of Buddha) and even street lights which gave you extra time to walk across if you tapped your pension card! How cool are all the extra bit's you find when wandering with a local.
Gecko lollie pops
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown
Of course though most importantly, Wei pointed out two must try hawker centre moments.
Maxwell Food Centre houses the famed Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stall. Back in 2013 celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay challenged a few local hawker stalls in a cook-off of 3 of Singapore's most famous dishes - a chilli crab, laksa and of course Hainanese chicken and rice. Tian Tian's chicken and rice recipe, out did the Michelin starred Ramsay's version and now has its own Michelin Bib Gourmand award. Whilst it may not be the prettiest looking dish, it certainly was delishly moist and packed full of flavour. Of course we ate it right there an then and at $3.50 per serve, really?
Tian Tian's Hainanese Chicken and Rice
The Chinatown Food Complex was the other hawker centre we visited on our tour and as mentioned in my previous post, this centre houses Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle (Liao Fan Hawker Chan) with the cheapest Michelin starred meal on the planet - Soya Sauce Chicken and Rice for just $2! A must visit when in this neighbourhood.
Speaking of Michelin stars, in Singapore there are two Hawkers stalls with 1 star and around fifty Bib Gourmand rated stalls (Michelin's category rating based on exceptionally good food for a great price) - how cool is that! You can check them out here in case you wanted to do the rounds. For ease use the filter at the bottom of the linked page to sort your results.
The colourful Haji Lane
This trendy, culturally vibrant neighbourhood certainly ticked all the boxes for me with an eclectic mix of small quirky designer boutiques, hip bars and cafes and a rich treasure trove of traditional stores tucked in below the skyscrapers.
Haji Lane boutiques
This area is know as the Arab district, with Malay, Arab and Bugis communities mixed in to create an amazing array of goodies for us to explore. The streets surrounding the towering Sultan Mosque are filled with carpet and fabric shops, beautiful perfumeries and of course great food. The colourful Haji Lane which sits below the surrounding skyscrapers is lined with brightly painted traditional shophouses. It's a hidden gem when it comes to boutique shopping experiences and certainly one of my faves.
Around the corner you will find Arab Street which is packed full of tiny restaurants and many more exciting boutique shops. The view down the closed-off street towards the Mosque is wonderful!
Arab Street and Sultan Mosque
As for food, nearby Zam Zam was full of character and absolutely jammed with customers! It's bustling, touristy and nothing to look at but the crispy murtabak was a delight. While we were in this area, we would have loved to have tried NOX - Dine in the Dark restaurant just for something different, but it was completely booked out during our stay. If you get a chance, apparently this pitch black 'multi-sensory' dining experience will take your foodie moments to a whole new level.
Gin tower at the Atlas Bar
What an apt way to finish our Kampong Glam moment than by venturing into the grandeur of the Atlas Bar in the lobby of the iconic Art Deco Parkview Square building. It's 1000 odd Gin collection I mentioned in my previous post, sat perfectly perched in its tower for all to see, but that's what you can expect from number 8 on the World's 50 Best Bar's list! This stunning space was nothing short of opulent and sipping our lattes in the afternoon seemed somewhat of a crime, especially for a gin lover like myself. I suppose you need to keep some exciting experiences up your sleeve for your next visit! Please, please, please visit this place, even if just to peak in through at it's swanky interior.
The Afternoon Tea 'Journey'
What a stunning way to while away the afternoon as we sipped on our flute's of Moet & Chandon and made our way through our 5 tiered tiffin carrier of stunning savoury treats including lobster rolls, stuffed crustaceans and potted chilli crab to name a few. Once the savouries were eloquently devoured, it was free for all at the dessert bar. We're talking scones, chocolate pralines, miniature gateaus and cakes, ice cream and sorbets and what would an afternoon tea journey be without a personalised blend of black and white Sumatran tea with your choice of tea syrup enhancements! It was quite possibly the best afternoon tea experience I have enjoyed and excitedly it was such wonderful value at just $49pp (which included our glass of Moet, 5 tier of savouries, unlimited sweets and our beautiful tea finale). The setting was divine and it just felt lovely sitting in that environment. There are actually two places for afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton, we chose Colony for a British colonial styled adventure. Please do go!
Colony at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore
Singapore Botanic Gardens
We had two trips to the Singapore Botanic Gardens as we stayed close by. It's a superb example of a pretty perfect green space with many different zones including the simply stunning National Orchid Garden. There was a tiny $5 entry fee but I've never seen anything like it on such scale. Perfect specimens as far as the eye could see. This is a must visit, even if you aren't totally into these beautiful plants, it really was quite mind blowing the array of varieties and colour combinations!
Beautiful display at the National Orchid Garden
So that is it. We had many other experiences but if I listed them all we would be here for another 10 posts. Hope you enjoyed this little Singapore 'taster' and I'll be back soon with a delicious recipe to try, inspired from this trip and much more simple than you would expect!
LOVE YOUR FOOD MOMENTS... ENYOY!