The Singapore Scoff

There's a special relationship I have with Singapore. I've been here more times than I can remember, the majority of the visits have been stopovers as a kid, but they were decent stopovers, usually 2 - 3 days. We used to stay in the Little India district and I have fond memories of eating copious amounts of delicious food that never ended up costing that much. In recent years I've also been a few times, for work mainly and that's what this blog is about, my last visit there and what I ended up scoffing down. Oh and just in case you're wondering, the mascot to the right is Oscar the food safety otter, a campaign that was run in Singapore to promote safe food preparation, quite apt I thought.

Shangri La Burger

Not sure how it happened, but some how I ended up in the Valley wing of the Shangri La, it's where captains of industry, heads of state and other fancy folk stay, anyway that's another story coming to the travel review blog. Here we're gonna discuss the hotel burger

Usually I have the hotel burger on my arrival at a hotel, and this was no exception, I was quite looking forward to this one as the hotel was quite swanky, perhaps the room service burger followed suit. After about twenty minutes a 'butler' was at the door with my food tray, he came in and did some fancy setup stuff, I just wanted him to leave so I could take my pics and get stuck in

Upon initial inspection this looked pretty standard, nothing to really highlight apart from the fact there were onion rings on the burger. I did some assembly of the different condiments and got stuck in. I have to say it tasted way better than it looked, the meat was beautiful and cooked very well, the ingredients were fresh and the bun was just classic and perfect for the patty. And despite the patty being quite thick the size of the bun and the quantity of other ingredients made this a balanced sandwich. I was happy with my hotel burger.

Verdict - Better than most hotels

Sitara - Little India

My first day was done with work, I was tired, semi jet lagged and starving. On the way home I thought I'd pick up some Indian food from a place called Sitara in Little India, it's outside a Hotel on Serangoon Road and place I used to go to often in my earlier trips to Singapore. Something about it had changed though but I wasn't able to put my finger on it.

Either way the place was packed, I found out it was a buffet night, I made it clear I wanted from the ala carte menu and I was going to take away, I ordered my usual seekh kebabs, a naan, this one was cheese and garlic, some jeera rice and of course a butter chicken. It took quite some time for my food to arrive, I didn't mind this as I was at least sure it was being prepared from scratch not taken from the buffet and I was outside staring up and down Serangoon road, taking in the all the atmosphere.

First up the lamb seekhs, boy these were nice, they were plump, full of spice and flavour and the lamb was so soft, I really enjoyed every morsel of them. The butter chicken wasn't as thick as I remember it, but it really had a great fenugreek hit, the chicken was also very nice and juicy, not dry at all, it went excellently with the jeera rice and dipping the soft naan into it was just heaven.

Verdict - Solid contender

Burger Joint - Amoy Street

This was a pain in the arse to find. For some reason I kept missing as I was walking around searching for it, finally after some local help I found the sign and the door to get into it. A nice dimly lit interior that had a lot of wood, the tables are all written on like in school and yea it kinda felt a bit underground. This mob is from New York, they have a branch in Dubai yet but I haven't tried them, there is similarly named place here called TBJ (the burger joint) which I wrote appropriately about on the hamburger hunt and on zomato, basically they were a fail in my opinion. Anyway this being a legit burger joint I thought it was definitely worth a go.

There was a jalapeno cheeseburger on the menu, so immediately there's no question, this is what I ordered, with some fries, while waiting I had a bourbon and coke and took a seat trying to read out some of the scribble etched into the table. Soon my order was up, and my first impressions were being rather impressed, the burger looked neat and solid, nice and plump and not just from the meat. Under the hood I saw rings of raw red onion, I was so happy with this, red onion, particularly raw on a burger really add something I reckon, and here there were a few rings, I could also see a good amount of jalapeno and well yea it was time to eat.

This burger felt heavy when picked up compared to its actual size, and the bun felt fresh and spongy, and was a bit toasted. After the first bite I put the burger down and had to concentrate a bit on what was going on in my mouth, I got the jalapeno, I got the red onion, the salads with the sauces, and that beautiful cheese wrap melted over that amazing beef. Look I've had better tasting beef in some burgers, but the whole combination of ingredients here made this a fantastic burger, everything tasted so fresh and clean but still so decadent and delicious as far a beef burger with cheese goes. The heat from the jalapenos was perfect, wasn't too much or too little, just right, after finishing it I really wanted another one, don't get me wrong, I was full, but I didn't want that taste to end.

Verdict - I want that Hot Stuff

Old Bibik's - Joo Chiat Road

Time for a beef rendang, I won't go on about my love for a good rendang, it should be clear to you if you read this blog. I searched high and low, far and wide and Old Bibik's kept coming up a place to go for amazing dishes, one of which is their signature beef rendang. We didn't waste any time, got a taxi and headed down there.

We were first taken a bit aback by how casual the place looked, it was kinda random looking with tables just thrown wherever and a little counter in one corner and also nobody else was around, not a single soul, I thought this was strange as it's supposed to be such a popular place with people raving about it. Anyway we're here so we sat down and pretty much straight away ordered a few dishes, fried chicken and curry puffs to start, a beef rendang, a chicken curry and laksa. I was pretty disappointed there was no beer available, I mean it's Singapore, you can buy beer at 7/11... sigh.

Feeling pretty miserable at this point we started to perk up slightly when the food started coming out, sadly this was short lived. Let's start with the curry puffs, these supermarket frozen triangle pastry things are served with an absolutely disgusting sauce, they were terrible. The fried chicken looked decent, however it was far too dry and very stringy they were edible with the hot sauce but definitely not enjoyable. The biggest disappointement for me was the beef rendang, again visually it looked like it had potential but honestly it was just tasteless and boring, and the meat used in it was awful, it did'nt have that slow cooked feeling, it was gelatinous and way too fatty, the actual curry sauce was ok with the plain rice but it simply didn't have a nice rendang flavour, was just bland. The chicken pieces in the chicken curry were probably the highlight, these were only slightly dry and tasted mildly nice, the curry while being very watery was OK. We've had better laksa at hole in the wall stores in alleyways around Sydney. After paying for this rubbish, we left really quick. I don't get the hype, the food is crap.

Verdict - Read other online reviews and think the opposite of them

OverEasy - Orchard Road

Hearing about overeasy from a colleague and then furher reading on the internets about them made it a must try for my scoffing tour of Singapore. I was in a hurry this particular day and was surprised but happy to see nobody else at all in the establishment.

Quickly perusing the menu I settled on the 'to die for' which is basically a cheeseburger with their special sauce and truffle fries. I also got a grape, cucumber and mint juice. The juice arrived first, and I have to say it was pretty hard to stop drinking after the first sip, so delicious and very refreshing for the climate, I actually ordered another one. When the burger arrived I remmeber thinking wow that patty is thick, a beautiful looking burger that looked rather carefully put together with easily identifiable layers. Under the hood you can see that almost orange American cheese melded to the patty and the nicely toasted bun.

Straight down the middle you can see the intensity of the beef, it's so thick compared to the rest of the sandwich, it did look like quality though and I can verify it was quality from a taste perspective as well, good beefy flavour. I will say though that while the burger was good, the balance was a little out, I couldnt really get the other ingredients, which was a pity as they all looked good, especially the red onion. I'd go so far as to say it tasted even more meaty than a quarter pounder which is just sauce cheese and meat, but even in a quarter pounder you get the onion flavour when you bite into one, here though, all I got was beef, good beef, but that's it. I wasn't disappointed with the burger, I enjoyed it, but would have more if the other ingredients had a chance to shine.

Verdict - One for the meat lovers

4 Fingers Crispy Chicken - Changi

Walking past this place and seeing the pictures of the food, made me walk back to it The chicken just looked so good, and any place that looks good and does fried chicken is worth trying in my opinion. I was a bit confused as to exactly what they did apart from fried chicken here so I just went to the counter and pointed at the pictures of the food on the menu. After paying and sitting down a nice girl brought me my order, it was these Asian bun thing that were stuffed with what looked like shredded fried chicken, some sauce and lettuce. I picked one up and got stuck in, immediately the sweet alarms in my mouth went off, the bun or whatever it is that holds this thing together is too sweet, the chicken though was pretty good, as was the sauce, it wasn't all white meat which I normally would have a problem with but because it's all cut up and stuff into this bun thing it was ok. However I won't like the highlight of the meal was those fries with that orange powder they serve it with... so amazing!

Verdict - Will have it again if only for the fries!

The Curry Culture - Farrer Park

Not sure where to eat this particular night we stumbled across the Curry Culture and never ones to turn a good indian feast down we went on in. Although we knew we were gonna order our standard indian fare we did check the menu out for a minutes before going for veg samosa and lamb seekh kebabs to start with butter chicken, lamb vindaloo, garlic naans and rice for mains.

We drank a few beers to prime up for the food along with some papadums while we waited for a food to be prepared and before you know it the samosas arrived shortly followed by the seekh kebabs. The samosa was actually quite nice, nothing outrageously amazing but the basics were right, good pastry, not too thick, fried well covered a nice masala spiced potato, nice start. The seekh kebabs were very similar to the samosas in that they were not mindblowing but had a good solid flavour, the mince was soft and certainly seemed fresh to some degree. The tandoori flavour came through quite well here, matching nicely to the mint sauce. We were ready now for the main event.

Mains were starting to arrive on the table we were rubbing our hands together as it all looked great, apart from maybe the naan, they looked a little too thick, but we'll come back to that. The butter chicken was a brilliant dark orange with a swirl of cream in it, the vindaloo was a typical thin dark red sauce the raita looked like it had some spices mixed through and the rice was nice and fluffy. Now here's the problem, while the food was not awful, it simply didn't taste as good as it looked, whereas the entrees did, the mains were not able to keep it going, they let the team down, specifically, the butter chicken didn't have an intense enough flavour, I didn't get any tomatoey or smokey flavour, there was no hint of fenugreek and the chicken well that was ok, but the real thing about a butter chicken is that magic sauce, someone here mucked up the spell. The vindaloo was better but still too mild, I want my vindaloo to punch me in the face with heat and have a good vinegary hit, this did neither and the lamb was bit tough too. The thickness of the naans no longer bothered us at this point as we had no real interest in eating them. We ended up going someplace else for an affogato to try and forget about this experience

Verdict - Forgettable

The Burger Bar - Scotts Road

A burger bar done by someone called 'fatboy'? Of course! I have to be brutally honest here, I lost my notes on this place and I can't recall what exactly I ordered, I'm guessing the first one is their standard cheeseburger type thing and the second, well it almost looks like there hummus there, so could be a lamb burger of some type?

You can also see from the pics that their appears to be different types of buns, and the fries look nice with some kinda sprinkling ontop, the batter on the onion rings also looks like it has some kinda flavour in there too in addition to being proper good sized onions. Down the middle of the standard looking seems to reveal a nicely layered burger with all the usual suspects adequately represented. While the other one seems to have quite bit of that hummus stuff it still looks quite good, and I can imagine the combo with that particular bun would have been pretty nice

It's pretty hard to keep writing about these burgers having no recollection of what they were actually like. And maybe that's part of the story here, these burgers were so standard, so middle of the road that I completely forgot about them. They neither were so bad that they have been burnt into my memory or were so incredible that they are my first thought every morning.

I'll have to put the verdict as unknown here, it's unfair to put anything else. I'll make it a point to go there again next time I'm in Singapore so I can update this review with some actual valid findings.

Verdict - Unknown

Urban Roti - Telok Ayer Market

Indian food all hipped up and given an urban vibe? Why not? I like the way they call themselves an Indian Grill and bar. Again I was pretty clear what I wanted to try, I asked for the chicken tikka two way, basically red and green chicken tikka, and lamb seekh kebabs, followed by butter chicken, some parathas and pulao.

Served on these black plank things the starters came out, I like the presentation to be honest, wasn't over the top but looked neat and modern compared to most other indian places serving tikkas. The lamb seekhs looked a little less exciting, they seemed quite dry and boring on the plank. And that's exactly how they tasted, the chicken was excellent, spiced wonderfully and cooked perfectly, still moist and tender, charred nicely at some points, just delicious. The seekh kebas on the other hand, were dry and crumbly, there was flavour but I didn't enjoy eating them so it didn't matter how much flavour ther was in there.

Here we have an example of a classic solid butter chicken, it was creamy, I could taste the tomatoes, the chicken had smokiness to it from being part cooked in the tandoor and I had the fenugreek hint at the end of the palate. devouring this with the flakey rice and crispy yet soft paratha was an experience I am yearning for right now as I am typing this, I remember wish at the time I didn't bother ordering the seekh kebas so I had more room to keep putting this butter chicken down. I loved it.

Verdict - They know their chicken

Random Food - Singapore

Similar to some other blogs I've done about food in specific cities, this last section is about the random food I came across while roaming around the city, some of which I ate some I just smiled and photograpged, examples of some of that below would be the fried chicken legs and the ducks hanging in the window, never been a fan of seeing the roasted ducks just hanging there.

Some skewered random meat being bbq'd on the side of the road was great to watch but I was not feeling adventurous enough to try it, again just concerned at what the meat actually would be. However a nice couple of rotis with a curry for breakfast will not be passed up, nor will a fresh fried rice with a fried egg on top served with some chili sauce for lunch.

Seeing real prawn crackers was cool, basically the shell and head of the prawn, again not really my thing to eat but if you like prawns this much then you're really gonna enjoy these authentic crackers. I was amazed to come across some century egg type thing, and took pics from a safe distance, leaving quick smart as they offered me one.

Conclusion - Singapore is a vibrant modern city that has an amazing mix of old and new. It's very safe and friendly and I love the way you can go from the ultra modern to the classic old style in the city within a few minutes. I like the laid back attitude of corner shops selling beer but the strictness of serious consequences if you act like a dickhead. Mostly though, for me, the food, the diversity and complexity (and sometimes simplicity) of it is a great experience to be had again and again.

Verdict - Go to Singapore... you'll love it.

Posted 18.01.2018

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