YOU want to visit Singapore-lah but your budget is kinda wa-lah (wala!). Plus, you’ve done the routine in the past of laksa at Newton Hawker Center, “The Lion King” (or some other show), Universal Studios, Hainanese chicken at Wee Nam Kee… Where else can you go? Here are a few new places recommended by both locals and (shall we call them) SExpats or Singaporean expats!
Quincy Hotel: a hotel with complimentary breakfast AND lunch AND dinner AND happy hour cocktails!
The Quincy Hotel is a boutique hotel near the Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Orchard Road. Hotels in Singapore usually range from 350 SGD to 550 SGD. However, since it’s a boutique hotel, Quincy offers rates averaging only 250 SGD, which makes it a good deal. But what makes it a steal is that for that rate, you get not only complimentary breakfast but also complimentary lunch, dinner and even a glass of wine or a select cocktail during Happy Hour! That, aside from complimentary 24-hour WiFi in your room (other hotels charge a rate for Internet access by the hour) and a limousine service to get you from the airport as long as you advise them early enough of your schedule.
East Coast Seafood Center: Hawker by the Man-Made Beach
The East Coast Seafood Center is a food center, not necessarily serving just seafood, at the East Coast Park. The East Coast Park is a man-made beach park built entirely on reclaimed land. There are also separate sections for wakeboarding and skating. As for the eateries, most conspicuous upon entering is Jumbo Seafood, where you can enjoy chilli crab right by the bay (kind of like Roxas Boulevard). But don’t just stop at Jumbo. Walk further into the hawker area a.k.a. East Coast Lagoon Food Village, where you will find rows and rows of stalls that will give you laksa for just 4 SGD or Hainanese chicken for just 5 SGD. At Leng Heng food stall, the Hainanese chicken comes recommended by expats but what is impressive is the roast pork, which tastes like liempo with manners, i.e., not as greasy. Another stall, Roxy’s Laksa (stall # 48), is proud of their Peranakan laksa, using a third generation recipe. The key, says the stall tender, is the use of coconut milk. Fresh juices are also available at various stalls for only 2 SGD a glass.
Cluny Court: Trendy Treats
Cluny Court is just one small building that is devoted to trendy furniture, trendy clothes and accessories, and trendy food. Don’t expect hawker fare here – it’s way too stylish for that. Do expect creative fast food and desserts. At Relish, a vegetarian burger has a thick and juicy portabello mushroom topped with Emmenthal cheese and sandwiched between two slices of tofu instead of bread, to the delight of healthy eaters. Burgers are stuffed with a relish of tomatoes and onions and made to sit on a bed of rocket leaves while French fries are dipped in a kaffir lime mayo.
Do make your way to one of the dessert stalls for dessert. On the second floor, there is 3-Inch Sin, whose molten chocolate cake is absolutely sinful. But on a hot day, a Cold Stone-like ice cream parlor serves deliciously creamy ice cream. Called the Marble Slab Creamery, it will cool you down as it warms your heart with its slogan “Find Happiness Within.”
313 Mall: The 313 Mall has two very interesting eateries: Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese restaurant, and Marche, a Swiss eatery. Din Tai Fung is celebrated internationally, having been awarded one Michelin Star and even receiving the honor of being named one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times. The line is long but it moves fast and is worth the wait. The signature pork xiao long bao is light and juicy. But even more interesting is the crab meat xiao long bao, a tip I learned from the James of All Trades, because the crab meat makes the savoriness of the dish even more striking.
Taking a break from the Chinese scene is Marche on the ground level of the mall. While you can have your fill of Swiss treats at ground level, it’s even more interesting downstairs, past a cluster of bobbing stuffed toys by the stairs, where a Swiss village is replicated and you go around from table to table or stand to stand to order what you wish: fruit juices, meats, water (sosyal na sparkling or sosyal na mineral?), etc., etc., etc. Highly recommended is the Rosti, a Swiss hash brown pancake that you can top with salmon or, even more sinfully, cheese. And don’t miss out on the Movenpick ice cream. It is a Swiss dose of heaven!
Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza: The Marina Bay Sands is a ginormous hotel with an adjacent mall that is devoted not only to uber high-end designers but also to celebrity chefs. In the mall area across the theater is a strip that houses the restaurants of three great chefs we know from TV: Wolfgang Puck’s Cut; Daniel Bouloud’s db Bistro Moderne, and Mario Batali’s Osteria Mozza and adjoining Pizzeria Mozza.
With their names come high priced menus. However, here’s a tip: if you dine at Pizzeria Mozza instead of the Osteria Mozza, you can share a pizza (good for two) for just 28 SGD! Anyway, it’s the pizza that’s the rave. Try the burrata or the goat cheese pizza. But whatever you choose, don’t miss out on the bulalo appetizer where Batali has you using the bone marrow as a spread for toasted bread. As my friend the Virgin Mare says, champion winner panalo! (By the way, the executive chef here, Karla Mendoza, is a Filipina who went to college at the Ateneo. She is truly champion-winner-panalo!)
Ya Kun Kaya: As pasalubong, just grab a jar of Ya Kun Kaya, the Singaporeans’ version of coconut jam. It has eggs, coconut milk, sugar and pandan. An Elfin pack (easy to carry!) is just 6 SGD.
Priceless memories on a budget! A quick escape from this terrible summer heat. It can be done, even in a place as pricey as Singapore! •
Quincy Hotel: www.quincy.com.sg. Tel. (65) 67385888. Email [email protected]
East Coast Lagoon Food Center. 1220 East Coast Park Highway, East Coast Lagoon Food Village.
Pizzeria Mozza. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (across theater). Lunch 12 to 2 p.m. Dinner 5 to 11 p.m. Tel. +65 6688 8522. Reservations highly recommended. Casual.
Relish at Cluny Court. http://www.wildrocket. com.sg. 02-01 Cluny Court (next to Serene Centre) 501 Bukit Timah Road. Tel: 67631547. Thanks to Aun Koh and Su-Lyn Tan for the tip and reservation!
Din Tai Fung. 313 @ Somerset. B2-01. 313 Orchard Road. No reservations required.
Ya Kun. www.yakun.com. 18 China Street, 01-01 Far East Square. Tel: +65 6438 3638.
More restaurants at margauxlicious.blogspot. com “The Singapore Series.”