Travel bites – Singapore, food on a stop over

Singapore. I absolutely love the place, and I have been lucky enough to visit a few times, albeit only for a couple of days each time. My recent stopover in this beautiful city saw us visiting some very interesting restaurant and not one (yeah I know) of the famous hawker’s centres. It was not on purpose – I would have loved to check out the Maxwell Street one or the East Coast Park area the time was not enough and the logistics not favourable. 

I had planned to visit at least one of the famous, glitzy gourmet restaurants of the moment, and had been researching those a bit. So many of our European chefs as well as Michelin starred American stars have now opened branches in the city of the Merlion. I was not sure though. Would I really spend one of my only three evening meals there eating out Spanish inspired tapas by Jason Atherton or spending top dollars for a burger by Puck? 

Crab and corn foam, Keystone

Not really. So I asked for help, and a Twitter friend who lives there recommended a place called Keystone. A quick look at the website, the menu and I booked a table for dinner. We were so pleased with our meal! The venue is pleasantly if sparingly decorated and the location pretty good, between the business district and Chinatown. 

The service was friendly and attentive, but mind you, on the night we visited we were the only table. Apparently the week before had been the Singapore Restaurant Week so most restaurants were quiet during our week. It did not really matter – meant we had the full attention of the waiting staff and the chef’s! I thoroughly enjoyed the food. 

The best dish was probably my started or Free range quail stuffed with apricots and pistachios. It was absolutely divine – our mains were great too, the Pork belly Kakuni crips on the top, tender on the meat. We shared a dessert of Valrhona Montecristo cigar, nicely presented with some ‘ash’ in the ashtray, a nice touch to the end of a beautiful meal. Keystone is definitely one to watch. 

Ayam Buah Keluak, Blue Ginger

Our first night however was a Sunday, when most places are closed – well the ones I wanted to check out. Lonely Planet in hand, we wandered around the lively and colourful Chinatown and got to Blue Ginger. I really wanted to try a Peranakan meal, after a disappointing one on our last visit two years ago somewhere else. 

Blue Ginger was great – our starters were crispy and lightly fried, we loved the pickled vegetables served with the crackers but it was my main that was a revelation: Ayam Buah Keluak, which I had never tried. A chicken stewed with Indonesian black nut, a strange and possibly acquired taste, which I really enjoyed. @Bmcboy had a beef rendang, a classic which was delicious but too hot (of course) for him. 

Pickles and sambal
Pickles and sambal at Blue Ginger

Our final meal in the city, after coming back from two weeks in Timor, was a bit random. We had booked Cocotte, the trendy French restaurant in our hotel (Wanderlust, Dickson Road), but after looking at the menu (not a great choice and quite on the heavy side) we decided to walk around Little India and find somewhere nice to eat. 

Hariyali chicken

Once again, we followed the guide book and arrived in Chander Road, a side street full of restaurants. Some of them looked a bit too dress down (read not entirely clean) so we opted for an air-conditioned, pleasant looking Nepalese and Northern Indian (Gurka Palace). 
Apart from a disconnected service (my main arrived 10 minutes before the rest of the food) we actually really enjoyed it. My Hariyali chicken was so lightly spiced and coated in green herbs and perfectly grilled, while @bmcboy finally found a Chicken Tikka masala
With rice, pilau, naan and beers we had a good and not too expensive (total of 51$!) last meal in Singapore. 

Laksa on Orchard Rd

Lunches were not so satisfying and mostly due to our own poor choice or logistics. One lunch in a food court on Orchard road saw me having a bland, stingy laksa with some dodgy looking noodles while @bmcboy picked apart a ‘cheese toast’ which had hardly any cheese and a tiny piece of ham. 
At the airport I had a revolting Fish Ball Soup. I know it’s the airport but for gosh’ sake, at Napoli airport you can eat fresh, authentic mozzarella and pick up some very decent sandwiches with good, Italian products. I expected a bit better at Changi, one of the best airport in the world. 
Finally on our last Sunday we arranged to meet a colleague for brunch – we picked trendy Epicurious on Roberston Quay. In a baking hot sunny day we found the setting (outdoor tables in the shade) very pleasant and relaxing. 

Epic utopia
Epicurious Curry Egg

The menu is westernised and mainly egg based. I had Boiled egg curry as I wanted to keep myself on the ‘local’ side. It was ok, but nothing special. Fairly pricey venue, the service was fun and professional, the clientele mainly expats. 
So this was it for another Singapore stop over. No time for proper laksa, no time to try kaya, no time for my favourite black pepper crayfish. 

Well, now, if I needed another reason to go back…

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