|Hainanese chicken rice|
I had no idea where I was going to be taken when we left the office and the CBD behind us. Normally, I am intolerant of taxi drivers who don't know where they're going but strangely I took it as a good sign that he got lost. I had visions of being taken to some illicit backstreet chicken rice shebeen.
I was therefore a little disappointed that we ended up on the East Coast Road, about 10km from the CBD. Just how the cabbie got lost is beyond me, as this was a brightly lit main road. My disappointment soon faded when I was told that the East Coast is a great foodie area. As we left the taxi, I could see a row of eateries jostling for our attention. My colleagues then pointed out where we were going to eat and all was well with the world again.
Our destination was Boon Tong Kee, a mini-chain of Chinese home-style restaurants specialising in chicken. This place seemed strangely familiar and then it dawned on me that Su-Lin of Tamarind and Thyme had already sung the praises of this place. That's just bloody typical of Su-Lin, not content to be the first to blog about London's more interesting eateries; she also gets there first in Singapore too !
|white-cut poached chicken|
The other contender to be Singapore's national dish is chilli crab. Whilst Hainanese chicken rice is a dish that originated from China, chilli crab is an indigenous Singaporean creation. In common with Hong Kong, chefs from China that settled in Singapore utilised Western ingredients to create dishes long before the term 'fusion' ever came into use.
My Singapore colleagues really know the meaning of hospitality and they took me to the No Signboard Seafood restaurant to sample this dish. This mini-chain has a number of outlets and we pitched up at the Esplanade branch but if possible, try and get to the Geylang branch, which is the most atmospheric.
Their chilli crab is renowned and the meat just eased out of the slightly pre-cracked claw. I loved it and couldn't get enough of the gravy, which I ended up spooning into the shell before eating it with the hai-gou (crab innards).
|steamed bamboo clams w/garlic|
Despite most of Singapore's population being ethnic Chinese, the Cantonese community is relatively small. However their influence on the local food scene is massive with many of the classier eateries being Cantonese.
One such example is Lei Garden, the Singapore outpost of a renowned Hong Kong restaurant group. This elegant restaurant is located in the Chijmes complex, a converted convent. Sometimes food in opulent surroundings can disappoint but the dim sum here didn't. In fact it was amongst the finest I've had in ages. Just look at how translucent the har gau wrappers are.
|har gau (prawn dumplings)|
|black sesame balls|
PS: I've also been moonlighting and you can check out my guest post on The Grubworm by clicking here. Don't laugh but it's a recipe.