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What do expats actually like about singapore?

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Postby Global Citizen » Wed, 25 Jun 2008 8:46 am

EF, I don't think you're incorrect. I've often been told this very same thing by British tourists. Chicken Tikka Masala is no. 1 followed by Vindaloo in terms of popularity in Britain.
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Postby Turtle » Wed, 25 Jun 2008 9:14 am

It depends on what you mean by national dish. I mean Chilli Crab is often considered the national dish of Singapore, and that's only eaten on special occasions, yet it's special because it has fresh seafood, multiple cultures, chilli and is a dish only for sharing. Curry is probably the most-consumed meal in the UK by quantity, but it's still considered "Indian food" in most places rather than "British food".

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Postby Plavt » Wed, 25 Jun 2008 3:37 pm

Turtle wrote:It depends on what you mean by national dish.



Curry is probably the most-consumed meal in the UK by quantity, but it's still considered "Indian food" in most places rather than "British food".


This is my point; while curry might be most popular it is not native to our shores.

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Postby Petales Soufflez! » Wed, 25 Jun 2008 7:46 pm

National dish or not, over here in Modena, each time I cook curry for a school event, all the English fathers would be queuing up for their share plus seconds etc. And what is really interesting is that they really like it hot and spicy.
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Postby huggybear » Thu, 26 Jun 2008 2:43 pm

hello i know you've all been breathlessly waiting for my return...

wow some of these posts of what they like in singapore are so typical.

(1) accumulating passport stamps
(2) no mosquitos
(3) champagne brunch
(4) mini skirts
(5) save $ on clothing since can wear same outfit every single day!!

and before i continue with below...there's a difference between "complaining" about life in general in order to try to improve life on this island versus "complaining" about life in general because you hate living here. I think most of the people's complaint's veer more towards "wouldn't it be cool if we could...." versus "f- this place man." tone is impossible to convey.

i think EADS is more on the spot. People in general are more concerned about costs and efficiency rather then producing a spectacular quality product with service. Thus the food in general can be average at best. There are some nice restaurants: Bonta, Gunther's, Garibaldi's, Iggy's, Patara etc. None of these warrant any consideration for even half a michelin star. As for hawker centers aka Street Food Singapore Style? Bangkok KILLS singapore in the food department. 20 baht for the most amazing pad thai you could ever have. and you're telling me that the Laksa here in Singapore is better then in Penang? with the proxmity to these other places there really is no excuse. USA produces some spectacular Pizzas / Italian food / hamburgers and they're half way around the world from the orginators.

French food innovative? in what sense???? how is alain ducasse's baba au rhum or Joel Robuchon's mashed potatoes innovative??? that torch belongs to Adrian Ferrar (sp??) Of El Bulli in Spain and I think the USA in general. Singapore is the least bit cosmopolitan. How come i can't find a freaking good Frankie in Singapore when it's so close to India but i can get them delivered to my door step in New York? no good mexican food here either at all. or any thing south american? If i'm a singaporean chef or a chef period with all the amazing seafood how come it isn't common sense to serve ceviche??? fresh seafood with lime juice and chili and garlic ... sounds simple! it is!


as for Chicken Tikka Masala. That's actually a British Invention. It's not Indian by any means. "Curry" also was invented by the Portugese. They arrived in Goa with their traditional stews and added the Indian spices that the Indians used (tumeric / chili / etc) and voila, the portugese invented curry and the indians adopted it as their own. "Curry" (i use it in quotes because only white people call it that) does not contain any curry powder (yet another spice that white people created). Furhtermore, i thnk it was four or five years ago that "curry" overtook fish and chips as the number 1 take away food in britain.

"curry" to indian food is the same as calling all italian food "pasta" or all chinese food "noodles."

dude seriously. Japanese (and koreans) are the most xenophobic in the world. they hate any kind of foreigner telling them what to do or reviewing them or providing any kind advice.

and japanese women are among the best dressed on the planet ... maybe your wife was looking at the harujuku?

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Postby Petales Soufflez! » Thu, 26 Jun 2008 4:36 pm

Huggy, I love Thai food so no prob there. Though you couldn't possibly compare food court rentals with your average Thai stall's, plus the hygiene levels. That has a cost. I still remember Singapore in the years when we ate out in the streets, or the old chap who carried his stall on his shoulders, everything would go for just 20 cents, and they were fabulous. I agree that we have sacrificed general quality of our local food for hygiene and comfort, but well, it's just not feasible to keep things as they were. In Europe, there is generally no street food (except panini and hotdogs) to talk about and you need to spend quite a bit even to eat in the simplest of restaurants. I think Singapore has a good compromise. Because personally I have difficulty eating in the streets in Thailand.

The USA has good pizzas and pastas??? I live in Italy and returning Italians complain about how Americans have massacred their beloved cuisine, too much sauce everywhere, thick crusts, general bad taste. When we were living in Rochester, NY, we tried every high-end restaurant we could find and honestly any bistro in Paris or Lyon would do better.

Meanwhile, what is this thing about Penang laksa being better than laksa in Singapore? They are different. Un point c'est tout. Penang laksa contains anchovies and is acidic. Singapore laksa has a rounder taste and has a heavier prawn base (which is why a laksa stall usually also sells prawn noodles). I personally prefer Singapore laksa while my late aunt swore by the Penang version. And when I was last in Penang, I ate their laksa in the hotel because I ventured out to the streets and was about to order laksa, then I realised that the pot I thought they were washing their dishes in actually was the soup base and I chickened out. :oops:

El Bulli is a lab, my dear. AF experiments with his food and they are marvelous, but his approach to cuisine is like a scientist in a lab. Certes, Ducasse is a businessman, but he loves his food. And reinventing French cuisine is about taking known techniques and working with new ingredients, or using known ingredients and cooking them in different ways. But most of all, it's about marrying flavours and textures and this the French do very well. I have Ducasse's Grand Livre de Cuisine and each page is a revelation and an inspiration.

We all know we eat badly in the USA, except in wonderful big cities like NYC, San Francisco... :D

Finally, fashion is personal taste. Japanese women have their particular way of dressing that is recognisable a mile away and you either like it or you don't. We don't. I think they try too hard. When you are used to natural chic that you usually find in Paris or Milan...
Je pense donc je suis. Le reste du temps, je ne suis qu'une fleur.

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Postby Petales Soufflez! » Thu, 26 Jun 2008 11:04 pm

huggybear wrote: If i'm a singaporean chef or a chef period with all the amazing seafood how come it isn't common sense to serve ceviche??? fresh seafood with lime juice and chili and garlic ... sounds simple! it is!

as for Chicken Tikka Masala. That's actually a British Invention. It's not Indian by any means. "Curry" also was invented by the Portugese. They arrived in Goa with their traditional stews and added the Indian spices that the Indians used (tumeric / chili / etc) and voila, the portugese invented curry and the indians adopted it as their own. "Curry" (i use it in quotes because only white people call it that) does not contain any curry powder (yet another spice that white people created). Furhtermore, i thnk it was four or five years ago that "curry" overtook fish and chips as the number 1 take away food in britain.

"curry" to indian food is the same as calling all italian food "pasta" or all chinese food "noodles."



Ceviche is basically raw seafood marinated in lime juice and other stuff depending on whether it's prepared in Peru or Mexico etc and usually served as a starter. It started out from what I remember my Mexican friend telling me as a method for preserving seafood. In Singapore (before the sushi trend arrived big), we're not usually very hot on raw food. When you look at the weather and the Hep A risk, you can understand. What we have already using live seafood is quite enough compared to what you get elsewhere. Steam, fry, braise, stir-fry, boil then chill, drown in alcohol then boil...not to forget the different sauces from minimal to elaborate, why are you looking for noon at 2pm? If you like lime juice, chilli, garlic, we have the cooked version. Some will even do you the Italian or Spanish version with olive oil if you ask nicely. :D

Meanwhile I've been told too that Chicken Tikka Masala is a British invention. But curry (before it became a general word for everything with sauce and spices) is Tamil meaning mixed vegetable stew or it could refer to the cooking pot found in most Indian homes or mean gravy in Urdu. And what people refer to as curry is what can be found almost everywhere in South and South East Asia long before the Europeans arrived. Europeans and Arabs were spice merchants but the spices grew mainly in Asia and Africa. How could curry powder be a European invention? Not every "curry" is made with "curry powder" (as in the commercial mixes you can buy off the shelf) but spices have always been mixed to make one though they are usually known as a "masala" in India and "rempah" in Malay. And the Goan Fish Curry could be Portuguese inspired but it is above all a marriage of meeting cultures so should be credited to both.

And chicken frankie? A sign of a city's cosmo status? It's just curried chicken in a wrap. And if I'm not wrong, popular in Mumbai. You probably get that in NYC if you have Indians from that part of India. In Singapore, we have roti prata with curry, dosai etc brought in from our Indian migrants from the South long long ago that we can eat every day if we so wish. They are our pizzas.

Anyway, all that is not the point. Singapore food is first of all a meeting of the different migrant cultures that made up its society and this meeting included that of its indigenous population. There were other influences due to its importance in the East-West trade route and entreport status in the past. Then as the country developed, our obsession for food invited a need to taste and enjoy on a frequent basis foods from other countries especially those around us. When the European restaurants first started, they would just be bringing us French, Italian or Spanish food. But in the last few years, European chefs are coming into different parts of Asia (Singapore included) to experiment with local ingredients and cooking techniques, fusioning them with their own. Actually this is now also true of some of the Japanese or Korean restaurants on the island, in Australia etc. Societies evolve and so does food. Though if you ask most Singaporeans, we still prefer our humble hawker food. They comfort.
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Postby ProvenPracticalFlexible » Fri, 27 Jun 2008 10:09 am

Petales Soufflez! wrote: Though if you ask most Singaporeans, we still prefer our humble hawker food. They comfort.


That pretty much summarizes it, not only for Singaporeans but for any nationality. Most people are so used to their own comfort food that anything deviating from that is another culture shock. Americans would like the food taste like it does in US, French like in France, etc.

Foreign food everywhere seems to be adapted to local taste palette. That’s why typical Chinese restaurant in Europe is pretty bad, especially in Spain. Only decent ones are in big enough cities where there is enough immigrants to have local china town. Same thing with the basic western food in Singapore, it is adapted to meet the local expectations, sometimes good, sometimes just eatable but seldom authentic. There is more and more of exceptions to that nowadays though; the high end restaurants and the ones in more expatty locations.

What actually most annoys me with Singaporeans is that every time I talk with a Singaporean who’s been visiting Europe, the first thing they always complain is about the food. They claim there’s not enough variation and the food is all the same, etc. Next thing these people explain is that they got so bored with it that they had to eat at McDonalds or KFC. Then in the next sentence these same people call themselves food lovers and praise Singapore food and its variation.

I agree with the Singapore food part, but to complain about Greece, France, Italy or Spain for example not having enough choices of lovely different food for a few weeks holiday. Missing your comfort food if you stay for a year or two is different but not managing a week or two and enjoying the new experiences you can have. I know it is not only the Singaporeans it is just that nowadays I'm mostly hearing it from Singaporeans. For me the whole point of travelling to another country is to explore its culinary culture, taste all its food, and drinks.

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Postby local lad » Fri, 27 Jun 2008 10:31 am

:D ...I guess most Singaporeans travel for the sake of sight and sound but not the taste.

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Postby huggybear » Fri, 27 Jun 2008 11:50 am

Frenchie person in Italy
sorry i kinda give up on you when you talk about italian food in rochester NY. you can find fantastic / authentic italian food in NYC, LA, Chicago, etc, or you can find "reinventions" or you can find cutting edge innovations in these big cities. Sure you won't find a decent pizza in Rochester same as you probably won't find a nice meat loaf or apple pie a la mode in small city, Italy (or indian food).

and Frankies yes are from mumbai. It's not "curry" in a wrap. Usually it's Chicken Tikka with some vegetables wrapped in a parata. or paneer with pickles and vegetables.

errr why bother
you're kind of missing my point. Singapore is not cosmopolitan because of the limited offerings. You're arguing that they have adapted these dishes for local tastes. A true cosmo city has all offerings. not just indian dosas that you refer to as "pizzas."


Curry powder is a british invention during their colonial rule of India. Indian people will not use curry powder (unless you're a brit in the UK and want curry fries i suppose or the recipe book written by a white person calls for curry powder).


"curry" is derived from the tamil word "Kari" -- mixed vegetable stew

anyways the point i'm trying to make is everywhere in the world is a "fusion of random cultures."

Beer was invented by the Egyptians.
Noodles were invented by the Chinese (so therefore Italian pasta dishes are a chinese / italian fusion)
hamburgers were invented in Germany but are now popular in the USA.
etc etc etc

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Postby Petales Soufflez! » Fri, 27 Jun 2008 7:13 pm

To start, when I mentioned Rochester, NY, it was to give a specific personal experience. I have tried high-end restaurants there, I said. And found them lacking. Did I mention pizzas? No. But Italians coming back from the USA in general complained about Italian food (especially over-sauced pasta) and pizzas in the States. If you have eaten Italian food in Italy you will understand why.

And size is not always a reason for diversity. I have found excellent pizza in a tiny village next to Tangiers in Morocco. Modena, Bologna, Forence are big-sized Italian cities and certainly very rich. But you'll be able to count on your fingers the number and range of foreign restaurants in the cities. Italians in general only want to eat Italian. Like the Chinese (Chinese) or the Americans (fastfood, diners, McDo...). I have talked to Ferrari's logistics Manager and he assured me that his principal job in races all over the world would be to find Italian restaurants for his team. Nothing else would do. Only the English and Indians in the team would eat something else.

Precisely most restaurants anywhere would try to adapt to their local clientele. Then if the city is big enough, you will have a larger variety of say Chinese restaurants and some will be able to be more authentic than others. Where your Chinese migrants come from also play an important part. In Spain, France, Italy for example, they usually come from Wenzhou and Zhejiang - known for their matchsticks and leather but not for their cuisine. But in London, you get many Cantonese and Hong Kongese and Cantonese cuisine is the best so you get better if not very good Chinese food in London.

NYC is cosmopolitan. As is Paris. A cosmo city is one where people of many ethnicities, religions and cultures meet and live in close proximity. Singapore is cosmo on 2 primary demographic planes : its own mutli-racial population that makes up 3.6 mil and its multi-racial foreign population that makes up the remaining 1 mil. After that you may argue on tertiary (e.g. services) grounds whether the city is cosmo enough as cosmo should be. But that would be a value i.e. subjective.

I am a foodie. I cook. I live to eat. The last time I bothered to count, I have eaten my way through 218 cities in more than 28 countries. Singapore therefore I can say has a good offering of different cuisines, some more authentic than others. After that, why certain restaurants survive better than others, it all depends on demand. Like Americans love Tex-Mex because you have loads of Mexicans and have gotten used to some form or other of Mexican food. We have a handful of them here, we could possibly enjoy some Tex-Mex now and then, but I don't think many would be passionate about it. Would we be less cosmo because we do not have as many Mexican restaurants as say NYC?

Thai and Indonesian food in Singapore is good and you have different types of said restaurants, some more Chinese-influenced (Thailand itself has alot of Chinese influence), others more centred on a certain region like Bali or Sumatra etc etc. The fact that we have so many Thai or Indonesian restaurants when these countries are so nearby is a sign that we must either have alot of their natives here or that we really enjoy their food.

Huggy I think you are missing my point. :D Why do we need frankies when we have prata and dosai? If you say we miss the cosmo mark because we do not have Kirghiz cuisine, fair enough. But frankies? :roll: And if I said pratas are like our pizzas, that's what I said. They are not pizzas. But if pizza is hot in NYC, that's because you have loads of Italian migrants there. In which case pizza wouldn't be foreign, it could be considered native. So it's not because you have pizza that you're more cosmo than Singapore. We have pizzas too (in this case very foreign), but we have loads more prata - because pratha is sort of like our pizza as pizza is to NYC.

I could summarise by saying that a cosmo city is not defined by the number of Mexican restaurants or frankies or pizzas that it has, but by its own unique cosmo composition that exiges a certain combination of cosmo tertiary offerings. Of course, we have to agree that there has to be a certain degree of diversity for qualification. And also the cosmo population can occasionally be educated and surprised by more extra-community cosmo offerings, only making it even more cosmo.

Though if you say that because in NYC more Cosmopolitans are served any evening there than any time in Singapore, and therefore just for that Singapore cannot be cosmo, then I would have to give up. :lol:
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Postby Alexander » Sat, 28 Jun 2008 6:25 pm

Peaceful, 15 countries down...Singapore is just so fricken peaceful man. I love that their is virtually NO common violence.

Chinese and Malay girls blow my mind.

I love the weather, strolling the beaches ...its great.




bring on Singapore for years to come!


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