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Singapore food - generally very poor quality

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Singapore food - generally very poor quality

Post by JR8 » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 9:57 am

I've become disillusioned with food in Singapore. Not with the promise of what is on offer, but with what is delivered. There seems to be something of a gulf between the two.

- Hawker centre curry, that had so much MSG in it, I was bed-ridden for a couple of days, going through some horrible kidney-detox thing.
- A relatives maid made up some food for us in tiffin cans. Served some up for dinner, complete salt-OD, almost spontaneously puked. It all had to be thrown out (shame as the beef was very tender). Had a can of chicken soup for dinner instead [sigh!].
- Dinner at food court. Japanese curry with ebi (prawns). Huge bowl of rice, curry gravy over 1/3rd of it (all absorbed), three breaded things with prawn tails lying on top. I eat the prawns, and ponder if that is what they are. The 'curry' if so lost in all the rice... it would seem to require me to be starving to want to be bothered to hack it up and eat it.

And so it goes on. What next, Burger King? At least their pickles add a little zip to an otherwise uneventful burger.

'Mixed fried rice' (say rice+3 ingredients = $3), can be nice, but is terribly oily. Chicken rice, even the rice is infused with oil.

The swill that passes as food, served at the likes of Swenson's, Thai Express, and so on. And yet you'll have people there queuing for tables lol!

The bland nothingness of Famous Amos cookies, or Bengawan Solo, neither of which have probably seen a fresh natural ingredient in the past generation.


I'm starting to wonder if there is any quality food in Singapore; at least available to the average man on the street. Is mass-market food so poor, because people are unwilling or unable to pay for better? It's not like they're time poor (as in the US), as most of them have maids. I'm at rather a loss...

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Post by AndrewV » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 11:02 am

you're right on this
the quality of products available in places like the US and Canada, far outstrip the quality of the products here.

just compare breyers/chapmans ice cream/froyo (Which are considered mass market), with the ones you get here like magnolia. Don't even get me started on the milk.

the quality of the meats and freshness of the ingredients contribute a lot, and apart from tropical fruits(of which god quality mango's are missing), quality of the the base ingrediets of food leave a lot to be desired.

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Post by Max Headroom » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 11:17 am

Speed over quality. Consumers want it fast, so they make it fast. No more slow-cookers and flavors that infuse everything. Instead, they cook for as short as they can get away with. Ironically, things that need a quick flash-heat, like cabbage and long beans, are generally cooked to a pulp.

But you can't blame the food places, because it's what customers want here.

Example: you know these wee bowls of cut sereh, chilli and parsley that they sprinkle on your meal before they hand it to you? May as well leave it all out, because their aroma, their essence, is long gone. Garnish bits and bobs are best cut fresh to preserve their delicate ethereal oils. But who does that nowadays?

So basically, all flavors become less pronounced, it all starts to become, yes, blandish.

Of course sitting in hot lorries for hours whilst being transported from Malaysia to Singapore isn't doing any produce any good either.

There's still some decent places though. You have to cherry-pick lah.

By the way, I find that just across the Causeway, the makan is a couple of notches up, right off the bat. You find that too?

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Post by Sergei82 » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 11:57 am

The food in Singapore is best... cuz I cook it myself! (I'm afraid of hawkers' centers already :) )

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Post by bgd » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 12:07 pm

I guess it's a matter of shopping around and remembering the places that are good.

While I've experienced some of what which JR8 mentions I've also found some good stalls at the Lagoon Hawker on ECP. It is trial and error though. Seafood there is particularly good and the location (on the beach) is hard to beat.

But LTN, the big hawker at Siglap, is generally a disappointment now but used to be good.

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Post by BedokAmerican » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 1:11 pm

I agree with you about the Hawker Centers and similar eateries. For me it's kind of hit-or-miss at those places. I've also found that chain restaurants seem to be the better option, although they're not something to cheer about. Maybe that's why Singaporeans (on average) are thinner than Westerners...the food isn't that great. Bad joke, sorry.

Anyhow, I've found that "The Butcher" at Parkway Parade has excellent food that you can take home and cook yourself. It's owned by Australians, I believe. The staff is knowledgable and can give you instructions on how long to cook stuff and at what temperature, or you could grill. There's also a location in Holland Village but I haven't been to that one. Chicken Kiev, cordon bleu, marinated chicken steaks in a variety of flavors (hard to get good chicken dishes in Sg because the chicken at local places is a bunch of dark meat and fat), hamburgers, steaks, enchiladas, etc.

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Post by pisceangirl » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 2:51 pm

I can't imagine living on Hawker Centre food everyday - don't think its healthy at all. And I have to agree that except for a handful of places its hard to find good food that's affordable.

I try to cook at home as much as I can and I'll go to the occasional fancy restaurant and a few favourite hawker stalls (although I find some of them lack consistency on occasion!)

Edited to include a missed preposition :wink:

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Post by Primrose Hill » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 3:48 pm

Hawker's center or Food court is pretty much hit and miss like most places.
I go to The Butcher in HV and I find that they are pretty good. Sometimes I will buy from Huber at Dempsey, even Market Place at Tanglin.
Fish, will be from the wet market.
I cook a lot at home. Lunch will be somewhere in vivo.
Even in UK, I tend not to buy chicken kievs or marinated meat from local butcher or Marks, so that's fine with me.
Its the modern world, I am afraid. Is it really just a SG thing? Hawker's centers and food court food, yeah thats a SG thing. However, look at all the pre-made sandwiches thats laden with fat from Pret. Or when you buy go to a run of the mill restaurant in London that charges you anything from GBP8-15 for a ceaser salad and the lettuce are limp or the dressing came from a bottle.
Also food miles, that's supply and demand isn't. All of us wants to eat mango or berries whole year round, so in order to aid demand all supermarkets import them in.
Look at Tesco, Aldi etc and all the cheap roses for Valentine's Day. Really GBP4 for a dozen of barely budding roses that comes from Kenya?Whatever happen to the English roses with their intoixicating smell

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Post by martincymru » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 4:26 pm

if it is cheap it must be good ..... he..... he.......

government should step in, food here is killing us.

If you never tasted a real apple then how do know the apple you just ate is bad quality?

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Post by movingtospore » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 4:34 pm

What's even worse is the supposedly fine dining places that are overpriced, have terrible service and food that is mediocre at best.

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Post by Sergei82 » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 5:52 pm

movingtospore wrote:...overpriced...
I noticed similar response from a few different Singaporeans whenever I mention prices: "People have money in Singapore" (and a minute ago he was complaining that he is earning not enough)

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Post by katbh » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 6:00 pm

Food has got progressively bad. Over the space of about the last five years it has got salty, oily and sugary. Virtually impossible to order food in food courts unless the aunties and uncles know you and know that you want less salt, msg, oil and sugar.

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Post by zzm9980 » Wed, 12 Feb 2014 9:48 pm

movingtospore wrote:What's even worse is the supposedly fine dining places that are overpriced, have terrible service and food that is mediocre at best.
Yeah, that was my biggest take away. Most of the trendy hipster food places people raved online usually sucked. At least compared to similar venues in the West. Perfect example, Baker And Cook's $25 Egg Benedict. Sure it was decent, but it was $25 fracking dollars. Even a trendy hipster cafe in Silicon Valley or San Francisco which is just loaded with hipsters begging to throw money away wouldn't charge more than half that, and it would be *really damn good*.

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Post by beppi » Thu, 13 Feb 2014 12:09 am

There are still small restaurants with good, hand-made food at reasonable prices. Since they are already crowded, I won't tell you my favourites ...

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Post by Girl_Next_Door » Thu, 13 Feb 2014 5:03 am

Personally, I think that there are more food stalls managed/run by China Nationals, and their taste bud is different from Singaporean. I always find China food too oily / salty.

The healthiest food is to cook at home, and even then, groceries can get quite pricey unless you like the local ingredients.

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