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DESTINATION: Singapore

By JOHN ROZENTALS

TRAVEL: 22 NOVEMBER 2016

JOHN ROZENTALS takes a bus on a culinary adventure and spends an evening eating like a Singapore local

The couple of vegetarians in our group were fairly gloating as they lined up plates of delicious-looking greens with their chopsticks.

They could sense the discomfort of the rest of us as we contemplated bowls of pig-organ soup at one of Singapore’s most famous outlets for what real locals regard as something of a delicacy.

I must admit the soup’s greyish pallour didn’t a first endear me, but I soon was relishing the bowl of salty broth loaded with pork liver, pic stomach and tofu.

The secret with pig-organ soup, our guide told us, was to find an establishment that was absolutely meticulous about cleaning the ingredients, and that she thought the people at Cheng Mun Chee Kee were the best.

I must admit, too, that I thought this side of Singapore had largely disappeared since the days when Lee Kuan Yew had taken over as Prime Minister and started his rigidly enforced policies towards cleaning up the city state.

And until a recent visit I thought that all it really had to offer the tourist was magnificent modern architecture, beautiful parklands and a sort of sanitised version of what used to be one of the great Asian melting pots.

But our hosts for a few days, the Far East Hospitality group, which runs about a dozen hotels in Singapore, is determined to show its guests that the colourful traditional side of the city not only exists but is indeed thriving.

And so it was that half a dozen intrepid travellers headed on an evening’s Makan Bus culinary tour to experience Singapore’s multi-cultural dining delights, accompanied by an experienced guide to talk not just about the food we were about to try but also share stories of the areas we were passing through.

We’d started at the Bali Nasi Lemak Fast Food Shop, a Malay/Indonesian establishment which provided a laid-back and very comfortable introduction to what was to truly become a culinary adventure.

Then it became a touch more provocative, with a visit to G7 Sin Ma Claypot Live Frog, a restaurant renowned for its frog porridge and chilli crab. And don’t worry, the frogs haven’t been put through a blender.

The porridge consists of a thick, hearty combination of frog legs with sauces of predetermined heat level. You basically take what your taste buds can stand. For me, probably the highlight of an incredibly interesting evening.

And then the pig-organ soup, before finishing with a dose of “comfort food” at Beach Road Scissor-Cut Curry Rice, a legendary Singapore location for Hainanese curried rice, served with braised or fried pork. To quote the classics, this is good tucker, extremely good tucker.

IF YOU GO

Far East Hospitality (http://www.stayfareast.com).

Welcome to Singapore (http://www.yoursingapore.com).

Makan Bus culinary tours (http://makanbus.com).

The bowls of greyish pig-organ soup at Cheng Mun Chee Kee … not as intimidating as first sight suggests.

Bali Nasi Lemak Fast Food Shop … this Malay/Indonesian establishment provides a very comfortable introduction to a culinary adventure.

Scissor_food — Beach Road Scissor-Cut Curry Rice … a legendary Singapore location for Hainanese curried rice.

Clay pots of ‘frog porridge’ at G7 Sin Ma Claypot Live Frog.