For our summer trip this year we decided on going to Bali and after realizing we needed to catch a connecting flight in Asia, we decided to stop in Singapore for two days and take full advantage of a layover. What’s there to do in Singapore? Well, the only thing on our mind was to EAT.
With a group of 12 and a variety of opinions, traveling can get a little hectic. Regardless, the one thing we could all agree on was… food. Singapore has the best of both worlds. You can go extravagant or dirt cheap, both ends being delicious. In essence, Singapore has something for every belly.
Two Days in Singapore: What’s there to do?
Since our time was limited, we couldn’t do or see every attraction Singapore has to offer, but here is what we saw:
On the first day we got up early and took the subway to Chinatown. My favorite thing to do in a foreign city is to walk around, get lost. I usually find the most alluring attractions just walking around town with no agenda. Now, I will say their Chinatown district is a little far from special. Just like many other Chinatowns, in other cities, you’ll find useless trinkets, souvenirs, a plethora of massage places, and phone cases.
Shortly after, we found ourselves at the steps of the National Museum of Singapore. Thereupon, we found out Yayoi Kusama had an exhibition. Obviously, we decided to check it out! If you’re not familiar with this artist, Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist and writer. Most famous for her dots, the majority her work focuses on repetition.
Pool with THE View
Marina Bay Sands, “The ship in the sky”, is the hotel that we chose to house us through this lengthy layover. One of the most enticing and accommodating amenities this hotel offers is a rather large casino. As the 5 men that helped make up our rather large traveling party love to gamble, it was one of the easiest decisions made throughout the trip. Plus, who doesn’t like a roof top infinity pool to wade in as you gaze down in admiration at all the exquisite architecture that makes up such a brilliant city.
On our final night in Singapore, we adventured to see the “Gardens by the Bay”, which happened to be just a quick walk from our hotel. When you arrive it feels like you’ve just entered the set of FernGully. Vibrant monstrous man-made trees quickly welcome you. These towering pieces of illuminating timber, not only light up, but transition through an array of colors; providing any gazing onlooker with a vivid and lively light show. Overall, leaving your eyes left filled with fascination.
Get in my Mouth: A Foodie’s Guide to Singapore
Singapore is home to many Michelin star restaurants and we were lucky enough to try three different restaurants. Additionally, Singapore also has many Hawker Centers which are large areas filled with food stalls. Hawker Centers are usually where the locals go to eat because the food is really inexpensive but don’t let that discourage you from trying anything. Ultimately, the food at these centers is delicious – some stalls even have Michelin stars!
**Rule of thumb- always get in the longest line.*
Where we ate…
Chili crab is a staple in Singapore so as soon as we landed we went straight to the hotel, dropped off our bags and went in search of chili crab.
It was around 12 a.m. on a Sunday, which didn’t work in our favor since most places are closed that late and on Sunday but we were determined to find some chili crab. We hopped into a taxi and asked the driver where we can go at this time. She takes us to this small place with a bunch of people in it. I was sure this place was going to be a winner and as we walk in they tell us they only accept Singaporean dollars…no credit card or American dollars. Since we had just landed we didn’t have any money on us so the taxi lady took us to another spot.
In the end, I was disappointed because the new place we went to was empty and seemed a little gimmick-y, but we decided to try it anyway. Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed. Although the sauce was thick, it lacked flavor. It was very mild and only got little hints of the sweet and savory. However, we didn’t try another place while we were there so I would still suggest finding a good spot.
Not gonna lie… with a list of over 20 Michelin starred restaurants, how can you choose?! Deciding where to go was pretty intimidating. After countless hours of research, articles and discussions with the group, we chose two “fancy” restaurants. Odette– was on top of the list. Chef Julien Royer left award winning restaurant Jaan to start on his own endeavor in 2015. In just under two years, Julien has earned himself two Michelin stars for Odette and boasts a number 9 spot on Asia’s 50 best restaurants – our hearts were set.
He Gets it from his Grandma
Odette, named after Chef Julien’s grandmother, who inspired him and taught him her philosophy on cooking, which he practices in his restaurant. “What I most retain from my grandma, is that you can bring so much happiness and joy to people through food,” says Royer. “I’m from a humble background – we didn’t have much money, but she taught me you could cook something very good from the simplest of ingredients.”
Odette’s beautifully designed, featuring pale pink and soft gray tones, finished with gold trimming everywhere; making it the perfect luncheon. The perfect preparation of each dish, demonstrated Julien’s meticulousness.
Odette was such a great experience and the service was impeccable. They allowed us to go into their kitchen and film them bring out their most photogenic dish, it was like watching a performance and everyone was on beat.
A Piece to Take Home
As if you thought the show was over, they come back and surprise you with a gift. In a beautifully packaged white and pink box was a jar of currant jam. Julien makes currant jam for his guest to take home because he wants to everyone to leave the restaurant with a piece of his grandmother. Currant jam is something Odette made all the time when Julien was a child, it was the perfect ending to a memorable experience.
After a full day of eating, we received a confirmation for Waku Ghin. Being with a group of 12, you could imagine how difficult it might be to accommodate us, but they managed to do so. Since the only reservation they had open for us was 7pm, we all went to our rooms, changed real quick and headed to the restaurant. Lucky enough for us the restaurant was in our hotel, so we arrived on time…phew…
The way Waku Ghin seats their guest is the traditional Japanese “kaunta seki” way, around the counter so you are close to the chef and can see him prepare your food. Ideally, this type of seating isn’t the best for a group of 12 because you end up getting split into two groups instead of being a whole. However, I truly enjoyed watching our chef attack his trade with precision, care and with passion to conquer our hearts and stomach.
Here are just a few photos of what we had:
We decided to have dim sum for breakfast. That’s prob not the most common breakfast, but we couldn’t let any meal go to waste. If you can have breakfast for dinner, why not dinner for breakfast? We’ve all done it. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all…
Finding Tim Ho Wan wasn’t easy. It’s located in a huge shopping center with lots of dim sum and other restaurants. After an hour of searching and almost giving up, we found it! Another 10 minutes and everyone would have settled for Din Tai Fung – not a terrible place, but in comparison to Tim Ho Wan, WOW, you can really taste the difference. Boy, am I glad we got to experience it.
As we walk in and get settled at our table, we order beer… yes, beer for breakfast too. We start looking around and found out this restaurant actually has a Michelin star! What a great surprise that was for us. It made the search that much more worth it. Everything we ordered tasted fresh. The meats were tender and juicy, packed with flavor. Have no doubt in ordering here; everything will be good, so go wild… and hungry.
Since everyone was “hangry” it was hard to get pictures of everything:
On the final night, after a full day of roaming, our jet lag kicked in. We had accomplished a lot. We ate at some really nice restaurants; walked all over the city and gambled our money away (not really), but we were missing something from getting the full Singaporean experience. Something I couldn’t bear to leave Singapore without doing, something I’ve been waiting for and excited to try… we had to go to a hawker center! If there’s one thing to do in Singapore, it’s going to a hawker center.
Half the group went up to their hotel room, while the other half headed on a quest in search of a hawker center. Now, like I said before, we were all jet lagged, so to be completely honest, I don’t remember the name of the hawker center and didn’t get many photos, but I can’t forget the butter chicken at an Indian stall. It tasted sweet, spicy and buttery. As you taste all the spices, the curry melts in your mouth; the chicken was tender and juicy from lying in its delicious bath.