Through the Senses – SINGAPORE #fieldtrip

For years, I have spent my holidays at home as we plan out our menu for our Christmas dinner. It’s traditionally grand. We cook food that usually lasts us AT LEAST three days (not even joking). 2016’s Christmas was a very different setting though. With all the changes that happened on the first two quarters of the year, we were led to having our feet touch an unfamiliar land to celebrate Christmas. So, having the spirited food enthusiast inside of me, I just had to make sure that I got my camera ready, lists of must-try foods and some comfortable shoes for all the walking (and eating) that I’ll be doing. I just cannot miss the good food the world has to offer, and this time, from the fast-paced world of Singapore.

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Wide roads, high rise buildings and people of different races immediately faced me as we were on our way to our accommodation for our short stay in Singapore. Having been so used to the crowded streets and roads of Manila, Singapore effortlessly struck me with its fast-paced lifestyle that definitely rubs off on foreigners who come in to their rather small but packed vicinity. We arrived at Changi Airport a couple of hours before dawn of Christmas Eve. I knew there was so much in store for us so a good rest was just too perfect.

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Christmas Eve, I woke up to a very chilly morning that was screaming for a holiday-style breakfast and steamy morning bath. With our friends having kilos of Excelente ham, which is very prominent in the Philippines especially during the holidays (BUT BOY, 1,300.00 PER KILO SHOULD GIVE YOU GOOD MEAT), I thought it’s not a bad idea to have it glazed and serve it with sunny side up eggs with runny yolks (CHOLESTE-ROLLIN’). Besides, what better way to have our Christmas Eve breakfast than having legit ham, right? So if my first morning in Singapore was any indication of how my food trip in their land would turn out, I definitely should have known that it wouldn’t be less than interesting.

SENSES OVERWHELMED

I flew to Singapore with no expectations at all which was very much unlike when we flew to see Bangkok. I knew I was in for possibly the most interesting food trips of my life then so it was different setting in Singapore. I may have had bits of information and probably small hints of how it would be but there was no clear expectation. And that is probably the exact reason why I was so overwhelmed every time I see stalls serving food I haven’t seen or heard my entire life. My feet just wanted to keep walking just to see how far I’ll go while following the food stalls lined up in most of the areas we went to.

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Just across the place we stayed in were series of hawkers serving pretty legit Cantonese food. I couldn’t complain. I was raised in a household that deeply celebrates Chinese (and a little Cantonese) cooking so my system may never hate it. My first shot at Singapore’s food was a clear soup with dumplings served with a smaller bowl of flat egg noodles in a rather sweet sauce (very much like the sauce of the canned pork and beans we have in here in the Philippines). It was simple and straightforward food. Maybe nothing special too, but for 3 dollars (SGD), how can I demand for more? At the late afternoon of Christmas Eve and the sun shining like it normally does in our country, I found myself craving for something sweet — and cold (or literally just anything I could eat). We were in the middle of the Chinatown near Bugis station so I was in a crazy line of food stalls (unfortunately, I didn’t get to try any of them anymore) where we found a small place that served bing su (a Korean shaved-ice based dessert). I ordered Passion Fruit flavored bing su and Red Bean Rice Balls. The bing su was nothing special but the rice balls were pretty good. I’d love to write about everything I ate in Singapore but I want to minimize the length of this post so I’ll be writing that in a different entry!

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CONVERSION MADNESS

If there was any problem that I faced whenever I ordered food, it was my innate sense of converting currencies. The conversion of our local money with Singapore’s is at (approximately) 43PHP to 1SGD. So, obviously, foods priced more than 20SGD is already a huge deal for me. I kept telling myself to stop converting currencies because I wouldn’t get to enjoy my food trip if I’ll always focus on finding how much it costs in the Philippines but I just couldn’t fight the urge to. Much more since we were running on a slightly budgeted trip so I needed to make sure that I do not overspend on food.

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BUT this does not mean that foods in Singapore are generally expensive. Of course there are pricey ones but if you’re just zealous enough then you’d definitely find food at really good deals. For example, there is this hawker near our place that already went down as one of my most favorite food places of all time. It was simple, nothing grand but really good. Reminiscent of the kind of food my mom prepares during celebrations back when we were kids. For about 50SGD you’ll already get 4 different Cantonese dishes (and I mean really good ones) with really good servings.

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So, the point is, if you want to get more out of your money, you just have to keep looking for places with good food with good prices. That means walking along the streets, maybe searching online and basically not eating at first options right away. There’s even this considerably cheap Michelin-star restaurant along Chinatown near Bugis station (but you may have to tolerate a pretty long queue). That’s definitely a good sign!

VIVID DIVERSITY

We spent about 4 full days in Singapore and I know that there’s definitely a lot more to extract out of their culinary identity. Walking the streets, you will be caught following aromas of foods being cooked that are rooted from different neighboring countries and some Western and European influences as well. It is not difficult to be overwhelmed as that would be the exact thing that could happen to anyone who would dare to understand Singapore’s diverse culinary gems. Within the span of 4 days however, I understood Singapore’s culinary identity as something that flows according to the people’s lifestyles. Foods are cooked fast and customers consume their food even faster. Most of the time, the food, regardless of its roots, aren’t too difficult to understand. They’re straightforward in terms of how they’re served but definitely complex during the preparations. Having different nations (on my observation mostly Indians and Chinese folks, so Malaysians too!) contribute to the population of their country, it is understandable that their culinary heritage has also adapted the culinary traditions of these varied cultures.

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I’ve been told that Singapore has very little to no exporting power (correct me if I’m wrong) so it’s incredible how they managed to climb up the ladders of a powerful country while relying largely on their business sectors. And that idea is very evident not just in their lives, their ethics, their habits but also in their way of enjoying food! My stay was short but packed with good food finds. I’m definitely going back soon to try out more food but my next destination (or destinations *wink*) is really interesting too!

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MARCIANO’S NIGHT!

My holiday celebrations finally started last Saturday with a dinner I arranged with few of my college block mates. To be honest, we didn’t decide on where to eat before we met up at the mall in Makati so deciding where to eat that night was considerably spontaneous. While I was waiting for them to arrive (COS THEY WERE ALL LATE, LIKE 3 HOURS LATE… I AM NOT KIDDING) I had a couple of hours to spare to check some good places around although I really didn’t get to explore the whole area as there were a lot of people there (it’s Saturday night so you know what I mean). When nearly half of the people I expected to join for dinner arrived, I made sure to encourage them to decide where to eat already. We roamed around for a bit but ended up eating at Marciano’s at the second level of Greenbelt 3.

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Their place wasn’t too filled with people yet but by the time the rest of our bunch arrived, it was so full already that the area where we were eating had nearly no space left for walking servers. The interiors were home-y enough which my good friend and I would rate on a scale of “1 to Mary Grace home-y” at around 6 or 7.

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We ordered two 16″ pizzas for everyone to share and I ordered their Shirley Temple Truffle Mushroom Burger  for myself which was layers of bun, lettuce, tomatoes, burger patty, cheese and mushrooms (in what seemed like light coating of truffle oil), and served with potato wedges. The patty was pretty straightforward as I didn’t get any prominent spices from it which I would always prefer than “overly dressed” patties. At first, I thought the truffle oil was a little too overwhelming but trying out all the components together (LIKE HOW I SHOULD HAVE EATEN IT IN THE FIRST PLACE, I KNOW… I KNOW) mellowed it down quite a bit. The bun they used were almost similar to the dough bakers use for Ensaymada (not too familiar with it) which seemed a little unusual for me but it wasn’t much of an issue to be bothered about.

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The burger wasn’t my first choice though. I wanted to get either their Houston Porchetta or 200-gram Beef Tenderloin with Sausage which were unfortunately unavailable that time. To sway away from my frustrations, I ordered Marciano’s Spinach, Artichoke and Mushroom Dip that was served with a couple of crostini. The spinach, artichoke and mushroom as fully softened and disintegrated leaving a rather smooth texture that just fits so well with the creaminess of the sauce. Their crostini were a little staler than I’d hope and I definitely missed a little of that olive oil taste you’d normally baste the bread with when drying it off.

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We finished the crostini before the dip so I tried to slather the potato wedges that were served with my burger on the dip and boooy it worked so well together. That was as if I didn’t have enough food yet considering the pizzas (Spinach Prosciutto and Truffle Mushroom) I ate PLUS the servings of Joey Tribbiani Meat Lasagna (yes, a friend told me it’s a F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reference) I got to try. The pizzas were okay and to be honest, the lasagna wasn’t too great but I totally like how they stayed true to a typical and straightforward lasagna. Besides, meat sauce, bechamel and loads of cheese are enough to drool over right?

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Closing the night out, I asked for a glass of Sangria which I ended up not finishing up. I am trying to get myself get used to wines and other liquors so I could hopefully understand them better in the future but I’m just not quite there yet.

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Over-all, the experience was great. The whole feel of their place in Greenbelt 3 wasn’t too overwhelming and the interiors surely encouraged people to stay in and get some good conversations going. The price range maybe on the expensive side specially for students with meals ranging from as low as 300.00 to as high as 1,500.00 (goes nearly the same for their drinks and liquors). I personally wouldn’t mind spending some money considering the warmth of the place which is definitely a nice haven to catch upwith friends and/or family (OR maybe romantic dates with special someone). Also, that night I got to catch-up with few of my really good friends, celebrate a rather fruitful year and had a toast for the years after. So there really wasn’t anything that could make the experience less than appropriate. What a way to kick off the holiday celebrations!
Just a tip: they have pretty decent portions for their meals. Their solo option for pasta may be more than enough for one (*coughs* my sister) so choosing the right meals to share could definitely make your experience their a little less pricey. 
Marciano's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato