SINGAPORE - "Forget Newton Circus, forget Lau Pa Sat, forget Boat Quay," said Erlangga Mangunkusumo, mentioning famous culinary tourist spots in Singapore because his favourite dishes and eateries are mostly off the tourist track.
The great thing about asking recommendations from locals or residents is that you may come across such interesting places and feel more adventurous too.
To find what's great to eat in Singapore, apart from Erlangga, an Indonesian doctor who now works at the National University Hospital (NUH), The Jakarta Post Travel also sought recommendations from Singapore's makan guru KF Seetoh who founded Makan Sutra, a Singapore-based company that celebrates food culture and is now preparing the upcoming World Street Food Congress (WSFC) in April this year; Elrica Diona who is an award-winning beauty blogger of Pink Buble; and last but not least chef Jonathan Kinsella, executive chef of dB bistro Moderne, a casual French Bistro in Marina Bay Sands.
With the various exciting backgrounds of our sources, we'd like you to find out the interesting choices for each of the following categories: halal food, local favorites and fancy treats.
"The Prata House at Thomson Road," gets Elrica's vote. "Order the mutton fried rice, fried chicken biryani, and milk prata for the ultimate party of the taste buds."
She cited the affordability of the eatery as well.
Erlangga, who has been residing in Singapore since 2003, gives us a long list of his favourite halal eateries. Among the list he shared - rather reluctantly - is Thaksin Beef Noodle at See Lam Hern Stalls on Block 449 Clementi Ave 3.
"I'm torn. I'd like to keep this place unknown, since I very much like it and hate it so much when it gets crowded," the foodie doctor admitted as the reason behind his reluctance, but he shared it anyway.
The New York Times' Food Guide maven KF Seetoh said that if you wanted to have local style halal food with no frills and to 'hang out with the locals', head to Geylang Serai Hawker Centre at Changi Road.
"They have many nationally famous nasi padang stalls, just look for the queues, and nasi biryani as well as Muslim Indian fare like sup tulang and even chapati bread with mutton keema stews."
"Best to go about 11 a.m. when the food is fresh and the crowds are only streaming in," Seetoh suggested.
For chef Kinsella, who has been residing in Singapore since 2013, his recommendation for this category goes to Geylang Briyani Stall a.k.a Hamid's Briyani on Geylang Serai Temp Market #01-327.
"Order their mutton biryani," he says, adding that the stall became his favourite because he thought it spicier than the average biryani.
"The rice is perfectly cooked and the stall owners are always smiling and are super friendly. There is always a queue, and the food can sell out fast," he added.
"I like local cze cha [a Chinese cook and fry street restaurants mostly found in coffee shops]", said Seetoh. He continued by explaining that the eateries he recommended were usually not chain stalls and the chef normally was the boss.
"Hoy Yong Seafood at Blk 352, Clementi Ave 2 #01-153 , is one of my current favorites. Boss chef Hoy Yong has signatures not found in other menus like the duck roll tempura, bean skin seafood fritter, and one of the best egg fried hor fun [wat tan hor fun] and even an 8 Treasure Soup," said Seetoh, adding the fact that the prices here were very reasonable as it was situated in a local area and customers would complain if it overcharged.
Elrica's vote for this category was Char Kwe Tiau at the basement of Tang's Shopping Centre on the famous Orchard Rd.
"It's a must go for local lovers! The soft chewy kwe tiau and the tender juicy extra large shrimp is the main reason I love indulging myself on this menu at least once a week!" shared Elrica who is also a professional make up artist.