One thing I love about Singapore is its diverse culture. Because of that, the cuisines in Singapore are infused with influences from China, India, Malaysia etc. In fact, you could find any dishes that you’d like in this small but international metropolis. I’ve been craving real Asian food for a long time while living abroad. Our trip offered such an excellent opportunity for that. Here are a few restaurants we checked out during our stay.
Blossom was the first restaurant we tried. This restaurant serves primarily Cantonese or Szechuan-styled cuisines, but you could also find dishes from other regions in China. We had BBQ Combination Platter (Char Siew, Roast Duck and Crispy Belly Pork), Poached Prawns, Kao Fu with Black Fungus and Shiitake Mushroom, Pan-Seared Lobster Steak with Caviar, Steamed Humpback Grouper with Supreme Soya Sauce and Sautéed Scallops with Lily Bulbs and Asparagus in X.O Sauce.
The classic aromatic Crispy Belly Pork was one of my favourites. It was beautifully layered with the perfectly roasted crispy skin at the top, covering the juicy marbled fat together with tender meat at the bottom. It was just so irresistible to feel it melting in my mouth! The prawns were poached in herb-based stock, very rich in nutrient and flavour, leaving a bittersweet in the taste buds.
Kao Fu with Black Fungus and Shiitake Mushroom is a traditional vegetarian cold appetizer that originated from Shanghai. Kao Fu is white gluten in Chinese, and its texture tastes similar to tofu but more spongy. The deliciously pan-seared lobster steak was wonderfully plump and drizzled with caviar sauce. The Humpback Grouper tinged with a light oceanic sweetness, steamed with supreme soya sauce. Sautéed Scallops with Lily Bulbs and Asparagus in X.O Sauce boosted the umami flavour of the dish.
Long Beach Dempsey
The highlight of this trip must be the famous Singaporean Chilli Crab. It was my absolute favourite in this country. The restaurant is located at Dempsey Hill and surrounded by greenery. The place was quiet and spacious, and I consider it a perfect place for family gatherings. In the restaurant, you will see tanks of live seafood.
Usually, mud crab is used for cooking this dish. The crab was stir-fried with tomato and chilli-based sauce. The mixed sweet and spicy flavours were a true taste sensation. Fried or steamed buns are often served as a side dish. Because steamed buns can better absorb the semi-thick savoury sauce when dipping into it, we decided to go with the steamed ones.
If I remember correctly, another dish we tried was the clams cooked in Malaysian Sambal sauce, which looked similar to the Chilli Crab but spicier. The fruity-sparkling drink was the Singapore Sling. A bartender developed this delightfully refreshing gin-based cocktail in Raffles Hotel around 1915.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
From pushcart selling to chain restaurants across several countries, Song Fa established its legacy and reputation since 1969. If you are a westerner, Song Fa will surely give you an idea of how the atmosphere of a traditional family-owned Asian restaurant feels like. There are some variations of Bak Kut Teh in South East Asia. The Bak Kut Teh soup I tried in Malaysia looked darker and had fragrant herbal tastes. However, the Singaporean Bak Kut Teh is a clear and peppery soup with a rich meaty flavour. This flavourful and comforting dish was made by simmering high-quality tender pork ribs with lots of fresh garlic and white pepper for long hours.
Bak Kut Teh is a great start to whet your appetite. To complement the soup, we ordered traditional dishes such as Braised Chicken Feet with Beancurd Skin, Braised Pig’s Trotters and Homemade Ngoh Hiang. Ngoh Hiang is a type of fried snack that originated from Eastern China. It was made by adding the five-spice powder to the ground pork and wrapping it with dried beancurd sheets to form a sausage-shape. Then steamed and deep-fried to create crispy outer skin and soft filling with a blend of spiciness.
Braised pig’s trotters and chicken feet may look disgusting, but they are actually really good for our skin as they are loaded with collagen in the form that could easily be absorbed by our intestines.
Because the chilli crab was so delicious, we decided to eat again at another restaurant called Jumbo Seafood before leaving Singapore. The restaurant is located at East Coast Seafood Centre. You can opt to either dine in the air-conditioned area or open-air space to enjoy the coastal view.
Comparing to the Chilli Crab from Long Beach, the one from Jumbo tasted slightly sweeter. No matter which one I am writing about, it is already made my mouth water. And I just decided that I’m going to learn to cook this dish at home since I don’t know when my next trip to Singapore will be (hopefully soon).
Another signature dish from Jumbo was the prawns enfolded toasted cereals, salted eggs, and garnished with curry leaves and chilli padi. It gives out a hint of milky and buttery scents in your mouth.
Aside from chilli crab and cereal prawns, we had lobster in two cooking styles – Chilled Lobster Sashimi (tinged with a subtle smell of the sea that brought out lobster’s freshness) and Lobster Stir Fry with pepper and spiced salt. Additionally, we had Abalone with Shiitake Mushroom Braised in Oyster Sauce and Chilled Mango Sago Pomelo as our dessert.
It is worth mentioning that another famous crab dish from Singapore is the Black Pepper Crab. Unfortunately, we did not try it this time, but I will definitely get it off my bucket list next time I visit Singapore!
Till next time!