In college at Cornell University in New York, I lived in a dorm. Of my daily routine, I enjoyed dinner the most.
We had a cooking group of Hotel and Restaurant School students: Big Mac, our star rugby player from Fiji; my best friend, Russel, from the Bahamas; Credo from Tanzania; Hagop from Armenia; Nicolas from Greece; Ishtiaq from Bangladesh; Stephen from Singapore; and Francis Manglapus and I from the Philippines.
Every Sunday, we’d write our market list and give it to Francis, who would then go to the grocery to stock up the fridge. Each day, each of us would cook something from our native cuisine.
It was a well-organized dinner that many dorm mates looked forward to be invited to. Of these international meals, I looked forward to Stephen’s—not only because he cooked well but also since his Singaporean food was new and unique.
Singapore has become one of my favorite food destinations, thanks to my early introduction to it through Stephen’s cooking.
But I have never experienced Singapore the way I did a few weeks ago. For the “Foodprints” show, Singapore Tourism Board showed us where to eat. Susie, our guide, was a great companion.
Our first meal was at Papamia at the Changi Airport. The chef here was the one who made the Hainanese Chicken Rice popular via Chatterbox Café at the Mandarin Orchard.
Stephen was at the time the hotel’s resident manager. He brought me to the kitchen and told the chef, “Teach my friend how to make chicken rice.”
Papamia’s was a very delicious version of the chicken rice.
Next stop was an Italian restaurant called No Menu Gourmet, one of the best Italian restaurants I have come across.
We also visited a modern Singapore restaurant called Wild Rocket that served a delicious Duck Adobo Ravioli inspired by Malou Fores of Mamou (still my best steak place). Delicious!
We went to Sin Ming Roti Prata, which served me the best-tasting roti ever.
At Long Beach, we had Chili Crabs and Black Pepper Crabs. So good! The chili crab sauce was delicious with the sweet crispy bread dipped into it. The Cereal Prawns was also the best I’ve tried.
There are hundreds of hawker places in Singapore —all good, but only a few are great. We tried two Michelin-star hawker places: Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Tai Hwa Eating House. Both have long lines, but very much worth lining up for.
I tried Roland Restaurant, whose owners invented the Singaporean Chili Crab. Also outstanding. I met Roland himself, who gave me the full story on how the dish, known as one of the top dishes in the world, came to be.
Mad About Sucre was our last stop—a must-visit place, too.
I met up with Stephen and he treated us to a delicious dinner at Crystal Jade.
Everything we ate was the best of Singapore. I look forward to my next visit where I can take my time, and eat when I feel like it.
From my college days, when I was introduced to simple Singaporean food, to this recent experience, this leveled up my standard of Singaporean food. My expectations have gone way up and I love it.
Japan food tour
Reminder: My Japan food tour will be on Nov. 5-10; the Hokkaido leg, on Nov. 19-24.
I’m also planning a food tour of Seoul, South Korea. Send me an e-mail at [email protected] if you’re interested to join.