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Singapore – on restaurants and food

Singapore – on restaurants and food

Food isn’t the best of the fantastic cuisine Asia offers and what I expected given the prices and my idea of Singapore as a country with exceptional service. After our stay that image demystified. Restaurants  were generally overpriced and unfortunately in those nice touristy areas not particularly good – service and quality were obviously prepared for the one time never seen again tourist visit and a concluding why-bother-mentality.

At a Chinese restaurant we were presented with a bill that had skyrocketed. First the owner wanted to charge us extra for napkins! To make this rip off case scenario worse –  we had not used his precious napkins (nor ordered any, given we would have had a choice)! Additionally their menu said nothing about a further 10% service charge and another 7% for tax which was added nevertheless (we always check the small writing on menus before we decide to stay). There are many places who do not add anything on top and are astoundingly not higher priced than the overcharge-places. Even if owners will try to convince you that it is the rule – it is not but you got to look around!

The best place we found for a good meal with the same restaurant variety, especially traditional Singaporian dishes are food courts. There is no extra charge, the food tasted a lot better and you can see the meals being prepared in front of you. Sometimes they will be displayed on hot plates from which you can chose anything you like by pointing to the food. It was very pleasing to try a little bit of anything that appealed to us being fairly charged by the number of chosen bits. There are tables by the cash register on display that tell you what you have to pay for any amount of chosen items, so you can be the creator of yummy meals. We never paid more than 6S$ for a full stomach. Tomek ate at one of the tasty eateries that are rarely visited by tourists and require local knowledge, provided by his Singaporian work colleagues who treated him to a traditional lunch break meal.

Impressive river promenade at night with a line of restaurants waiting for the tourist.

River promenade in SIngapore

 

We came back during the day. Unfortunately, all touristy restaurants by the river promenade are massively overpriced (and were all empty when we arrived midday). The campaign is work in progress.

Singapore laws and fines

 

Still hungry after making a round at the bay.

River promenade in Singapore

 

Ended up in a Chinese restaurant. Carelessly prepared and only just lukewarm oysters with a tofu dish that made out tongues burn. The tofu dish wasn’t spicy but had a weired texture that caused a scary sort of stinging in our mouths as if some chemical was eating away the taste buds. It is the numbing Chinese mala sauce that we  first encountered here. It was also the first time in Asia that my mango shake was not made of fresh mango but carton concentrate. I do not look very happy despite the funny hair ribbon.

Food in Singapore

 

Loads of pushy restaurant touts. Got foolishly duped at that second one.

Restaurants in SIngapore

 

Looking cheap but that only applies to food quality in touristy Chinatown.

Food in Singapore

 

Finally found a decent food court. The guy at the Judilicious counter at the back provided fresh fruit and all kinds of on the spot squeezed juices from any fruit you would chose.

Restaurants in Singapore

 

Pick what you like! I got two different kinds of tofu and a selection of vegetables.

Food in Singapore

 

We got forks (haven’t seen those in a while now) and coconuts.

Food in Singapore

 

Soup with materials of medicine or hairy horn – some of the traditional meals I didn’t dare to try.

Food in Singapore

 

A delicacy in Singapore due to a lot of meat in the fish head.

Food in Singapore

 

Food courts are more than just places to eat. People socialize and watch TV together.

Restaurants in Singapore

 

Going local with work colleagues.

Food court in Singapore

 

Longan alternative fizzy drinks. Typical mango rice desert.
Drink from Singapore Desert in Singapore

 

The Singapore food trail sells food in a nostalgic way on food carts, that are history in Singapore but are doing major delicious business everywhere else in Asia. Why where those convenient and traditionally Asian food vendors pushed out of the food market in the first place?

Restaurants in Singapore

 

Rickshaws, food stalls and retro posters reminding of a bygone Singapore.

Restaurants in Singapore

 

Antique stuff is also for sale at the Singapore food trail. I really liked that green hook beneath the bottles but 1.800 S$ seemed a bit much – that’s Singapore though.

Antiques in Singapore

 

Bugis food street is the low budget place to grab some food.

Food in Singapore

 

Get your own chop sticks at the chop stick shop. They look like pencils in a stationary shop.

Chopsticks

So long, good luck in good food hunting in Singapore!

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2 Comments

  1. Hi, I stumbled upon your blog while researching about Korea. I am a Singaporean, and I cant help but to correct some of the things listed in your experiences in Singapore.

    “further 10% service charge and another 7% for tax”, 10% service charge is on most restaurants and cafes in Singapore, 7% for Goods and services tax is mandatory. Unless the place highlighted that it is all included, usually the food here are charged with this additional 17%.

    The reason why you are not impressed with the food in Singapore is because you were looking at all the touristy places but not the local places at random places off the beaten path and our hawker centers (similar with food courts without the higher prices and aircon) and local cafes and restaurants. But even in Chinatown, there is a hawker center in People’s Park Food Centre which has really tasty local cheap food. (it’s very near Chinatown mrt exit so it’s hard to miss) There are so many varieties of indian, malay, chinese and peranakan food in Singapore, the list can go on and on.

    I felt bad for your not so great food experiences in Singapore, if you ever want to come back, You can look at http://www.hungrygowhere.com for food reviews. Most locals use the website as a guide.

    • Thanks for commenting. To avoid extra charges, I would simply recommend Singapore’s food court places frequented by locals. They are comfy, cheap and tasty with all the local specialities and offer plenty of seating space.
      Overall, and from what you are writing, my impression is that it requires more effort to enjoy a decent dining experience in Singapore, than for example in Thailand, Laos or Korea…

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