Basking in the glow of post-marriage smugdom, this month we have mostly been:
- Chillaxing at the 'old KM8', Tanjong Beach Club. Swank, sun-kissed scantily clad ladies, and a whole lotta champagne and cocktails are the order of the day. What used to be the weekend hangout for the Sunday smash heads in Singapore has been converted into a rather posh venue, complete with sparkly infinity pool and a brightly lit restaurant. Upmarket beach parties have come to stay.
- Making the cut at the Survival Chic launch party. Held at the elegant La Villa on River Valley Road, Virginia Brumby and Christophe Ferreira hosted the launch for their inside knowledge membership club, Survival Chic. Members enjoy two main benefits: (i) 30% off the entire bill on their first visit to each handpicked partner: upscale restaurants and bars, wine shops, yacht hire, spas, cooking and art classes; and (ii) Invitations and special treatment at carefully selected lifestyle events: art openings, wine tastings, special dinners, film festivals, and polo. Sign up now!
- Street-fighting. There's nothing like a good dressing up theme to get me in the mood for a party. My definition of 'good' is simply a theme that I can manage with household items. Note: Yes, those are shower puffs on my head.
- Attending a preview of John Clang's exhibition. Hailing from Singapore, but now displaced in New York, photographer John Clang's work is both personal and innovative. Super-imposing himself onto a Skype call screen, ripping up photos and putting them back together again and taking shots through circular holes are all in his repertoire. Thought-provoking and intriguing images - the exhibition is on until 3 July at new gallery, 2902.
Up next month is the long-awaited opening of Marina Bay Sands, another pimping boat party and more house parties before people start shooting off for their 'summer' holidays.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Monday, 14 June 2010
Whilst it may appear that you can barely walk two block in Singapore's central shopping district without stumbling across another building site earmarked for yet another monstrous mall, we should take care to remember that there is respite from the cookie cutter luxury retail outlets... The forgotten malls of Singapore, I salute you: most were built in the late 1970s and 1980s so have withstood 20-30 years of hardcore mish-mash retail and 'look look, see see' shoppers.
1. People's Park Complex: Vintage memorabilia, DIY electronics, goldsmiths, arguably the most popular bak kua store on the island, copy watches, and a small television showing disturbing footage of someone having a blepharoplasty* (*CAUTION: not for the faint-hearted). This mall's got it all. Snack stop: Head for the small stalls outside selling edible duck parts (there are more than you initially think, trust me). Turn right and search for the fried goods stall which sells by far the best hei-piah (prawn cake) in Singapore: light, yet glutinous dough, topped with a prawn and deep-fried to perfection. Wolf it down and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
2. Peninsula Plaza: Guitars, fancy dress, vintage clothes, opticians, and specialist camera stores. This is a mecca for music lovers, photographers and those who like to dress a little differently. Snack stop: It has to be Sotong Ball OnStik from Old Chang Kee.
3. Golden Mile Complex: Were you wondering where all the Thai people hang out in Singapore? Look no further. More Thai shops, clubs, barbers, travel agents and eateries than you can shake a lemongrass stick at, the mall dubbed 'Little Thailand' has it all, including an enormous supermarket. Snack stop: Clear Tom Yam soup from Diandin Leluk Thai Restaurant. (Okay, not really a snack, per se, but if you want your spicy socks blown off, don't miss this gem.)
4. Bras Basah Complex: If it's obscure books and magazines, or you're about to get crafty, this is your hang out. Art Friend is the place you need to head if you're planning to paint yourself blue, make yourself something out of felt and all other obscure creative activities. The Complex is also home to my favourite jeweller that would never make it big in the UK: Fook Hing (see above). Snack stop: Grab a coffee amongst the bookshelves at Popular's cafe or go retro and order an ice cream float at Jack's Place. Time to watch the world go by and catch up on a little reading.
5. The Peace Centre: The entire ground floor of this place is dedicated to all things 'print'. If you need to waste half a rainforest printing out your memoirs, head here and compare the prices. Be warned though, the fancy dress shop which used to exist here has now morphed into a dodgy looking 'university' - one of those ones offering 'degrees' in Needlework & Stitching, with a major in English for Beginners. Snack stop: There is a Turkish kebab place next to the main exit, which always seems fairly popular. It even has the enticing 'elephant's leg'. Check your cholesterol levels before ordering.
Finally, a special mention for most short-sighted name for a mall - Singapore Shopping Centre. Did they really think that they would be the only one?
Happy shopping & snacking!
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
With the announcement that the first three-Michelin-starred restaurants from Europe to set foot in Singapore have now opened, here's a quick round-up of the top five starless gastronomic adventures before Mr. Michelin and his cronies come to town.
5. Tiong Bahru Boneless Chicken Rice (#02-82, Tiong Bahru Food Centre). I am wondering, after all the free promotion this establishment gets from my blog, whether they would print me a t-shirt. Mr. Michelin should try obtaining the chilli sauce recipe. I am sure the response would be similar to Charlton Heston at an NRA Rally: "From my cold dead hands."
4. Ju Shin Jung (West Coast). If you like grilled meats, seared to perfection at your table and accompanied by 101 small plates of crunchy Korean 'tapas', this is the place for you. The quality of the meat is divine, the staff are attentive and there's nothing quite like stinking out the taxi ride home with the smell of BBQ on your clothes. Post-meal shower essential.
3. Si Chuan Dou Ha (60th floor of UOB Plaza). The view of the Marina is hard to beat: the stunning Marina Bay Sands, the Fullerton Hotel and the Esplanade glint by day and by night. If fiery food is your forte, pluck a couple of the four chilli rated dishes to tantalise your taste buds. Beware though, you should opt for some of the more sedate dishes to balance out your meal lest you turn into a fire-breathing dragon at the table. Thankfully, the tea ninjas are always on hand to put out any manageable explosions. The mesmerising act of pouring water from an incredibly long spouted kettle into your tea cup will take your mind off the burn. Deliciously challenging.
2. Kuriya Penthouse (Orchard Central). If you are adventurous and you like the taste of Japan, you must try the omakase (tasting) menu here. After ascertaining any particular dislikes or allergies, the chef will take you on a journey through some of Japan's finest and most unique ingredients. The menu changes each week and is also designed for each guest. The staff are well-versed in exactly what you are eating, can recommend wines to accompany your meal and know when to interrupt your adventure to clear, serve and pour. You can opt to enjoy your dessert on the terrace overlooking the Istana Park and you will be pleasantly surpised at the spread the chef pâtissier has put on: wonderful flavoured mousses (have as many as you like) and your own selection of fresh fruits from an enormous basket.
1. Tippling Club. Whilst the other picks have specialised in food from Singapore, Korea, China and Japan, Tippling Club surpasses them all by offering a delectable journey across the gastronomic globe. The ten course tasting menu is the essential order of the day and the fact that each dish is assembled within viewing distance adds a unique je ne sais quoi. Chef Ryan Clift and Head Bartender Matthew Bax carefully note whether you have dined there before in order to shape the menu to your extraordinarily special dining experience. Mr. Michelin - I dare you to avoid awarding at least one star to this neat little club.
I am a firm believer that if the food is exquisite but the service is poor, any meal will be immediately tainted. Somehow, the sourness of a face can turn my food bitter, and it's not just all about smiling. Service that is (i) over-zealous (constantly clearing my barely dirty plate in a Chinese restaurant or topping up my wine glass after just one sip) or (ii) lost in translation (staff unable to explain menu items and getting the orders wrong) are two of my biggest bugbears in Singapore. WHY can serving staff not understand the key points of their job? I think this will be biggest challenge in Singapore for these new Michelin kids on the block.
Find me a waiter that can explain to me why I should try the 2005 Chablis rather than the 2006 White Rioja or exactly what is in the funny looking foam on my plate and I shall shake him by the hand. Sadly, for the most part, servers here have thrown out their brains along with their staff handbooks. Thankfully, a new reality television series, Can You Serve? may be able to infiltrate this nation of surly staff. The very fact that it exists is testament to my dining woes.
Having said all this, I am very excited at the prospect of our next 'special occasion' when I shall surely plump for one of these Singapore-side Michelin-starred experiences. Having tried Michelin-starred maze and The Harwood Arms in London, I am au fait with what the accolade means for my taste buds. However, at S$50 for dessert, I would want Mr. Savoy himself to feed it to me. Mr. Michelin, if you're reading, please pass on the message.