Posted by: Anna | July 25, 2011

Wanna go to Singapore Tomorrow?

On the flight back from Malaysian Borneo to Kuala Lumpur (in peninsular Malaysia), we made a resolution – to focus our last seven days in Asia on eating well and enjoying ourselves, instead of trying to see sights. Food has been largely disappointing in Asia (our expectations were so high!), but we decided to make one last push to turn our food experience around. That’s right…our current goal in life is to eat yummy stuff. Right after we decided to eat well to the detriment of culture and historical sights, the pilot announced that we were landing and went through the rigamarole – put your tray table up, open the window shades, and put away all electronic devices. I grabbed the Air Asia in flight magazine, since the flight attendants give me dirty looks if I try to read my Kindle while landing. Advertising works; in the Air Asia in flight magazine, I saw an ad for the Singapore International Food Festival. It seemed kismet. We thought, ‘hey, why not? Singapore was our favorite food place so far…food festival?’ The train is only 7 hours from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, so we roused ourselves painfully early the next morning and caught the train back to Singapore for the second time, where our Asian adventures started.

It was nice to be back in Singapore, a place we were already familiar with. After we arrived and got settled, we headed out to the International Food Festival at Clark Quay, the nightlife center of Singapore. We somehow never made it there the first time. We ended up visiting the Food Festival three different times while we were in Singapore. We also revisited Tommy’s favorite Asian food of the whole trip – Thai style beef noodles. Never mind that we never had any as good in Thailand as the ones in Singapore. Anyway, a few pictures of some of our favorite bites.

A fairly non-traditional popiah. Popiah is a Chinese-origin fresh spring roll, traditionally filled with vegetables, peanuts, and sauce. The booth at the festival had "Texas Chicken" popiah, oddly reminiscent of a Chipotle burrito. The wrapper is a thin wheat-based pancake. This was Tommy's single favorite dish at the Food Festival.


Ah, the famous chili crab. We meant to try this the first time around, but never got around to it. The restaurant known for making the best chili crab around had a booth at the festival, with long lines. I don't know if there is an elegant way to eat this. The crab has essentially been pounded with a mallet, but the shell is in the broth. The broth is amazing. The crab is delicious. It might be the messiest thing I've ever eaten. Tables at the event were full of happy people smeared with red from eating chili crab, and I was happy to be among them.


Rojak is a fresh salad with a strange but tasty dressing and a topping of lots of peanuts. It was my favorite single dish of the entire visit. The sauce is sweet and thick and smoky.

The festival also featured cooking demonstrations (which I missed both days) and a table setting race. This must be harder than it look – when we watched people compete, we were convinced we could have handily won. Unfortunately, the finals were the following weekend, so even if we qualified, we couldn’t win the $500 grand prize. Another lost opportunity…

We walked around Clark Quay to people watch and enjoy the nightlife. Our second night, we went to the Marina Bay Sands Casino. Interestingly, almost no one is drinking in the casino, but hundreds of people are enthusiastically gambling away. Water and soft drinks are free, but I have no idea, after spending a couple of hours there, how one even acquires beer. We only saw two people with any kind of alcohol at all. A very different approach than Vegas. Also, the casino is essentially one huge (huge!!) floor with a second, also large floor open to it below. We stared in amazement at the sheer size of the casino. I’m sure some Vegas casinos are as large, but you can’t tell because you cannot see the entire scope at one time. Tons of tables, many offering games we have never seen before, took up most of the floor space, with only limited numbers of slot machines. A very different conception of a casino to me, who has only ever seen Vegas and Indian casinos in Oklahoma (and I suppose the casino in New Orleans).

It was fun to take a spontaneous trip to Singapore, even if I did have my worst night of the trip there. (More on that tomorrow). Back in Malaysia now, and off to satisfy my craving for more delicious Asian food.


  1. I want chili crab.

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