What did you do in Singapore? We ate!
We've just returned from a holiday in Singapore, our first visit back since leaving last year. I admit I had a few nerves about going back beforehand. I was excited to be seeing old friends and old haunts but also a little worried that it might all seem too weird and odd and I actually wouldn't enjoy myself. You often hear people saying you shouldn't go back and having had five and a half incredibly happy years there I didn't want to taint that in someway. However luckily it was fine, yes a bit strange at times knowing we were only visiting, but still underneath that great fun and it was good to be back. In actual fact, given that neither myself or my husband really wanted to leave when we had to, our return visit helped me, at least, lay a few ghosts to rest. It proved it's great to be back but also that it was equally nice to come home again, back to all our things and, of course, our cat who I always miss when we travel, no matter for how long it is.
I'm not going to post here about every last thing we did because a lot of it were things we did whilst living there and you can read about most of that here on my former Singapore blog. I will though be sharing a few posts and this first one focuses on the one thing we did a lot, whether it be on our own or with friends. It's practically regarded as a national past time in Singapore and so had to be a big part of our trip back. I am of course referring to that Singapore 'must do', eating and goodness we ate a lot, even then we still didn't make it to everywhere we had hoped to!
I've selected just some photos (and there were a lot) of what we ate during our holiday to share with you here and included links back to various posts from my Singapore blog if you are interested to find out more. I am though seriously salivating looking at all these photos!
Our first meal, within hours of being back in Singapore, was at Din Tai Fung a chain of dim sum restaurants. We actually went back again later on our trip as we decided we hadn't been able to enjoy it properly first time around because of our jet lag. We were a little worried that we may not remember our typical old order but we didn't need to be, as soon as we were given the ordering form all the dishes we loved came flooding back to us and ordering anything else would have been wrong! By the way they are set to open a restaurant in London later this year (you have to try it if you've not previously) and I'm hoping in time perhaps they'll venture to other parts of the UK too, hint, hint!
|Seriously love these wantons!|
We enjoyed a lot of leisurely breakfasts whilst we were back, well we were on holiday right? This included some Singaporean ones, including kaya toast, a type of coconut jam so very sweet but good. Mine also included butter as you can see in the photo below and was washed down with lots of kopi, the local coffee. I also enjoyed a delicious full English, at our boutique accommodation choice for our stay, Rabbit, Carrot, Gun on East Coast Road, can't call it a full Scottish though as there was no black pudding, Lorne sausage, haggis or tattie scones with this one. The cooked breakfast is definitely a good option if you want decent pork sausages, something that was often a challenge in Singapore, growing up a butcher's daughter whose Dad made amazing ones. I also had a lighter yummy granola option on a couple of mornings all washed down with copious amounts of coffee and some rather good smoothies.
|kopi - first time I've ever had it in a mug with the traditional cup design on it|
Another breakfast absolute must do for us was getting prata, a fried flatbread served with a curry sauce, at our favourite local spot, Mr and Mrs Moghan's Super Crispy Prata. Luckily we were staying in our old neighbourhood so it was very easy to pop back to lots of our nearby favourites. The prata stall was a short walk from our condo when we lived there so we could either go there or takeaway (or maybe I should say ta pao, the Singlish phrase for getting takeaway food) as we wished. This time we obviously went to the stall and ate there and naturally this was also washed down with lots of kopi. I have to confess to a very satisfied smile on my face as I took the first bite of prata after so long.
Another local spot I was a frequent visitor to was Madeleine's Original Egg Tart shop on Tanjong Katong Road. It's possibly not a bad thing I can't get these anymore from the point of view of my waistline to be honest 😂 and whilst I know you can buy egg tarts easily enough in the UK I'd argue they don't quite match up to these ones.
My egg tart purchases often followed a visit to my local favourite coffee shop, Carry On also on Tanjong Katong Road. The egg tart shop was on the way home, what can I say! Being in the area meant I had to take a trip there too and as was so often the case when I used to stop by for a bit of 'me time' it was raining hard, perfect for a bit of people watching.
Obviously we packed in a fair bit of other local food too. One lunch staple was chicken rice, though not the one we really wanted to go to as every time we made up our minds to go there the heavens opened and as it's an outdoor venue the two didn't go well together. Oh well, next time I guess. I also had to have my drink staple, when not having kopi, lime juice and we had popiah (a type of spring roll) too.
A few other local favourites we squeezed in included achar, kueh pie tee and ngoh hiang. We returned with a friend to a Peranakan restaurant called Blue Ginger and got to enjoy these and lots of other good food again too. The Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Singapore as well as in Penang and Malacca in Malaysia and Indonesia. These migrants married the women of the local population of the areas they came to. This gave rise to the distinct Peranakan culture included in this, their food, typically Chinese ingredients blended with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community.
Achar is a delicious pickle style condiment (the closest I can compare it to is piccalilli) that often accompanies dishes. It's so good though I could happily eat it simply on its own. The kueh pie tee, which I always lovingly refer to as 'little cupcakes' are basically little pastry tarts filled with a sweet and slightly spicy mix of vegetables and prawns, they are small enough to simply just pop in your mouth in one go. I'm a bit weird about seafood, somethings I'll eat other stuff I won't, prawns do tend to be something I'll take or leave depending on how they come but I have no difficulty eating these little delights. Finally the ngoh hiang are sort of sausage shaped rolls of yumminess, filled with a mixture of various meats and vegetables.
|side dish of achar to accompany our meal along with some sambal sauce|
|kueh pie tee|
Finally whilst we were on our great Singapore food adventure, if you follow this blog's FB page it won't have escaped your notice that there were two special occasions whilst we were away, Burns night and Chinese New Year. You'd think Burns night might be a non-event in Singapore but you'd be wrong, obviously the expat community there includes a number of Scots who still want to celebrate and luckily for us the place we were staying in were hosting their annual celebration so we had to go along. Nonetheless the irony that we now live in Scotland but travelled back to Singapore to celebrate this isn't lost on me I promise you. We actually celebrated Burns night there a couple of years ago too, who knew then we'd end up living in Scotland, other than that though my only other experience of a Burns night was sometime during my teens when I went along to an event with my parents somewhere in Kent. Perhaps next year I'll see a Burns night actually in Scotland but it was great fun and we got to enjoy traditional haggis, neeps and tatties and some great company too.
Chinese New Year was always fun in Singapore and naturally always involved a lot of food too. We joined friends for our own celebration at a restaurant which meant we got to do another lo hei (I was lucky to be able to do a couple whilst we lived there) something I didn't imagine I'd be doing again when we left Singapore. Lo hei or yusheng is a part of Chinese New Year celebrations that is special to Singapore and Malaysia. It's a raw fish salad mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of condiments and sauces. As I said above I can be funny about seafood but luckily you can always avoid the pieces of fish and the rest of it is delicious! The dish is believed to bring abundance and prosperity for the coming year. When it comes to the table all the ingredients are separated out, these are then added, usually by one person, in a particular order with various auspicious wishes being said as each is added. Then comes the fun part, everybody stands up and proceeds to toss all the ingredients into the air with chopsticks mixing them together again whilst saying various auspicious wishes. It's believed the higher you toss the ingredients the more your fortune will grow so it's important to get it as high as possible. It's the one time of the year when you can legitimately play with your food.
As I said we went to a restaurant for our lo hei and following that enjoyed some fabulous dishes including the star of the show, delicious roasted duck! That, plus the lo hei and great company made it a highly enjoyable evening. Our whole trip was a huge food extravaganza, we both came home with massive food comas (exactly as we hoped we would) and despite not getting back to everywhere we wanted to we didn't do badly at all.
|haggis, neeps and tatties|
|chopsticks ready to lo hei|