Singapore - situated in Southeast Asia - where Asia, India and 'native' culture, cuisine and lifestyles fuse. Where hand-wrapped soup dumplings cost $.25 on one divy corner while around the block its wrapped and sold for $10 in a posh eatery. A place where open air markets illuminate the city streets, bringing business men, crafts-men, locals and expats together for a meal worth eating. For a city built off contrasts, one thing remains constant. The food is good. Really, really good.
This is Singapore. Or at least what I experienced three times over in a pretty unforgettable city.
PS: If you'd like to join and feature one of your favorite places or the city you live in, the instructions are at the bottom of the post under 'How to Join'. Would love to feature you!
TASTING THROUGH: Singapore
Name: Yours truly, Marie R.
From: San Francisco, CA
1.) Sight, sounds and taste of the local markets?
Each night, locals of all ages clamor to the nearby Hawker Centers for an affordable meal with dozens of vendors selling traditional delights - peanut butter pancakes? Yes, please. The sounds of fresh veggies and fish sizzling away on an open fire, friends laughing and gossiping of the days passing, and everyone taking refuge through coconut water, guzzling its sweet nectar, bracing the summer heat, is what Singapore nights are made of.
2.) Ingredients you can't find anywhere else?
Delicious mangosteens grace every open air market in town. With its sweet and fluffy insides, this fruit tastes like a strawberry/peach hybrid. Then there is the love it or leave it, durian fruit. It smells utterly disgusting. If fruit could bear the smell of horse manure this would be it. But for those who can embrace the smell, they rave of its custard-esque profile. Regardless of which camp you reside, durian is a local favorite and should definitely be tried once in your life.
3.) Eateries that do it right?
During each trip to Singapore three spots preoccupied my appetite so much that it robbed me of frequenting the other many intriguing options.
Ippudo - Thank goodness this place is not exclusive to Singapore (one in NYC!). Ippudo is hands down the most magical of ramen shops. Fresh noodles, simmering in a bath of miso broth, fresh mushrooms, bok-choy and chives is intoxicating. So much so we would call it an, 'Ippoddo-ed out' kind of meal - as in exceptionally delicious and exceptional exhausted after eating so much.
Din Tai Fung is what drew me to Singapore and stings my heart when I leave. Coined for their famous soup dumplings - this is no exaggeration. Arrive early and indulge in as many hand-wrapped dumplings as your belly can take. Then unbutton your pants and go for round two. Petite dumplings filled with savory broth explode in your mouth, making for a memorable foodie experience. I still fantasize about my meals at DTF.
And then there is the adorable Plain Vanilla Bakery. Walking into this bakery is like stepping into a whimsical sweets haven. Homemade cinnamon cupcakes (!), double chocolate brownies and delicious cappuccinos are all there to be enjoy in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood (my favorite in the city). Retreat from the bustling city as this spot has a casual outdoor lounge with a wood swing, tables and cozy chairs making for an aesthetically beautiful space and a cozy hangout.
*forewarning, this is not the healthiest of bakeries ;)*
4.) Divy hangout?
Anywhere on Arab Street after dark. A very hip area with low key eateries by day and a mini disco-tech by night. Live music and local chatter echo from the narrow streets of Arab to the next. Always an exciting time.
5.) What brought you here?
A long distance relationship brought me back to Singapore three times over the years. A great city in and of itself and as a great jumping off point to visit other nearby Asian countries.
6.) A moment to capture?
Dining at all the local eateries fails in comparison to a home cooked meal with new friends. We were invited by a few locals for a traditional meal made by a friend's mother. A few expats, locals and travelers all joined together, sharing in a slew of delicious bites. Couldn't have asked for a better way to end my time spent in a city regarded as 'utopia'.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into Singapore! It is a city unlike any other - an intersection where all nearby countries fuse. Often times in a synchronicity such that where one culture leaves off another picks up. This you will find in Singapore and much much more. I hope you travel there one day - if only to taste those delicious soup dumplings...
HOW TO JOIN:
Want to be feature and share a tasting of your favorite place you've visited or the city you live in? All you have to do is send me (via email on my contact page) 4-6 high-quality pictures of the destination you'd like to share, answers to these same questions and thats it!
Can't wait to share more Foreign Kitchen inspiration with you guys every Wednesday!