Monday, May 07, 2007

My Best-Of Lists: Year Two

It has now been two whole years since I started this blog. As such, here is a refreshed version of my Top 10 favorite places in Singapore, in generally decending order:

1. La Braceria*
2. Raj Prime Vegetarian Restaurant
3. Morton's
4. Xiao Ping Steam Pot
5. Kazu
6. Ohsumi
7. Noodle House Ken
8. Tai Wah Pork Noodle
9. Banoo*
10. The Tent*

While most of these held their positions this year, there were some changes (*), including La Braceria, an absolutely wonderful place that soared into the top spot. Also added to the list were Banoo and The Tent, two spots that admittedly still leave some things to be desired when I compare them to other Persian and Mongolian BBQ places that I've had outside of Singapore. But I just can't live without having these two genres of food from time to time, and these are the best renditions that I've been able to find locally, thus becoming frequently attended spots of mine.

Departing the list most notably was Aburiya, despite holding the top spot last year. Why such a tremendous tumble? On a visit to the Holland Village location about a month ago, I found that they had changed many of their side items (such as the tamago suppu) to be so excessively salty that I literally vomited my entire meal out on the way home. They said that they had changed the preparation methods a good number of months back, but that made some of these things so salty that it was literally inedible. Hopefully this was just a one-off instance, but I've been so scarred by that incident that I am not very motivated to go back and prove myself wrong.

Two other places have been removed from the list, such as Chuan, which was reincarnated in Geylang but unfortunately not in a good way. I've also dropped La Braceria's neighbor Cantina from the list due to some consistency issues I've encountered recently. The "Whispering Man's" Xiao Ping Steam Pot nearly got replaced by Jin Huang, but fortunately it was able to cling to its spot due to Jin Huang's recent demise.

I'm also throwing out one quick honorable mention here: L'Angelus. I'm holding off on any inclusion in the list since I have yet to go back to this place again to reverify what I had found. Add to that the fact that I usually don't like French food, so I'm not quite sure if I was just disillusioned that day or not. But then again, maybe the reason why I don't like French food is simply because I've only had mediocre versions of it before, and this might very well be the place that would change my mind.

Finally, here's a list of my Top 6 favorite places in the world to hit up for food:

1. Tokyo
2. Los Angeles
3. Saigon*
4. Spain
5. Morocco
6. Thailand
The list is generally unchanged from last year, although I expanded it to six slots instead of five with the addition of Saigon into the third spot (*). As pointed out before, these places are the ones that strike the most of an emotional chord with me. Given the heavy withdrawals that I experienced after I returned from Saigon, it was clear that it deserved a spot in my list. Too bad I couldn't say the same about the Southern Vietnamese city of Can Tho though.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is by far the best food blog i've ever seen. one question though - how do manage to stay healthy eating all of this stuff?

Anonymous said...

Congrats, dude. Hope you'll keep on blogging for years to come.

miss ene said...

Love your blog and writing style. Simple, to the point, no-fuss writing with a hint of humour occassionally. I like :)

In fact, when I'm waiting for lunch at work (like now), I'd pop into your blog to have a read so that I can make myself hungrier.

No, not really. I like your blog because it gives me answers to the tired question "Where to eat ah?"

Last but not least, I TOTALLY, hands-and-legs-down agree with Tokyo being the top spot. Was there last October and have been hankering after their food ever since.

Woe is me.

sohcool said...

Hi,
You are one lucky guy. I enjoy reading your blog. Your photos make me miss Singapore food so much. I am living in France now and I would say that french food can be really tasty too.

Keep writing. Especially on those street side food. Thumbs up!

David said...

Hello, just went to the Robertson branch of Aburiya. We had most of the stuff you ate in your earlier Aburiya posts, didn't seem very salty to me.

Bridget C said...

Found your blog yesterday and was salivating reading all the Singapore selections, as we (husband and I) will be there on stop-over from the evening of the 17 to the afternoon of the 19th June and would be very grateful if you could give us a short foody itinerary. We like casual/hawker/food stall type places and seafood, esp shellfish for me. We're staying at the Pan Pacific - any use trying any of their food or not to bother? Also, is afternoon tea at Raffles really worth it? Look forward to getting any tips you have time to send. Thanks, Bridget (Forfar, Scotland). PS afterwards we'll be in NZ for 3+ weeks and the last week in Cairns, Oz - any suggestions?

bma said...

Yeah, keep in mind that my list above is definitely not meant to be a list of "Top 10 Restaurants in Singapore" or anything like that...it's just a list of places that I, as a resident here, like to go to.  But for someone coming in from out of town and wanting to try local food (wise move as there's definitely a lot of unique stuff here), then my list is not a good one to use.

So nearly two full days in Singapore, eh? If you want casual shellfish, then you're definitely coming to the right spot, with Singapore's own chili crab easily being the first suggestion. People will argue about all sorts of different places to go to, but the easiest thing for you to do is to head to the East Coast Seafood Centre (any cab driver will know it). Practically any restaurant there will serve it (and do a decent job of it without ripping you off), but here are a couple over there that I have documented: Long Beach and Jumbo.

A couple other unique local things worth trying would include chicken rice and satay. For the former, Chatterbox at the Meritus Mandarin is probably the easiest place for you to head to, although being in a hotel it is overpriced. If you're feeling adventurous, head to Maxwell Food Centre instead for Tian Tian Chicken Rice (stall number 10 - note that they are closed on Mondays). For satay, Lau Pa Sat is again a bit touristy, but has a cool back alley full of satay vendors and lots of smoke rising from it that's worth checking out (I haven't documented it anywhere, but here is some satay that I got from somewhere else for your reference).

And the Pan Pacific? There's a good Indian spot up there called Rang Mahal, although it's a bit classy. If you want to come a bit more down to earth, then head to Little India. There are a million places to go to there (with Banana Leaf Apolo on Race Course Road being a favorite place to take visitors to given the fact that they serve you on banana leaves...and they have fishhead curry, a unique Singaporean take on Indian food), but yeah, it's a bit touristy, and I personally get much more blown away by the vegetarian fare at Raj.

I don't really know if afternoon tea at the Raffles is any good or not (they wouldn't let me in last time I tried). And unfortunately I've never been to Cairns, although I have been to Auckland and Queenstown. I don't really have any specific places listed there, but I do recall having some great seafood at a waterfront place in Auckland. I'll depend on you to tell me about the good places to go over there then. Enjoy!

Bridget C said...

Thanks for the ideas, I wasn't convinced about chili crab because of (1) the hassle factor of eating it and (2) some of your descriptions it seems sweet - and I'm not fond of sweet-tasting savoury food, but it is omni-present in all listings of Singapore. I was hoping to try the hawker food centres or small, local places for all food groups, so to speak. Was tempted with your post on Mortons - I used to be taken there (the original Chicago one) when I was a kid by my parents about once a year as a treat - always got the filet mignon (yes, even as a 6 year old - no pb&j for me!). However, now I would go for prime rib if possible as I can't get it here in Scotland. Speaking of, if you ever get over here, despite the common perception (mind you, it is more true than not still), there is fantastic food here - the BEST is the Three Chimneys on Skye (www.threechimneys.co.uk). It is the back of beyond, but if you have the money (it's big bucks but worth it) and get the chance, GO, it is truly amazing.
Back to Singapore, not so sure about fish-head curry, but would like to get some authentic Indian food. We're not huge curry fans, but if the take-aways around here are like the Chinese ones, I *know* they aren't the real deal. I thought getting a local place in Little India and having a thali might be the ticket. We're much more into SE Asian food, in fact after reading your blog, I cooked yakitori for our dinner the other night - yum. Any sushi hawker stalls you can recommend, speaking of Japanese food?
I'll make sure to take notes of any great meals while in NZ.

bma said...

Ah - you don't like sweet food? Great...we speak the same language then (you can probably throw out my satay recommendation then since the peanut sauce can be a bit sweet). Yeah, chili crab is sweet enough that I don't really crave it, but it is worth trying while you're here since you really can't get it anywhere else. In the worst case, get the pepper crab variety instead (available anywhere there is chili crab). It is my preference since it's less sweet...as long as you don't mind a bit of spiciness.

And yes, I'm not a huge fan of curry either (the occasional post-drinking vindaloo aside), but give Raj a try for the chaat, which is more savory and refreshing. I never thought that I would like vegetarian food until I tried chaat.

And if you really want prime rib, then you can go to Lawry's...it's an old hometown fave of mine. But sushi at a hawker center? While you'll be hard-pressed to find that, try getting this raw fish thing called yu sheng at Ho Kee. You can conveniently hit it up at the same hawker center as that Tian Tian chicken rice place that I suggested. Good luck!

Bridget said...

Yeah, sorry, I meant a small, cheap-but-good sushi place, not exactly a hawker's stall. Again, not an expert, but when I know the fish will be fresh, I like to partake. And I like spicy, not generally of the vindaloo variety, but a bit of kick is right up my tastebud street.
I think we'll give your veggie place a go for our Indian fix.

And speaking of not liking certain things, I can't think of anything worse than being in SE Asia, and having a western fry up breakfast. Anywhere good near our hotel for some nice congee or pho to start the day? Of course my husband demands his cappacino/ espresso though too - and please don't say there is a Starbucks!

Bridget said...

oops, just read about Ho Kee, which answers my congee query, as well as my sashimi. Maybe I'll just stay there the whole 2 days!!

bma said...

Yes, Starbucks is everywhere around here...there's one right down the street from your hotel, in fact. Sadly though, the pho shops around here are not open for breakfast. If you want to give a local Singaporean breakfast a try though, look for something called kaya toast. Some shops on Killiney Road are generally known for that stuff (not to mention a chain of places across the island now called Killiney Kopitiam).

And if you're really looking for proper sushi (rather than that local yu sheng), you can give Kikuzawa a try. It wasn't anything mindblowing, but at a fixed price, it does the job. Just do yourself a favor by staying far away from chains like Sushi Tei, Genki Sushi, and Sakae Sushi. Yes, they are cheap, but the quality leaves a lot to be desired.

Anonymous said...

I envy you. You get to do the two things that I love: traveling and eating delicious food. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

In Tokyo, you have to know Japanese. Otherwise, you have lots of trouble finding/ordering food. Did you try any restaurants at the "Piss alley"?