Monday, February 4, 2013

Singapore slinging - part 1: Sentosa and more

I swung over to Singapore for a few days in December - my first visit to the tiny country renowned for its humidity and food. I wasn't let down on either count.

Outside Universal Studios, Resorts World, Sentosa, Singapore
For the first couple of nights we stayed at the luxurious Equarius Resort as part of Sentosa's somewhat touristy Resorts World. The hotel room was honestly the biggest, most spacious I've ever stayed in, rivalling the size of some Sydney apartments.

Resorts World is basically a collection of hotels and other tourist sites on the man-made Sentosa Island, with the beach and casino proving major drawcards. There's also a Universal Studios theme park and apparently, one of the world's biggest candy stores, Candylicious, where there are plenty of US M&Ms and Reese's products for sale.

Candylicious shop at Resorts World, Sentosa, Singapore

Roti canai from Malaysia Food Street, Resorts World, Sentosa, Singapore
Seeking food one evening in Sentosa proved a little limited. A few uninteresting stores near the casino opened till late in the evening but time and time again, we were pointed to Malaysia Food Street; a rather contrived food court decorated in old Malaysian street style - without the Malaysian prices.

There were a bunch of stalls each dedicated to one type of Malaysian and mamak style food. The roti stall offered a generous serve of the freshly made and cooked flat bread with a curry dhal for dipping.

Chicken and Malacca chicken rice balls from Malaysia Food Street,
Resorts World, Sentosa, Singapore
The Hainan chicken stall offered its yellow-skinned chickens in various serving sizes with chicken rice balls: rice flavoured with ginger and fat from the chicken cooking process, formed into tight balls, and famous in Malacca in Malaysia's south, near Muar.

The chicken rice balls were straight up terrible with the overcooked rice closer to congee than rice. The half chicken was some consolation with its smooth skin and tender flesh while citrus notes added an unexpected twist to the soy based sauce.

Takeaway herbal drink at Albert Centre Market and Foodcourt, Singapore
Getting out of Sentosa, finding some decent food courts was a priority, even though we'd heard the famous Maxwell Foodcourt was closed for renovations.

We stumbled upon the Albert Centre Foodcourt one busy lunchtime and walked around in wonder at the number of stalls and the very reasonable prices all round. Certain stalls had long queues of hungry workers while others busied themselves with food preparation.

Chicken rice shop at Albert Centre Market and Foodcourt, Singapore
I think my stomach smiled when we spotted the Hainan chicken rice stall that had an impressive display of hanging chicken carcasses with only heads, back bones and tail ends - now that's cutting a chicken.

Things got better when we handed over S$2.50 in return for a small plate of chicken, doused in a soy sauce, a mound of chicken rice and a bowl of clear chicken broth with shallots.

Hainan chicken rice at Albert Centre Market and Foodcourt, Singapore
We helped ourselves to chilli sauce then found bench seating amid the scoffing, slurping locals and joined in the scoffing.

The chicken was so tender it may well have been a baby chicken; the rice was so perfectly balanced with ginger and subtle chicken flavours I could have gone another two bowls of it on its own; while the soup was sweet and fortifying with chicken goodness.

Sad as I was that I only got to eat as Albert Centre Foodcourt once, I was sure glad the Hainan chicken rice was such a satisfying, and cheap, choice.

Chinatown, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Street side ice cream vendor, Singapore
The constant humidity in Singapore must mean good trade for the city's streetside ice cream vendors, who sell a range of flavours under the Wall's label from elaborate carts on footpaths all over town.

Customers have a choice of having the slabs of hard-frozen ice cream between two thin wafer crisps, or sandwiched within a large slice of soft, fluffy, sweet, tri-colour swirled bread (white, pink and green if you were wondering).

Street side ice cream vendor, Singapore
They're obviously designed to be eaten on the go through the hot, sticky weather and they do wonders for cooling off after a heavy shopping session or some particularly spicy Singapore chilli crab.

More to come from Singapore including chilli crab, food centres, fine dining and cocktails.


john | heneedsfood said...

I've been to Singapore twice now and became quite fond of it the second time. Can't say much about the ridiculous humidity but as a city it's quite inviting and fascinating. As for the food, well, it's a winner. Looking forward to your next post!

chocolatesuze said...

hehe LOVE the rainbow bread in icecream sandwiches!

Anonymous said...

So that's where ice cream sandwiches come from... :)

joey@FoodiePop said...

Lots of hainan makes me hungray.

billy@a table for two said...

hehe i like the extra plastic handle for the takeaway drink... is that necessary? LOL

Vivian - vxdollface said...

shame about those rice balls, sounds kind of hard to eat unless they were bite-sized. the one thing i wish we would have here like in asia are takeaway herbal drinks!

Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

Things have come along way since I was in Sentosa! I lie the packaging of the Takeaway herbal drink...

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

You can do so much in a couple days in singapore. Such a shame maxwell was closed when you got there, but seems you still found some other decent places to eat. Love hawker centres. Don't understand why sydney has nothing like it :P and i always laugh at the carrybags for the drinks.. haha

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love the food in Singapore-one of my favourite ice creams is sweet corn ice cream which I know a lot of people baulk at but it's so good!

Tina said...

Hi John - I might need a second visit ;)

Hi suze - It's so cool *boom tish*

Hi lateraleating - Hahaha, I did think that!

Hi joey - I wish I got to eat more Hainan chicken :(

Hi billy - It baffles me that someone even makes it! For when, you know, you need to hang it off your shoulder or arm... lol

Hi Vivian - Yeah, they weren't great. Seems I need to go to Malacca...

Hi Corinne - I think there's still plenty going on at Sentosa - indeed, there seems to be construction going on all over Singapore..!

Hi Tina - I suppose our Asian foodcourts are as close as we'll get. Don't think the outdoor aspect will ever really happen, markets aside.

Hi Lorraine - Aw, I didn't see that. I would have loved to try that!

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

I adore Singapore, my parents lived there for many years. So much packed in to such a small space.

Annie said...

after reading your posts, i wanna go back to Singapore mainly for the food. and to check out Clarke Quay because we didn't have enough time :(


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