I touch down after a 7 and a bit hour flight from Sydney and I pass swiftly through immigration. When I say swiftly I was through there in no longer than 5 minutes. That’s a first in any country I’ve ever been to! I’m already impressed with Singapore as I make my way to cab line, making sure not to get into a premium taxi or limo by mistake. I’ve heard Singapore is an expensive city so I’m trying to save money where I can.
My taxi driver is knowledgeable having grown up here. He know’s exactly where I’m headed. As we drive away from the airport I am gobsmacked by how green and luscious the streets are, a stark contrast to the sandy roads back home in Dubai.
After reaching my friends condo and dumping my suitcase I get changed and we head straight out for some food. We take a short walk and we arrive at Lau pa sat hawker center which just so happens to be the largest and oldest hawker centre in Singapore! For those who don’t know what a Hawker Centre is basically a food market containing numerous different types of stalls offering a range of cuisines all for a reasonable price.
It’s a Victorian style building which houses this food market and every where you look there is something cooking, wok’s sizzling, steam rising and it’s in this precise moment, jet lagged or not, I feel like I am indeed in Singapore.
I pace around look at all the varieties. How does one choose. With umpteen noodles, rices dishes, dumplings, poultry and seafood it makes it nearly impossible. We settle on carrot cake A.K.A Chai tow kway, soursap for drinks (which has immense health properties), Hainanese steamed chicken and rice served with buk choy and chicken broth (which I decided on as there was a queue full of locals so it must be good right?), cheung fun stuffed with prawns and some boiled dumplings. Cheap, delicious and very satisfying.
After our tummies are full we head to Marina Bay Sands for a nightcap at CÉ LA VI SkyBar. The view will leave you speechless. It’s also super scary being that high up if you’re scared of heights like I am but it’s definitely not to be missed. You might even be lucky enough to catch the light show.A cocktail on the rooftop averages around the 25 Singaporean dollar mark. Whilst a standard nip & mixer still around 20 Singapore dollars.We managed to get into the VIP lounge so I could snap a quick photo of that famous infinite pool which only the hotel guests have the pleasure of using.The following morning we went for breakfast at Wild Honey in Scott’s Square. The menu sounded super appealing and even though it was fully booked when we tried to call, they were able to seat us as a walk-in around 10am on a weekend. We even managed to nab an outdoor table.
A spicy citrus juice, roast almond latte, flinders lane breakfast with a side of candied bacon set me back a whopping 50 Singapore dollars including tip & service charge. It was a delicious breakfast but the portion size defeated me.
Wanting to do some site seeing in my short time remaining we grabbed a taxi to Gardens by the Bay Unfortunately due to the weather the OCBC skyway was closed when we arrived. Probably a good thing for me considering I’m a wuss when it comes to heights. Inside we find a restaurant inside one of the futuristic super trees which you can pay entry for and also enjoy a beverage whilst taking in the 360 views. The outdoor balcony was shut for a little while so we drank our tea inside.
However once it was open we were both eager to go outside on the balcony. Again, the nerves kicked in as what instills more fear in me than heights itself is a floor beneath my feet which I can see through. It was like a metal grate which did not seem safe to me at all but I’m sure it was.
Even on a gloomy overcast day the unrestricted views from the rooftop viewing platform are magnificent. I’m sure on clearer days you could see the surrounding islands.
We head downstairs and buy tickets for the cloud forest dome. It’s a magical place. An indoor forest of exotic plants and waterfalls.
After exploring the cloud forest we start to venture back towards my friends place with a pit stop along the way for lunch. We end up in the food court at Marina Bay Sands where I search for a soup, something to try cure my throat which by this stage is starting to close over. I stumble across a place serving a Beef noodle soup for about 9 Singapore dollars.
Right behind us we see another food shop and were mesmerized as we watched a chef making handmade noodles.
Part of me wish I got to see this first as I definitely would of eaten from his shop. However for a first timer these food courts can be overwhelming as there is so much variety to choose from, you could spend all day just deciding.
I do recommend doing your research before travelling as Singapore can be quite an expensive city depending on a) how long your there for b) what you want to do and c) where you want to eat.
I only got a taste of what Singapore has to offer and there is so much more to see, eat and do, that next time I’ll definitely be staying longer than 24 hours.
Eat well, travel well.
When opportunity knocks, you must answer the door. That’s exactly what Darren Velvick did when Marriott offered him the chance to take over the 5th floor restaurant (previously AZUR) within Dubai Marriott Harbour in the heart of Dubai Marina. The Croft is Darren’s new restaurant which sees his name up in lights and unlike most chefs which have their name behind the restaurants, you will actually find Darren working in the kitchen.
He’s worked with some of the world’s best chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing but wanting to steer clear from the fine dining scene, Darren was keen to bring a more down to earth concept into the Marina. Enter The Croft. A casual dining restaurant serving British cuisine inspired from his upbringings in Berkshire, England.
It was such a pleasure to actually meet the Chef and brainchild behind The Croft, Darren Velvick. Working alongside is his super friendly protege and restaurant manager Jane it made for one of the most memorable #zomatomeetups to date.
Upon entering the premises you are instantly relaxed by the rustic décor which provides a classic countryside charm. As a welcome drink we were served a pomegranatini; a mocktail made with pomegranate lime and ginger with a tingling sweet taste.
Inside the venue glass screens were removed from the old AZUR space to create an open view kitchen and more rustic touches were added like wood paneling and giant chalkboard pieces and pendant lights. I loved the glass roof panels above the dining area which relays ample natural light although it can prove challenging for the food photographers.
The outdoor garden area has picnic style seats as well as bean bags and sun deck chairs and a wooden gin bar as well as artificial grass, flowers in watering cans and panoramic views of the Dubai Marina.
Darren loves to use local farmers and locally sourced ingredients and organic produce where possible. He is very sustainable and nothing goes to waste in his kitchen. Even the unused parts of the chicken are kept for making sauces etc.
As Darren talked, we ate, starting with wooden boards of appetizers including: mini fish cakes, devilled chicken skewers ( spicy & delicious), crispy mushrooms as well as scones with goats cheese, beetroot and walnuts (personal fav) and deep fried prawns with a sesame vinegar soy dipping sauce (divine).
Darren then got to work to show us how to pipe a bird. Rather than stuff the insides, he creates a pocket under the chicken skin with his fingers and then uses a piping bag to insert the combination mix of butter, crumbs, foie gras and truffle. He then gives us a demonstration on how to truss a bird before preparing the sides that we will have with our roasted organic chicken.
For the sides we had a risotto with mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, wilted spinach, charred corn kernels and buttered button mushrooms. Such a hearty meal, boasting with aromas and flavors. I’ll be coming back for this particular dish alone.
No #zomatomeetup would be complete without dessert. Darren set us a challenge to plate our own dessert with half of the foodies creating an eton mess or as Darren has cleverly renamed it to ‘Neat & Tidy’ and the other half plating up the peanut choc-ice dessert. Everyone added their own flair and it was nice to be able to get hands on for some friendly competition.
The neat & tidy was piped with an elderflower cream and decorated with raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, gin and elderflower jelly as well as fresh mint. A lovely combination of flavors and textures.
As a special treat to @dxbfooddiaries we all sang Happy Birthday as Darren had secretly arranged a chocolate fondant cake for the birthday girl.
I learnt so much tips & tricks from Darren about cooking that I can’t wait to try them out at home and I especially adore the Croft apron we received in our Zomato goody bags. Big props to Pallavi, Eshne and the Zomato team for the invitation and organizing such a memorable event.
So if you’re looking for a fun, relaxed environment with some great British grub, head on over to The Croft and you’ll see Darren and the team in action.
I’m already looking forward to my next visit.
Taste Kitchen (created by chef duo Nick Alvis and Scott Price). If they had a mantra it would be simplicity is best.
The simple design of their restaurants, with their easy-to-read menu, along with a focus on fresh quality ingredients.
And it works.
Tucked away inside Cedre Shopping centre at Silicon Oasis, this decent sized cafe offers both indoor and outdoor seating with modern/industrial decor. The service is great here with all the wait staff being super attentive.They serve warm bread with olive oil and vinegar whilst you wait (not long) for your mains to arrive.
The lemon and ginger water was nice and refreshing. I’ve also tried the virgin Pina Colada which was a tropical delight.For mains I’ve tried the Salmon with greens. The salmon was char grilled in Chinese 5 spice and served on a bed of beans spinach and cabbage.
However it’s the beef short rib served on a bed of mash with a side of greens that is the show stopper.
The tender beef literally melted in my mouth and the creamy mash and crisp greens were a nice accompaniment.For dessert we tried the pear crumble which was a little too hard in terms of the crumble topping which made it difficult to chew but the warm pear inside was a nice change from your standard apple filling.Overall Taste Kitchen offers a clean, fresh cafe concept with healthy options too which keep me going back for more.