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On not-so-familiar ground: My first month in Singapore

February 27, 2012

Today marks a month since K and I relocated to Singapore. We’ve spent the last few weeks catching up with family and friends in the region, and are settling in moderately well. Why only moderately, you may ask.

Having lived in London for more than half my life, in many ways, I’ve grown accustomed to the ways of the British. Yet Malaysia (friendly neighbour of Singapore) is where I spent my childhood. It is where most of my family still live and one of the reasons we’ve chosen to give life in this part of the world, a go. Whilst I’ve never lived in Singapore before, this is K’s home country and similar to Malaysia in culture. The food, the culture, the people are all familiar, yet there have been times in the last few weeks that I’ve felt more of an affinity with the expatriates than the locals!

I’ve now started at my new job, right in the heart of the CBD (Central Business District) of Singapore. The lunch culture here is very different from that in London – no ‘grab and go’ sandwiches and eating at my desk! I’ve been slowly exploring the various food centres (open air buildings with numerous food stalls mainly selling inexpensive local fare) in the vicinity of my office. To be honest, it’s all been a little hit and miss. Of course, it’ll take time for me to find some really good local food and when I do, I will share these with you.

For now, here are some snapshots of what we’ve been up to over the last couple of weekends, spent meeting up with new family (for me, at least) and old friends… nothing very local, which goes to show just how wide the expatriate community is catered for here, that such places are as commonly found as the local food centres.

First up, a couple of weeks back, we met with some friends at Ippudo Tao of Ippudo Japan, famed for its Tonkotsu (pork based) ramen. I’d been to Ippudo in New York last year and was blown away by the silky al dente ramen, in a rich delicious broth. I also had the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly tucked in a soft white bun. The ramen at this Singapore outpost did not disappoint but unfortunately, the buns were far from what I remember them to be in New York.

Above: Ippudo Tao, UE Square

Above: Ippudo pork buns and Tao Kuro ramen noodles

This last weekend, we explored a little of Dempsey Hill, formerly home to British Army barracks which then saw life as an antique warehouse area before being reinvented as a thriving dining spot. Being former barracks, the buildings are arranged in several small clusters, each a short walk from the others and nestled amongst lush greenery. I noted, some of the restaurants offered casual outdoor dining and the crowd appeared to be of the younger working adults and expatriates. I like that it’s a relatively secluded spot, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Singapore.

Above: Jones The Grocer and Barracks, House

Our brunch spot on a sunny Saturday was Barracks at House, aptly named for the history of the area. The dining area was kitted out with mismatched wood and metal furniture; and fresh flowers at each table, giving it a slightly laid-back and whimsical, yet utilitarian feel. With the sunlight streaming in through the floor to ceiling glass panels, it was a great setting for a relaxing couple of hours. Whilst I thought a lot of care and attention was given to the décor, the same could not be said for the food we had. The poached eggs I had were, despite being perfectly cooked, under-seasoned (coming from someone who prefers her food on the bland side), whilst K’s pancake stack was overly sweet from the mix of dried fruits and syrup. Our side order of truffle fries did not disappoint, though – sprinkled with salt and white truffle oil, we’d have happily ordered another portion.

Above: Barracks, House – poached eggs with asparagus

Above: Barracks, House – seven layer pancake

Above: Barracks, House – truffle fries

Still, I enjoyed our first brunch out in Singapore and the walk around the area after. We found two specialist grocers offering European fare (Jones The Grocer and Culina) which, albeit expensive by London standards would be handy to visit if we needed ingredients for say, K’s homemade pasta. He’s even found the special 00 flour for it, unavailable at other typical Singaporean supermarkets (thanks to @aun koh of Chubby Hubby for the pointer).

Above: Culina at Dempsey Hill

I think it’ll take some time for me to settle into the lifestyle here. While I have been missing London and the network of fellow foodies there, I seem to have gravitated towards seeking out non-local food over the weekends. My observation though, is that the Singapore food scene is a heady mix of both local and non-local cuisine, to suit all budgets. I’m hopeful I’ll find some real local gems soon without breaking the bank!

From a baking perspective, whilst I continue to be inspired by the many blogs which I follow, I will not be able to bake for lack of an oven and my own kitchen for some time. Fellow baker-bloggers, I’m bookmarking many of your delicious recipes for future use and checking out availability of ingredients here!

Before I sign off, thanks again, for your continued support for the blog, and for me, despite all the changes. I really, truly appreciate it.

x, thebountifulplate

21 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 3:11 PM

    Lovely pictures! It does take time to settle in! Hopefully the next month will be less of a shock! Good luck in your job!

  2. February 27, 2012 7:45 PM

    I can imagine it would take me months if not years to settle somewhere new. It took me at least 2 years before I started settling in to Epsom and that is me not leaving the country. It shows you how good London living can be, especially for those of us who love our food!
    Good luck with the next few weeks, I hope and wish you lots of happiness :-)x

  3. February 28, 2012 12:57 AM

    What an adventure and what great looking food.

  4. February 28, 2012 12:30 PM

    Aah it’s lovely to hear how you are getting along. You’ll be fine. You’ve been there such a short space of time it will all feel wierd. I love the poached eggs and asparagus, some lovely looking food going on here. I’m sure find loads more places to inspire you in time. Hope the new job goes well 🙂

  5. February 28, 2012 1:34 PM

    Laura, Rufus and Ren – thank you, all three (or four (G+K!) of you 🙂 I’m still reading your blogs!

  6. Jessica permalink
    February 28, 2012 9:23 PM

    Can’t wait for your next blog – very insightful for expatriates looking to move to Singapore!
    Missing you x

  7. February 29, 2012 8:45 AM

    Hello Christine! I was at Changi last night on my way home from Oz…thought of you as I looked up at the beautiful moon in the warmth of the Cactus garden! Next time I hope to meet up with you properly…you’ll know all the best places by then. You’re so brave to try life somewhere new…like my sister did when she emigrated 12 years ago. I’m in awe. Hope that the new job goes well and looking forward to reading more on that beautiful part of Asia. xoxo sending love, Rachel

    • February 29, 2012 2:30 PM

      Aww, thanks Rachel. Sounds like you had a fab time with your family on hols. Please keep in touch! x

  8. March 3, 2012 7:12 AM

    Hey Lenglui…. I really love the pictures that you’ve been taking. One day, if I visit Singapore, let’s do a ONE-DAY food adventure ! What say you?

  9. March 10, 2012 11:04 PM

    Thank you for the update… you have moved to a wonderful place (I have been told)… it is so large it will take a while to adjust and to know your way around! Exploring is an adventure and I so look forwards to following along and learning all kinds of new information from you! Your pictures are beautiful and so full of the life that you will now live! I would love to have you take me on an adventure! Take care and I look forwards to each of your posts!

  10. March 15, 2012 6:07 PM

    Truffle fries…yum! I know exactly what you mean. The lack of oven in Hong Kong drove me bananas for the first couple of months when we were in Serviced Apartments. When we finally moved to our new place, we had to buy a “table top oven” which was completely alien to me but it does the job for just the two of us 😉
    Embrace the time you have in Singapore – I’m sure you will grow to love it and when you get bored come over and visit me in HK 🙂
    Continue to love your photography and look forward to reading your adventures in Singapore

    • March 18, 2012 1:24 PM

      Thanks Jac! I’ve never even heard of a table top oven till I got here either 😛 Am so tempted to get one but think I’ll wait and see what happens in the next couple of months.

  11. March 16, 2012 5:46 PM

    I’m really looking forward to more posts from you in Singapore! Very jealous of your proper lunches! 🙂

  12. September 2, 2012 11:48 AM

    Hope you’ll discover even more great food in SG — you should check out maxwell food market too! (: love your blog and super excited for more post to come!

    • September 2, 2012 4:10 PM

      Thank you natbatbat! 🙂 I have tried Maxwell – love the chicken rice and lao ban dou foo fan there.


  1. Singapore: Food centre etiquette « thebountifulplate

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