Every day, tourists arrive at the Changi International Airport and quickly head to the city center for main attractions like the Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore, or the Singapore Flyer. What they don’t realize is that on their way there, they also pass by Singapore’s east coast, a nest full of culinary gems in the guise of a quiet residential area.
This discovery was made by travel bug and adventurous foodie Mikael Daez in his latest trip to the Lion City. The actor and celebrity vlogger is highly convinced there is more to Singapore that meets the eye, what with a top chef from the city Bjorn Shen of Artichoke restaurant as his guide.
Today Daez shares with The Manila Times his gastronomic journey—very specific stops included—along a 20-kilometer strip of white sand that is just as delicious as it scenic.
East coast food map
First up on their food-filled itinerary was 328 Katong Laksa in Joo Chiat, home of the creamy coconut-based noodle soup called laksa. One of Singapore’s national delicacies, this dish has a unique and irresistible taste that’s both milky and spicy and comes with thick noodles, cockles, prawns and fishcakes. Visitors can easily find stalls and restaurants selling this flavorful concoction, but for passionate foodieswho won’t settle for anything but the best, 328 Katong Laksa is the go-to place. Touted as one of the five best laksa in Singapore, its version remains undefeated among competitors both local and international as its special recipe outdid even the laksa creation of famous chef Gordon Ramsay in a cooking showdown back in 2013.
Next stop was at Fishball Story in Geylang where Daez tasted the springiest fishballs he’s ever had. This simple stall is more than it seems as it was awarded with a well-deserved Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016.For food-enthusiasts, its Fishball Noodles are sure to make one feel like they’re dining in a Singaporean home as it reminds even the locals of home-cooked meals. This comes as no surprise because the food stand’s ingredients are handmade and homemade with love, from its bouncy fish balls made with 100 percent yellowtail fish, down to the sambal chilli which perfectly complements the noodles when tossed with crunchy fried shrimps.
To end their food journey on a delicious note, Chef Shen took Daez to Garang Grill, explaining that the word “garang” means “fierce” or “powerful,” and best describes the strong smoked dishes one can savor at the neighbourhood grill. Their top recommendations include Garang Chilli Wings, Chilli Crab Rillet with deep fried mini mantou, and Crispy Pork Jowl, which are grilled on a traditional Spanish Mibrasa charcoal oven to bring out bold flavors and served best with a bowl of spicy Garang Rice.
At the end of this gastronomic journey, Daez’ appetite for food and adventure was satisfied not only by yummy meals but also by wonderful experiences at the inspiring food establishments.
Asking Chef Shen for more tips on how to explore and taste Singapore, the gastronome replied, “There are so many incredible food experiences to try out in the Lion City such as eating like a local in famous hawker centers like Maxwell Hawker Center and Chinatown Complex or attending fun food festivals like the Michelin Guide Street Food Festival this March, the World Gourmet Festival in April, and the Singapore Food Festival in July, but heading down the east coast definitely has to be at the top of the list.
As for Daez’ personal tip, “Dedicate a day during your Singapore stay for an east coast food trip at food locations which offer a wide range of dishes. Stuffing yourself with hearty meals will definitely be one of the highlights of your trip. So the next time you pass by the rows of homes of the east side, don’t forget to look beyond it and explore the exciting possibilities!”