A weekly series on what makes Singapore special.
We all have our favourite haunts.
Perhaps it's a restaurant tucked in a quiet corner of Singapore that has excellent food and even better service, or a cafe in a mall with good coffee and a welcoming atmosphere. Or perhaps you prefer being outdoors - playing football with your friends or picnicking at East Coast Park, for instance.
tabla! asked Indian expatriates who are now Singapore citizens or permanent residents to share with us some of their favourite hangout spots.
Finding peace at Chinese Garden
Ms Tina Sharma, head of human resources at the State Bank of India, has been in Singapore since 2005. She and her family have been permanent residents since 2007.
She says: "Pizza Fabbrica is an Italian restaurant that has recently opened in the Kampong Glam vicinity. It has a very modern/chic setting, which is something quite unique in that area. It has an open kitchen concept with a remarkable wood-fire oven and also a separate bar area. The whole dining ambience is very casual yet classy. I was delighted to find a separate vegetarian menu and was told that the chef (who is from Italy) had grown up eating a lot of vegetarian dishes. The food is delicious and requires a few visits to the gym or a jogging track afterwards!
"If there's one place in Singapore that's synonymous with outdoor revelry, it's East Coast Park. My family and I love that it offers an array of sporting, dining and recreational activities such as biking, rollerblading and windsurfing. Cycling while enjoying the sun and the sea breeze is our favourite activity there. I also love spending Saturday mornings with my family at Chinese Garden. It is the perfect place to meditate, as it simply feels so calm and it is so quiet down in the beautiful gardens. Chinese Garden's usually tranquil grounds burst into life during Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. When you're there, though, remember to be on the lookout for monitor lizards and snakes!"
Fun family time at Suntec
Mr S.V. Padmanabhan is the global product finance head at Olam International and a director of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce. He is a Singapore citizen.
He says: "As I go out mostly with my family, my favourite hangout spots are the Singapore Flyer and the Suntec City fountain since they are both near my workplace. We like to listen to the music at the fountain and the children like the ritual of going around the fountain and touching the water. It makes for a fun family time.
"As we are vegetarians, we try out different vegetarian food. Singapore has lots of choices, and we have tried vegetarian Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Turkish food, to name a few. My favourite is a small cafe in Metta school in Simei, which has a nice, calm and quiet ambience."
Adrenalin rush at Sentosa
Ms Shakun Narang is an assistant human resource manager at Singapore Press Holdings. She has been a permanent resident since 2008.
She says: "When we feel like going to a hawker centre, there are three places we like for their sambal stingray: the hawker centre at Bukit Batok East Ave 4, Lau Pa Sat and Newton Circus Food Centre. These places are usually close to our home and our respective offices, and are famous for their quality seafood. The ingredients in the sambal stingray are not new to Indians and the familiarity of the flavours makes it much more enjoyable. It goes well with seafood fried rice and we also order chicken and prawn satay on the side.
"The MegaZip Adventure Park at Sentosa is the top attraction for me at Sentosa, especially when I take my visiting friends and family members from India sightseeing. It's a unique adrenalin rush, especially for youngsters. The feeling of flying and being free is amazing. It's safe for kids as well - my daughter has been enjoying it since she was eight!"
Local delights in Middle Road
Ms Nidhi Arora works in market research and has been a permanent resident since 2007.
She says: "I like to try out different types of cuisines, and Singapore has so many restaurants! Some of my favourites are Original Sin, Jim Thompson, Saravanaa Bhavan and Murugan Idli. Fortune Centre in Middle Road is a treasure trove of local vegetarian fare. It is perhaps the only place in Singapore where I feel comfortable in experimenting with local food, since all the food there is vegetarian. The star attraction there for me is the olive fried rice at Su Shi Piao Xiang, a cafe on level one. It has a generous flavour of olives and is served with onion floss and peanuts, and has quite a large following of patrons.
"East Coast Park is my favourite spot for a family outing. We usually plan picnics with friends there, since kids can enjoy a clean outdoor environment, get their feet wet in the sea and climb on trees while the adults can catch up with their friends too. I have heard that the restaurant area which was down for renovation is open now, and I am looking forward to checking it out. If only it had a chaat place, East Coast Park would become the complete beach outing!"
Bonding time at the mall
A vice-president in a bank, Mr Amandeep Garg has been a permanent resident since 2008.
He says: "One of my favourite eating places is Kailash Parbat. We love the restaurant for its wide variety of food and also because it is a pure vegetarian restaurant. It also has authentic North Indian dishes like bhatura and kulfi.
"As a family, we generally go out for movies and shopping over the weekend. We like going to Tampines Mall and nex in Serangoon, where there are a lot of food options. Nex has a wet play area which my son really enjoys. They also have a library and we can spend some time reading books as a family there."
Meal with a view
Ms Suchi Arya, who works in a social media company, has been in Singapore for around five years now.
She says: "One of my favourite brunch places is Prive in Keppel Bay. It's scenic, a bit far from the maddening crowd, which helps, and has an awesome brunch selection. It's one place that I'd definitely recommend for a nice Sunday brunch or even an evening out by the bay. I'm also a coffee addict and I keep trying the new hot spots in Singapore. One of the new places in my neighborhood is The Lokal on Neil Road. These guys used to run Sarnie's in Telok Ayer Street. It has excellent gourmet coffee and a good brunch menu as well."
Exercising at Botanic Gardens
Ms Aanchal Khaneja has been a Singaporean citizen for about 10 years and works in the film industry.
She says: "Our all-time favourite eateries have been and continue to be Crystal Jade, Thai Express and Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice. Five Star has great vegetarian options apart from their well-known chicken rice. Everyone in our family orders different dishes, so we need both non-vegetarian and vegetarian options. We love these places for their variety and consistency of good food. When we come home from overseas, these are the first three places we die-die must eat!
"We love going to the Botanic Gardens on Sundays and holidays. While my sister Sanaya opts for a lazy breakfast and hanging out with our dog Leo, I like to exercise and learn new and fascinating routines from the many teachers who regularly teach various forms of exercise like qigong, tai chi and Chinese line dance."
Best Italian food
Mr Ranjan Ramchandani is a nature and wildlife photographer who has been living in Singapore for 12 years and took up citizenship last year.
He says: "Eating out in Singapore has always been a pleasure due to the number of cuisines available here. My favourite restaurant is Ristorante Da Valentino at Turf Club Road. Valentino has the best Italian food in the world. It is a very well-run family establishment where the food and service is second to none. Apart from that, I also like Blu Kouzina for authentic Greek food and Serenity at VivoCity for tapas and sangria."
Sentosa's perfect escape
A marketing manager in a bank, Ms Neha Mathur has been in Singapore for 19 years and became a citizen eight years ago.
"Singapore is a diner's paradise with food choices aplenty and lots of new F&B outlets cropping up every month. I have lots of favourite restaurants including Min Jiang, Trattoria Lafiandra, Chutney Mary and Patara to name a few!
"My favourite outing spot is anywhere in Sentosa. Quayside Isle in particular has so many activities and restaurants that it becomes the perfect escape."
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