A Culinary Journey through Singapore
We visited their Cheese and Chocolate Bar, which had 14 types of cheese and 57 types of chocolate...
was the polar opposite of Bangkok. Where the latter is chaotic, dirty and fast-paced, Singapore is an oasis of calm, cleanliness, and prosperity at the southern tip of S.E. Asia.
I'll admit, I've been to Singapore before and I didn't really like it. I was younger then, a 24-year old backpacker with an urge to get my hands dirty experiencing the more adventurous corners of Asia. Singapore, for all its graces, wasn't raw enough for my tastes. I arrived, ate a chili crab and then dove deep into the jungles of Malaysia.
This time I've come with a different perspective and clear mission: to eat. Singapore is all about food, and Alex and I decided to use the week to explore the many facets of Singaporean cuisine, from Chinese to Indian and Malay.
First we had to survey the scene, which we did by taking a cruise up the Singapore River with Singapore River Explorer. In addition to getting some gorgeous shots with our tripod, we saw Singapore's history unfolding before our eyes: the British civic district founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1819, then upriver past the shophouses of Chinese merchants who built the foundations for the prosperity of modern Singapore.
These shophouses have been renovated into riverside bars and restaurants, most of them centered in Clarke Quay, home to the city's nightlife. But our night got off to a more mellow start with classic cocktail in a classy spot: a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. Bucket list: check!
But we didn't stay in the Raffles: we parked ourselves in the Festive Hotel in Sentosa Island, part of Resorts World Sentosa where we played the next day. We started off at Adventure Cove Water Park before heading to the S.E.A. Oceanarium, the largest in the world where we put on these diving suits that recall the basic helmet-style suits of early divers for the Sea Trek Adventure. While it doesn't stack up to a full-on scuba dive, it's a great way to swim with thousands of fish without getting scuba-certified. We wrapped up the day at Universal Studios Singapore on Transformers: The Ride before having an epic meal at Malaysian Food Street, a food court that put the best of Malaysian cuisine in one place.
Our food quest continued the next day. We met up with Anand a local Tamil-language radio host from 96.8FM who had offered to show us around Little India. Starting with a typical breakfast of prata and pulled tea, we then dropped by a Hindu temple to witness an Indian wedding before going to the Banana Leaf Apollo Restaurant for a classic Singaporean dish: fish head curry.
Next we met up with Singapore's food ambassador, Violet Oon, who brought us into her kitchen to show us how to make some local Peranakan dish, which combine Chinese and Malaysian influences and draw upon the region's historic role in the maritime spice trade.
The final course was served at Maxwell Road Food Court, a “hawker market” of local food stalls where we met up with Singaporean blogger Bryan Choo, who helped us navigate the vendors and find the best street food in the city.
Once on the island we went to the Wavehouse to get barreled on an artificial wave. The basic idea is this: a pump blasts water over a plastic wall to create an artificial wave that's perfect in proportions. With an hour at our disposal, we learned the basics on the warm-up wave before dropping into the larger, more intimidating wave with the head-high barrels.
Our goal was simple: to get at least one barrel each. Ironically, though my brother Alex is a better surfer than I am, somehow I managed to find myself in the first barrel of my life! It was a short kamikaze mission into the mouth of the beast that chewed me up and spit me out, but I was very pleased to check off a major aquatic bucket-list item. Score!
Next we went flying. Right down the road is the iFly skydive simulator which is the largest vertical indoor wind tunnel that produces the sensation of sky-diving without jumping out of a plane. You suit up, queue up, and one by one jump into the tunnel, flying about one meter off the ground as you learn the basic maneuvers of skydiving: balancing, turning, and moving forward and back. Two dives later, we both felt more prepared for the real thing... but that comes later!
We spent the rest of the week at the Marina Bay Sands, a luxury hotel-cum-casino right at the mouth of the Singapore River. It has a commanding view of the city's skyline, which is best observed from the rooftop infinity pool or their cocktail bar and club, Ku De Ta. After watching the sunset in style we got to taste some of their more unique culinary creations in db Bistro Moderne, the db Burger: sirloin steak stuffed with foie gras and pulled pork. Decadent and delicious. For desert we visited their signature Cheese and Chocolate Bar, which had 14 types of cheese and 57 types of chocolate. I ate all the cheeses, but gave up after two dozen types of chocolate.
The inevitable food-coma hit hard, but luckily we were in a deluxe room with view of the city. After filming our vlog, editing the videos and writing the scripts, we said goodbye to Singapore and boarded the plane to our last stop in Asia: Bali.
Want to know what’s next in store for Marko and Alex? Then keep an eye on our blog and tune in to BBBtv…