Singapore: More Words About Buildings and Food
Now that I’ve covered some of the big picture stuff, it’s time to talk about a few of the adventures we had in Singapore. One week was far too little time for everything we wanted to see, do, and eat, but at least we had no trouble keeping busy.
313@somerset, or, Would You Like Some Mall With Your Food Courts
I mentioned last time that you can find food basically everywhere, all the time, in Singapore, and to illustrate this I’m going to pick out one mall in particular.
On our first day in Singapore, we passed through a fairly new mall called 313@somerset on our initial visit to Orchard Road. On the first floor of this mall, we found an area done in a sort of fake outdoor street theme, lined with both sit-down and to-go food places including an Italian restaurant, a Swiss sandwich place, and gourmet popcorn. Outside, the walkway continued past a number of other restaurants like an izakaya specializing in Japanese craft beer and this weird Peanuts-themed (the comic, not the nuts) cafe. There was an awful lot to choose from, and it seemed like a good place to come back to.
Just one of the mall’s food courts.
And we did come back the very next day, since the mall was conveniently connected to our MRT (subway) stop. But coming from the train brought us to a different area of the mall, at level B2, where we encountered yet more food options. This included a Popeyes Chicken that wasn’t quite open yet—it isn’t exactly local food, but isn’t something we usually run into either, so we intended to make it our first stop. But while waiting for it to open, we decided to just peek at the next floor down, where we discovered the actual food court—a whole floor full of choices from all over the place. It was no longer worth going back upstairs for chicken.
We ended up with some interesting takoyaki (including one with bacon and cheese) plus some Korean-style skewers (including a corn dog variant covered in French fries). What I liked about these was that they were both essentially fusion, but seemingly from the opposite direction I’m used to—that is, it wasn’t so much takoyaki adapted to Western tastes by adding bacon and cheese; it was bacon and cheese adapted to Asian tastes by putting it in takoyaki… or something like that. Regardless, it was good stuff, and evidence that food really is around the corner from everything, even other food.
Later, from outside, we noticed a Food Republic sign high up on the same mall. Further investigation revealed yet another food court on the top of the mall, this seeming to focus more on traditional food, though still covering a number of regions. So that’s at least three dedicated dining areas, plus random stuff like the Popeyes, in what claims to be a shopping mall. And there are two dozen places like this on Orchard Road.
There’s a lot of food in Singapore.
The Singapore Sling
One thing Singapore is known for is the Singapore Sling cocktail. I’d never had one before the trip, so this seemed like a good place to try it—and what seemed like an especially good place was the Raffles Hotel Long Bar, where the drink was invented about a hundred years ago. So when we were in the area, we stopped in at the historic hotel and checked it out.
And honestly? I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t know that I’d get another one next time. For one thing, the drink is expensive—$27 Singaporean, or about $22 US. Part of that’s the high alcohol taxes in Singapore, but the bar is also very aware that their original Singapore Sling is a tourist draw, and they price it accordingly. Second, I’m not actually that into tropical drinks. The cocktail was good enough, but certainly nothing I’d seek out without the story behind it, and you can probably find something similar elsewhere for cheaper. So, it was really less about the drink itself, and more about experiencing a bit of history. It was a neat thing to do, but it should definitely be approached with the right mindset.
Part of the Long Bar. (It’s too long for one picture.)
The Long Bar itself seemed to have a pretty well-preserved colonial atmosphere, so that was interesting to experience as well. It still felt kind of touristy, but the hotel does legitimately date back to the colonial period (1899), and it wasn’t hard to imagine some British dudes hanging out there after a long day of colonizing. It was definitely something different in the midst of modern Singapore, and yet another example of how much variety there is within such a small country.
Next time: More adventures!