Saturday, October 29, 2011

Laksa at 328

Singapore Day 4
East Coast Road
1:27 p.m.

My trip to Singapore will not be complete without having my favorite spicy noodle soup, laksa. Since it was already our last day, going to 328 Katong Laksa was my first priority. 

Much has been said about this no-frills eatery with most locals claiming that 328 Katong Laksa is one of the best places to have laksa. Talk, however, has also been rife that the laksa is now only a shadow of its former self, with the quality deteriorating over the years.

I made it my mission to discover the truth ...
Small Bowl of Laksa
I love my laksa creamy and I got my wish. The soup was rich in coconut milk which was made extra yummy because of the fresh shrimps and chewy noodles. The spice level though was pretty mild and nowhere near where I wanted it to be. Overall, while I had no trouble finishing my order, I was underwhelmed and felt that it missed that extra something. I truly doubt that this is one of the best bowls of laksa to be had in all of Singapore.

By the way, don't forget to try otah, a sweet spicy fish paste delicacy made from mackerel that's available at 328 Katong Laksa.

328 Katong Laksa is located at 216 East Coast Road Singapore.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Burgers of Daniel Boulud

Singapore Day 3
The Shoppes at Marina Bay
8:06 p.m.

Marina Bay Sands not only offers the best views in all of Singapore but it's also a good place to indulge in a memorable gastronomic experience. It is, after all, where one can find the restaurants of acclaimed chefs Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Santi Santamaria, and Tetsuya Wakuda.

From the six culinary masters, we chose to dine at the more casual bistro of Daniel Boulud,  DB Bistro Moderne. DB Bistro Moderne is a contemporary French-American restaurant where traditional French cuisine meets the flavors of the American market.  Chef Boulud is also said to have elevated the simple burger into an art form.

Burger as a work of art? I'm sold!

Inside the Bistro

Complimentary Bread

We had a few dishes to go with the db burgers and all were well-received:
Appetizer of the Day
A simple but tasty thin crust pizza with goat cheese.

Roasted John Dory
The risotto was very creamy and the fish was cooked perfectly. The ideal way to load on carbs.

Casserole Espagnole
It's hard to go wrong with fresh mussels, clams, and shrimps cooked in a light clean sauce. Good.

It was just too bad that the burgers didn't live up to its hype. Art is definitely was not!
The Yankee Burger
Dry boring mess

The Frenchie Burger
Juicy because of the bacon but that's just about it

The Original db Burger
I wanted to love the signature burger of db but simply couldn't. I hardly tasted the foie and the flavors were nothing special. I could get this kind of burger at any decent burger joint in any city. 

While I don't believe in regrets, a better option would probably have been Mario Batali's Pizzeria Mozza. The place was always packed and reviews have been outstanding. Price wise, it's reasonable too.

DB Bistro Moderne is located at B1-48, Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Night at Marina Bay Sands

Singapore Day 3
Marina Bay Sands
4:45 p.m.

Aside from wanting to eat authentic chili crabs, laksa, and hainanese chicken, I went to Singapore for Marina Bay Sands.

I'm sure nobody will blame me for wanting to visit  the world's most expensive standalone hotel-casino featuring 2,561-rooms, a 1,300,000-square-foot convention center, an 800,000-square-foot The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, and the world's largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. It also has a 340m-long SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150meter infinity swimming pool, set on top of the world's largest public platform.

When it was time to book a Singapore hotel though, I encountered a lot of bad Marina Bay Sands reviews. My friends and I all got discouraged but still decided to spend a night at Marina Bay Sands being it the reason some of us actually went on this trip. We just hoped for the best and prayed that the unpleasant feedback was exaggerated, if not completely unfounded.

I'm unhappy to report though that the negative reviews about Marina Bay Sands were all true:

Check-in Line
In fact, it was such a bitch! We already arrived late in the hopes that lines would be more manageable but we clearly thought wrong. The only positive thing about waiting in line was the availability of free refreshments. 

Room Without a View
One would think that after making us wait in line for about 30 minutes, the check-in staff would be more pleasant or accommodating but this was also not the case. Every request we had regarding room preference was turned down and we even got the convention center as our view. :(

Deluxe Room

Entertainment Area
Considering the grandeur of Marina Bay Sands, the room was a bit of a letdown. Granted that size of room was bigger than most Singapore hotels,  the room looked generic and lacked character. Beds were small too.

Half of the Bathroom

Handicapped Bath
 Also, much to our dismay, we were not even informed that we were billeted in a handicapped room!  I would not have griped about this if not for the fact that the bathroom flooded every time anyone took a shower.


Part of The Shoppes
While I was at The Shoppes, I felt like I was walking inside a museum instead of being in the middle of a shopping area.  Not much activity at The Shoppes and stores are not unique either. 

Line at Rise for Breakfast
As if lining up during check-in was not enough, one also has to queue just to have breakfast. To be fair, there are no lines before 8 a.m. Also, there's another restaurant option at a different tower but food selection is rather limited.

My Only Plate
At Rise, food selection was not bad and buffet tables were replenished fast,  but it has to be said that the food was ordinary. It missed the chance to showcase the good in Singapore cooking.

(So sorry my pictures don't do it justice!)


Singapore Sling and Truffle Fries: This is the Life!
If only for the opportunity to swim at the magnificent infinity pool, I strongly encourage everyone to stay at Marina Bay Sands. The moment I saw the view from the pool platform, I finally understood what the hype is all about. It is an experience like no other and it's an experience that I would gladly share with anyone who cares to listen.

Marina Bay Sands is located at 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore. For more information, click here

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Desserts at Chinatown

Singapore Day 3
Mei Heong Yuen Dessert
3:00 p.m.

After lunch at Maxwell Food Centre, we explored Chinatown where the unbearable heat of the sun got the best of us. 

We chanced upon a quaint little shop, Mei Heong Yuen Dessert, and decided to rest and recharge there. 

Mei Heong Yuen Dessert, I later learned, is actually a famous establishment that has been in operation for more than 50 years. It has received numerous awards and citations and is one of Singapore Chinatown's heritage brands.

Too bad I was simply too stuffed from lunch that I wasn't able to fully savor the desserts that we had.

Berry and Passion Snow Ice
The perfect way to beat the heat is with this refreshing dessert. I was impressed by the smoothness of the shaved ice but I would have enjoyed this treat more if we chose a sweeter topping.

Mango Roll
Note to self: Never order mango based desserts while abroad because the mangoes always taste sour when compared to Philippine mangoes. 

Glutinous Rice Ball in Ginger Soup
Not a fan of this hot and heavy dessert. It didn't help that the rice balls had a bean filling which I have always loathed.

Almond Milk Paste
We ordered another hot dessert but this one was a winner. I loved the strong almond flavors and its  thick consistency was spot on. This is rainy weather comfort food. 

Aside from Mei Heong Yuen Dessert, don't forget to drop by Lim Chee Guan when in Chinatown for the best sliced pork in all of Singapore. The lines don't lie!

Mei Heong Yuen Dessert is located at 63-67 Temple Street Singapore. It has a second branch at the basement of ION Orchard Mall along Orchard Road. For more information, click here.
Lim Chee Guan has 3 branches in Singapore. For more information, click here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Maxwell Food Center: Home of the Best Chicken

Singapore Day 3
Maxwell Food Centre
1:10 p.m.

Our third day in Singapore began a little late with us leaving our hotel at noon. We headed straight to Chinatown to eat at Maxwell Food Centre for a bite of the best chicken in town.

Clean It Was Not

Popular Food Centre

Most Singaporeans agree that the best chicken in Singapore is to be had at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. The fact that it had the longest line at Maxwell Food Centre goes to show how popular the stall is.

Long Lines Unsurprisingly

Bourdain approved

Modern Times

Hainanese Chicken
The 15 minutes I spent waiting in line at Tian Tian was worth it because this was undeniably the best hainanese chicken that I've ever had. Perfectly cooked, the chicken was so tender and juicy, it even had the hard to replicate thin layer of gelatin that glossed the chicken's skin. It was also seasoned very well and tasted very clean  that I didn't need the accompanying sauces provided. Tian Tian certainly set the bar high and it would be hard for anyone to replicate the quality and awesomeness of their chicken.

It came as no surprise that the other food we ordered at Maxwell Food Centre paled in comparison as the Tian Tian chicken truly was the star of the meal. Here are some thoughts I had with our other orders:

 Forgettable. I have no memory of the flavor profile whatsoever.

The curry was actually good but I didn't appreciate the sloppy presentation of the dish. It didn't help that my friend told us that the stall had sanitation issues.

Carrot Cake
Not as good as the carrot cake we had at Chomp Chomp. Lacks a healthy dose of pepper me thinks.

Mee Go Reng
Flavors reminded me of Italian spaghetti. This is pasta the Singaporean/Malay way.

If only to have a taste of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, I would strongly encourage everyone to visit Maxwell Food Centre.

Maxwell Food Centre is located at 1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Road Singapore. 
Aside from the stall at Maxwell Food Centre, Tian Tian  Hainanese Chicken Rice has a standalone restaurant at 443 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baleister Bak Kut Teh

Singapore Day 2
Baleister Bak Kut Teh
10:45 p.m.

Baleister Road is known for bak kut teh and since we were in the neighborhood because of dinner at Boon Tong Kee, we walked a few blocks to reach a bak kut teh establishment, thoughtfully named Baleister Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh is a popular Singaporean soup which literally means meat bone tea. It consists of pork ribs simmered with herbs and spices for long periods of time.
It was served in a clear broth with soy sauce plus chilies on the side for those who prefer the stock to be salty and spicy.

With the very dark color of my soup, I obviously overseasoned my bak kut teh. Good thing it didn't turn out so bad as the deliciously strong pepper flavors of the stock overshadowed the liberal amount of soy sauce I put in. The clove of garlic also brought a sweet element to the soup but the meat itself was tough and not so easy to eat. Nevertheless, I can imagine eating a bowl of bak kut teh during a stormy night or when I'm sick.

Baleister Bak Kut Teh is located at 365 Baleister Road, Singapore. A more popular bak kut teh place is Founder Bak Kut Teh which is located at 347 Baleister Road, Singapore.
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