I was on a business trip to Singapore recently and stayed at the Marina Bay Sands resort. It is not the most central of locations if you want to be close to the mega busy shopping precinct at Orchard road. However, Singapore’s public transport with its fleet of air-conditioned taxies and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system ensures commuters are efficiently transported from one place to another.
The opening of the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in Singapore on 23 June 2010 heralded a new era for the island republic. The integrated resort with a 2,561-room hotel, 120,000 sqm convention centre, shopping mall and its piece de resistance - a casino with 500 gambling tables and 1,600 jackpot machines has been billed as the world’s most expensive stand-alone casino property ever built at a cost of S$8 billion.
This mammoth project where the centrepiece involves casino gambling has been widely seen as a gradual liberalisation of the government’s stringent policies to uphold moral and cultural values of Singaporeans.
A quartet of chinese musician greet us with traditional chinese music as we check in at the lobby of the hotel.
The standard suite is a good size and being new, the furnishings are plush and comfortable.
The ensuite and bathroom is an open concept with the option of privacy as with many new hotels and resorts today.
I awake to a beautiful dawn on the first morning where my room has a southern aspect of Singapore’s port and construction work is well underway to build new public parks on reclaimed land.
I believe this massive project is part of the government’s effort to provide more public places of interest to locals and to attract more tourists and visitors to the island state.
Before breakfast, I go up to the Sky pool to check out the 150-metre infinity pool that has sweeping views of Singapore’s skyline and the bay below.
It is 7.00 am and there are guests enjoying the warm waters of this amazing pool that is divided into three sections.
I do a few laps in the pool to work up an appetite for breakfast and like so many others, whip out my camera to snap away at the panoramic views of the city below.
Families and children look like they are all enjoying themselves waddling and just soaking up the views.
The skyline is dominated by commercial buildings in Singapore’s CBD which are characterised by modern architecture and residential Housing Development Board (HDB) flats.
Marina bay is also a popular venue among locals and tourists for the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks which lights up the bay and its surrounds.
The ArtScience museum with its lotus flower inspired design is currently hosting Salvador Dali’s art exhibition and a centre newly built to exhibit works of art and feats in technological advancement.
After my swim, I head down to Rise coffee lounge to sample its breakfast spread. I love the buffet breakfasts in Asian hotels because it offers such a wide variety from western and continental style breakfast to popular Asian delights such as dim sims, congee, noodles, nasi lemak and fresh tropical fruits and local desserts.
It is approximately 8.30am and the coffee lounge is fast filling up with guests eager to sample its breakfast spread.
The pastries, breads and buns look incredibly fresh out of the oven.
My strategy for these breakfasts is to survey the entire range and then zero in on the best of both western and Asian offerings.
For example, fresh jackfruit is a rarity in Australia so I start with a healthy serve of this deliciously sweet and firm textured fruit with a sweet-pungent aroma.
The smoked salmon looks delicious but this is something I can get easily back in Sydney so I eventually zero in on my favourite western breakfast.
There is a good variety of dim sims that can almost rival the selection of goodies in a Chinese yum cha restaurant.
Congee is a favourite breakfast meal among locals because it is hearty carbs that sets you up for the day.
Tempting as it is, I resist the congee and its wide range of condiments so that I get my big brekky fix.
A chef is at hand to cook eggs to your liking from omelettes, scramble, sunny-side up to the favourite Asian style of half boiled eggs with soy sauce and toast.
My eggs are cooked to perfection and unlike hotels in Malaysia which are required to serve halal food and beverages, I can have crispy pork bacon on my dish.
The chocolate tower and waterfall looks good but thankfully or not, I don’t have a sweet tooth.
The cocktail bar adjacent to the Rise coffee lounge looks mighty tempting but its only 8.30am and I have a full day of meetings and conferences ahead.
After my meetings in the morning, I head to the infamous Jumbo Seafood located along Riverside point at Clark Quay with my colleagues to sample some of its famous seafood fare.
On my previous trip to Singapore in December 2010, the standout dish here was the famous Singapore chilli crab – huge mud crabs cooked in a thick eggy and spicy red sauce that would count as one of the dishes that I would crave for time and again.
A deep-fried baby octopus is sticky sweet and crunchy with roasted sesame seeds. It is a nice appetizer let alone a delightful complement for Singapore’s Tiger beer.
Scallop yam dumplings are a variation from the usual wu gok at yum cha. The scallop is sweet and succulent whilst the deep fried yam is as crispy and fluffy as it can be.
The silken tofu, scallops and mushroom hotpot has soft silken tofu that melts in the mouth and a wonderfully rich gravy that is tasty with flavours of a premium stock and oyster sauce.
The signature Singapore chilli crab which we came here for is an excellent interpretation with thick eggy and spicy sauce that gets everyone wide-eyed when it arrives.
The bright orange shells of the mud crabs is truly a sight to behold and the taste is no less impressive. Deliciously succulent and sweet crab meat is dunked into the heady sauce for a spicy crab hit that makes you more hungry with every mouthful.
We finish our meal with the local version of mee goreng. This dish is comes with egg noodles, egg, tomatoes, prawns and vegetables with a spicy sweet sauce that rounds off our meal beautifully.
We head to Khulfi Bar in little India which is famous for its authentic north Indian ice cream.
This small little eatery is beautifully decorated with colourful ornaments hanging from every corner.
The owner Daswani is on hand to take our orders and present us with some beautiful ice creams and desserts.
Among the most popular desserts is the Faluda Pialo Supreme that arrives in an elaborate martini glass with stirrer and spoon.
This delightful dessert is made of rich creamy vanilla ice cream, tukmaria (or basil seeds that has been soaked in water and resembles tiny little frog eggs), vermicello and a healthy drizzle of rose syrup. It is then sprinkled with crushed roasted pistachio nuts to give it a crunchy texture.
I’m not big on desserts but I am sold after the first mouthful. The rose syrup gives the ice cream a sweet subtle flavour and the vermicello, tukmaria and pistachio textural variety.
A Kelah Khulfi has fresh bananas, roasted almonds and honey.
I head back to my room at the end of the day and look out from the balcony.
Construction is well under way for the public parks where the clam-shaped domes would house a multitude of horticulture flora and fauna, hopefully ready when I next visit this beautiful island city.
So dear readers, have you been to Singapore and what is your favourite local food there?
Related post by ChopinandMysaucepan:
- Breakfast at Hotel Maya & lunch at Elegant Inn, Kuala Lumpur
- Salvador Dali at the ArtScience Museum, Singapore
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Riverside Point, 30 Merchant road
# 01-01/02 Riverside Point
Tel: +65 6532 3435
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm (last order 2.15pm)
Dinner: 6pm – 12am (last order 11.15pm)
15 Upper Dickson Road
Tel: +65 6294 7554, +65 6294 2334
Opening hours: 12 noon to 9.30pm