Thanks to a recent invite I was privileged to go on a Makansutra Food Safari. For those who do not know Makansutra is a Singapore based foodies guide for all things good and edible here. There is a book published yearly with all the best places to eat, a website and many events, one of which is the safari, a tour around some of the best places to learn about the influences on and sample the food heritage of Singapore.
I well remember when I first visited Singapore catching a programme on TV hosted by a very entertaining Singaporean called KF Seetoh and subsequently seeing him on many food programmes in Singapore showing the hosts the best of what this island has to offer. Little did I ever imagine I'd one day have the opportunity to meet him myself and go on one of his safari's, but sure enough last week that's exactly what I did!
First stop was, ironically, just around the corner from where I live in Katong (a well known part of Singapore for food), at the Mr Teh Tarik Eating House where we got to see our first delight, Putu Piring, being prepared by the man in the photo below. He was fantastic and clearly thoroughly enjoyed having all the group on the tour taking his photo, much to the bemusement of the locals enjoying their food.
Putu Piring is a steamed rice cake with melted palm sugar in the centre, covered in coconut and flavoured with pandan leaves. The cakes are a Malay adaptation of an Indian dish. It was incredibly sweet, even for me who admits to having a bit of a sweet tooth. We were given two to sample and I'm not sure I could have eaten any more but they were very good and apparently go particularly well with a coffee or should that be kopi?
|The Putu Piring|
After this we quickly moved on to the Geylang area, which although 'famous' for many things also has much in the way of good food to try. First stopping in Geylang Lorong 27 to sample a variety of delicious Indonesian influenced dishes. The food here just kept coming and coming and was all fantastic. There were so many dishes but our food safari here included beef rendang, mutton curry, spicy squid ink (the two dishes in the foreground in the photo below) and a cabbage and tofu curry.
|A little bit of everything|
Then, of course, as it was a food safari things started to get a little bit more interesting with a visit to another restaurant in the Geylang area (Lorong 3). The restaurant advertising kind of gave away what we would likely be sampling next!
Sure enough after settling ourselves down out came pots of porridge and pots of frog's legs. The porridge is nothing like how I suspect some of you reading this may be imaging. It certainly is not the porridge oats you may have for breakfast on a cold winter's day! I've tried congee previously which is a rice porridge and the frog's legs were served with this in a very tasty sauce. I was not completely enamoured of the frog's legs which, and apologies for the cliche, did taste of chicken! Despite them tasting fine I think for me it was the psychological barrier of eating a frog which put me off. I also imagine it is the kind of dish that requires you to put the piece of meat in your mouth to chew it off the bones, something I just could not do.
|Frog's leg porridge|
Our next dish was just as unusual but one I could definitely be convinced to eat again - shark's head. This was one of the dishes that KF Seetoh got Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations fame to try on a visit to Singapore, so I felt in good company! The part of the shark head you eat is the skin and gelatinous parts all around the bone, which perhaps does not sound that appetising but served with the chili sauce was divine.
Following this came crab served with glass noodles. I've tried chili crab previously, my first ever experience of eating crab, and whilst it was good I did not enjoy eating with my hands and the inevitable mess involved. So I happily watched my fellow diners tuck into this particular crab on my behalf.
We rounded off the evening at the Makansutra's Gluttons Bay, which is the opportunity to sample some of the best dishes Singapore has to offer as recommended by Makansutra. It was dessert time for us and we began with kaya toast (which I'm ashamed to admit I'd not previously tried), a very popular dish here in Singapore. The kaya dip (in this case) is made from eggs, sugar and coconut milk flavoured with pandan. It was delicious so next time I have a kopi I must make sure I have this as well.
Finally out came some banana fritters and whilst I imagine not particularly good for you in large quantities were absolutely gorgeous. The batter was light and the banana suitably gooey and I inevitably ate far too many of them!
Singapore is a foodie heaven right - so a food safari is definitely the thing to do.
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