So goes Day 1 of my Singapore Surprise trip... After we checked in at Scarlet Hotel, I wanted to get some business done before the pleasure, so first on the agenda was a business lunch with my banker to get some updates.
I asked for directions on where we were to meet, but instead she sent Barry and his Benz to pick us up and take us to our destination.
Barry, is a private driver whose card reads "Have Barry, Will Travel. He gives great tips on where to go after my lunch meeting, and I pick up his card just in case I want to feel snooty and get chauffered around Singapore.
Traveling comfy under the Singapore sun.
He dropped us off One Raffles Place, which is an office building for some big establishments.
What a great view for a meeting room.
Lunch was at the Singapore Tower Club, a private business club, where power lunches are taken and business deals made. Located at the 62nd-64th floor Penthouse of 9 Raffles Place, the view of marina Bay Sands, Indonesia and Malaysia were visible through the glass windows. There is also a very strict dress code of no jeans or sneakers, but since it was a Friday denim was OK'd. I had to inform Mr. S of this since he was wondering how he can wear slacks with the humidity.
Thanks to Cindy and Jessica for the sit-down lauriat. Chinese food is the specialty at the Tower Club, and it was quite evident.
Tower Club definitely means business, classically designed but with touches of whimsy coming from the Versace tea cups.
Birdcage chairs gilded in gold add some privacy for those who prefer not to look behind their shoulders.
First Course: Dim Sum
A trio of Xiao Long Bao (pork soup dumpling), Har Gau (steamed shrimp dumpling) and Scallop Dumpling. All three were well-prepared and delicate. A great start. The shrimp dumpling was exceptionally fresh.
Second Course: Peking Duck
Mr. S & I were initially disappointed to see a singular duck wrapped with some hoisin sauce. But later on we realized there was a refill and we happily ate this up. The peking duck was moist and the hoisin sauce had a distinct plum flavor to it. Super yummy.
Third Course: Sea Bass with Bonito Flakes & Fried Gourd
The fish was flaky and tender, and the slightly sweet sauce lent a nice balance to the fattiness of the fish. The plating was beautiful, but we wished there was more!
Fourth Course: Garlic Gai Lan
Chinese broccoli stir fried with some garlic. Love Gai Lan.
Fifth Course: Beef Noodles
Beefy but wanted more noodles, but well-done.
Sixth Course: Dessert
Smartly plated in a double class goblet with dried ice to provide drama, the Avocado Puree with Green Tea Ice Cream was a refreshing palate cleanser after a flavorful Chinese lauriat.
But my favorite were the freshly baked Egg Tarts, pillowy soft and slightly sweet. I wanted to devour the whole plate but remembered my mom loves egg tarts, so I ate just one and kept the rest to bring home for her to try.
After we finished our lunch, we wanted to tour Singapore on our own. Before that, we needed some arsenal to make it happen.
Tour Tool #1: Where Singapore
When we arrived at Changi Airport, I picked up some maps and a copy of where Singapore. Where is a great city guide which gives 4-hour walking tours of different areas in Singapore. From food to tours to shows, it felt like a personal tour guide for those who prefer to take a city at their own pace, much like Time Out.
Tour Tool #2: Singapore Tourist Pass
I am an advocate for efficient transportation, when available, and prefer to take public transpo anytime I am out on vacation. Yes, a taxi is faster, but a little walk to the bust or train or subway station is a great way to see a little bit of the city you're in. Singapore has a great tourist pass that you can buy by the day, and is unlimited use for the Bus, MRT and LRT. You can surrender it before you leave and you get a refund on the card.
So we were just about ready to hit our walking tour when...
Mr. S decides he is still hungry and wanted to have a "snack".
Maxwell Food Centre
Good thing Scarlet Hotel is situated right across Maxwell Food Centre, one of the most popular Hawker centers and houses some of the best food stalls in Singapore. Located in Chinatown, it is one of the best places to nosh for cheap.
At that time, we didn't know which stalls were the ones to try, and decided to go for Maxwell Hainanese Chicken Rice stall. The chickens hanging at the display were so enticing that we were mesmerized and decided to try it out.
High Calcium Soya Bean Milk
I just wanted a a nice cold drink since we just had some lunch, so I decided on some fresh Soy Milk from this stall.
Maxwell's Hainanese Chicken Rice was ok, not great. The chicken was lacking, and the flavor was not as deep as I wanted. Wee Nam Kee's chicken is much better than this, but the rice was a different story. It was slightly sticky, bursting with chicken flavor, and definitely seasoned well. We were happy eating the rice after the chicken disappeared.
I was intrigued to try the Oyster Cake at Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake stall because there was quite a demand for them.
I suppose the lady in the background is her daughter, watches as the oyster cake is placed on the cake and cut up.
The oyster cake had a nice crunch to it, with whole pieces of oyster and basil leaves stuffed inside the cake and deep-fried. There were peanuts on top for an added crunch, which I thought was not necessary. but it was a nice new snack to try to keep us fed for our tour.
After our not-so-small snack, we hopped on the MRT and began the action... which was to shop in Orchard Road. Since June is the heart of the Great Singapore Sale, I wanted to see if there was something that caught my eye.
Believe it or not, I walked out of Orchard Road empty handed. The SRP of goods are actually more expensive than in the US, so even at a discount the prices were still not enough of a deal for it to be attractive.
So after leaving shopping mecca Orchard Road empty handed, we decided to re-stuffed our bellies with a Singapore Specialty: Chili Crab!
Jumbo Seafood Gallery
A lot of sources say that the Chili Crab at Jumbo Seafood Gallery is one of the best, and we attempted to travel as far as Bedok (near Changi airport) before we realized that there is a branch right by Clarke Quay and near our Hotel. As per Where Singapore: as part of East Coast Park's famous seafood center, Jumbo offers the freshest seafood; the chili crab here is absolutely delicious.
Jumbo was packed even at 10pm, and tables upon tables of locals and tourists filled the restaurant with lively chatter and crab shells.
First thing I noticed was the towelette right atop my plate, which is a precursor for how messy my hands would get.
Ready to crab it up!
We were first served with some peanuts and a little sauce bowl of chili. The peanuts disappeared within minutes, and the chili had a great flavor. I would end up requesting for extra chili on the side.
I was peer-pressured by the server to try the Green Drink, which is a mix of Soursop (Guyabano), Veggies and other green thingies. It tastes like the Vegetable shake I have for breakfast. Gack.
We decided to order the Oat Cereal Prawns, and what a treat! Fresh from the aquarium, the shrimp were sweet and succulent, and had a nice texture from the crushed cereal. I ate the shrimp skin-on and it was good from head to tail. I want that cereal topped on everything, please.
We ordered some Fried Rice, and even that had great flavor.
Our server finally presented us with the motherlode.
The crab claw was massive, just as big as Mr. S' fist.
The chili-sauce was sweet and slightly spicy but tolerable. A little bit of egg was mixed in to give it some thickness. It was perfectly paired with the fried rice.
I ordered fried bread buns, which are great for one reason..
For Dipping! Mmm...
The crab could not have been any fresher and sweeter. Since it was a large crab, there was plenty of meat to tackle out of the shells and spent a good time harvesting crabmeat for Mr. S, who is lazy and only likes the claws because the crabmeat comes in lumps.
I like to get dirty with my crab.
30 Minutes later: Mr. S gives up, I'm still at it.
Finally, after all the crabmeat has been eaten, I see my side of the table is an absolute mess. Yes, I am a hearty and messy eater. Can't be bothered to stay neat when you have to wrestle with seafood.
After our meal, we were given some tea finger water with lemon to wash our fingers and remove the seafood smell.
We decided to take a nice stroll back to the hotel, to let the crab digest properly after our late dinner, and to take in more of Singapore by foot.
Bold Bar was not crowded and very inviting, so we decided to hang out for a bit before heading back to the room.
We capped off a great meal with some Singaporean Tiger beer and a Mojito at Bold, reviewing our day by the meals we took in, and planning to really get some sight-seeing on the next day. But even til we fell asleep, Jumbo Chili Crab was still on my mind, and my tummy.
Here's the info on Jumbo Seafood Gallery; "the big name in seafood"online version of Where Singapore for when you wanna do Singapore on your own.