Mention Singapore to any foodie and you’re sure to hear wistful, longing sighs. A veritable melting pot of cultures, Singaporean cuisine is a marriage of Malaysian, Indian and Chinese cuisine, with a lot more cultures caught in between. With all the local dishes that I hear rave craves about, was it a surprise that last month’s vacation there turned into one massive food trip?
We wanted to get shopping out of the way so one of the first places we hit was Orchard Road. But first, we needed to get a bite to eat so we headed off to Food Republic, a food court in Wisma Atria. While there was a mind-boggling assortment of local food to try, we ended up going for noodles at Formosa Dragon.
Here, you can watch as they hand-pull the noodles right in front of you. It was quite a surprise to me actually, I thought it was a literal pulling technique, but instead, there was the cook, shaving fresh noodle strands off a large block of dough.
As you do when trying out a new place, we ordered different things and just swiped at each other’s plate to have a taste. My friend Turtle and my mom got the Dao Xiao Mian Beef. Their version of beef noodles, it was a dark, meaty broth, with that distinct beef aroma and a slight sweetness. It had the rich flavor of beef fat which was nicely complemented by the vegetables. Of course, the beef was delightfully tender.
Rabbit ordered a dry noodle dish that was reminiscent of chow mein. Instead of serving it stir-fried however, this simply had sauce poured on top of the freshly cooked noodles. I forget what it was called but it was very peppery.
I wanted something relatively light so I tried the tomato noodle soup, thinking that it would be something like Tom Yum Goong. I have mixed feelings about it because it was good. It was light and refreshing and the tiny dried fish (their local dilis?) offered a savory flavor to the dish but I guess I was looking for something sour. The noodles were nice and resilient though. It doesn’t have the chewiness you’d normally find in Chinese noodles but it still offered a nice bite.
We also grabbed a dish of one of their sides, a yummy, spicy salad of different kinds of seaweed, parsley, spring onions and chilis. The seaweed was really good, with a jelly-like texture that’s so much fun to eat.
Playing host to us, Turtle and Rabbit grabbed more dishes from other stalls so we could try all sorts of food. So aside from our noodles, we also had some Poppiah, a fresh vegetable spring roll with soft radish (I marvel at how they get radish to turn out like that), shrimp, and coriander.
It was also our first taste of satay, a sweet-style barbecue that’s served with a sweet peanut sauce. Our dish came with chunks of cucumber and onions. The satay’s taste was something that surprised me. I guess it reminds me too much of local Filipino barbecue so the sudden surge of sweetness surprised me. While our local barbecue has a hint of sweetness, it’s usually overpowered by the saltiness of the soy sauce.