Embark on a journey of magical tastes, vibrant culture and rich heritage with culinary instructor Ruqxana Vasanwala.
Start the day bright and early, with a visit to Geylang Serai Market. Originally an Orang Laut (sea nomads) settlement in the 1840s, Geylang Serai is the centre of Singapore’s Malay community, and home to one of the biggest and busiest wet markets in Singapore.
“I frequent Geylang Serai Market to buy freshly grated coconut and ingredients for Malay-Singaporean dishes,” Ruqxana says. “You can’t find some of the herbs [on sale here] anywhere else [in Singapore].”
Make a pit stop for lunch at 328 Katong Laksa in the Katong/Joo Chiat neighbourhood. A Michelin Bib Gourmand eatery, this establishment has been serving up piping hot bowls of laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup) for the last two decades.
According to Ruqxana, this dish is sure to whet your appetite for Singapore’s local delicacies. It may even be emblematic of our multi-ethnic heritage. “You could say laksa would best represent Singapore,” she shares. “It’s a combination of Indian, Malay and Chinese [food elements]."
“I love the heritage and the beautiful shophouses [in Katong and Joo Chiat],” Ruqxana enthuses. Home to some of Singapore’s most iconic Peranakan* architecture, the Katong/Joo Chiat neighbourhood is a great place to explore.
If, like Ruqxana, you have a love for nostalgia and tradition, be sure to pay a visit to Rumah Bebe. This beautifully preserved shophouse showcases Peranakan antiques, furnishings and porcelain.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
Break for tea at The Coastal Settlement, a café housed in lush greenery along Netheravon Road. The establishment wins praise from Ruqxana for its “brilliant, eclectic array of Western and Asian food,” and “vintage [ambience]”.
You’ll be able to spend the rest of the afternoon strolling along the Changi East Boardwalk, a scenic, 2.2-kilometre-long trail with six sections, stretching from Netheravon Road to Changi Creek.
End the day off with dinner at Hua Yu Wee at Upper East Coast Road. Housed in a colonial bungalow, the restaurant serves up a range of tantalizing seafood options for the discerning gourmand.
For Ruqxana, a meal consisting of delicious seafood and great conversation is a quintessentially Singaporean experience: “It’s an amazingly Singaporean thing to sit down with a group of friends and enjoy [iconic] local dishes like chilli crab.”