going chicken-crazy in singapore
In the first world island at the southern-most tip of the mainland Asia, life is busy and fast paced. People move faster, eat quicker and travel from point A to B in a break-neck speed. Even the escalators in public places runs faster than the usual escalators would run. I’m not kidding! I lived the past 8 years in a country so laid-back that when I rode the Singaporean escalators, it made me grab the side rails for dear life.
The malls are inter-connected like a web laid across the city. So we opted to walk rather than taking the cab. With a limited time and so many things to do, we were running like headless chicken.
And yes chicken is the appropriate word, literally. It has been the theme of our food trips in Singapore. The meals that we had were really good and I must say, Singaporeans really know how to do their chicken right (sounds a bit off, but there’s no better phrase to express it).
Whenever I visit Singapore, I always make it a point to eat the two best chicken meals in town. Chicken Rice and Clay pot Chicken. Chicken Rice is Singapore’s national food/meal (McDonalds comes in next). It’s preparation is very simple. You boil the chicken and use the stock to cook the rice. Most hawker stalls serve this in different variety of cooking styles and preparations. My favorite happens to be the simplest, the chicken meal is served with garlic and chili paste (SG$2.50), perfect with a glass of pure sugar cane juice (SG$1). This meal is so popular they can put it in their coat of arms.
The clay pot chicken on the other hand is one rich meal savored and glazed with black soy sauce and oriental spices cooked on a clay bowl. One of the best clay pot chicken that I tried is from Moi Lum Restaurant along Maxwell Road (SG$6). This glazed chicken-topped pot of rice is usually in huge serving. I’m a man and I know if a meal is huge enough to fill a hungry bloke, and their serving is indeed, huge. Check-out Moi Lum’s Menu, CLICK HERE
after a minute or so…
Hawker places are really popular among locals and tourists alike. It’s their version of carinderia and you can find one on every street across the city. With a very short time we cannot afford to book, wait and spend several hours for a fine dining meal (Or, we simply can’t afford… fine dining restaurants in Singapore, hehe!), so a hawker place is always a life saver for backpackers.
TIPS WHEN EATING IN A HAWKER STAND
‘Chope’ – It’s the Singaporean slang for reserving the table. It is ideal to reserve one specially during lunch time. You wouldn’t want to eat on your tray standing, so chope a seat by leaving a packet of tissue on the table.
No VISA or Mastercard – your cards are as good as Adam Lambert’s genes (READ: Useless) for hawker stalls don’t accept card payments, so be ready with your cash.
“Having here or Take away?” – don’t be confabulated when you hear Singaporeans use this phrase. It simply means “For here or to go?” (“Dine-in or take-out” for us Pinoys). Other popularly used singlish words would be “Same-same” which essentially means item of the same value or price; and when vendor or mall sales clerk say “finish already,” it means they ran out of stocks of the item or product that you are looking for.
Popular hawker centers are the ones at Tiong Bahru, Newton and The Esplanade.
Then the time for our Starbucks fix came. Just like in Macau, Starbucks shops are sporadically spread across the city. We were looking for one and it has been like the greatest quest to find the Holy Grail. From Esplanade we searched the perimeter and couldn’t find one, so we walked all the way to Raffles and across. After an hour and several kilometers of walking, we finally found one in Suntec Mall. Finding that al fresco Starbucks is a “choir of angels” moment for me and Monette. Only to find out later that there’s a plethora of coffee shops, including Starbucks, in Merlion park, right across Fullerton Hotel. It’s a bridge away from where we started.
Lesson learned: Don’t look too far, maybe the one that you are looking for is right under your nose the bridge.