In Singapore, when someone’s friends ask “Where are you taking your friend from out of town?” they tend to mean “Where are you taking your friend to eat?”
Food is a big deal in Singapore, as I discovered when I visited with friends from undergrad, Holly and her husband. Fortunately for me, they were excellent guides, and could even help me avoid gluten– win! Her husband grew up there and they’ve been living there for about the past year, so they knew plenty of delicious places to try out.
On the menu:
Nasi Padang, or Indonesian curry: Walk up to a counter, choose some items for your table, and watch as they arrive a few minutes later! I love spicy food, and this did not disappoint. If I’m remembering correctly, we had beef, chicken, veggies, and rice. Yum. Most of it was in coconut curry sauce.
Fish head curry: A traditional Singaporean dish that is what it says. Picture the head and some of the body of a decent sized red snapper in a soup pot full of vegetables and curry broth. Take that and pour over rice. Eat. Enjoy. It’s spicy and delicous.
Ice kachang: This was high on the novelty scale. Picture Hawaiian shave ice, in brightly colored fruit flavors. Drizzle it with sweetened condensed milk mixed with canned corn. Yes, corn. Add interesting Asian jellies. Top it all off with a pile of red beans. Dig in with a spoon. Despite having just eaten a giant bowl of rice noodles with veggies, I ate most of this concoction. I did skip the brown jellies– they didn’t work for my American taste buds– but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Laksa: I’d had Laksa in Malaysia and loved it, and the Singaporean version did not disappoint. It’s a delicious combination of rice noodles in curry broth with fish/ tofu/ other stuff.
Masala Dosa: Okay, it’s not strictly Singaporean, but one of the really cool things about Singapore is the mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian (mostly Tamil) cultures. Signs are in English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil, and all of these foods are available as well. I went to one of the hawker centers (think cheap food stalls) and had one of the best dosas I’ve every enjoyed.
Pandan: It’s derived from green leaves, and is often used in sweets in South and Southeast Asia– I enjoyed some of these (covered in coconut) in Singapore. All sorts of desserts contain this, as well as some jams.
Ice cream: the ice cream scene in Singapore rivals that of San Francisco. I must have had delicious ice cream at at least 4 different places. Mmm…
This is not to say we exclusively ate our way through Singapore. We went to the Night Safari, visited the Botanical Gardens, went walking near MacRitchie Reservoir (who would have guessed there would be so much green space in Singapore?), and I went to the Peranakan Museum, which discussed some of the local history. We even checked out some of the ubiquitous shopping malls; they are an excellent way to get out of the heat.
All in all, it was a great visit, and there was tons of yummy and gluten-free food. Singapore is a great place to reacclimatize after being in India and Bangladesh, and is even better since I know people there 🙂 Thanks to my friends there for a great visit!
Do you like to stop someplace to reacclimatize on your way back home from vacation?
Where have you gone where you were pleasantly surprised by the food?
I’m going to China (Beijing) for a few days in the fall. Any gluten-free eating tips, given the soy sauce issue?