I hope that all of you are ushering in the new year and planning a spectacular way to end the decade. One of my hopes for 2020 is to focus on inclusivity so that everyone can enjoy my recommendations and that’s why in this special 2020 Muslim friendly edition, we will taking our first steps towards that direction and featuring the top 14 must visit places in Singapore that you can visit with your Muslim friends! Honestly, regardless of whether you are a Muslim or not, you will definitely be wowed by this list. Check this out!
Most of us book hotels based on our different preferences, whether you’re looking at proximity, affordability or luxury. If you’re slightly adventurous and prefer experiencing the different places you visit through the eyes of a local, then this hotel is for you. Live like a local, eat like a local and stay like a local! Village Hotel Bugis is situated in a culturally rich and iconic neighbourhood. Singapore is known for being a melting pot of cultures and right at Village Hotel Bugis, you will send yourself deep within the comfort and hospitality of the Arab, Peranakan and Indian cultures, free for you to explore and experience, due to the hotel’s close proximity to the Arab, Peranakan and Indian districts in Singapore.
Right at your doorstep would the historic and colourful Kampong glam district. Arab Street is full of charming cafes, bars, designer boutiques, textile shops and eateries. Bugis Junction is also a short walk away, where you can explore the mall or navigate Bugis Street, a Singapore market that provides accessories, clothings, food, beverages and many more. If you’re up for it, you can even explore the 24-hour Mustafa Centre in Little India!
To facilitate your local adventure, they even provide “passports” to their guests detailing a map and list of local favourites that they recommend you to go! It’s a cute little book in our Singaporean passport colours, filled with information about all the local hidden gems!
Village Hotel Bugis has a wide variety of rooms for you to choose from, regardless of whether you are travelling with friends or family.
The Superior Room is great for friends or a romantic getaway with your partner. It rooms 2 persons and it’s perfect for you to unwind after a long day of exploring and immersing yourself in the different cultures in Singapore. It comes with a bathtub and rain shower and many necessities, such as a kettle, television, ironing board and iron and an in-room safe. You can request to configure the bedding configurations, opting for either 2 single beds or a double bed, depending on what’s desirable for you.
This room can incur costs from $112/night, which actually is not too bad if you think about the central location and the convenience you’ll be getting. You can even go to their website and use their 360 degree room tour function if you’re not convinced.
The Deluxe Room has everything the Superior Room has to offer, in terms of space and necessities. The only thing different is that you won’t have a bathtub in your bathroom, just the rain shower.
This can be a great option to those who find that they might not want to use a bathtub, opting for a standing shower instead.
This room can be booked from $119/night.
Made in Singapore Room
This room is interesting, because as its name suggests, the room is actually designed by budding local talents. Influences from the Malay, Arab and Middle Eastern culture are taken into consideration with the design. There is also a unique tabletop design showcasing Singaporean’s commonly used Singlish phrases. The room houses 2 guests and has everything the Deluxe Room has, except an additional perk, which is access to the Club Lounge with all-day light refreshments and evening cocktails!
There is only ONE Made in Singapore room, which makes this room very exclusive.
As the name suggests, this is catered to families and houses up to 3 guests. It has everything the Deluxe room has to offer, except it has an additional bed for the 3rd guest.
Kids Themed Room
This is a great room for families travelling with younger children. Again, this has everything the Deluxe Room has to offer, except it comes with a King sized bed and a sofa bed. This room houses 3 guests and as the name suggests, the room is full of themed decor to amaze and entertain your children.
The sofa bed is perfect for kids and it’s placed near some children’s toys and furniture, essentially giving your child their own fun kid’s corner.
This is another variation of Deluxe Room, except you gain access to the Club Lounge with all-day light refreshments and evening cocktails. This room houses 2 guests and I heard the city views from these rooms are phenomenal.
This room can be booked from $154/night.
Finally, you have the Club Suite. This is the largest room so far and offers a separate living area, other than a bedroom. It houses up to 2 persons and you get everything the other rooms have to offer and access to the Club Lounge as well. This is a really great room if you appreciate space. If you’re travelling with friends, this could be a great room to gather in to have late night chats and bonding sessions, before retreating to your individual rooms.
This room can be booked from $280/night.
I’m not sure about you, but I look forward to the pool when I book hotel rooms and Village Hotel Bugis’ pool looks amazing. It’s an outdoor pool with deck loungers and pool towels. It’s a great place to take a dip and do some suntanning under the Singapore heat. Singapore’s weather is a great pairing with a pool and some sunblock.
Village Hotel Bugis also has a gymnasium that’s open 24-hours, for those fitness buffs who wants to sneak in a little workout…even on vacation. While I can’t relate, it’s great that they have this option for people who might. The gym has the latest fitness and cardio machines and it is very well-equipped.
They also have a Club Lounge, specifically for Club Room and Suite guests to enjoy light refreshments, relax and enjoy free-flow cocktails and canapés from 6PM – 8PM. It’s a great place to chill out after a long day with your friends and chat. This is a special service to guests who reside in club rooms and aboce only!
Village Hotel Bugis also has two dining establishments – one of which is a Halal certified restaurant called The Landmark that offers a multicultural menu of North Indian, Mediterranean, Western and Asian cuisines. It is open daily from 6:30AM – 10:30PM and their buffet spread is incredible.
The other restaurant is called Mooi Chin Place. It first opened its doors in 1935 and have been serving authentic Hainanese cuisine for the longest time. It is opened daily from 11AM – 10PM. However, do note that they are not halal certified.
Overall, Village Hotel is a great place to consider if you want to live like a local. Many times, we go abroad and only manage to scrape the surface of beautiful countries and travel destinations because we don’t try to look at the place through the eyes of a local. Singapore is more than just what is depicted in Crazy Rich Asians and all the stereotypes you can think of. Start with booking a place that is near local hidden gems. You might never find a better way to travel ever again!
Village Hotel Bugis
390 Victoria Street Singapore 188061 (Nearest MRT Bugis)
Ever loved a certain dining establishment so much that you dreamed of opening franchises and outlets all over Singapore to share the wonders of their food? Well, that’s exactly what happened to Crave. Initially, Crave had a humble shopfront and they were dubbed Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak. Of course, they had their fare share of loyal customers who would travel from all corners of Singapore just to get a taste of the local favourite nasi lemak that was fragrant and mouth-watering, but one customer took it a notch further. Chiang Zhan Xian basically kept propositioning Selera Nasi Lemak’s owner to open outlets islandwide, saying that he felt that his food was worth investing in. In fact, he came so often and was so persistent that Crave was born and in 2020, there are officially 28 outlets islandwide! Can you believe that?
Not only that, he roped in Raifk Corner‘s teh tarik in hopes of providing access to iconic local flavours that were done well and done right. Now, tourists and Singaporeans alike can visit Crave to enjoy a piping hot plate of nasi lemak, with various sides such as chicken wings, fish fillets, begedils, egg and many more!
I visited Crave at Changi Airport Terminal 2. It shared a food court space with several other food vendors but the place wasn’t too crowded. I liked that one place had access to different food items to cater to people with different tastes. I, however, was only there for their nasi lemak. They had a glass display for you to see the employees load up your plate with your preferred side dishes. I could see every single thing and this only whetted my appetite. They scooped up a generous portion of rice and like clockwork, they loaded up some meat, ikan billis and last but not least, the sambal.
The seatings were free seating and I could see that this place could potentially get quite crowded, especially during peak period but the ambience and atmosphere was chill and clean.
I ordered some signature sets such as the Chicken Wing set and I tried the Ambeng Set with my friends. The Ambeng Set is a great sharing platter meant for 3 – 4 persons and when it arrived, the sheer size of it shocked us and it finally sunk in that we had ordered a 4 pax set meal but it seemed like we had gotten a 6 pax set instead!
We also got some drinks like bandung (rose syrup with milk), iced lemon tea and not to forget, the essential teh tarik!
The ambeng set came with a huge mound of fragrant rice, sambal, begedil, fried fish fillets, fried chicken, an egg and many more. This was a feast and we happily dug in. The fragrant rice paired perfectly with any other ingredient and with such a big platter, the combinations are endless! Every single aspect of the plate had something to add to the dish. These ingredients are basic nasi lemak add-ons and everyone has a favourite. While nasi lemak stalls usually offer you a chicken wing with the rice, ikan billis, sambal and some cucumber, the ambeng set gives you everything. That way, you have a chance to try every single combination – rice with chicken, rice with fish fillet, rice with fish fillet and chicken; it’s up to you! Every mouthful was great and I did not have a single complaint about any of the ingredients on the plate. The rice was amazing. The chicken wing was juicy and crispy. The begedil was fragrant. I could go on but there are so many things on that plate!
While you usually don’t expect a huge franchise with 28 outlets to serve good hearty nasi lemak, you have to remember that the OG of this nasi lemak place was the Selera Rasa one and it’s amazing how this tastes as good as the original outlet. It is certainly difficult to maintain consistency among so many outlets but Crave managed to do it and I’m proud that this is the face of the local favourite nasi lemak we present to tourists who come visit.
Terminal 2, 60 Airport Blvd, Singapore 819643 (Nearest MRT Changi Airport)
Mon – Sun: 24 hours
Commons started out with a simple mission in mind – to provide a space for people from all walks of life to come together and revel in happy moments over good food. Now, isn’t that the goal in life, though? To build happy memories with the people you care about. Add in good food to the mix and you’ve got me. When you’ve a big group to accommodate, every single person has a preference that they’d prefer and if you’re a people pleaser like myself, you simply want to make everyone happy. Some might want western cuisine and some might prefer asian food. Here at Commons, you’ll be served the best of both worlds – an asian western fusion!
Commons is located in Jewel, where you get a great view of the underside of the indoor waterfall. In daylight, it’s breathtakingly elegant and at night, it’s lit up in all sorts of colours.
It’s extremely spacious with lots of seating. There are some seats closer to the indoor waterfall and it acts as a great backdrop for a photo. True to their name, you needn’t worry if you’re coming here with a big group to celebrate and create memories, because they truly are quite spacious. The restaurant is quite open but there are more intimate seatings near the waterfall where there is a slight partition. The staff are also extremely friendly, attentive and quick on their feet.
We got ourselves quite a spread – The Meat Feast, Lamb Wanton Tacos and some waffles with ice cream.
The Meat Feast consisted of sticky lamb ribs, satay chicken griller, rib-eye and Italian chicken sausages accompanied with baked sweet potato, baby carrots and vine tomatoes. While it doesn’t sound like much, it actually serves 3 – 4 pax! When it arrived, its sheer size only further cemented its status as a 3 – 4 pax dish. It came on a wooden platter and everything was piled beautifully, with a satay peanut sauce dish. The sticky lamb ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and did not have the gaminess that usually came with lamb dishes. The chicken griller was juicy and seasoned well. I especially liked it with the satay sauce. The rib-eye was amazing as well. We had it medium and it was juicy, tender and melted in our mouths. Initially, we felt it kind of weird to have a sweet potato as an accompaniment in the dish but with everything else being so savoury and full of umami flavours, the sweet potato gave a nice break and its sweetness cuts through it all, cleansing your palette and preparing you for the next savoury bite.
The Lamb Wanton Tacos were messy but it was 100% worth the mess. They used a sauce with the tacos that was slightly sour, which paired very well with the creaminess of the lamb. Every mouthful kept us wanting more. We especially loved the shell of the tacos. It was perfection when paired with the creamy and tender mouthfeel of the lamb. That little crunch really gave us a little more variety and changed the game for us.
The waffles with ice cream was intimidating, especially after the heavy meal we just had. We were all feeling slightly full and when the waffles arrived, we wondered if we were able to finish all of that. However, when we took the first bite, our worries were quelled. The waffles were fluffy and the ice cream was creamy and thick. You can never go wrong with ice cream and waffles and this waffle ice cream combo definitely impressed us. Before we knew it, we had essentially cleared the entire plate, ending the meal off on a sweet note.
Commons specialised in Asian Western fusion food and that really shone in their dishes, with subtle and surprising asian influences in stereotypical western dishes, such as the little satay sauce in the meat platter and use the of wanton in the tacos! The restaurant’s ambience was great. The food was great. I had nothing to complain about my entire experience. Commons has solidified itself as a great hangout in my opinion, especially for huge celebrations!.
Jewel, 78 Airport Blvd, #B1 – 289 – 290, Singapore 819666 (Nearest MRT Changi Airport)
Mon – Sun: 10:00AM – 10:00PM
Fatburger is not a new brand. In fact, they have been here since 1952 all the way in America with their huge delicious burgers! They weren’t always a huge franchise with outlets all over the globe. In fact, they started out as a simple hamburger stand made up with scrap materials – and it was called Mr. Fatburger. After separating from her partner, Lovie Yancey, the founder, persevered to keep things going and she decided to drop the “Mr.”, hence, Fatburger was born! We love an independent strong woman!
What Fatburger is known for since their beginning was their custom-made burgers. They understand everyone has different preferences when it comes to burgers and it’s great that you have a place that is dedicated to serving you personalised burgers just for you! In fact, Fatburger was so popular that even celebrities visited them and their regular customers requested that they remain open at night! I totally relate. I wish I could get all my favourite food to remain open till night too.
Other than the option to customise our burgers, what really got us what that they only use traditional cooking methods and the freshest ingredients during the cooking process. It’s one thing to enjoy the meal but another to feel rest assured that you are putting only quality stuff into your body.
Fatburger is located right in front of an escalator from the MRT and it’s bright red and yellow theme really caught my eye. Its design resembles an American diner very much and I quite enjoy the fun and casual vibe I’m getting.
The restaurant is decently sized and looks to be able to fit in 50 – 60 people. The staff are all extremely welcoming and friendly.
Fatburger’s menu is simple and really easy to understand. They have a large illustration of what goes in their burger – tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, relish, mustard, mayo, the patty and finally the buns! If you don’t want any of these ingredients, you can simply voice your preference. You can even opt to add cheese, bacon, eggs, onions rings or chilli for a price!
I ordered their original burger with the beef patty and another one with chicken. I also ordered their chilli cheese fries, onion rings and had some milkshakes! Their original burger was thick and juicy. I really enjoyed the burger. It really lived up to the name “Fatburger” because it was truly fat! Honestly, I had a hard time finishing one burger on my own and I was glad I had friends to share this with.
The chicken burger was great as well. Usually with burgers, you expect the beef one to taste better and have better mouthfeel but honestly, the chicken burger didn’t lose out! The chilli cheese fries were a great side to the burgers. I loved the chilli cheese combo that they used. However, what shocked me most were the onion rings! I love onion rings and I have very high standard of onions rings but the ones at Fatburger really blew my mind. It was crispy and the onion taste really pulled through. Many onion rings have the onion taste masked but this one was delicious. Before long, I had finished them all!
The milkshakes were decadent and sweet but not overly sweet. It was also a nice break from all the savoury goodness at the table. I now have a go-to place for huge delicious burgers, especially if I feel like treating myself a little.
238 Thomson Rd, #01-08/09, Singapore 307683 (Nearest MRT Novena)
Mon – Sun: 10:00AM – 10:00PM
I love Japanese food, but sometimes I’m looking for something quick and casual that isn’t takeaway sushi. While most Japanese food are served in Japanese restaurants, Sora Boru provides an alternative fast casual setting, serving up delicious customisable chirashi bowls, beef bowls and other bowl dishes. Best of all, all the Japanese rice bowls are quite affordable.
The name Sora Boru is quite interesting, with Sora meaning “sky” and Boru being a play on words as this is how Japanese people usually pronounce the word “bowl”.
Sora Boru’s interior is tastefully decorated with modern takes and some cute Japanese decor. It doesn’t try too hard to scream Japanese and instead focuses on making it a comfortable and brightly lit. Overall, it feels extremely easy to pop in for a quick meal and head out just as easily, which ties in with the theme of their restaurant being a fast casual dining establishment.
I ordered the customisable chirashi bowl for myself and 2 beef bowls – the Volcano Beef Don and the Snow Beef Don.
The chirashi bowl was generously topped with sashimi such as salmon, tuna and cubed scallop and other ingredients such as egg and cucumber. The dressing was given separately, which was a gesture that I really appreciated. The dressing was citrusy, savoury and sweet at the same time. I couldn’t put my finger on what the dressing was but I enjoyed it very much with the chirashi bowl. The sashimi was fresh and every mouthful was exceptional. In fact, it was so generously portioned that I had trouble finishing it and although I was full, I kept going becase the dressing combo with the sashimi and salad went so well together. If you’re like me and appreciate a bit of wasabi and soy sauce on top of the dressing or just want it at the side as an alternative to the dressing, you can get some from the counter too.
The Volcano Beef Don and Snow Beef Don are each interesting in their own right. For spice lovers, you definitely want to go for the Volcano Beef Don. Heaps of beef are piled on a mountain of rice and a spicy savoury sauce is poured over it, making it resemble a volcano. While it is spicy, the meal wasn’t unbearable. In fact, it kept me wanting more despite the pain! It is actually really bearable and the spice is built up instead of an all out attack on your senses.
The Snow Beef Don has parmesan cheese poured on top of it. This is for those who love cheese and savoury salty flavours. Every bite left me wanting more and the meat to rice ratio was just right. It wasn’t overwhelmingly salty because the rice toned it down.
I loved all three rice bowls and the different things they had to offer but if I had to choose a favourite, I would definitely go for the chirashi bowl simply because of their generosity, variety and value. For a chirashi bowl, it’s reasonably priced, customisable and they do not skimp on the portion! I will definitely be coming back for their Japanese rice bowls.
313 Orchard Rd, #B3-19/20, Singapore 238895 (Nearest MRT Somerset)
Sun – Thurs: 11:00AM – 10:00PM
Fri – Sun: 11:00AM – 11:00PM
“If you don’t put passion into your food, your food will never taste good.” These are the words of Chef Gero, the owner of Kucina Italian, which is the only halal authentic Italian restaurant in Singapore. Chef Gero, who was half Italian and half British opened this restaurant because he felt that authentic Italian food wasn’t well represented in Singapore and wanted to provide an avenue to Singaporeans to taste authentic Italian food. Of course, he wanted to make sure his food was accessible to everyone, including the Malay community and thus, he made it halal! After all, he was introduced to Malay food by his Muslim wife and he loved it. He wanted to do the same for the community his wife came from.
Chef Gero wasn’t always the executive chef in his own authentic Italian restaurant. He started off very traditional – at the bottom as a dishwasher. Then, he worked his way up. His efforts certainly paid off, because now, he is the executive chef in Kucina Italian, the very restaurant he owns!
Kucina is derived from the word “Cucina” which means “kitchen” in Italian. He changed the C to a K because he understands the C pronunciation differs in the Malay community and would not be read as intended. Also, it matches the K in Kitchen anyway.
Opened in June 2016, Kucina Italian has been consistently serving up authentic and great Italian food.
Located inconspicuously in a corner at Kinex’s basement, Kucina Italian’s decor is homey and comfortable, which ties in with what they’re trying to achieve. Chef Gero has always wanted Kucina Italian to be a place where people actually sit down and dine with each other, reviling in each others’ presence and company and spending quality time together. This was, after all, the Italian’s way of enjoying a meal, which I agree should be practiced more often in Singapore.
In our Asian culture, we often refer to meal times as time spent together. Whenever we make plans with our friends, family and partner, it’s always “Have you eaten?” Hence, to really sit down and chat over good food sounds like the most perfect thing to do.
The restaurant is decently sized and looks to be able to fit in 50 – 60 people.
Everything on the menu looked absolutely delicious and we had to hold ourselves back from ordering everything. In the end, we settled for a few dishes to share. For the appetizer, we got Arancini Siciliani, which was rice balls stuffed with beef ragu, mozarella and parmesan, served with a side of spicy sauce. We ordered the Tortellini Di Manzo, which was ring shaped pasta with turkey ham and beef stuffing in mushroom cream sauce, and the Al Granchio, which was linguine with fresh crabmeat in tomato cream sauce and chilli. We went for one cream option and one tomato base option just for variety. We also opted for a Pizotto pizza, which was turkey bacon, mushrom, sunny side up, tomates and mozarella on a tomato base. To finish the meal off, we ordered a dessert platter which consisted of mini desserts such as Sicillian cannoli, pannacotta, creme brulee, tiramisu and other chef creations!
The Arancini Siciliani was super yummy and really whetted our tastebuds. It tasted good on its own but better with the spicy sauce. Despite its cheesy description, it wasn’t overly cheesy and has a crumbly mouthfeel which I enjoyed! It only got us looking forward to the rest of the meal.
The pizotto was my absolute favourite. Everything was perfect – the dough, the tomato base, the cheese, the turkey bacon and mushroom combo. Nothing tried to outshine another. All of them worked in perfect harmony, and it resulted in a beautiful tasting pizza. What impressed me most was the dough. Chef Gero was adamant about cooking being simple and the pizza was simply amazing. It’s crazy how he could take simple ingredients and put them together to work so amazingly. The Tortellini Di Manzo was extremely addictive. If you’ve eaten dumplings before, it was reminiscent of one, but it had more meat inside and the pasta was al dente, providing this soft yet chewy outer layer. The cream sauce paired with the pasta was great. Once you’ve poped one savoury pocket in your mouth and let it burst to harmonise with the cream sauce, it’s difficult to not want to pop another until you realise that it’s almost gone!
The Al Granchio was delicious too. How can everything we ordered be so mindblowingly amazing in their own different ways? We don’t know either. The crabmeat was generous and once again, the pasta – just wow. It really shows the difference in quality between freshly made pasta and boxed ones.
After stuffing ourselves full, we then had the dessert platter. The mini delights came beautifully on a black plate and we couldn’t decide which to eat first. Everything was simply amazing. Perhaps, the star of the show was the one in the middle – the cannoli, that required alcohol in its original recipe but Chef Gero had modified it for halal purposes. It tasted just as great as the original!
It’s amazing that Chef Gero opened his own halal authentic Italian restaurant, because with food this good, it was a waste to deprive anyone of it. It’s honestly a steal to be able to enjoy authentic Italian food without having to travel out of Singapore.
11 Tanjong Katong Rd, #B1-09/10 OneKM Mall, Singapore 437157 (Nearest MRT Paya Lebar)
Mon – Sun: 11:30AM – 10:00PM
Ice cream is a quintessential dessert, perfect on its own or with another dessert such as on a brownie, cake or waffle. Ice cream is always good, even if you don’t like it, but it’s so difficult to find quality ice cream that really knocks you off your feet because it’s such an easy dessert to prepare and serve. Its versatility also leaves a lot of space for creativity, depending on which flavour you want it to be in, but anything is already done to death. Hence, Geláre had a lot of competition but they still emerged successful when they stood the test of time since its opening in 1987 in Frementle, Western Australia. Not to mention, they had both locals and tourists flocking to the original outlet to get a taste of their distinctive premium ice cream range.
Their ice cream is creamier and thicker due to their secret formula which results in a higher cream content than almost all of the brands out there and they hold themselves to a certain standard with the production procedure of their ice cream. They only use fresh milk and cream sourced daily from their dairy farm and factory. Also, their ice cream contains no air! Did you know ice cream can contain up to 50% air? While it might not taste differently to consumers, it might mess with the mouthfeel and this was not something that Geláre wanted to do. All their all-natural ingredients are sourced with care from all over the globe, just to incorporate it into their menu and serve it to you.
Geláre has an outlet here in Singapore, serving up the same ice cream with no artificial additives and preservatives. Since their opening, they have also grown themselves into a cafe that serves up full meals and hot items such as pastas, sandwiches and salads.
Geláre is located in IMM mall, near Jurong East MRT. Tucked away in an unassuming corner, you would never have guessed that they had such delicious ice cream.
Of course, when it comes to an ice cream place, you have got to order their ice cream with waffles and I did just that! I got the classic cookies and cream and the chocolate flavour to go with the waffles. The waffles were freshly baked and served piping hot with the cold ice cream. I love having warm and cold together, especially in desserts. It just makes the experience all the more luxurious.
Upon first tasting the ice cream, I noticed that it was indeed creamier than some out of the ice cream I had tasted before. The flavour was intense but not too overwhelming and it melted smoothly in my mouth. It went extremely well with the fragrant waffles. All in all, this was some good ice cream. You could really taste the premium flavour and feel its decadent texture. I felt rest assured that the ice cream was made with so much dedication and care, with all-natural ingredients. It’s definitely a great place to hop by for a dessert after a meal, whether with your friends, family or partner. I will definitely come back just for the quality ice cream. You have got to try it to believe the difference!
IMM, 2 Jurong East Street 21, #01-22A IMM Building, Singapore 609601 (Nearest MRT Jurong East)
Mon – Sun: 10:00AM – 10:00PM
Masizzim is not a new name in Singapore. They specialise in hearty Korean stews (Galbi Jjim) and serve up other items like Korean pancake, egg rolls and rice balls. They have been in Singapore since 2016 and have gained a loyal following of fans who love their food, myself included. However, there were a community of people in Singapore who were unable to try Masizzim’s menu simply because Masizzim was not halal-certified. While most restaurants choose to alter their original menu and make everything halal, Masizzim decided to take a different and interesting approach. They decided to come out with a halal version of Masizzim, which they would name Hanok.
Hanok by Masizzim is the halal mirror of the original and this was only possible through gruelling hours of research and development by chefs to come out with variations of the original recipe that would taste and look the same, without the presence of pork or lard. I applaud their dedication to this and appreciated that they kept the original option available for people who weren’t Muslim and cared enough to open a branch of Masizzim that would serve halal food.
Located at the ground floor of Westgate, the decor and vibe of the restaurant resembled other Masizzim outlets. You wouldn’t be able to tell that this was any different!
The restaurant was brightly lit and there was ample space for people to walk around. The place could probably house 30 – 40 customers easily and I could foresee that peak periods would result in a full house. Dining at Hanok by Masizzim felt casual and was perfectly suited for fun nights out with friends, family or your partner.
I really went all out with this one. I ordered the Beef Ribs Stew, Tuna Rice Balls, Cheese and Egg Rolls and Squid and Leek Pancake. For a refreshing beverage to match with the food, I opted for the Honeydew Aloe Vera that came in a jug
The Beef RIbs Stew was as delicious and hearty as I remember. The beef ribs were extremely tender and slid off the bone with a little tugging. It also came with udon noodles, which always went well in hearty stews. The stew was seriously addictive to the point were we honestly considered ordering another portion. This is perfect for days when you just want some comfort food.
The Tuna Rice Balls were interesting. It came in a rice bowl and it hadn’t been mixed yet. Instead, you would be given gloves to mix it manually. This process was definitely a fun thing to do with your friends and it really whetted our appetite. As you mixed the rice, tuna, mayo and chilli together, the fragrance started wafting up. We made shapes with the rice and even alphabets to represent our names. When we finally started eating, we were shocked because we honestly didn’t expect the rice balls to taste so good. The fishy tuna smell was non existent and complemented the mayo and chilli really well. It was also very filling and the portion was generous for its price.
The Cheese and Egg Rolls were great as well. Melty cheese with egg could never go wrong. There was a cheese pull moment when we grabbed a piece of the egg and that resulted in some super fun Instagram moments. We expected the egg rolls to taste mediocre but it was honestly really yummy. The Squid and Leek Pancake came with a sauce that complemented the pancake very well. It was extremely addictive. The sauce was light and savoury. When paired with the squid, leek and the slightly chewy and crispy pancake, the sauce really shone.
Then, to wash it all down, the Honeydew Aloe Vera was a refreshing and lighter end to the meal, which I appreciated. I really enjoyed myself at Hanok by Masizzim and I will definitely be coming back, especially for their hearty Korean stews and tuna rice balls! I also think that it’s a great initiative by Masizzim, to created an entirely similar halal experience, just for our halal friends. This will be one location that I will frequent very often with my halal friends!
Hanok by Masizzim
Westgate, 3 Gateway Dr, #01-07 Westgate, Singapore 608532 (Nearest MRT Jurong East)
Sun – Thurs: 11:00AM – 9:30PM
Fri – Sat: 11:00AM – 10:00PM
You can find Western food almost everywhere in Singapore – in hawker centres, coffee shops, cafes or restaurants, but it can be difficult to find fine western cuisine, especially one that serves up fresh Canadian oysters. Yes, you heard it right, you can get oysters at Grill Ninety Nine! However, Grill Ninety Nine was not always this cafe that was beloved by its regulars and impressed new customers. It was actually on the verge of shutting down.
The founders saw a potential in Grill Ninety Nine, especially with its prime location in Arab Street, and worked on the menu to come up with interesting drinks and food items that would satisfy their customers. Now, Grill Ninety Nine is a cozy establishment, suitable for any occasion, from celebrations to intimate get-togethers and casual meals.
Grill Ninety Nine certainly lives up to its cozy name. The restaurant is two stories high, with a drinks bar on the second level, where they conjure up delicious cocktails and thirst quenching drinks. The seats on the first floor is typical of any restaurant whereas the entire second level can be transformed into an event space for celebrations.
Seats can be quite limited but you can always call in advance to book a reservation. I can totally see myself bringing my friends to have a chill night over amazing food and delicious drinks.
Of course, we ordered the Canadian oysters. You can get them by half dozens or by the dozens. The oysters were plump and freshly shucked before it was served on a beautiful plate, adorned with several slices of lemons. The oysters were sweet, fresh and easy to swallow. An aphrodisiac, we only wanted more after having the first one. They also had tabasco sauce to go along with the oysters and trust me when I say 6 definitely isn’t enough.
They also served a mean crab cake. The crab cake was their own recipe. It came in twos accompanied with a lush salad drizzled with sesame sauce. The crab cake tasted as if it had real crab inside it, crispy on the outside and fragrant and mushy on the inside. It was perfectly grilled and it is best eaten hot. The rich crab mix on the inside spilled out and harmonised perfectly with the crispy breaded outer layer.
We also got a steak and as if it wasn’t already rich and decadent enough, we got an add-on and had melted raclette cheese poured all over our steak. The top of half a giant cheese wheel was melted and when the top layer was melty, they scraped it off onto our steak. It looked amazing. The waterfall of cheese seemed to envelop the steak. I tried the steak first by itself and it was cooked to perfection and seasoned well but when we paired some raclette cheese with the steak, the entire flavour profile morphed into something different. The cheese’s smell was pungent but bearable. When you put it in your mouth, the salty savoury taste was a perfect match with the tender steak. It also came with a side of fries and some salad.
To wash down our entire meal, we had Butter Bandung and tried some mocktails. The butter bandung was creamy, sweet and refreshing. It was nice that they decided to incorporate some local flavours, despite the fact that they established themselves as a fine western restaurant. The food was definitely fine dining standard but the experience was so so simple, and I loved it! After my meal, I was looking forward to the next cozy night in with my friends at Grill Ninety Nine.
Grill Ninety Nine
142 Arab Street, Singapore 199828 (Bugis MRT)
Mon – Sun: 12:00PM – 10:00PM
Science is not necessarily your favourite subject. I get it, I really do. Science can be confusing, complicated and a pain in the neck to grasp, but at the same time science is amazing, mesmerising and really useful to know and that’s why Science Centre Singapore was opened in 1977 to promote the interest and learning of science. Science Centre Singapore proudly proclaims that science doesn’t have to be dull and dreary. In fact, it can be imaginative, enjoyable and fun. I was excited to see how it could be so.
Science Centre Singapore is a huge location with tons of fun and educational exhibits. Upon entering the compound, I’m immediately distracted. There is simply so much going on that I just want to visit every single exhibit. The entire place is air-conditioned, which is a great escape from the summer heat in Singapore. The lighting is quite dark and mysterious, much like how science is. While I visited almost all the exhibits, some really caught my eye and left me with a memorable experience.
Know Your Poo
While this exhibit won’t necessarily be anyone’s first choice, I honestly really enjoyed. First off, the entrance to the exhibit is made to look like you’re entering a toilet! Truth be told, I entered as a joke, since the subject matter was rather funny but I honestly didn’t expect myself to learn so much. The walls are full of information about poo, sanitation issues in other countries, farts, plumbing and how plumbing has helped prevented diseases. There was a mini slide into a ball pit filled with brown balls. I’ll let you imagine what the brown balls might look like, but it’s a great photo location if you want to be cheeky.
They also have tubes filled with “poo” resembling different shapes and having different textures. This is in relation to our diet and lifestyle. I spotted one that suspiciously resembles one I had last night and giggled to myself.
They do feature different toilets that humans have used throughout the years or even currently in some undeveloped countries. At the end of the exhibit, there is a throne resembling a Game of Thrones throne, but in toilet form. It was really funny, and honestly really education. I couldn’t believe that I had spent so much time in an exhibit about poo!
The Omni-Theatre was truly amazing. I enjoyed every minute of this. While they change their films frequently to target different subjects and topics regarding science and technology, their shows are designed to make you feel as if you’re floating through the film, giving the illusion of motion due to the rounded curve of the screen.
Other than the novelty of the screen, I really enjoyed the film as well. It seemed simple enough for children to understand and it was entertaining for all ages.
The Mind’s Eye / Professor Crackitt’s Light Fantastic! – a Mirror Maze Experience
This exhibit deals with light and how your eyes and mind process it. It’s a really trippy experience. The entrance welcomes you with a pool noodle and if you think you don’t need it, think again. After walking you, you are led to a mirror maze and trust me, it will be a much better experience if you had that pool noodle with you. Look closely at some of the stuff in the maze! You’d realise that most are just mirrors and illusions. It’s truly an interesting experience and I had a harder time than I’d like to admit making it out the maze!
After you make it out of the maze, there are some mini experiments you can play with to explore light, refraction, reflection and how our eyes process light and colour.
Phobia2: The Science of Fear
This is one exhibit that all you thrill-seekers will definitely enjoy. This exhibits explores fear and all the different things that humans might develop a phobia of – those phobias include a fear of spiders, fear of being left out, fear of being buried alive and even a fear of school! It’s really interesting how they explore all the different types of fear and display it so you and your friends can test if it relates to you and if you have that fear!
While it is themed like a scary zone, it is actually not too bad. Also, at any point of the exhibit if you are uncomfortable, you actually have exits you can go to, so don’t worry too much! There aren’t any jump scare actors coming at you. All fears are displayed safely and it is up to you to approach. If you feel uncomfortable, you can move on!
Among other stuff, there is also a roller coaster simulator and a public speaking simulator, both I which I found to be super interesting, especially the public speaking one. You’re given a board to read and the curved screen shows an audience who actually reacts to what is read on the board! Of course, there are tons of photo opportunities in this place, what with sculptures of scary clowns, witches and other creepy stuff. Hold on to your friends tight and put your fear to the test!
Now, I believe this exhibit needs no introduction! You literally get to enter a snowy wonderland, which is a good change compared to the summer heat that plagues Singapore. Before you enter, you’re given a winter jacket, some pants and gloves to keep you warm. Put don everything on, because it honestly is cold inside, and remember to wear covered shoes. Temperatures get up to -6 degrees and before long, your hands and feet will hurt if it isn’t decently protected.
Upon entering, there are plenty of ice sculptures to admire but the true star of the show is the huge slide! You get to carry a floatie up to the top and slide down – be it alone or with your friends! It’s quite thrilling and funny to see your friends panic as they slide down. You also can do snowboarding if you want. There are always people on standby to prevent injuries, ready to jump into action if they spot anyone hurt or in danger, so I felt pretty safe in the cold.
There’s also a level two to this exhibit where a small machine will periodically spit out snow so it looks like it’s snowing! It’s a truly magical moment and my friends and i couldn’t help catching the snow and throwing it at one another. Besides the snow machine, there is also a ice bumper car activity! Loads of people were queueing up for it and it looked super fun so we had a go at it and we could totally see why this was so well received. In the bumper car that holds two people, you are to control the car to bump others but because of the ice, everyone is struggling and just trying to go in the direction they want, which actually causes more bumps. It’s honestly quite a funny sight, and not to mention extremely fun!
I do recommend that you go to Snow City but be careful when you walk because it can get quite slippery inside!
This was my absolute favourite exhibit. As the name suggests, you get to see butterflies up close! It’s not often you get to find yourself surrounded by butterflies and it was a little intimidating at first but their beauty truly blew me away. They had mini trays of fruit so you see butterflies landing themselves gracefully to feed on the syrup. This is a good chance for you to snap some photos! They even provide magnifying glasses so you can take a closer look!
As you walk around, some butterflies might even land on you! Don’t panic, as they will get off sooner or later. Also, beware of some butterflies on the ground. You don’t want to accidentally step on some. The exhibits also shows you the life cycle of a butterfly and studies some of the patterns on their wings. It’s interesting because you can spot those patterns on the live butterflies and even see some cocoons in a designated space! The whole park seemed magical, like you had been transported into a fairy tale!
Overall, I really did enjoy myself at Science Centre Singapore. I had though that the exhibits were, quite frankly, going to be lame and unexciting but this trip was the complete opposite! I even managed to see a huge fire vortex in a controlled glass funnel! That only happens once a day due to its effects on the environment, which I appreciate, but it was truly a sight to behold. It’s important to note that there will be permanent and non-permanent exhibits. All the exhibits in this article are permanent and while I may not mention the others, trust me when I say that the other exhibits are just as innovative and exciting as the ones I’ve mentioned! Don’t believe me? You only have to visit for yourself to find out!
Science Centre Singapore
15 Science Centre Rd, Singapore 609081 (Nearest MRT Jurong East)
Mon – Sun: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
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