An ode to eating in Singapore: the (only) reason we visit
Singapore. Just the sound of it conjures up romantic imagery of Colonial Indochine, up there in the ranks of classically exotic locales with Shanghai and Hong Kong. Yet despite holding on to a few remnants of its past, Singapore is a city that has its sights set squarely on the future. One thing will always remain, however: Singapore’s unsurpassed dining.
The hubs and I arrived in Changi Airport in the late evening and by the time we got into our taxi towards the Marina, I had already inhaled that lovely, heavy, moist, dirty, prototypical Asian air. The trip was part of our regular stopover to visit his family in India, where his parents are originally from. As we charged down past East Coast Parkway full of its hawker stall livery, I knew in my heart of hearts that I could not claim to be in Singapore until those first drops of seafood laksa touched my lips.
We hurried to the hotel, the Pan Pacific, a glorious 5-star gem that my in-laws had splurged for us. We then handed our backpacks off to a very confused bell man, surely collecting the luggage of the cheapest and mangiest-looking travelers he has ever had the pleasure of carrying, and rushed towards room 1614. Once inside I immediately dialed room service — One curry laksa with seafood, please! Anything else, man? Sure, one nasi lemak while you’re at it. Within 35 minutes I was in culinary heaven. My husband has trained me well.
If you have never been to Singapore you have not explored — and this my very scientific estimate — roughly three-fourths of your palette’s range. The fusion of Chinese, Malay, and Indian cuisine thrills the most boring diners amongst us. There is no place you can go, nor is there a price barrier, to experiencing some of the most intoxicating foods known to mankind.
It's even more fun to go with my husband and in-law. See, my new family has a strange way of eliciting thrill, fright, and irritation amongst the restaurants we choose to patron on the rare occasion that we are all together. This was one of those moments — and for five straight days, nonetheless.
For Indian families there is no such thing as having too much food on the table. There is, however, such a thing as not leaving a clean plate. They take the art of over-ordering to another level. In the day and age of the Paleo diet, this may seem a little much, and it is, except for when you are in Singapore. When you are in Singapore you do not want to be on any other part of the island during a meal other than right next to Ram and Harshada. You will get fed. And you will get fed well.
The official must-eat list: Red chilli crab, black pepper crab, mee goren, nasi lemak, two char kway tweos. Those are the dishes you absolutely cannot miss. And you'd better make it three.